We wanted a cheeky getaway and booked Bulgaria almost at random – I’d heard it was great, so why not! It’s a 4hr flight from London, but really rather cheap to get to. We paid about £75 for the very-last-minute return flights from Gatwick/Luton.
Our trip spanned 7 days in total and looked something like this:
Bourgas/Sozopol – 2 nights
Nessebar – 1 night/2days
Varna – 3 nights
The entire holiday felt very cheap. Beers in Bulgaria seem to cost around 2 levis everywhere, and good cocktails of any extravagance around 7 levis. We ordered to our hearts content at every meal and I don’t think we ever exceeded around 50 levis for two people with drinks and starters.
Our holiday was in the first week of July and the weather was absolutely perfect. Sunny and hot during the day and pleasantly warm and light till late.
We flew into Bourgas airport and got a taxi straight to Sozopol (30 euros). Sozopol seems to be where all of eastern europe goes to the beach! It’s a small town with a busy beach-side strip of restaurants, beach bars, and gelaterias. The old town itself is cute for a stroll and has a number of picturesque restaurants tucked away on cliff-edges. But the beach itself is PACKED with frolicking families. The water seems to remain shallow very far out, and entirely wave-free, so ideal for swimming.
A restaurant we liked with good views over the beach and cliff in Sozopol was Veranda. About a kilo pot of steamed mussels cost about £5! (Actually that seems to be the going rate all along the black sea coast) There was also a lot of eating sardines / seafood and drinking beer while people-watching.
We stayed at Hotel Muses, which was decent and had a pleasant pool and buffet breakfast, but a little bit of a walk into the main bit of town (and past the nude beach).
We took a hydrofoil ferry from Sozopol to Nesebar for 26 levs each: it was air conditioned, comfortable, and took less than an hour. You can pre-reserve tickets online for peace of mind, but it’s really not necessary. Just rock up at the ferry port about 15-30min ahead and buy tickets directly from the lady in the portacabin. It was 9 levs for a taxi from our hotel on the opposite end of town to the ferry port.
Nessebar I found exceedingly cute. We rented bicycles from our hotel and circled the town and peninsula within 2 hrs. Our lunch at Familia Fish & Grill opposite the port was delicious! But if you’re looking for super-romantic dinner views, keep going to the other side of the small peninsula and there is no shortage of restaurants hanging off the cliff-egde with beautiful vistas.
We stayed at Hotel Elizabeth Dy which I felt was rather average, but breakfast was nice and we only booked the night before so I can’t complain! Its right by the beach in the new-town, so a bit further away from the cute old town and port, but bicycles easily solved that problem.
Confusingly, our hotel reception wasn’t able to tell us how to get to Varna. His answer to everything was “I don’t know.” Some reseach later we figured it out ourselves:
A bus goes 5 times a day from Nesebar to Varna leaving from “ul. Han Krum” opposite the Citibank ATM. The bus stop is completely unmarked on google maps and quite difficult to find so here is a street-view photo of it:
It cost 12 levs per person to Varna and is air conditioned, timetable here. Just hop on, and at some point a lady will come sell you a ticket at your seat. It drops at a few locations in Varna centre, so just have google maps open and hop off when it’s near your hotel.
After 4 days in small towns it felt nice to be back in a larger city! I loved the vibe in varna – it felt young and bustling! We stayed at Casino Hotel Efbet (ex Oceana) which was superbly located right in the middle of town and within walking distance of everywhere, but otherwise average, though the room was clean and well serviced. If I were to book it again I’d book without breakfast, and go downstairs to the square to eat at any number of nicer cafes.
Down on south beach there are loads of really nice beach clubs and bars: Our favourite was El Kapan where we went two days in a row. The grapefruit-aperol cocktail “Bloody Summer” is incredible!
The beach here seemed less packed than Sozopol but windier and with many Kiteboarders and Windsurfers. I can imagine this would be a decent and cheap place to learn either of those.
Restaurants we enjoyed:
Stariya Chinar – traditional good quality bulgarian food. They had a variety of interesting game dishes and some more unusual Bulgarian dishes that we didn’t try, like sauteed Beef tongue or Lambs brain in butter. We had the Deer hind-quarter and Lamb shank which were cooked to perfection. They had a reasonable vegetarian selection.
Happy Bar & Grill / Sushi – this place serves everything under the sun. It’s far nicer to sit outside here on a sunny day. Pretty much everything we tried here was decent: sushi, sashimi, pulled-pork burger, fillet steak, smoothies etc.
We decided to do an Escape Room experience here and it was a lot of fun! You can book online and the experience is entirely in english and really entertaining. It cost us 10 levis each – really cheap for escape rooms I think.
For the ladies: I noticed all the women in town had perfectly manicured nails and eyelashes, so naturally I investigated and their beauty salons here are cheap and high quality! I went to Diana Uzunova’s salon at No. 13 ul. bratia Shkorpie. I just rocked up and made an appointment in person, but her english is great and she responds to calls/ facebook messages quickly too: 0899570832. I got a shellac manicure for 30 levis and eyelash extensions for 70 levis – they were very professionally done and I was pleased with both!
That’s it! I hope that was helpful. Feel free to leave any questions in comments! Xx