Serving as an economic and cultural hub for around 3,000 years, Varna is the largest seaside resort on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast. It has transformed from a small Thracian settlement into a bustling seaport with an ancient necropolis where the oldest gold treasure in the world was discovered.
Things to do in Varna
Occupying a Neo-Renaissance building dating from the 1890s is the Varna Archaeological Museum, which boasts an impressive collection of Greek, Roman and Ottoman antiquities. Its most famous exhibit is the Gold of Varna, a collection of 6,000-year-old Thracian jewellery that was discovered in 1972. The museum also manages the Roman Thermae, a complex of ancient baths in the city centre.
Varna’s largest church building is the Dormition of the Theotokos Cathedral, a magnificent golden-domed landmark that opened to worshippers in 1886. In addition to beautiful mural paintings, it features ornate stained glass windows overlooking St. Cyril and St. Methodius Square. Directly south of the cathedral is the 18th-century Clock Tower of Varna, which was once used by firemen as a watchtower.
Take a step back in time to experience Communist-era Varna at the Retro Museum, which exhibits cars and everyday objects from 1944 to 1989. Get up close to vintage Volgas and Trabants, then see a luxury GAZ Chaika that once transported high-ranking members of the Communist Party. Also within the museum are wax figures of personalities from the era, including Fidel Castro, Leonid Brezhnev and Emil Dimitrov.
Getting around Varna
Varna Airport is a 15-minute drive from the city centre and has seasonal flights to destinations across Europe. Trains connect from towns and cities across Bulgaria to the Varna railway station while ferries travel to Ukraine and Georgia. A network of buses accesses most of Varna’s attractions.