Varna is often referred to as the summer capital of Bulgaria and naturally, the beach is a draw. There are numerous museums and points of interest along its shores and in the city center that are available throughout the year. These 10 things to do in Varna only prove that it is an all-year well rounded destination.
The Varna Puppet Theatre and Museum embraces the child in all of us. The theater’s stars perform “Punch and Judy” shows to serious adult dramas. For 55 years, more than 8 million visitors have seen these shows.
A puppet museum opened in 1985 maintaining approximately 130 theatre puppets in the collection. Completing the museum are design sketches and the history behind prominent puppeteers, including the most famous puppet performer in Bulgaria Kukladjiyata Neno (Neno, the Puppeteer). He is considered the first wandering puppeteer and use to travel throughout the country performing.
Varna Terrarium (aka “Exotic Zoo”) is celebrated for having a plethora of different reptiles and insects including lizards, snakes and tarantulas. Out of the ordinary species from every corner of the globe are situated at the terrarium along with various creatures native to Bulgaria. A mix of vertebrates and invertebrates are highlighted during demonstrations and educational lectures. The curators have made excellent care in insuring that each species are displayed according to their natural habitat, whether it is on an aquatic surface or dry land.
Housed in a building that was formally used as a boy’s high school, The Boris Georgiev City Art Gallery is truly of a jewel of architecture in Varna. It is built in a Neo Gothic style, the kind that was popular in the 19th century. The gallery was first established in 1947 by the Society of Varna artists in a general meeting and since has housed contemporary art since.
The first floor is home to touring exhibitions, while the second floor contains the permanent collections of the 20th century up to the most recent of Bulgarian art of today. The gallery’s third floor is used regularly for concerts, plays and readings.
Varna is known for its mineral springs high water flows, including four of what is considered the best ones in the world. It’s no surprise that there are a number of fitness and healing centers open to the public. All of the perks of the surroundings are played to the hilt here and the centers are said to diminish aches and pains caused by arthritis and stress. The goal is to encourage and promote lifestyle wellness. Many treatments use curative mud and natural herbs.
Be entertained and captivated by seeing the countryside on a horse. Trail walks on horseback for the experienced or novice rider are an unforgettable experience for those who love nature. No matter what the weather, the Horse Club Kichevo contains an all year round riding in their indoor arena. Even if one has never ridden before the club provides horseback lessons for all ages.
Head off the beaten path in a 4WD jeep traveling through the beautiful Bulgarian forest reserve. Create an everlasting memory by photographing the marvelous panoramic view of the Golden Sands and Varna or at a passing waterfall. Stop offs include visiting a grape brandy (known as “rakiya”) distiller and calling at a traditional village home. Learn how honey is made by meeting with bee-keepers. A tasting of natural bee honey takes place with the opportunity to purchase some. Air-gun shooting, fishing or bird watching options are offered, with lunch al fresco with a barbeque ending a fun filled day.
“Aquapolis” is not an ancient ruin but an outstanding water park in Varna’s Golden Sand area that combines a natural park environment overlooking the sea. Aquapolis has something for all age groups and contains hydro massage and children’s pools, water slides, waterfalls and water attractions for those who are not faint at heart.
Cool off at with the family on a hot summer day and have fun besides. Divided into several sections with some for exclusively children, the lazy river ride is a favorite pastime for most as it passes a waterfall and temple ruins in a relaxing manner. There are four dining facilities making Aquapolis a top in things to do in Varna for families.
Wine tasting can be fun, and a visit to the Wine Club Varna is the place to learn the secrets in choosing a wine. Situated in an authentic stone cellar, it is part restaurant, part learning experience. The visitor will be introduced to the history and technology of wine producing in Bulgaria. Wine Club Varna has a collection of over 500 types of Bulgarian wines. An experienced sommelier from the club is always available to answer specific questions during the tastings with appetizers and entrées of Bulgarian and International foods. After the sampling or meal, it is possible to purchase wine to bring back home and feel more knowledgeable about wine.
Roman baths can be found all over the world and Varna is certainly no exception to this rule. Located in the heart of the city, these baths are so cherished that they are being taken care of by the local archeological museum.
The 3 floor baths are perfectly preserved an amazing feat for something that was built around the 2nd Century AD. One of the most intriguing parts of the baths is the heating systems. The Romans ingenious solution to this was to connect it to the second floor and this took the warm air all the way to the roof. With an endless array of rooms, one should try and see this national treasure that was officially claimed to be an architectural and constructional monument of culture in 1968.
The oldest and largest park in the entire country since 1908, The Sea Garden is located along the city’s coast on the Black Sea. This is the perfect place to get in some outdoor fun, which provides sensational views of the sea and 8 miles of beautifully manicured parkland along the coast. Cycling, jogging, playing tennis or simply sitting on a bench and watching the world go by prove that there’s something for everyone. An amphitheater, an astronomic planetarium and swimming pool and children’s complex greets visitors on the paths to walk along.
There are plenty of stunning sights to discover in Varna. However, by trying any or all of these 10 things to do in Varna will certainly add up to a full size vacation.