The forceful attraction of the southern Black Sea coast of Bulgaria is its wonderful bays and spacious beaches with sand dunes. The main modern holiday resorts are there, including the famous Sunny Beach, but there are other less well known parts to explore of this utterly charming coastline. This area is the best choice for scenic bays and vast dazzling beaches, small romantic peninsulas and picturesque small old towns. We take a trip along the stunning southern Black Sea coastline with its mix of history, culture and luxury! You can book all of the following from VisitBulgariaOn.com online platform.Elenite Holiday Village – This is located about 12 kms north of Sunny Beach. It is mostly a package holiday place, but is well-run and cared for. It is made up of two villa areas, complete with bars, restaurants, sports facilities and a nice beach.
Sveti Vlas – This started out as a small village, but has grown immensely over recent years (Sunny Beach is only 6 kms away to the south). The beaches are long and wide, and the resort has the benefit of fabulous views of the Stara Planina mountain too. There is a relatively new pretty yacht harbour here. Sveti Vlas has a good selection of modern hotels, and numerous restaurants to choose from, although you could nip up to nearby Sunny Beach.
Sunny Beach – The largest and most well-known resort on the Black Sea coast. It is called ‘Slanchev Bryag’ in Bulgarian, and the Germans know it as ‘Sonnenstrand’! This is mostly a package holiday resort with copious amounts of hotels, bars and restaurants.
It is said by some that Sunny Beach is Bulgaria’s answer to Blackpool or Benidorm, so if this type of place is not for you, then head for the more upmarket destinations of Sveti Vlas or Nessebur instead. That said, the 8 kms long beach has obtained an international ‘Blue Flag’ award. If you’re planning on staying in Sunny Beach during the peak summer months, it’s best to book in advance in order to get a room in one of the nicer hotels.
Sozopol – Located approximately 34 kms south of Bourgas, Sozopol is one of the more popular of the southern beach resorts. It can get very busy during the summer months, and has a great variety of restaurants, cafes and night clubs. Prices in Sozopol are to the dearer end, although generally lower than in Sunny Beach and Golden Sands to the north.
There are two beaches in Sozopol – the Central beach and the Harmani beach. The latter is longer and wider, so may feel less crowded at peak times.
Why not take a stroll along the pretty cobbled lanes of Sozopol and take in some of the National Revival houses? You will marvel at the precarious looking overhanging upper stories and red-tiled roofs. If you are a sea-food lover, then Sozopol is the place for you! Enjoy a delicious plate of locally caught mussels in one of the cafes or restaurants on Morski Skali or Milet Street, both sea-facing with great views.
Sozopol boasts more than 45 architectural monuments. A selection of ‘must sees’ includes the house of Dimitur Laskaridis (built in the 17th century for this fish trader, and now an art gallery), the house of Una Psarianova (now a restaurant), and the house of ‘Grandmother’ Koukoulissa Hadzhinikolova (now a newspaper office). See the video of a visit to Sozopol at the end of this article.
When all the architecture has got too much for you, take time out to relax in the harbour, watching the colourful boats bobbing in the sea, and the local fishermen landing the day’s catch.
The Apolonia International Art Festival is held in Sozopol every September, attracting art lovers and artists from all over the world.
Accommodation in Sozopol is a mixture of private rooms and hotels. The best selection of hotels can be found in the new part of the town. Be warned that if you plan to go in September when the festival is on, you would be advised to book a room in advance, as the place gets pretty packed!
There is a selection of things to see and do around the Sozopol area too. You can take in some fantastic views around Cape Maslen, Alepou Beach and Arkoutino Beach.
The Island of St Ivan is the largest Bulgarian Black Sea island. It’s only 2 kms to the north and can be visited by boat.
Another fantastic place for a boat trip is the Ropotamo River … the Ropotamo is a protected nature reserve, and you will be able to see amazing rocks, cliffs as well as some fabulous wildlife
If you’re lucky you might spot an eagle owl or a huge white-tailed eagle. The Ropotamo River is found between Primorsko and Duni holiday town.
Primorsko – Some say Primorsko has the prettiest beach on the Black Sea coast. Under communism the town was the site of the ‘International Youth Resort’ centre which attracted young people from all over the world. The town is still popular with the younger clientele, and therefore not the most quiet and relaxing of places, with lots of outdoor cafes and lively nightlife.
Tzarevo – This southern Black Sea town can be found approximately 70 kms from Bourgas on a small peninsular between the Strandzha mountains and the sea. In Communist times the town was known as ‘Michurin’ after a Soviet plant breeder, and some of the locals still call it by this name today. Here you will find a park, harbour and small beach.
Just south of Tzarevo there are traces of an ancient fortress at the Papiya peak (502 m high). Not far away are the ancient villages of Kolodovo and Bulgaria. In the village of Bulgaria, the locals still practise the tradition of fire dancing. The ‘nestinarski’ dance barefoot over glowing embers! The feast day that the custom relates to (St Konstantin and St Elena) falls on May 21, however, in this village it is celebrated on the nearest weekend to June 4.
To the south-west of Bulgaria village are the nature reserves of Silkosiya and Tisovitsa.
As Tzarevo is less popular than the main package destinations, you will find that accommodation and eating out prices are a bit lower here.
Kosti Village is also not too far away and has an authentic Bulgarian atmosphere and spirit.
Strandzha Mountains – the largest nature park in Bulgaria, although the least explored! It is abundant in wildlife, and has lots of caves and traces of ancient civilisations. With its stone figures and fortress walls, it makes a great place for a day away from the hustle and bustle of the seaside.
Ahtopol – This southerly town is set on a cape, and is located about 87 kms south of Bourgas. It is a quiet and tranquil place with a small harbour for fishing, above which is a museum (whose exhibits focus on the times when it was a Greek settlement by the name of ‘Agathopolis’). The ‘Chapel of the Ascension’ can be found on the head of the peninsula which contains some 19th century fresos.
The rocky headlands separate several shingle beaches, but if you venture to the north you will find a larger sandy beach (past the resthomes). There are a few hotels and villas here (accommodation prices tend to be lower than higher up the coast), and some nice cafes and a market to visit.
Popular with visitors is the protected area of Silistar. The sea here is shallow and calm, so making it a favourite of families with children. There are lifeguards on duty on the lovely beach. The area is teeming with wildlife and birds.
Sinemorets – This hill-top town lies about 6 kms south of Ahtopol and close to the Turkish border. The south beach is covered in beautiful white sand and attracts a lot of young people, but can be busy in high season. If you feel like showing off what nature gave you, here is the place to do it! The north beach is absolutely amazing too. With green hills either side, the beach is a kilometre long and slows the flow of the Veleka River as it reaches the sea. It’s considered one of the most gorgeous places on the coast. The resort can be a little pricier than Ahtopol, and does seem to attract the more better-off Bulgarian clientele. There are several hotels and guesthouses to choose from, and some of the hotels here offer guided bird-watching tours in the Strandzha National Park.
Air – International flights to Bourgas
Buses – Bourgas is the main spot for buses serving the coastline from Nessebur to Ahtopol. There are also buses from Bourgas to Sofia, Prague, Bratislava and other locations in Europe, as well as Istanbul.
Taxis – numerous taxis and minibuses are available, also water transport to Sunny Beach from Nessebur.
Trains – most main towns are on the major train routes, overnight trains from the further away locations (Sofia etc) are available.
Car – the whole area is easily accessible, and there is new motorway link between Bourgas and the main E773 Sofia road. As with the northern coast, taking a map with you is a good idea, and learn to read some Cyrillic if you want to go off the beaten track!
You can book all these from VisitBulgariaOn.com online platform.