Explore Varna Like A Local
Varna is considered one of the most beautiful resort towns on the Black Sea coast. The amazing beaches, rich natural resources, unique culture, history, and of course, endless entertainment are not something to be missed. Knowing where the best places in town are (even those hidden little gems) and how to spend your time can really make a difference to your overall experience. Here’s our guide on how to explore Varna like a true local!
1/ Start your day with a hearty, delicious breakfast
The citizens of Varna never start their day on an empty stomach. Neither should you! There are plenty of cafes, bakeries and restaurants around town where you can indulge in various breakfast options, as well as coffee (coffee culture is a pretty big deal around here).
So what do the locals like to eat? A typical traditional breakfast here is usually a type of pastry. It can be a pancake, banitsa, mekitsi, sandwich or a type of cake. And it can be either sweet or salty. That’s right, the locals here use sides such as delicious homemade jams, honey or cheeses and feta to go along with their favourite pastry.
The Social Teahouse
For the lovers of all things sweet, we recommend The Social Teahouse. They make delicious cakes, cookies and pastries (vegan too) which are always super fresh. The cafe is close to the main square and is the perfect place to enjoy breakfast with tea or coffee.
With Varna City Card you get a free coffee or tea at the Social Teahouse!
SweetThings by Anna Pavlova – Cakes, sweets, sandwiches, coffee & tea
If you’re a lover of cakes and delicious cappuccino visit SweetThings by Anna Pavlova. It’s another great spot in the centre to have breakfast and start your day!
Nutrio Bar – Sandwiches, salads, food boxes & smoothies
Prefer a sandwich? Nutrio Bar is the locals’ favourite street spot where they can grab a sandwich on the go. They have some very tasty options as well as fresh salads and meat/veggie boxes.
2/ Explore the city centre and see the town’s most distinctive landmarks
The city centre is one of the most visited places in town. Tourists and locals love to spend time there since most of the key attractions, sightseeing locations, shops, restaurants and bars are all located within its borders. The large pedestrian area in the centre also makes it convenient to get around on foot and see as much as possible without all the public transport hassle.
Dormition of the Theotokos Cathedral – one of the symbols of Varna
The Cathedral is located within the Saints Cyril and Methodius Square. It’s one of the most famous locations in Varna and undoubtedly a spectacular sight. Not only can you enjoy the incredible architecture and murals inside, but you can also go up to the roof if you feel like walking up the 133 stairs. The view will be worth it! And if you get a chance to see the Cathedral at night you will not be disappointed either – the lighting around it reveals just how magnificent the structure really is.
State Opera House
Locals often refer to the State Opera house as the home of culture in Varna. You can find it just along the main pedestrian street in the city centre. A ticket to a concert or play will cost you somewhere between 20 – 25 euros (first class) which is a very reasonable price! If classical music is not your thing, you can at least admire the beautiful architecture.
3/ Fun Indoors: Playground, Grand Mall Varna
There are few rainy days during the summer season in Varna, but it happens. When it’s gloomy (or very very hot), you can always spend some time shopping and having fun indoors! The best place to do both is Grand Mall Varna – it has all the big names in fashion so you can easily fill in any gaps in your summer wardrobe or shop for something you’ve forgotten to pack. But the best place in the whole mall is dedicated to kids (and those who never grew up!): Playground!
Playground, Grand Mall Varna is the best place to unwind with a game of bowling with friends, or maybe billiards or darts. You can also spend your time playing the latest PS4 games on the 60 inch TVs. Dozens of the latest generation arcade games will keep you busy for a whole afternoon… The modern interior is also worth mentioning if you’d like to take a few interesting mall selfies!
With Varna City Card, when you buy a bowling game you will get another one free!
4/ Make time for a leisurely walk down the Sea Garden
The Sea Garden is the locals’ preferred place for walks and relaxation. The citizens of Varna love to spend time in the park, socializing and enjoying themselves with friends and family. The Sea Garden is also one of the most beautiful places in the city. The long lanes are full of greenery and flowers during the summer and make for a great afternoon stroll.
Apart from being one of the largest landscaped parks on the Balkans, the Sea Garden is also an important tourist destination. Many important sites and attractions are located within the park. The most important ones include Varna Zoo, Naval Museum and the Museum of Natural History. From the Sea Garden you can easily access the Sea Coastal Alley as well as the centre.
5/ Enjoy a delicious meal (and local wine) at one of the best restaurants in town
If you’re looking to try some delicious local food and wine while in Varna, Restaurant Wine & Cellar Darzalas is certainly the best place for that. It’s located in the centre of town, just next to the Cathedral and it has been the locals’ (and tourists’) favourite place for dining and wine tasting for many years.
An authentic stone cellar with amazing, rare local wines
The restaurant has аn authentic stone cellar with over 500 old and rare local wines. You will be able to try some really amazing wines, many of which have been produced in the region by local wineries, and experience first hand why Bulgaria has a reputation for one of the best winemaking countries on the Balkans.
Delicious local cuisine
The restaurant offers a wide variety of local dishes and appetizers that go perfectly with a glass of wine. Try the cheese platters (yellow cheese, feta, goat cheese) or any of the grilled meat dishes such as pork ribs, steak or sausage platters. You will not be disappointed!
With Varna City Card you get 15% off the menu!
Looking for something fun to do while in Varna? Pick a few from our list:
6/ Venture into the historical past of the city by visiting a local museum
The Archaeological Museum is Varna’s pride and a very important symbol of the city. Here you can see the rich cultural heritage of the region and learn about the history of Varna. Not only that – you can also see the oldest gold treasure in the world. That’s right! The artefacts found in the Varna Necropolis date all the way back to 4000 BC. That’s certainly something you don’t see every day.
Varna City Card gives you free admission to the Archaeological Museum.
Another really interesting museum to visit while in town is the Retro & Wax Museum which is located inside Grand Mall Varna. There you can get an idea of what it was like in Bulgaria during the Socialist era. There are many items on display from that period such as household items and everyday objects. The highlight of the museum, however, is the vintage cars (more than 60) and the wax figures of prominent Bulgarian and ex-Soviet leaders.
With Varna City Card you get free admission to the Retro Museum and a 20% off at or the Wax Museum!
7/ See some incredible ancient Roman structures
Like many other Bulgarian cities, Varna has several structures from Roman times that are incredibly well preserved and open to visitors. The Roman Thermae is currently the largest ancient building discovered in Bulgaria. The ancient Bath Complex once belonged to the Roman city of Odessus. It was built in the 2nd C. AD and was the centre of public life in the town. This is where the citizens of the city gathered to socialize and discuss important public matters.
You can visit the Roman Thermae during the warmer months and see the ancient remains up close for yourself.
With Varna City Card you get free entry at the Roman Thermae!
8/ Visit Port Varna and the Sea Coastal Alley – two of the local’s favourite places to hang out
The Port is one of the most popular places in Varna during the warm months. In 2016, a recreational and entertainment zone opened there which is entirely pedestrianized. Locals and tourists go there to take a walk, relax, do some shopping and grab a bite with friends and family at one of the restaurants or cafes. Captain Cook is a great restaurant at the port where you can try some local fresh fish and many seafood specialities.
If you walk up to the lighthouse the views to Asparuhovo, cape Galata and the northern part of the beach will be absolutely worth it.
Sea Coastal Alley & Central Beach
The Sea Coastal Alley along with Central Beach are also amongst tourists and locals favourite place to visit. The long alley is located just next to the Sea Garden and is also close to the city centre. There are many bars, cafes and restaurants where you can try local cuisine, wine and other beverages.
The Sea Terrace is a great place to have lunch or dinner. The terrace on the second floor offers some spectacular views of the sea.
9/ Have fun on a night out at one of the local’s top spots
The citizens of Varna love to go out and have fun, especially on weekends. During the warmer months, the city is filled with people socializing and enjoying themselves at one of the many beach bars, pubs, restaurants or nightclubs around town.
So where do the locals go when they want to socialize with friends and have fun?
Bar Cubo is one of the most preferred places by the citizens and guests of Varna. It’s perfect to chill during the day and to have a drink with friends at night. You can sit on the sand while enjoying a cold drink and good music. The mojitos cost just 4 euros!
Pampero Bar is another great spot in the centre of Varna. Locals like this bar for the artistic interior and overall laid back, cosy atmosphere. There are regular DJ performances so you can enjoy some live music while sipping on a cocktail.
With Varna City Card you get 10% off the menu!
If you’re a lover of beer then The Black Sheep Brewhouse is the place for you. The brewhouse and restaurant are well known and loved by locals and tourists alike. The typical pub setting, amazing draft beer, game nights and traditional pub food have turned it into one of the hottest spots in town. The restaurant has 3 bars that serve over 40 different types of draft and bottled beer, both local and international. The food menu includes many English and American classics such as burgers, fries and onion rings.
With Varna City Card you will get a free beer when you order a burger!
Tip: if you’re into craft beer, check out the Varna Craft Beer Trail – a degustation tour which will help you get a taste of the local beer culture. Free with Varna City Card!
10/ Shop like a local
There are plenty of places where you can shop around Varna depending on what you’re looking for.
In need of some shopping therapy? Grand Mall Varna is the biggest trade centre in the city and a great place to get some shopping done. This modern and well-designed mall has a lot of different shops, ATM’s, a food court and plenty of parking space. Here you’ll find many international brands as well as some local ones.
Balkanik 51 is a place for traditional Bulgarian handmade souvenirs. They offer a wide variety of magnets, traditional Bulgarian ceramics, woodwork, household tablecloths, towels and many others. You’d be surprised to know it’s not only tourists who shop there. Locals do it too!
The shop offers all kinds of Bulgarian products made from the famous Bulgarian Rosa Damascena such as rose water and oil, rose jam, tea and even liquor! There’s a good selection of traditional local spices and herbs and different types of Turkish delight.
With Varna City Card you get 10% off all souvenirs at Balkanik 51!
There’s certainly more than enough here to keep you busy so make sure you take advantage of some our suggestions (if not all) during your next trip to Varna!