Sights of Bourgas
Getting to know any seaside city, of course, starts with the sea. No matter how many times I come to Bulgaria, the first evening I throw all my suitcases and bags and run to the beach. For me, it’s the number one attraction. And what else is there to see?
Of course, Burgas is not Prague or Rome; you won’t walk around here without ceasing to admire the massiveness and grandeur of the architectural structures. Burgas is not primarily a tourist city. To me it looks more like a typical post-Soviet town with low houses and laundry hanging outside the windows. Nevertheless, there is always something to see. Even 20 years later I manage to find something new. My main advice is: don’t be afraid to get lost in the streets. There are a lot of them and they are small, but each of them will always lead you to a new place.
Sand Figures Festival
If you landed in Burgas in the morning and have a desire to explore the city immediately, start your acquaintance with the northern coastal part of the city. Firstly, you will immediately find yourself at the main destination – the Black Sea, and secondly, you will not have to burden yourself with excessive information from historical references about high art on the first day.
There, in the depths of the park Morská hradina, which can be reached on foot from anywhere in the city, you will find the Festival of Sand Figures (Festival na piasčni skulpturi). By the way, the park is not far from the hotel with the same name Park (the park is separated from it by a railroad, so you’ll know right away that you’re heading in the right direction).
It’s not the sand version of Madame Tussauds, but I personally love wandering around amongst the mystically moulded cartoon characters, architectural monuments and famous people.
Opening hours: Mon-Fri – 9:00-20:00. The ticket costs 3 lev (1.5 euro). The exhibition opens, traditionally, in the first week of July and will last until the beginning of autumn.
After hard, endlessly dragging work days, a walk along the water is the best therapy. Walk from sandy figures to the quay and here the Black Sea is in front of you again. On the opposite end of the beach you will see a pedestrian bridge – one of the main attractions of Burgas. In the evening it is beautifully illuminated and relatively empty, so this is the time when you can really feel like you’re on vacation.
The bridge has three tiers:
- The lower one, from which you can touch the water with your hand or even dive: no one will tell you anything here;
- the middle, on which elderly couples and families with children stroll leisurely;
- the upper one. The last three years it is closed, but it still does not prevent the brave, photographers and fans of jumping from the towers to make their way there. This is done quite simply: you just need to climb over the fence along the ledge and, being “on the other side” of the obstacles, climb the spiral staircase. The main thing is not to fall off and not to be in the water next to the jellyfish!
- Alexandrovskaya Street;
- Bogoridi Boulevard;
- Church of St. Ivan of Rila;
- the monument to Alesha;
- the city fountain;
- Church of Cyril and Methodius;
- Armenian church.
The size of the city never ceases to amaze me. The “official” center is represented by only two streets – Alexandrovskaya and Aleko Bogoridi Boulevard. It is possible to pass it (if you are not a local and do not stop at every second house, meeting the next acquaintance) in 20 minutes at a brisk walking pace. But do not hurry. You, as a tourist, are supposed to walk and look carefully at the sights.
Alexandrovskaya Street starts from the Burgas Free University, a modern-looking building where, oddly enough, I almost never met any students. Nevertheless, the institute with its glass walls looks quite interesting and a few years there was even a casting for X-Factor, where the most singing kids from all over Bulgaria were gathered.
All along the street here and there are small local stores and cafes. By the way, in any of them will be tasty and cheap: 10-15 lev (5-7,5 euros) for three dishes.
Church of St. Ivan of Rila
Right next to the university you will see a small temple. It is named after the defender of the Bulgarian people. The building looks quite simple, but this is where I see the happiest wedding couples every year. And if you find yourself a tourist without connection, you can catch free wi-fi on the benches near the temple.
In the center of the street, on the Troikata square, stands the highest, eighteen-meter, monument to a Russian soldier in the city: the monument to Alesha or the Soviet Army. It was built in 1953.
This point is tacitly considered the main meeting place among tourists and the Bulgarians themselves.
Recently, immediately behind Alesha on the square there was an ordinary fountain, but in the summer of 2015 the city government has decided to change its familiar form: now in the center directly from the ground beat small fountains, in which children love to run and “bathe”. At night, the fountains, like the bridge, are illuminated, and the atmosphere is romantic.
It is on this square every year, especially in the summer season, there are different “promotions” – advertising campaigns, where you can play a game and win a prize, try a free soda, get a pair of glasses of this or that brand and just watch the active young people involved in all these activities.
Cyril and Methodius Church
If you go left from McDonald’s (you’ll recognize it from afar by the huge sign on the wall of the building), you’ll reach the Church of St. Cyril and Methodius (incongruously called Methodius in Bulgarian). For me, it is the most beautiful building in the whole town, although today the area around the building is fenced off and torn up, and the church itself is surrounded by scaffolding: a couple of years ago the authorities decided to build an underground parking lot here, but the laws of physics did their job, and the century-old church broke apart (literally). Now for the fourth year now they have been desperately trying to “reassemble” it.
If you walk from McDonald’s in the opposite direction, you’ll come to the opera house. You’ll recognize it by the sculpture of a hand with a fan right across the street. Despite the fact that Burgas is a small town, this is where the real musical extravaganza takes place. Local productions annually gather audiences from all over Bulgaria and other countries. You can buy a ticket to the opera in the building itself. Don’t regret, set aside an evening to experience the Bulgarian stage: you will be stunned. I managed to see “Swan Lake” and I am still firmly convinced that it was Burgas which had the best interpretation of it!
Ticket prices range from 10 to 30 levs each (5-15 euros), but there are also various offers: for a family of 4, each ticket will cost 5 levs (2.5 euros). You can book or buy tickets at the opera house or online.
Back on Aleksandrovska Street, walk along it further in the direction of Bogoridi. At the crossroads of these two central streets for more than a century stands an inconspicuous but very iconic clock (“chapel clock”) – the second meeting place, next to which at all hours of the day you can see someone waiting for a single person.
Opposite the clock is a favorite spot for all street musicians. The boys play guitars, handmade drums brought from home, and sing foreign songs. If you’re lucky, you might even hear the tunes of “Katyusha”.
Armenian Apostolic Church
Right next to the tall Hotel Bulgaria, which is impossible not to notice, there will be a small garden where you will find an old church. It was built in the middle of the 17th century, and was built “for the ages”, unlike the previous one. Unlike all the others, there are almost never more than two or three people in it, and the silence that reigns in the square nearby is imbued with real peacefulness.
If it’s time to eat, you’re on the right track: in the very hotel “Bulgaria” you will find Happy Bar & Grill restaurant on the first floor. American cuisine, steaks, sushi and the most delicious desserts are always here! As a chain restaurant, the prices are a little bit higher, but still not a crushing blow to the wallet. A salad, main course, dessert and a drink will cost you around 20 lev (10 euro), but you’ll be full after the first plate!
In any city the railway station is by default a landmark. In Burgas it’s the only one and it’s called (as it happens with this language – every word is another occasion for a joke) “ZP Gara”. It’s been open since 1903 and you can get anywhere in the country from here, by train or bus.
By the way, the cab drivers here at the station are a classic of the genre. They ignore absolutely any counters, hardly having caught foreign speech, therefore if you appeared in Burgas, having arrived by train, pass to hotel “Bulgaria” and catch a car there. You’ll pay exactly three times less.
Everyone to the garden! The large, spacious park is the pride of Burgas and the “burgazliys” (the local name for the city’s residents). If you enter it, coming from Bogorodi, a little to the left of the entrance you will find a small fountain, and behind it – rows of sculptures. Most of them are monuments of Bulgarian cultural figures and prominent historical figures.
If you walk straight ahead when you enter the park, you will come to the bridge and there are paragliders and seagulls circling above you all the time.
A pleasant surprise for all Russian guests will be the monument… to Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin, who, by the way, is loved by all local students, although most of them have not read “Eugene Onegin”. The monument is a little over two meters and is cast in bronze. Further there is another fountain and endless flowerbeds with insanely fragrant flowers.
Go a little further, and you’ll come to the Summer Theater (Leten Theater) – an open-air museum. It is here during the summer season the life never stops boiling: opera concerts, local performers and artists of the CIS countries, theatrical performances and folklore festivals.
Speaking of the latter, it has been held annually in Burgas since 1965 and brings together the most talented singers and dancers. The slogan of the festival is: “To preserve the heritage of our grandfathers and pass it on to our children”. And it is true. You will probably never find such a warm atmosphere here again. All the streets are filled with processions of young girls and boys playing national instruments and singing, all in traditional Bulgarian costume.
This summer the festival will take place from August 22 to 26.
Go downstairs. You are approaching the attraction of prime importance to all the little ones – the amusement park! The merry-go-rounds and slides have changed and rebuilt a thousand times over the past ten years, so I’m afraid to even vouch for the list of rides today. One thing I am sure of is that the electric cars are still there as they were fifteen years ago.
In my opinion, today it will be interesting for children from 3 to 12 years old. For the kids there is a mini-version of merry-go-rounds in the shape of animals, for kids “in the prime of life” – those same cars (and for adults they are no less fun), trampolines, water boats and slot machines. And, of course, table soccer and air hockey. Ticket prices range from 3 to 5 levs (1.5 to 2.5 euros) per ticket. Adults can relax in the small bar next door, from where you can perfectly see the whole park, so the child will always be under control.
Right in front of the amusement park, in the center, there is an unusual-looking monument – a pantheon. It was erected in honor of the soldiers who fought against the Nazis during World War II. There used to be an eternal flame burning inside and it was guarded by soldiers, but for the past 25 years the structure has stood alone. It is probably the third most popular meeting place for all young people in the city.
Now, unfortunately, the pantheon has been turned into a real garbage dump: everything you can get rid of is dumped there, behind the fence. Among some Russians they even call it a “pot”. Nevertheless, the monument is still worth seeing, especially since it’s a couple of meters from the sea!
A notional landmark of Burgas is a house of bizarre shape, called “krastavitsa” or, in Russian, “cucumber”. Where the Bulgarians saw this kind of green vegetable is still unclear to me, but the house is quite iconic, although it is a simple residential building.
17 Burgas attractions recommended to visit
Today our way is to Burgas (Bulgaria), the sights of this coastal city, located in southeastern Bulgaria, are quite popular with those who truly love history. It is a rather new settlement which was founded only in the 19th century, but the shores of its lakes have been welcoming and seeing off the merchant and military ships of the ancient peoples for thousands of years. These places have witnessed the birth of one of the earliest civilizations in Europe.
Holidays in Burgas include the beach, family walks in the huge Sea Garden, visits to museums and archaeological sites, and day trips to the many fascinating sites along the Black Sea coast.
Bulgarian coastal towns are distinguished by their giant coastal parks, where all the entertainment, sports facilities, gardens and cultural sites are combined in one place. During your stay in Burgas you will come back to the Sea Garden again and again simply because of the great number of attractions.
The 72,000 square meters area has a forest park, elegant promenades with fountains, playgrounds, cafes, ice cream kiosks, open-air theater, tennis courts and much, much more, so you will definitely have something to do.
Address: The Sea Garden, Burgas, Bulgaria.
Poda is a nature reserve located south of the city and consists of large salt and fresh water lakes and marshes. People come here to admire the huge variety of birds that nest in this amazing ecosystem.
Despite the relatively small size of the park, about 265 species of birds have been spotted in Pode, 46 of which nest here permanently. Large colonies of waders, cormorants, pelicans, geese, herons, and other wading birds live here. In addition, in October, storks even visit the site.
Address: Nature Conservation Center Poda, E87, Burgas, Bulgaria.
Armenian Church of the Holy Cross
Armenian Church of the Holy Cross | Photo: wikimedia.
Another reminder that Bulgaria is a bridge between different cultures is the Armenian Orthodox Church of the mid-19th century, listed as a monument of Bulgarian cultural heritage.
The Armenians are the fifth largest national minority in the country, although fewer than 7,000 people currently live there. Inside the church there is a monument to the Armenian genocide of 1915, and the church’s pointed dome and unobtrusive architecture are fully in keeping with the Armenian style.
Address: Holy Cross Armenian Church, 20 Mikhail Lermontov Street, 8000 Burgas Center, Burgas, Bulgaria.
Ethnographic Museum. | Photo: wikimedia.
If you want to explore Bulgarian cultural traditions, this museum is just what you need. It is located in a stately mansion built for the local public figure and 19th century mayor Dimitar Todorov Brakalov.
The interior of the first floor survives in its original form, so you can get a good idea of the local design of the time. There is also a separate corner devoted to the ladies’ fashion of the XIX century.
The second floor presents the traditional costumes of every ethnographic group that populated and still populate Burgas and its neighborhoods. Here you can see the costumes worn by the local nationalities during rituals and religious events.
Address: Ethnographic Museum Burgas, Slavyanska Street, Burgas, Bulgaria.
Archaeological Museum | Photo: wikimedia.
Long ago, this region was inhabited by the ancient Thracians, who left many artifacts here. You can see some of them in this beautiful museum, located in a former 19th-century school building.
Be sure to take a look at the treasures found in the tomb of a Thracian princess. An entire Bronze Age settlement was discovered under the sea near Burgas, and so the museum also displays ancient tools that were once used by the local boat builders.
Minoan bronze ingots are also on display, testifying to the trade between this region and the Minoans, who dominated eastern Greece and the Aegean coast of Turkey.
Address: Regional Historical Museum – Archaeological exposition, Boulevard “Aleko Bogoridi”, Burgas, Bulgaria.
Deultum Archaeological Reserve
Deultum Archaeological Reserve.| Photo: wikimedia.
On the western shore of Lake Mandrinsko is the village of Dibelt, which is of Thracian origin, but experienced its greatest prosperity during the reign of ancient Rome. Amateur historians will surely find it interesting to visit the site of the Deultum excavations.
Deultum was a free Roman colony founded in the first century by retired legionaries, and over time this settlement became one of the richest cities in the Balkans, (especially after the capital moved from Rome to Constantinople). The most massive of all the ruins are the remains of the bath complex, with a large section of the complex heating system still intact.
Address: Deultum, 8314 Sredets, Bulgaria.
The Burgas pier, which stretches from the Sea Gardens to the Black Sea for almost 300 meters, offers an incredibly beautiful view. It is probably the most recognizable building in Burgas – not least because of its distinctive T-shape.
Locals and tourists of all ages come here for a romantic walk and to look at the surroundings from the observation deck. In summer, fishermen cast their rods over the railing and brave young fellows jump into the water right from the pier.
Address: Burgas Bridge, Burgas, Bulgaria.
St. Anastasia Island
Island of Saint Anastasia.
In July and August you can reach this wonderful island, located a few kilometers southeast of the city, by boat from Mosta.
It is the only inhabited island in the Bulgarian part of the Black Sea, although its area is less than a hectare: there are only a few buildings, including a restaurant, a museum, guest houses and a lighthouse.
For most of the 20th century St. Anastasia Island served as a prison, while an ancient monastery has been preserved there since the Middle Ages. Here you can have a little change of scenery and privacy: you can even rent a room in one of the guesthouses to stay overnight on the island.
Address: St. Anastasia Island, Bulgaria.
Sozopol Resort Town
The resort town of Sozopol.
Sozopol is a Black Sea resort town located 35 kilometers from Burgas. It also has an ancient history which goes back to the Thracians and it is one of the oldest towns in the region.
It was founded under the name of Apolonia in the VII century BC and was named after the temple of Apollo, where stood a huge statue of this deity. It was even brought to Rome once and displayed in the Capitol.
Pay attention to the traditional wooden buildings in the old town of Sozopol, which have preserved the unique spirit of the city’s past.
You can take a mini-excursion through the restored medieval city fortifications, and if you want to cool off a bit, you can choose between visiting the small rocky coves or the golden sands of the sand dunes, which are in the immediate vicinity of the Stoletes Peninsula.
Address: Sozopol, 8130 Bulgaria.
Northern Beach. | Photo: Ali Eminov / Flickr.
The Northern Beach bordering the Seaside Park is a place where Burgas residents and guests sunbathe, swim and take part in many public events on land and sea.
The beach is 1700 meters long and the wide strip of sand is successfully complemented by the bars, restaurants and attractions of the Burgas Seaside Park. There are beach soccer and volleyball courts as well as changing rooms and showers for those who love to swim.
In short, it has everything you need for a good rest, so couples can easily spend the whole day here.
Address: North Beach, Burgas, Bulgaria.
When you come to Burgas, you must try the typical Bulgarian cuisine in a typical Bulgarian setting of a mehany or tavern. Mehany are cozy restaurants that serve all dishes of traditional Bulgarian cuisine, including kebabs, grilled meat, stuffed peppers and the famous shopska salad.
Order some raki or Bulgarian red wine to make your dinner seem even tastier, and don’t forget to enjoy a performance by traditional Bulgarian musicians and dancers who play and dance for visitors in folk costumes.
St. Ivan Island
St. Ivan’s Island | Photo: wikimedia.
This island, named after John the Baptist, is located about 900 kilometers from Sozopol. What is really striking is that on this uninhabited island, relics dating back to the first century A.D. were discovered in 2010 – they are believed to have belonged to a man who came from the Middle East.
In addition to its historical significance, St. Ivan’s Island is known to tourists as a wonderful nature reserve, a nesting place for more than 70 species of birds and one of the last habitats of the extremely rare Mediterranean monk seals. It is accessible by boat directly from Sozopol.
Address: St. Ivan Island, Bulgaria.
Galereya Mall Burgas
Galleria Mall Burgas.
When the temperature outside starts to rise noticeably, locals prefer to hide from the summer heat in this cool three-story mall. It is located on the western edge of town, but it is connected to the city center by a direct bus service that runs all day.
Inside you will find boutiques of most of the world’s famous brands, such as H & M, Zara and Benetton. The food court on the second floor offers restaurants of fast food chains familiar to the European average citizen.
Address: Mall Galleria Burgas, Yanko Komitov Street, Burgas, Bulgaria.
Strandzha Nature Park
Strandzha Nature Park | Photo: wikimedia.
What can nature lovers see in Burgas but the Strandzha Nature Park? The thing is that the southeastern part of Bulgaria, bordering Turkey, is one huge nature park. Its landscape consists of low forested mountains and hilly farms on the slopes of the hills.
Hidden here are lovely villages, where you can see the traditional Bulgarian stone and wooden houses and the old way of life, which has not changed much over the centuries.
The climate in this corner of Bulgaria is surprisingly humid. The rains nourish the dense deciduous forest and provide moisture for the many lush green pastures where the local cattle graze.
GPS coordinates: 42.085857, 27.681176.
The town of Nessebar
Church of St. Sophia in the town of Nessebar.| Photo: Vicki Burton / Flickr.
Just 35 kilometers north of the coast lies the UNESCO World Heritage City of Nessebar. It combines all the comforts of a coastal resort with great historical riches. Walking through the cobblestone streets of the old Nessebar, you will come across beautiful old churches at almost every step.
The oldest of them date back to the VI century AD. For example, the church of St. Sophia is in ruins since 1700, but you can easily make out the shape of its beautiful nave, and the Byzantine arches, mostly survived in very good condition.
If you have the strength and the desire, there are at least ten other ancient and medieval churches, as well as the city fortifications and the symbolic windmill, which stands at the entrance to the city – all worthwhile to walk a couple of kilometers.
Address: Nessebar, Bulgaria.
Atanasovsko Lake has earned the love of tourists because of its therapeutic mud and alkalis. You can safely spend all day here, lying in lye pools and slathered in black healing mud.
The beach is less than 100 meters away, and there are comfortable showers. Free parking is also provided, but you can easily get to the area on foot or by bike through Seaside Park (Burgas has a convenient city bike rental system).
Atanas Lake is also a popular spot for bird watching – 316 of Bulgaria’s 423 species of birds can be seen here. The lake is incredibly salty and has been used for its extraction for over a century.
Address: Atanasovsko Lake, Bulgaria.
Church of Saints Cyril and Methodius
Church of Saints Cyril and Methodius. | Photo: wikimedia.
This is the main cathedral of Burgas, dedicated to the two brothers Cyril and Methodius – the authors of the Cyrillic script. The church was designed by Italian architect Riccardo Toscani, and its stained glass windows were created by the same artist who was responsible for their design in the St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia.
Address: Church St. St. Kiril and Metodiy, St. St. Kiril and Metodiy Square, Burgas, Bulgaria.