Bulgaria’s pretty new to the tourism game, but more and more holidaymakers are getting wise to its secrets – The Varna region is one of the country’s best kept. This wedge of north-eastern Bulgaria is our new destination for summer 2018. And it’s got lots to offer, lining up gorgeous beaches, plenty of history and mysterious natural wonders. Read on for some of Varna’s most surprising quirks…
When you think beaches, Bulgaria might not spring to mind, but in fact the Varna region plays host to some stellar swathes of sand. Its biggest beach sits at the mouths of the Kamchiya and Shkorpilovska rivers and stretches out for 13 kilometres.
Bulgaria’s one of the world’s biggest winemakers. Around 200,000 tonnes of the tipple is produced there every year, and a third of that comes from the Varna region. There’s even an annual festival celebrating the patron saint of wine on the 14th of February. Growers water their crops with wine, then gear up for an all-night party.
Bulgaria’s famous for its yoghurt, which is said to taste better than its Greek rival – yum. The secret ingredient’s a type of Bulgarian good bacteria which is used to make the stuff.
You can splash around in natural thermal springs in Varna – the Ereka spring’s a good spot. You won’t be the first, though. Varna’s springs have been used for centuries, famously by the Romans, who’ve left the 2nd Century Roman Thermae behind as proof.
Varna’s got its own ski slope. It’s called Valchi Dol, which translates as ‘wolf ravine’. Don’t worry – swooping down the slope’s not as scary as its name.
The region features Bulgaria’s only desert, which is home to a mystical natural wonder. The Stone Forest or Pobiti Kamani, is a group of massive rock structures arranged in a circle. Legend has it that they have magical powers.
History buffs will feel at home in Varna. Some of the region’s sites, like the Aladzha monastery, are carved right into rock, and they’re still in really good nick.
You might think that ostriches only live in far-away, exotic countries, but it turns out Bulgaria’s home to a few of these big birds, too. Varna’s Ostrich Valley – a working farm – even gives you the chance to cuddle a baby ostrich.
This red-cliffed cape’s the longest on the Black Sea coast. It’s got some stories to tell, including one about a group of 40 14th-century girls with their hair tied together (don’t ask). Now, it’s bursting with history and ruins, along with a couple of golf clubs for good measure.
The country’s oldest music festival is hosted in the city of Varna in June and July. The Varna Summer International Music Festival made its debut in 1926 and has shown off the best of Bulgaria’s classical music scene every year since.
Varna made a worldwide name for itself in 2016, when 4,000 volunteers set a new world record on the city’s beach. What was the record? Well, it was for the longest DNA strand made by people. Of course.