• Katrina Julia

One Day in Varna, Bulgaria: Itinerary To Transform & Travel with My Mom and Dad!

You love culture, beaches, and travel to unique destinations. You want to go beyond the usual tourist destinations. You love to get away, stay healthy and try new experiences when you travel. Traveling helps you transform in more ways than one when you travel to Varna, Bulgaria. Maybe, you want to come with your family too? You want to transform and travel.

It's easy to see why Varna and Bulgaria are destinations to add to your travel bucket list sooner rather than later with culture, beauty and food. The city and surrounding areas have a lot to offer ranging from a sea garden, beaches, pirate ship, experiential restaurants, spa along the Black Sea, and walkability among the cities streets.

There's plenty to experience one day in Varna, Bulgaria to transform and travel whether you come solo, with a group, or with family. After you read this, you will likely decide to stay in Varna, Bulgaria especially with the beautiful beaches and surrounding cities to explore within driving distance like Necessebar, Veliko Tarnovo, and Plodiv to name a few.

Follow this One Day in Varna, Bulgaria Itinerary toTransform and Travel. It will help you make your travels transformational even it's a short trip. These are my recommendations for the top experiences for your one day in Varna. My intention for you is that you choose exploration.

Shot on my Canon EOS M100

Fun Facts about Varna, Bulgaria

One of the reasons I love Varna is because of the city's culture, history, and beaches. Beaches all around the globe speak to my soul.

Interesting things to note about Varna include their Varna Sea Garden- the largest landscaped park in the Balkans Sea Garden, Roman Thermae - 4th largest preserved Roman Bath Complex in Europe, Varna International Ballet Competition is the oldest and most prestigious in the world, Dolphinarium is a one-of-a-kind attraction and the only one in the Balkans, and Varna is the last place where the crusade ended.

My parents live there now too! Each and every time I visit Varna, Bulgaria, I learn and experience new things!

My Experiences With Varna, Bulgaria

If you are connecting with me and us for the first time, Varna, Bulgaria is special for may reasons.

Some of you may have instantly thought - why Varna - why Bulgaria? Well, to give you background into my life and story, I was conceived in Sofia, Bulgaria early in 1978.

My parents met there at a night club while my mom was on vacation with her aunt in 1976. My dad introduced her the next day to his mom and said this will be the mother of my children. She went back to Poland two weeks later, and to keep a long story short my dad sent marriage papers and they were married in Bulgaria about three months later.

My parents lived in Sofia for about two years and later left for Poland where I was born in Katowice Oct 7, 1978 in a military hospital. Six months later, my dad went first by himself to a refugee camp to Italy (after some detours including jumping from a train!). My mom and I left for the camp when I was six months old.

Fast forward to 10 months later when we would leave for the United States. We lived in South Carolina at first and moved to Houston in 1980. I grew up in Houston, Texas. You could easily say I was born with exploration and adventure in my blood.

We visited Bulgaria when I was in sixth grade again exploring Sofia, Albena, and Varna to name a few places. When my parents were retiring in 2017, they decided to go to Varna, Bulgaria because they knew the language, cost of living, and it is a short 1-2 hour plane ride from Vienna, Austria where my brother and his family (and grandchildren) live!

Since they moved to Varna, Bulgaria, I've visited them three times. The first time in 2017 in September. The second time in September - October 2018 including for my mom's and my birthday. Recently, for Christmas in 2019 for our first Christmas along with my brother and his family for 20+ years! Any time, I visit I explore new experiences in Varna and nearby, as well as around Bulgaria.

Mom, Dad and I on my birthday in 2018 in Varna, Bulgaria.

I thought it would be great to do a one day guide on Varna, Bulgaria including insights from my mom and dad, Eva and Krum. I'll be sharing experiences throughout from 2017-19. Throughout, I'll share highlights from my childhood as well.

It was interesting visiting Bulgaria almost 20+ years later with all the changes in my life. When my feet touched the earth in Varna, Bulgaria in 2017, I realized the last time I visited was in 1991. A flood of memories took me back to the time when our family almost moved back to Bulgaria then.

At Varna Airport - love the colors on the sign!

Each time I've visited my parents in 2017-2019, I've stayed with them in a house about 10 minutes away from the city center. From the terrace, I may see the Black sea, and a small beach is a 10 minute walk. If you know me, the beach is my happy place.

Me at Albena Beach

In 2019, they added a new addition to the family, Benji (or my brother as I call him). He is the sweetest, and absolutely man's (or more accurately my dad's) best friend.

Benji at the beach - best dog ever!

Sunset near my parent's home about 10 minutes outside of the Varna, Bulgaria city center.

Shot on my Canon EOS M100

My travels in Varna, Bulgaria include exploration, adventure, and relaxation. If you didn't know, I haven't drunk alcohol for over 6 years now. I feel healthier than High School.

In this One Day Itinerary, I'm sharing experiences from Aqua House Spa, Sea Garden, Beach, Restaurant on the Beach, Pirate Ship and Restaurant, Varna Pier, and the City Passage. I love each and every experience!

Jumping for Joy right by my parent's home.

Mom's and Dad's Experiences with Varna, Bulgaria

Before moving to Varna when we retired in 2016, we visited the city of Varna and beaches twice as tourists. Staying in nice hotels 5 days in the heart of the city inside the Sea Garden, we liked the walking distances to the store, restaurants and coffee shops on every corner very much.

The leisure life, meeting friends and sipping coffee gave us insides to a different and more relaxed pace than what we experienced in Houston, Texas. Even though we came during the off season, the weather was beautiful. We rented a car and explored the beaches around, that we had last seen on family travels in 1990.

We noticed some positive changes, and we decided to come back again. The summer after we did. We flew from Vienna, Austria and had an amazing time staying a week. So when my husband retired after me, we rented a house for five years with the option to buy. We packed our belongings and moved to Varna, Bulgaria. Was it temporary??

We are not sure, but we are still here after four years. I may say now, that the first winter after moving in, I realized that it is very different visiting as tourists, especially during the summer high season.

You see life with different eyes when you become a local. Varna city center is renovated, the sea garden is the most beautiful during the summer time with colorful planted flowers, and the beaches make you feel like you are on a beautiful vacation.

I love the main Varna beach, Golden Sands beach, Konstantine and Elena town, and my favorite Albena beaches.

When November comes and leaves falling leaving the garden and city bald, winds sometimes too strong to walk, and you waiting back for April/ May, but you still like sounds of waves, empty beaches.

Sitting closer to one of the pier's near our home, having cup of coffee from machine near by( which is delicious by the way). Benji - our awesome dog - enjoys those walks too and anticipates them, and loves meeting 2 and 4 legged friends.

The restaurants and coffee shops open everywhere, inviting warm waiting for you inside. My favorites include Happy Bar and Grill, Starya Chinar, and Mr Baba in and old ship - just to name few.

Being in Varna, Bulgaria during CoVid is quite different. The city, like many others, experienced lock down for a good part of 2020, and tourism is down considerably.


One Day in Varna, Bulgaria

In this One Day Itinerary, I'm sharing experiences from Aqua House Thermal Spa, walk along the Sea Garden and City Passage, Varna Beach and the Sea Terrace Restaurant, Mr Baba Pirate Ship and Restaurant, and Varna Pier. I love each and every experience!

My mom is sharing her favorites for One Day in Varna, Bulgaria with a walking tour on Knyaz Boris street, Varna Cathedral, Sea Garden, and Varna Beach.

This post comes at the One Year Anniversary of Christmas together as a family in Varna, Bulgaria.

I am super grateful to this travel guide with Mommy and Me. My mom has inspired my love of travel from conception. We have traveled together to Poland, Bulgaria, Austria, London, Egypt, India, Italy, Greece and Varna to name a few.

We can't wait for more adventures with Mommy and Me.

Snapshots from last year with mom in Varna in 2019.


AquaHouse Thermal & Beach

When in Doubt, Zen It Out. AquaHouse Thermal & Beach is a perfect place to do so!

Each and every time I go to Varna, Bulgaria, I go to AquaHouse at least once during my visit. If you fly into Varna, Bulgaria in the evening, a great way to start your visit the next day is by starting it at the AquaHouse.

My visits have included self care, visits with a family friend, mommy and me time, and a family visit for Christmas last year - a priceless experience to have together.

It is only a few kilometres from Varna, and is found one of the most picturesque places on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast – Sts. Constantine and Helena (one of my mom's favorite places!)

I highly recommend grabbing a fresh fruit juice at the Fresh Bar. I speak Bulgarian, but they offer menus in English, and everyone speaks English too.

I love my visits each and every time and feel super relaxed. It boasts over 6,000 square meters with 14 pools and water amenities with a beautiful and breathtaking waterfront view.

You could spend time here on the private beach all day alone!

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Walk Along the Sea Garden and City Passage

I love walking around the Sea Garden - the largest landscaped garden in the Balkans - right along the center of Varna and City Passage, and is near the beach. It's easy to get lost for hours in the Garden and City Passage

Mom's Thoughts

Spending a day in Varna, Bulgaria includes going to Maria Luisa street to pass City hall and the adjacent park with fountains and turn to right to Slivnitza heading to main entrance of the Sea Garden (Morska Gradina in Bulgarian) which goes around 7 km.

It is a beautifully landscaped park is the playground for families every day. When you ar walking down by the beach, you will find numerous restaurants. and cafes. Coffee here is numero uno for all day. The views are undeniable.

Tp spend One Day in Varna means having a limited time to see the beautiful city.

As a tourist, start from the passage in city center. I recommend going on a walking tour during the vibrant summer time on Knyaz Boris street, lined with shops, cafes. and experiences to site see.

By going left via Preslav street, you may walk by Varna Catholic church named Immaculate Conception of Virginia Mary. Last year, Katrina and I went here for a service. You are in Greek quarter, the oldest part of Varna. With some small Greek orthodox churches or Armenian ones.

Roman bath were built in 2nd century AD. City back then was called Odessos under Roman Empire. Its short walk from Preslav. Also next to Roman Bath, there is very picturesque orthodox church St Athanasius. When leaving in Greek quarter, we heard the morning bells of this church every morning, since our first apartment in Varna, Bulgaria was overlooking the Roman Bath.

During the summer time, an additional treat includes listening to classical music most evenings.

Then going back to Knyaz Boris there is beautiful Orthodox St Nicholas church, built in 1865.

It is must see.

When you come to the Independent Square, there are beautiful dancing fountains in the middle of the center of town. There is the Varna Theatre which originally opened in 1947 under the name Varna Opera House. Its history goes back to 1912.

That would already make half a day gone, I think.

So, depending on your plans, you may have a fresh squeezed juice, coffee or lunch by Independence Square. Or, you may love Katrina's favorite restaurant - The Sea Terrace Restaurant.

Then, in front of you stands very impressive Varna Cathedral, one of the largest in Bulgaria. It opened officially in 1886. Its must to see inside and light up a candle. Bulgarians light up on one side for dead loved ones and and then other living ones. There isn't much luck to catch services though, unless wedding or christening.