There are plenty of activities to keep you occupied in Sunny Beach resort, but if you feel the need to travel a bit further afield, here are some ideas for places to visit.
Nessebar is founded on an ancient Thracian village which dates back to the 2nd Century B.C. Because of its strategic location, the settlement developed into a trading port which was initially called Messembria by the Greeks and later given the name of Nessebar. Architectural remains from the ancient town indicate that there were fortifications, aqueducts, an amphitheatre and a temple to the Greek god Apollo. The 'old town' has a picturesque collection of buildings, many of which are now used as tourist shops and restaurants. Nessebar is reputed to have contained no less than 41 churches. Although only a few of them have survived, it still offers an interesting selection of religious buildings, such as the Basilica and the Bishop's Residence. You can also see the remains of the fortified walls and Roman and Greek pavements.
Burgas (or Bourgas) is the second largest city on the Black Sea Coast; Varna is the largest. The port of Burgas is the largest port in Bulgaria and includes a Duty Free Zone. The pretty Sea Garden offers a peaceful and quiet place to stroll. With an abundance of flowers, trees and interesting statues, the park stretches down the hillside towards the sea. Inside the park you will find a casino, an open-air theatre and even a small zoo. Steps lead down from the park to the city beach.
Burgas has a good selection of shops, from small boutiques to huge hypermarkets. If it's culture that you are seeking, Burgas has a lot to offer:
Every summer, during August, Burgas is host to the International Folklore Festival, which attracts visitors from all over the world.
Like Nessebar, Sozopol offers a beautiful collection of National Revival houses and quaint cobbled streets. This ancient town, which was first inhabited by the Thracians as long ago as 4000 B.C., is now the seat of a flourishing artistic community. Like Nessebar, many of the historic buildings are now used as shops, restaurants and bars, but this does not detract from their beauty and the sense of history that pervades this cosy seaside resort. You can take a boat ride to St John's Island, which is a nature reserve and contains the remains of a Byzantine monastery.
Irakli is one of the few natural and totally undeveloped beaches in the southern Black Sea coast. It is part of a natural reserve and is home to a variety of plant and animal species. Irakli has been the centre of an ongoing battle between would-be developers and conservationists.
The stylish resort of St Vlas is only 4 km from Sunny Beach. A much quieter resort than Sunny Beach, St Vlas has a luxurious yachting marina. This is a romantic location where you can stroll along the pavement and admire the yachts that have been moored there by the rich and famous. The resort has a variety of charming restaurants, cosy shops and café/bars. St Vlas also has a safe beach with soft sand and calm waters, ideal for young children. For older children and active adults there are plenty of water sports.
Known as both the "Sea Capital" and the "Summer Capital" of Bulgaria, Varna is a lively and cosmopolitan city which is well worth a visit. There are organized day trips to Varna but, if you prefer a little more freedom, you can catch a coach from the bus station at Sunny Beach, or on the main road from Burgas to Varna.
If you ask most Bulgarians which of their cities is the best, they will say Varna. In addition to having a huge pedestrian shopping centre, several new and spectacular shopping malls and an excellent range of sports and leisure activities, it is also a seaside resort in its own right. Varna beach has kilometres of soft sand and you can walk for hours along the promenade. Cosy restaurants that overlook the beach offer a huge selection of food and drink.
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Golden Sands is Sunny Beach's smaller but slightly more glamorous sister. Whilst Sunny Beach is the most popular Bulgarian destination for Irish and UK visitors, Golden Sands is the favourite with Germans, Scandinavians and Russians. You will still find plenty of restaurants that specifically target British visitors (with brightly coloured signs advertising "British Breakfast" and "Sunday Lunch") and of course there is an Irish Pub to keep the Irish flag flying. But you will also find restaurants and coffee bars that sell fabulously fattening and irresistible cakes. The Germans love their cakes, and don't they know how to make them!
There are plenty of fun-filled activities for all the family in Golden Sands. A mini train carries passengers from the middle of the resort to the yacht port and back. If its action that you want, you can go parasailing or try out the banana boats, jet skis and huge bungee bouncers. The young children aren't forgotten either. There are pony and donkey rides, bouncy castles and slides, miniature cars and lots of open air swimming pools with special sections for children.