Located at the westernmost point along Bulgaria’s Black Sea Coast is the beautiful and charming Balkan port city of Burgas. As one of the country’s most vital centers for culture, industry, transportation, and tourism and a city whose history can be traced back to the Bronze Age, there is no shortage of options when it comes to what to see and eat in Burgas, which can make planning a vacation itinerary a difficult task, especially if you’re on a time crunch.
As rich in culture as it is in cuisine and recreation, Bulgaria’s fourth-largest city offers a diverse array of attractions and restaurants that are sure to tickle the fancy of any traveler who steps foot inside its limits. To help with your Burgas trip planning, David’s Been Here has compiled this in-depth guide to the city’s top sites and restaurants. These are the best things to see and eat in Burgas, Bulgaria.
When many people think of the natural beauty of Burgas, it’s usually Sea Garden, the city’s world-renowned seaside park that runs parallel to Burgas Beach, that immediately comes to mind.
The city’s largest and most famous public park, Sea Garden’s roots date back to 1910, when the Municipality of Burgas hired Bulgarian architect and botany enthusiast Georgi Duchtew to begin construction on the attraction. Because of his love and passion for exotic plants, the park is now home to hundreds of striking and unsual species of fauna from every continent.
At the southern end of the park is the Sculpture Garden, an area containing many sculptures that their respective artists dedicated to the city. There are plenty of recreational options to take advantage of in this 800-decare park, including picnicking, bike riding, visiting the Marina Casino, catching a show at the Snail Amphitheatre, or attending one of the many music and art festivals that take place in the park throughout the year.
The Archaeological Museum of Burgas
With early signs of habitation dating back at least 3,000 years, it should come as no surprise that the area where the city of Burgas now stands proudly showcases that history for all to see. For a fascinating look at some of the Stone- and Bronze Age artifacts that have been found in the area, as well as an extensive collection of relics from the Greek, Roman, and Thracian eras, a trip to the Archaeological Museum of Burgas is in order.
Established in 1912, the museum houses numerous historical artifacts, including a collection of beautiful Roman tombstones, ancient shipping equipment, a wooden Roman ark, a wooden boat, the oldest statue ever unearthed in Bulgaria, one of the most complete collections of pre-monetary forms in Bulgaria and the Balkans in general, and ornaments that belonged to the Ancient Thracian priestess Leseskepra. Any list of the things to see and eat in Burgas is incomplete without a stop here!
In early July of every year since 2008, the city of Burgas throws its annual sand festival at the northern end of Burgas Beach, which encourages local and international artists to use a special, rain-resistant sand to create detailed sculptures that fit the year’s theme. The sandy works of art are displayed on the beach through the end of the summer and attract tourists from all over the world who come to Burgas to marvel at the intricate work, patience, and craftsmanship that go into sculpting them.
When I visited Burgas in 2013, the theme was “Famous People Throughout History,” and the sand sculptures I viewed on the beach included likenesses of German theoretical physicist Albert Einstein to Soviet pilot and cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin.
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Other recent themes have included “Myths and Monsters,” “Sea World,” “Cartoon Characters,” “Circus,” and “Fairy Tale Heroes,” so it would not have been uncommon to find yourself coming face-to-face with highly detailed sand depictions of Finding Nemo, saber-toothed tigers, Galileo Galilei, circus elephants, King Kong, or Beauty and the Beast as you explored the park.
Restoran Vodenitsata (The Windmill Restaurant)
If you come to Burgas hoping to get a taste of traditional, yet inexpensive, Bulgarian fare, you’re in luck. Vodenitsata Restaurant, also referred to as the Windmill Restaurant, serves just that, in a charming space that boasts wood siding, a terracotta roof, and a casual, family-friendly atmosphere. This vibrant and laid-back eatery overlooks the beach and is always packed with locals, which tells you the food is every bit as spectacular as the views.
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For the best experience at Restoran Vodenitsata, I recommend making a reservation for a night when there is live music playing. If you’re dining on a summer night, eat inside to avoid the heat and the mosquitoes. I personally suggest you go with the traditional pork sach, an outstanding dish that contains pieces of juicy pork, eggplant, carrot, mushroom, onions, lemon, tomatoes, and green peppers.
Other menu standouts include their grilled fish, salads, barbecue, and steaks. Between its views and food, Restoran Vodenitsata easily makes our list of the top things to see and eat in Burgas!
After spending a long day exploring and sightseeing, a delicious and satisfying dinner at one of Burgas’ fantastic fine dining restaurants will be in order, and there are few eateries in the city better than Ethno, a classy yet laid-back modern taverna that serves cuisine from all over the world, but pays homage to the city’s Greek heritage with lots of dishes from Bulgaria’s southern neighbor.
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Grilled fish and meats are among Ethno’s specialties and some say the restaurant’s acclaimed Black Sea mussels are so divine that they’re singlehandedly worth a trip to Burgas. Be sure not to miss out on Ethno’s Bulgarian wine from the Varna area as you dine on sensational selections like their lovely grilled octopus, succulent shrimp saganaki, and mouthwatering barbecued sea bass. After just one bite, you won’t want to leave!
Of course, a Burgas vacation wouldn’t be complete without a place to stay, and some of the city’s best accommodations can be found at Hotel Bulgaria, a four-star business hotel that combines Bulgarian tradition with luxurious sophistication.
First opened in 1976 and fully renovated in 2010, the hotel’s friendly and attentive staff is quick to cater to guests’ every need to make every visitor’s stay a memorable one.
Centrally located in the heart of Burgas along one of the city’s main pedestrian streets and just a ten-minute walk to the beach and Sea Garden, Hotel Bulgaria offers not only a variety of spacious and elegant rooms perfect for couples and families, but also a laundry list of amenities, including multiple restaurants and bars, a 24-hour casino, an expansive sports complex, a fitness center, and a gorgeous spa that is prepared to melt away any tensions or anxieties you may feel the moment you step inside.
The Bulgarian port city of Burgas is the perfect combination of traditional and modern and exudes a rarified charm through its stunning attractions, hearty cuisine, and warmhearted people. Book your Burgas vacation today and see for yourself why countless tourists from all over the world flock to Bulgaria to experience the sights, sounds, and tastes of this Balkan wonderland every year.