Varna Bulgaria is one of the most inexpensive places we’ve ever lived in so far. At this city on the beach, you can live like a king and party like a rockstar in an incredible location.
We’re not talking about a remote little village here; Varna is a vibrant city on the coast of the Black Sea, a growing center for startups, where food is incredible even in the most touristy spots, shopping is cheap and beautiful architecture of the old city and the beach is just an arm’s reach away. And when we say cheap living, I mean your dollar can go a long way here. We make friends everywhere we go and are always open for good conversation, and although the Bulgarians may seem a bit unapproachable at first, once you break the ice, you’ll find how hospitable and friendly they really are. If you want to find the best spots in the city and surrounding areas, you need to get insider tips from the locals.
Flights to Varna
We were in Tel Aviv, Israel (TLV) at the time and used Google Flights to search for the best deals on a flight to Varna (VAR). Wizz Air showed up as the cheapest flight and was also a direct flight from Tel Aviv to Varna. It turns out that Wizz Air is a great option for cheap direct flight all around Eastern Europe.
The initial prices shown on Google Flights were for the cheapest option of Basic. There are three options with Wizz Air: Basic, Wizz Go and Wizz Plus. We each, literally carry everything we own with us in an extra large suitcase weighing anywhere between 60-70 lbs (27-32 kg). The Basic option only allows one carry on, and the Wizz Go only allows a maximum checked bag weight of 20 kg, so this did not work for us. Although each of us carries one checked bag and and backpack, we needed Wizz Plus which allows up to 32 kg checked back, a 10 kg carry-on and a personal item such as a backpack. The total for two one-way tickets came to $322 ($161 each). Not bad.
By the way, we use these very cool suitcase covers when we travel so it is easy to spot our luggage at baggage claim while protecting our suitcases at the same time. They can be found at our Jetsetter Style Shop.
Useful tips for your trip to Varna
- The local currency is Bulgarian Lev. It literally means “Bulgarian lion”
Currently, (July 2018): 1 USD = 1.67 BGN, 1 Euro = 1.95 BGN
- Buy a Local SIM card (4G data only, no local number) at Varna Airport (VAR) by Telenor.
They have two data plans: 3 GB for $6 or 10 GB $17.
Telenor is located on your right side outside of baggage claim. You can get the same deal at the Airport or in the city. Not all locations in the city have the SIM card, so it’s best to get it at the airport.
- Country code : +359. Here is how to dial a local number
View this post on Instagram
Instagram is connecting people in such an amazing way. When we got to Varna, I really wanted to connect with a local photographer that can show me cool destinations in the area. I found an amazing feed by @antoninavalchevaphotography and saw this beautiful lavender flower field. I knew I had to find it and connect with her. A few days later we had lunch together, two strangers meeting off instagram, we hit it off right away ❤️ The following day, I joined her to a photo shoot with one of her clients in the lavender flower field. She was working, I was taking my own photos and taking it all in. 🔸 We have such powerful tools these days to connect and collaborate with like minded people who are passionate about travel, life and experiences. 🔸 The story doesn’t end here 💕 this random collaboration with a unique and talented woman was incredible. I’ll share more of the story tomorrow. 🔸🔸🔸🔸🔸 #bulgariaofficial #visitbulgaria #visitvarna #bulgaria #jetsettersecrets #minimalist #onesuitcase #livingmydream #nomadlifestyle #nomadbabe #nomadlife #israeligirls #sonyalpha #a6500 #travelandwork #locationindependent #bossgirl #gltlove #girlslovetravel #livingthedream #couplesgoalsmotivation #travelinfinitely #travel_ust
Accommodations in Varna
For a long stay our go to is obviously Airbnb as you can live and feel like a local in the best locations within walking distance to everything you need.
We booked our Airbnb in the heart of the city center of Varna. We chose our apartment by mapping the city center on Google Maps and planning that way, so we could walk to the beach, gym, and city center all 5-10 minutes walk. Everything else was a bonus.
The Cost per night for a one bedroom apartment was $30; 11 nights after all fees included was about $350 total.
Transportation in Varna
We are true advocates for walking around the city and exploring. Some places we’ve discovered are even unknown to locals themselves, believe it or not. Walking has its perks! Strolling around the Varna city center, beach and parks were always interesting experiences with tons to look at and find. Between the architecture, restaurants and beach bars, you’d find everything you need for a rich experience.
If you still feel like walking is not for you, the taxis and local transportation are very cheap. You will want to use Triumf Taxi. They do not have an actual mobile app but you can use the website from your phone or computer browser to order a taxi the same as you would use an app.
5-15 minute rides around the city will cost you around $2-5. If you’re staying in the heart of the city, you probably won’t need it at all except if you are planning for some shopping in Grand mall.
Shopping in Varna
Don’t even bother trying to find anything in the city center. If you’re up for some shopping during your stay, prepare a few hours for the Grand mall. Now that we know how cheap it is, we will probably make our next trip just to refresh our wardrobe there! The mall has many well-known brand names with items that are normally much pricier anywhere in the U.S. or Europe, but here you can get them for almost half the price.
The cute boutiques in the mall were an awesome surprise for a petite girl like me. I was able to find some adorable outfits for the rest of our trip. Important tip here: When we buy new, we make sure to get rid of some old. We travel with one suitcase each, so you can only imagine how much stuff we needed to get rid of. Give to local homeless or people in need if you can.
What about some exercise?
If going to the gym is a part of your regimen, based on where you staying, go on Google Maps and type Gyms in the Nearby function, read reviews look, at photos and there you go. There are a handful of gyms in the area that were mostly empty during the day, which is a huge plus for us and allows us to stay focused. We purchased 8 entries for around $17 USD at Fullmax Fitness and Spa. Go pump it up and get energized for your day! You’ll get the view of the cathedral on your way, which is a big plus.
Nightlife in Varna is on the beach, so if you like to party or dance, there are a few spots along the coastline. Let’s get down to where you want to be.
Our favorite beach bar was by far, Punta Cana. During weekdays it’s pretty low-key, but weekends are very crowded. It’s a hoppin’ spot! If you want a table, you will need to make reservations in advance, but you can walk in and get a spot on the bar as well if it’s open. They have great music during the day, so if you want a nice bar while tanning on the beach, that’s your spot.
Food in Varna
I’m saving the best for last, the restaurants scene! As we are foodies and always look for the best restaurants that are worth a visit, we can guarantee Varna won’t disappoint. The food was incredible everywhere, even in the more touristy spots. The Bulgarian cuisine and flavors are to die for. I have to warn you, try not to over eat.
At the beginning of our adventure, we ordered so much food just to try everything we possibly could and get a real taste for Bulgaria. Even if we couldn’t finish it, we couldn’t even get close to matching the bill of a meal in the U.S.
I’m dedicating a separate article for our winning list of restaurants in Varna so you can go straight to the ones that will be a memorable experience for you, for the food, the ambiance and best views.
For a good laugh check out the VLOG below : A Day in Varna, Bulgaria
I hope you found this article full of useful information for your upcoming Varna trip.
Connect with us on social media @JetsetterSecrets to get more travel secrets and hacks.