Sights of Bourgas
Getting to know any seaside city, of course, starts with the sea. No matter how many times I come to Bulgaria, the first evening I throw all my suitcases and bags and run to the beach. For me, this attraction is number one. And what else is there to see?
Of course, Burgas is not Prague or Rome; you won’t walk around here without ceasing to admire the massiveness and grandeur of the architectural structures. Burgas is not primarily a tourist city. To me it looks more like a typical post-Soviet town with low houses and laundry hanging outside the windows. Nevertheless, there is always something to see. Even 20 years later I manage to find something new. My main advice is: don’t be afraid to get lost in the streets. There are a lot of them and they are small, but each of them will always lead you to a new place.
Sand Figures Festival
If you landed in Burgas in the morning and have a desire to explore the city immediately, start your acquaintance with the northern coastal part of the city. Firstly, you will immediately find yourself at the main destination – the Black Sea, and secondly, you will not have to burden yourself with excessive information from historical references about high art on the first day.
There, in the depths of the park Morská hradina, which can be reached on foot from anywhere in the city, you will find the Festival of Sand Figures (Festival na piasčni skulpturi). By the way, the park is not far from the hotel with the same name Park (the park is separated from it by a railroad, so you’ll know right away that you’re heading in the right direction).
It’s not the sand version of Madame Tussauds, but I personally love wandering around amongst the mystically moulded cartoon characters, monuments and famous people.
Opening hours: Mon-Fri – 9:00-20:00. The ticket costs 3 lev (1.5 euro). The exhibition opens, traditionally, in the first week of July and will last until the beginning of autumn.
After hard, endlessly dragging work days, a walk along the water is the best therapy. Walk from sandy figures to the embankment and here the Black Sea is in front of you again. On the opposite end of the beach you will see a pedestrian bridge – one of the main attractions of Burgas. In the evening it is beautifully illuminated and relatively empty, so this is the time when you can really feel like you’re on vacation.
The bridge has three tiers:
- The lower one, from which you can touch the water with your hand or even dive: no one will tell you anything here;
- the middle, on which elderly couples and families with children stroll leisurely;
- the upper one. The last three years it is closed, but it still does not prevent the brave, photographers and fans of jumping from the towers to make their way there. This is done quite simply: you just need to climb over the fence along the ledge and, being “on the other side” of the obstacles, climb the spiral staircase. The main thing is not to fall off and not to be in the water next to the jellyfish!
- Alexander Street;
- Bogoridi Boulevard;
- St. Ivan of Rila Church;
- the monument to Alesha;
- the city fountain;
- Church of Cyril and Methodius;
- Armenian church.
The size of the city never ceases to amaze me. The “official” center is represented by only two streets – Alexandrovskaya and Aleko Bogoridi Boulevard. It is possible to pass it (if you are not a local and do not stop at every second house, meeting the next acquaintance) in 20 minutes at a brisk walking pace. But do not hurry. You, as a tourist, are supposed to walk and look carefully at the sights.
Alexandrovskaya Street starts from the Burgas Free University, a modern-looking building where, oddly enough, I almost never met any students. Nevertheless, the institute with its glass walls looks quite interesting and a few years there was even a casting for X-Factor, where the most singing kids from all over Bulgaria were gathered.
All along the street here and there are small local stores and cafes. By the way, in any of them will be tasty and cheap: 10-15 lev (5-7,5 euros) for three dishes.
Church of St. Ivan of Rila
Right next to the university you will see a small temple. It is named after the defender of the Bulgarian people. The building looks quite simple, but this is where I see the happiest wedding couples every year. And if you find yourself a tourist without connection, you can catch free wi-fi on the benches near the temple.
In the middle of the street, on the Troikata square, stands the highest, eighteen-meter, monument to a Russian soldier in the city: the monument to Alesha or the Soviet Army. It was built in 1953.
This point is tacitly considered the main meeting place among tourists and the Bulgarians themselves.
Until recently, immediately behind Alesha on the square there was an ordinary fountain, but in the summer of 2015 the city government has decided to change its familiar form: now in the center directly from the ground beat small fountains, in which children love to run and “bathe”. At night, the fountains, like the bridge, are illuminated, and the atmosphere is romantic.
It is on this square every year, especially in the summer season, there are different “promotions” – advertising campaigns, where you can play a game and win a prize, try a free soda, get a pair of glasses of this or that brand and just watch the active young people involved in all these activities.
Cyril and Methodius Church
If you go left from McDonald’s (you’ll recognize it from afar by the huge sign on the wall of the building), you’ll reach the Church of St. Cyril and Methodius (incongruously called Methodius in Bulgarian). For me, it is the most beautiful building in the whole town, although today the area around the building is fenced off and torn up, and the church itself is surrounded by scaffolding: a couple of years ago the authorities decided to build an underground parking lot here, but the laws of physics did their job, and the century-old church split (literally). Now for the fourth year now they have been desperately trying to “reassemble” it.
If you walk from McDonald’s in the opposite direction, you’ll come to the opera house. You’ll recognize it by the sculpture of a hand with a fan right across the street. Despite the fact that Burgas is a small town, this is where the real musical extravaganza takes place. Local productions annually gather audiences from all over Bulgaria and other countries. You can buy a ticket to the opera in the building itself. Don’t regret, set aside an evening to experience the Bulgarian stage: you will be stunned. I managed to see “Swan Lake” and I am still firmly convinced that it was Burgas which had the best interpretation of it!
Ticket prices range from 10 to 30 levs each (5-15 euros), but there are also various offers: for a family of 4, each ticket will cost 5 levs (2.5 euros). You can book or buy tickets at the opera house or online.
Back on Aleksandrovska Street, walk along it further in the direction of Bogoridi. At the crossroads of these two central streets for more than a century stands an inconspicuous but very iconic clock (“chapel clock”) – the second meeting place, next to which at any time of day you can see someone waiting for a single person.
Opposite the clock is a favorite spot for all street musicians. The boys play guitars, handmade drums brought from home, and sing foreign songs. If you’re lucky, you might even hear the tunes of “Katyusha”.
Armenian Apostolic Church
Right next to the tall Hotel Bulgaria, which is impossible not to notice, there will be a small garden where you will find an old church. It was built in the middle of the 17th century, and was built “for the ages”, unlike the previous one. Unlike all the others, there are almost never more than two or three people in it, and the silence that reigns in the square next to it is imbued with real serenity.
If it’s time to eat, you’re on the right track: in the very hotel “Bulgaria” you will find Happy Bar & Grill restaurant on the first floor. American cuisine, steaks, sushi and the most delicious desserts are always here! As a chain restaurant, the prices are a little bit higher, but still not a crushing blow to the wallet. A salad, main course, dessert and a drink will cost you around 20 levs (10 euro), but you’ll be full after the first plate!
In any city the railway station is by default a landmark. In Burgas it’s the only one and it’s called (as it happens with this language – every word is another occasion for a joke) “ZP Gara”. It’s been open since 1903 and you can get anywhere in the country from here, by train or bus.
By the way, the cab drivers here at the station are a classic of the genre. They ignore absolutely any counters, hardly having caught foreign speech, therefore if you appeared in Burgas, having arrived by train, pass to hotel “Bulgaria” and catch a car there. You’ll pay exactly three times less.
Everyone to the garden! The large, spacious park is the pride of Burgas and the “burgazliys” (the local name for the city’s residents). If you enter it, coming from Bogorodi, a little to the left of the entrance you will find a small fountain, and behind it – rows of sculptures. Most of them are monuments of Bulgarian cultural figures and prominent historical figures.
If you walk straight ahead when you enter the park, you will come to the bridge and there are paragliders and seagulls circling above you all the time.
A pleasant surprise for all Russian visitors will be the monument… to Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin, whom, by the way, all local students love very much, although most of them have not read “Eugene Onegin”. The monument is a little over two meters and is cast in bronze. Further there is another fountain and endless flowerbeds with insanely fragrant flowers.
Go a little further, and you’ll come to the Summer Theater (Leten Theater) – an open-air museum. It is here during the summer season the life never stops boiling: opera concerts, local performers and artists of the CIS countries, theatrical performances and folklore festivals.
Speaking of the latter, it has been held annually in Burgas since 1965 and brings together the most talented singers and dancers. The slogan of the festival is: “To preserve the heritage of our grandfathers and pass it on to our children”. And it is true. You will probably never find such a warm atmosphere here again. All the streets are filled with processions of young girls and boys playing national instruments and singing, all in traditional Bulgarian costume.
This summer the festival will take place from August 22 to 26.
Go downstairs. You are approaching the attraction of prime importance to all the little ones – the amusement park! The merry-go-rounds and slides have changed and rebuilt a thousand times over the past ten years, so I’m afraid to even vouch for the list of rides today. One thing I am sure of is that the electric cars are still there as they were fifteen years ago.
In my opinion, today it will be interesting for children from 3 to 12 years old. For the kids there is a mini-version of merry-go-rounds in the shape of animals, for kids “in the prime of life” – those same cars (and for adults they are no less fun), trampolines, water boats and slot machines. And, of course, table soccer and air hockey. Ticket prices range from 3 to 5 levs (1.5 to 2.5 euros) per ticket. Adults can relax in the small bar next door, from where you can perfectly see the whole park, so the child will always be under control.
Right in front of the amusement park, in the center, there is an unusual-looking monument – a pantheon. It was erected in honor of the soldiers who fought against the Nazis during World War II. There used to be an eternal flame burning inside and it was guarded by soldiers, but for the past 25 years the structure has stood alone. It is probably the third most popular meeting place for all young people in the city.
Now, unfortunately, the pantheon has been turned into a real garbage dump: everything you can get rid of is dumped there, behind the fence. Among some Russians they even call it a “pot”. Nevertheless, the monument is still worth seeing, especially since it’s a couple of meters from the sea!
A notional landmark of Burgas is a house of bizarre shape, called “krastavitsa” or, in Russian, “cucumber”. Where the Bulgarians saw this kind of green vegetable is still unclear to me, but the house is quite iconic, although it is a simple residential building.
The 17 best sights of Burgas – description and photos
30 km north of Burgas is the traditional Bulgarian village of Bata. This Pomeranian village has long been a completely tourist destination. However, there are still “real” villagers in the village – about 1500 people.
Lakes of Burgas
First of all the lake of Bourgas should be mentioned – until 1942 the lake had the name Vaja. It is the biggest lake of the country and is formed by natural causes. The Burgas Lake is over 9.5 km long and varies in width from 2.5 to 5 km.
St. Anastasia Island
This island with a long history is located one and a half kilometers from Chernomorets in the Black Sea – or more precisely in the Burgas Bay. Although its area is only a hectare, the rocky island with a height of about 12 meters above the water level is the only inhabited island in the Bulgarian part of the Black Sea.
Seaside Park in Burgas
The Central City Park of Burgas, as its name implies, stretches along the sea shore. It is a favorite vacation spot of the citizens. The length of the green zone is almost 7 km. The park has well-groomed territory with flower beds, flower beds and fountains, where summer events are regularly held.
Art Gallery in Burgas
One of the oldest art museums in Bulgaria, the Art Gallery of Burgas is situated in the former synagogue building. Architecturally it is a beautiful structure, which was built in 1905-1910.
The Church of St. Cyril and Methodius
The Church of Saints Cyril and Methodius is the biggest church in Burgas. Its length is slightly more than 30 meters and its width is more than 20 meters. The decision to build a new church at the place of the wooden church was made in 1895. The construction began the following year and was funded by donations of citizens.
The Ethnographic Museum of Burgas
The Ethnographic Museum of Burgas is part of a museum complex along with three others: the Historical Museum, the Archaeological Museum and the Museum of Natural History. The latter three museums might also appeal to someone, but for a tourist in Bulgaria, the most interesting thing will of course be to see the ethnographic exhibit.
Burgas is a seaside resort town and probably nobody would think of looking for any outstanding sights here. Why, when there is a nice Central beach with a width of 100 meters right in the town? And a little further away begins the many-kilometer-long Seaside Park, where in the summer a large-scale festival of sand sculptures and various entertainment events are held. The northern beaches of Burgas are also worth seeing.
However, nature lovers should still break away from the sea for a while for the sake of the Burgas lakes. There are three of them, all quite close to the city: Lake Vaja, Lake Atanasovsko and Lake Mandra. These lakes are unique because through them passes the largest migration route of migratory birds from Europe to Africa on the continent. The area between the lakes and the sea shore has been declared a national reserve Poda, and in the right season here you can see tens of thousands of birds.
Bourgas is quite nice for a walk as well. The central pedestrian street, Alexandrovskaya Street, is full of greenery and cafes. There is also a highly photographed urban monument depicting a vacation suitcase made of bronze, from which sea shells are sprinkled.
Another curious itinerary for those who “linger” in the city is a trip to St. Anastasia Island, steeped in romantic tales of pirates, treasures, underground passages and fugitive political communist prisoners. Having visited the island, for example, during the day, closer to the evening you can go to a fun holiday with wine and dancing in the traditional village of Bata.
There are several museums in Burgas itself, although all of them – from the Historical Museum to the Art Gallery – are devoted exclusively to Bulgaria. The Regional Museum of Burgas has four subdivisions: History, Natural Science, Ethnography and Archaeology. Each museum occupies its own building, but they are all located close to each other, so it is convenient to view them all in turn.
Bourgas is also quite nice for just walking. The central pedestrian street, Alexandrovskaya Street, is full of greenery and cafes where you can take a break. There is also a highly photographed urban monument depicting a vacation suitcase made of bronze, from which sea shells are sprinkled. And in the same pedestrian zone you can stand on the “navel of the city” – kilometer zero of Burgas.
As for special architectural beauties Burgas can please first of all with two beautiful churches – but the condition in which they are now is not very happy. They are the Cyril and Methodius Cathedral and a small Armenian church. Both of these churches are more than 100 years old.
Those who are interested in history might enjoy a visit to the Burgas Thermae, also known as “Akve Kalide” or “Thermopolis”. The present neighborhood of the town, on the territory of which there are Roman baths built before our era, is called so – Banevo. In 2011, the baths received the status of a national reserve, and archaeological research on their territory is still going on. Another archaeological site is situated at a distance of 15 km from Burgas – the ruins of the old Roman town Deultum. Deultum was founded at the beginning of our era and it was the only free Roman settlement on the territory of today’s Bulgaria. The city was rich and prosperous, but by the 14th century, due to rising sea levels, it gradually turned into a swamp.