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Cruises to Varna

Varna (Photo:Aleksandar Todorovic/Shutterstock)

About Varna

Located on the Black Sea Coast, Varna is the second-largest city in Bulgaria (after the capital, Sofia). Once the summer retreat of the Eastern Bloc's most powerful players, Varna -- with its broad beaches, spectacular churches and well-stocked museums -- is now a magnet for Western tourists.

The city was founded more than 1,000 years ago as a fishing village and has had a richly chequered history ever since. Christened Odessos (water town) by the Greeks, it was besieged by Alexander the Great in the fourth century B.C. and was later dominated by the Romans and the Ottoman Turks. The end result is that the modern city now sports ancient Roman baths, as well as mosques and Turkish baths.

Today's visitors are most likely interested in Varna's great beaches. The acres of golden sand lining its coast make this city one of the prettiest sail-ins on the Black Sea. Water babies, who want nothing more than to ride the waves and feel the sand between their toes will be in their element. They can find their heart's desire a very short stroll from the dock before enjoying a lazy lunch with a sea view.

  • Why go to Varna?

  • Varna Cruise Port Facilities?

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Norwegian Jade
Norwegian Jade

9 Night
Cruise to VarnaDetails

1,939 Reviews
Leaving:Athens
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Azamara Journey
Azamara Journey

12 Night
Cruise to VarnaDetails

784 Reviews
Leaving:Athens
Cruise Line:Azamara
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Azamara Pursuit
Azamara Pursuit (Photo: Azamara Cruises)

12 Night
Cruise to VarnaDetails

Leaving:Istanbul
Cruise Line:Azamara
May 5, 2022
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Azamara Journey
Azamara Journey

11 Night
Cruise to VarnaDetails

Leaving:Istanbul
Cruise Line:Azamara
Sep 6, 2022
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Virgin Voyages

Cruise Critic Favorite

11 Night
Cruise to VarnaDetails

Leaving:Athens
Cruise Line:Azamara
Sep 2, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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12 Night
Cruise to VarnaDetails

Leaving:Istanbul
Cruise Line:Azamara
May 2, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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11 Night
Cruise to VarnaDetails

Leaving:Athens
Cruise Line:Azamara
Aug 26, 2022
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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11 Night
Cruise to VarnaDetails

Leaving:Istanbul
Cruise Line:Azamara
Jul 31, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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14 Night
Cruise to VarnaDetails

Leaving:Athens
Cruise Line:Emerald Cruises
Aug 5, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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21 Night
Cruise to VarnaDetails

Leaving:Istanbul
Cruise Line:Emerald Cruises
Aug 19, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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10 Night
Cruise to VarnaDetails

Leaving:Istanbul
Cruise Line:Ponant
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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21 Night
Cruise to VarnaDetails

Leaving:Athens
Cruise Line:Emerald Cruises
Jul 29, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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14 Night
Cruise to VarnaDetails

Leaving:Istanbul
Cruise Line:Emerald Cruises
Aug 19, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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12 Night
Cruise to VarnaDetails

Leaving:Athens
Cruise Line:Azamara
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Cruise Critic Favorite

11 Night
Cruise to VarnaDetails

Leaving:Istanbul
Cruise Line:Azamara
Aug 15, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Why go to Varna?

Pros:

Varna is a dynamic city with expansive beaches, stunning churches, plentiful museums and even Roman baths

Cons:

Most shops do not accept credit cards, so you'll need to make sure to have local currency on hand

Bottom Line:

Though you'll go for the beaches, Varna is an interesting and culturally rich city to explore

Varna Cruise Port Facilities?

It's about a 500-yard walk from the port terminal to the start of the Sea Garden Park area and beaches -- and because it's hot and unshaded, that walk feels long. You can climb a rusty ladder up to the top of the sea wall to get a better view and a bit of a sea breeze.

On the main drag, you'll see some beautiful embroidery and lacework draped on the walls, as local women offer it for sale. Tip: Only buy on the way back, when you know how much local currency you want to get rid of and are more likely to barter for a last-minute bargain.

For lunch and a bit of shopping, walk right along the waterfront through the Sea Gardens, past an Olympic-scale swimming pool (used by the locals for competitions, so not a tourist facility) and Gossip and Atmosphere Beaches. You'll soon see market stalls on a shady path to your left. Take the path and, straight ahead, you'll find a broad plaza with the Hotel and Cafe Odessos on the left and a large shopping, leisure and restaurant complex on the right -- with lots of open-air restaurant tables.

Good to Know?

Visit an ATM as soon as possible, and carry plenty of local currency, as hardly any shops accept credit cards.

And, if you're spending the afternoon on the beach, wear plastic flip-flops down to the water's edge, as the sand gets so hot that even a short walk with bare soles will burn your feet (unless you're a professional fire-walker).

Getting Around?

There are taxis right at the terminal entrance, but be prepared to negotiate hard; 20 leva should take you pretty much anywhere you'd like to go in downtown Varna. But, do establish (before you get in) that this is the agreed fee per cab, not per person.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money?

The local currency is the lev, which generally is about 2.4 to the British pound and 1.4 to the U.S. dollar. But, Bulgaria is scheduled to adopt the euro, beginning in 2014. Do get local cash at an ATM machine when you arrive because hardly any shops or restaurants accept credit cards. You can find current exchange rates at www.oanda.com or www.xe.com.

Language?

The official language is Bulgarian. Although some locals speak a smattering of English, don't count on it. Be prepared to use the universal language of smiles and signing. Useful phrases include da (yes), ne (no), molya (please) and blagodariya (thank you).

Where You're Docked?

The Varna port terminal lies very close to the beaches and leafy walkways of Varna's Sea Garden Park, which stretches several miles along the waterfront. The terminal itself is a small, two-storey building with a couple of souvenir shops and a cafe but no Internet facility. You can change money at an ATM on the wall, just outside of the main exit.


Varna Cruise Reviews
It was a nice day at the beach, but the beach was littered with trash. Take a taxi to a beach and save some money.Read More
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Beach&Snorkel
Awesome beach near the port.Read More
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mojoracer
Not the most exciting place to visit but we had a pleasant walk around the townRead More
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SimonM
We went off on our own here which I would recommend as very doable (don't bother with the $5/way shuttle, not a far walk). Nice Cathedral, very cheap shopping and nice old town/pedestrian area full of dining/drinkingRead More
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Calvin Hobbes

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