Varna or Golden Sands: where to go on holiday in Bulgaria

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In this post, I’m going to tell you about holidays in Varna or Golden Sands and how different they are, so you choose whichever is more suitable for you. I couldn’t include Sunny Beach here since I haven’t really been there, so this post is for people who are choosing between Varna and Golden Sands only.

Just so you know, both places are really close to each other: less than a 30-minute drive. Despite this tiny distance, they are really different. Like REALLY different.

Meet Golden Sands – a great party location with plenty of inexpensive hotels and bars offering you 5L pitchers of alcohol. In Golden Sands, almost each hotel has its own swimming pool and almost all of the hotels are located relatively close to the sea: using the shortcuts, you’ll get to the seaside in less than 10 minutes, not bad, huh?

However, beaches are quite expensive: in 2016, the rent of 2 beds, 2 mattresses, and one umbrella was 30 lev or 15 euros. Imagine every day like that. It’s quite a spending already unless you stay at the pool all day long or book a hotel with its own beach (which is quite pricey). We stayed 2 nights at Viva Golden Sands – a 4* star club hotel located on top of Golden Sands. However, its private beach was located 40 minutes walking from the hotel – no wonder there was a shuttle to it. As the hotel was all-inclusive, they were offering some great snacks and drinks on the beach too (nothing compared to our honeymoon hotel in Mexico though).

Goldens Sands Bulgaria - the beach
Goldens Sands Bulgaria – the beach

Also, the food in Golden Sands is quite expensive and not that tasty. You can buy fast food like pizza or sandwiches or a kebab for as low as 2.5 – 6 lev (or 1.25 – 3 euros) but food in the restaurants will cost you a fortune: it’s already comparable to major European restaurants. A salad and a fresh grilled fish together with a pint of beer would cost you around 26-34 lev (13-17 euros) depending on the restaurant.

Goldens Sands Bulgaria - the food
Food in Golden Sands Bulgaria

Also, you should choose a hotel very carefully, as some of them are located in a very noisy area (especially the ones next to the «Party Hotel Golden Sands»). You won’t be able to sleep without the earplugs.

There aren’t many things to do in Golden Sands, except for the excursions offered by various travel agencies and the Waterpark (which is really nice, or was nice some years ago, when I went there for the first time).

Check the best deals for hotels in Golden Sands right now:

Golden Sands, Bulgaria
Golden Sands, Bulgaria

And now let’s look at Varna. Unlike Golden Sands, Varna is a city, where the people actually live. Thus, there are great places to eat (with normal, Bulgarian-level prices and not German-level prices like in Golden Sands), for example, Godzilla restaurant with very healthy and nice food or Tasty restaurant, which not only has a huge menu and delicious dishes, but also the great value prices and exceptional service. Even though we stayed in Golden Sands, we came to Varna a couple of times for the whole day in order to eat something very nice.

Also, the beaches in Varna look better than in Golden Sands. Some say that the sea in Varna is not as clear as further away, like in Golden Sands or Albena, because the seaport is kind of close to the beach, however, the water looked fine to me. And the beaches are definitely better: the price is TWICE cheaper than in Golden Sands, meaning that for 2 beds with mattresses and an umbrella you would pay 15 lev (7.5 euros) instead of 30 lev. That’s a huge difference, to be honest. Also, the beaches in Varna look somehow more tropical than in Golden Sands. Maybe because of all these beach bars.

Food in Varna, Bulgaria. The Tarator Soup
Food in Varna, Bulgaria. The Tarator Soup

A typical beach in Varna, Bulgaria
A typical beach in Varna, Bulgaria

Varna is also a great place for nightlife: many great bars and clubs are located next to the beach or right on the beach, and it’s also good for evening strolls through the gardens and nice streets of Varna. Moreover, there are 2 big shopping malls: Varna Mall and the Grand Mall (of which I strongly recommend you to go to the Grand Mall since it’s just 10000 times better). You could also go to the cinema or even IMAX because all the movies in Bulgaria are shown in their original language with Bulgarian subtitles. IMAX in Arena Cinema in Grand Mall was really impressive.

There’s also a Dolphinarium in Varna: you can watch the dolphins performing some great tricks.

Hotels in Varna are also cheaper than in Golden Sands (I mean, the hotels of the same level), however, they aren’t as many as in Golden Sands.

Check the current deals for the hotels in Varna:

Varna city centre - coastal city in Bulgaria
Varna city centre – coastal city in Bulgaria

To summarise, Varna is a better place to go with family (and especially with kids) and also a better place for couples who aren’t interesting in partying so much. Golden Sands is also a good place for families (but only the side to the left of the Admiral Hotel, from Admiral to the Luna Hotel) but it’s more expensive and a bit overrated. But you should definitely go to Golden Sands if you’re going as a group of friends in order to party and enjoy life. So what is better, Varna or Golden Sands? You decide!

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Varna or Golden Sands? Where to go to the beach in Bulgaria? Beach holidays in Bulgaria

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