"As Contender for European City of Culture 2019..." Top 5 Page for this destination Varna by johngayton
Varna Travel Guide: 419 reviews and 1,116 photos
From the moment I saw the luminously blue-lit clocktower at the railway station as the train drew in I knew I was going to like Varna. Even though it was just after nightfall on a cool, damp, early May evening and I had just had an 8 hour train journey across country from Sofia I still had good feelings about my arrival. First impressions count for so much when arriving in a new place and as simple a thing as the well-presented rail terminus immediately conveyed the message: "Welcome To Varna!"
Varna is Bulgaria's 3rd largest city and is the country's main commercial and naval port as well as being the main industrial centre on the Black Sea coast. Whilst the city is surrounded by heavy industry the city centre itself is a delight with its open spaces, wide streets and the magnificent Sea Gardens. Despite being densely populated in the suburbs Varna still manages to maintain a "small-town" feel and the pace of life belies its position as Bulgaria's 2nd most important economic city.
None of the stereotypes associated with a major industrial port town apply here. Try as I might I couldn't find any really dodgy dockfront bars, nor even a red-light area! Instead finding a pleasant mix of continental-style cafes, traditional and trendy restaurants and of course some decent pubs!
Other stereotypes which failed were the reports of Varna being in the thrall of organised crime and Bulgaria's oft reported levels of corruption in high places. I'm sure that, as with any city, there must be some degree of underworld activity and I'm sure too that dodgy deals must be done but the overall impression that I got from my two weeks here was of a clean, successful, forward-looking and happy-with-itself city where the local people seem proud of the environment that they have created for themselves. Smiles and laughter on the streets speak tomes about a place and in Varna these are thick tomes indeed.
As one of Bulgaria's oldest cities Varna has a rich cultural history dating back into pre-history as evidenced by the discovery at Varna Necropolis of various gold and other artifacts from around 4,000 BC. Unfortunately on my last visit I only managed to find the time to get the merest tongue-tip taste of the diverse cultural life that Varna has to offer, both historically and contemporaneously, but on my next visit...(UPDATE Nov 2009 - thoroughly enjoyed!!).
Even though I only had the merest taste I did find Varna to have a great deal to offer and the city abounds with museums, theatres, art galleries, and magnificent architecture. Even just wandering the streets and parks one comes across a wealth of interesting (and usually unannounced) bits and pieces, including some rather pretty women ;)
During the course of the year Varna hosts a multitude of festivals and events ranging from an International Ballet Competition in July to its Summer Jazz Festival and all in all has something to offer even the most discerning visitor. Try this link: Events Diary
From my personal cultural viewpoint a big plus is the fact that it has its own brewery!!
Yep, definitely getting my vote for 2019's City of Culture.
- Pros:City Life without A City's Hurry!
- Cons:Nothing Is Signposted Properly!!
- In a nutshell:A Week's Visit Became 2 and I was tempted to make it 3!
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