The streets of old town, Nessebar, Bulgaria

Photo Diary | A Stroll Around Old Nessebar, Bulgaria

[Disclosure: Our Jet2 flights from Edinburgh to Bulgaria were free of charge, however we paid for our excursion to Nessebar ourselves, and I was not required to post about it.]

One thing I learned during our week in Bulgaria is that the country is a bit of a hidden gem, really. Sure, it’s a popular tourist destination, as the huge hotels along the Black Sea coast prove, but in the UK, at least, it’s still not all that well known. Before we flew out, for instance, every time we told someone we were going to Bulgaria for a holiday, there would be a moment’s pause, while the person desperately attempted to arrange their face into an expression of polite interest, while obviously thinking, “Bulgaria? Why, though?”

For everyone who secretly had that reaction, then, here’s some photographic evidence of why you might want to visit Bulgaria:

Boats in the harbour at Nessebar, Bulgaria

picturesque side street in Nessebar, Bulgaria

Old church in nessebar, Bulgaria

cobbled street in old Nessebar, Bulgaria

retro car in Nessebar, Bulgaria

These photos were taken in Nessebar, which was just a twenty minute taxi ride from where were staying at Wave Resort, just along the coast. (Word to the wise, here: although the hotel estimated the taxi fare would be around 15 lev each way, the taxis were unmetered, and we were charged 30 lev on the way there and 50 on the way back: we paid up, because it wasn’t really worth haggling over, but if you don’t want to be caught out, I’d recommend asking the price BEFORE you get in!). It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and absolutely packed with history, including churches dating back to the 5th century, and fortified ruins at the entrance to the old part of the town, which was once an island, but which now forms a peninsula attached to the mainland. This is Old Nessebar, as distinct from the much more modern part of the town back on the mainland, which is home to multi-storey hotels and other developments. We stuck to the old town during our visit, and, despite spending a good few hours there, didn’t manage to see it all – it’s definitely a place we could have happily spent a good few days in, without getting bored.

 

cobbled streets in Nessebar, Bulgariachurch in Nessebar, Bulgara

As well as the various churches, and other reminders of Nessebar’s past, we were also completely charmed by the network of narrow cobbled streets, and leafy squares, filled with outdoor cafes and tons of different shops. (Quite a few of which were selling fur coats and jackets: Bulgaria was still warm at the start of September, but gets some pretty cold winters, and I guess real fur isn’t quite as controversial as it is here in the UK…) Having explored some of the streets around the centre of the town, we decided to take a walk around the perimeter of the old island: we only got as far as this picture-perfect little restaurant, though, where we stopped for a drink (and to pose for some photos, obviously):

Terry and Max in Nessebar, Bulgaria, September 2019

me and Max in Nessebar, Bulgaria, September 2019

restaurant by the sea, Nessebar, Bulgaria

restaurant by the sea, Nessebar, Bulgaria

We found food and drink really cheap in Bulgaria, which I’m guessing is one of the reasons it’s so popular as a package-holiday destination (The resort of Sunny Beach is just a little further along the coast from here, and, by all accounts, is much more like some of the busier resorts you’ll find in Spain, and Greece, with lots of hotels and bars…). We didn’t get to see nearly enough of the country during our short time there, obviously, but what we did see has definitely whetted our appetite for more: and if you’re heading that way yourself, I can definitely recommend a visit to old Nessebar  – or, ideally, more than one, if you really want to see it all!

COMMENTS
  • Myra

    REPLY

    It looks lovely

    September 27, 2019
    • David T Harris

      REPLY

      Looks so lovely there, my wife and I have just booked a holiday in Old Nassaber for July 2020. Thank you for your wonderful review, we have not been to Bulgaria before and had been put off by Sunny Beach. You helped us make up our mind. X

      September 27, 2019
    • Charlie Osler

      REPLY

      Good article but local reliable modern buses from the Wave resort to Old Nessebar are about 1.60 lev less than £1 each way . You can travel to Nessebar from any resort along the 15km stretch of resorts for the same price , Buses run from 07:00 till about 21:30
      There are route plans and numbers in Latin ( English script) not just Bulgarian at the frequent stops .
      Sunny Beach has a bus depot, Varna an historic city 90 kms is £12 return by luxury coach or you could travel to Berlin , Istanbul, Sofia or London from there or Burgas city near Nessebar.. Burgas has a Railway Station

      Buses & trains are a more comfortable , cheaper & safer way to travel in Bulgaria and you won’t get cheated .
      I went everywhere by bus and coach last week from the Nessebar area.

      September 28, 2019
      • Sue

        REPLY

        I returned home a week ago, having spent two weeks at the Iberostar, Sunny Beach. My friend and I took the “monkey bus” (train) to Nessebar, that is a proper con! You need to take 3, costing 12 Lev, the bus was 1.30lev. however you get there, it really is beautiful, I’m looking forward to going back on a B&B basis so I can really explore this beautiful country. Ideally before they embrace the Euro.

        September 28, 2019
      • Sue

        REPLY

        Whilst we were in Sunny Beach waiting to catch the bus, we were approached by a taxi driver who was very friendly, obviously looking for a fare, but warned us if a gang of girls stealing handbag etc.
        Hence going for the Monkey bus. On our return, we caught the bus, every bus had a policeman on board.
        Therefore putting a stop to those girls.
        Fantastic

        September 28, 2019
  • I would never think of going to Bulgaria and I’ll admit I had to look it up on google maps to remind myself where it is! But those pictures are gorgeous and I love the idea of going somewhere less touristy and better value. The idea of having to haggle for stuff puts me off a bit though. I’ve also learnt the hard way to ask taxi drivers the price before getting in when there’s no meter.

    September 27, 2019
  • Mary Katherine

    REPLY

    What gorgeous photos! This is the kind of place I LOVE – exotic and “oldey worldey”. Just trying to imagine how Terry manages to take such gorgeous photos of you WHILE Max-wrangling!?!? Especially with water that close… This was a fun treat to read.

    September 27, 2019
  • Judging by your beautiful pictures, I believe Bulgaria looks quite similar to Romania. My husband and I lived there for six years and we constantly receive those strange/startled looks you mentioned from basically any fellow Spaniards back at home. The Black Sea has some amazing hidden jewels all along the coast line and I truly believe most frequently, people don’t know about it. Such a pity!

    I am glad to read you had a lovely time there (although I was following your trip on Insta-stories and laughing about Max and his lovely shenanigans).
    Lovely post, we must consider visiting Bulgaria soon.

    September 27, 2019
  • Michelle

    REPLY

    My partner and I went to Bulgaria last week,returning home on Friday 20 September,we had a great time and definitely want to go back next year. We stayed in Nessebar and most nights walked to the old town, it’s a lovely place,very picturesque. We made our local a bar/bnb called St George’s, can definitely recommend this, run by really nice ppl,very cheap drinks.A weeks stay only scratched the surface, plenty to see n do ?

    September 27, 2019
  • Eleba

    REPLY

    Here is a tip, me and my family, hired a car for one week for like 160€ (for the whole period + insurance) I hope you like Bulgaria and visit Plovdiv next time too :))elena

    September 27, 2019
  • Sue

    REPLY

    I returned home a week ago, having spent two weeks at the Iberostar, Sunny Beach. My friend and I took the “monkey bus” (train) to Nessebar, that is a proper con! You need to take 3, costing 12 Lev, the bus was 1.30lev. however you get there, it really is beautiful, I’m looking forward to going back on a B&B basis so I can really explore this beautiful country. Ideally before they embrace the Euro.

    September 28, 2019
  • Can we get a source for that lovely dress? (If you that style, you might like Faithfull dresses – I own four of them and wore one that’s just like yours today. I thought it was the same one!) Gorgeous photos!

    October 3, 2019
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