Explore Sunny Beach
Explore Sunny Beach
Over recent years, Sunny Beach in Bulgaria has become an ever more popular tourist destination, attracting visitors for much of the year. The area has also seen an influx of property developers and many new apartments and hotels are appearing along the Sunny Beach coastline.
History of Bulgaria
Bulgaria has been inhabited since the Stone Age and copper age. The Thracians first settled in the region. People of Asian origins, the proto-bulgars, settled in north-eastern Bulgaria during the 7th century. Forming a union with the Slavs they founded the Bulgarian state which was acknowledged by the Byzantine Empire in 681. In 1396, the state was conquered by the Ottoman Empire and for almost 500 years Bulgaria was under its rule.
The April 1878 uprising attempted to overthrow the Ottoman rule, however the results were not what they expected, and although they suffered a bloody defeat, they managed to attract the attention of big European countries to Bulgarian issues. In the early forties Bulgaria policy was in favour of Germany, and in 1946 Bulgaria was proclaimed a republic and Bulgarian Communism came to power.
Under the guidance of Bulgaria's leader from 1954 to 1989, Todor Zhivkov, the country developed into one of the most prosperous in Eastern Europe. With the collapse of communism in 1989, and industry exposed and weakened, the transition to democracy was a rocky one. Today the country is fighting inflation, unemployment, and disillusionment, but it is progressing under President Georgi Parvanov, and the government is looking for membership of NATO and the EU.
Excursions in and around Sunny Beach
If you have chosen Sunny Beach as your holiday destination, besides spending unforgettable days, you will also have the unique chance to come in contact with one of the oldest European and world civilization and culture. Whether by plane, coach or car, within the framework of your holiday you can travel to. The village of St. Vlas and the Elenite holiday city are situated just a few kilometers away from Sunny Beach.
The forest along the Hadzhiiska River and the dunes stretching between the road and the resort are very attractive to naturelovers. The picturesque town of Nessebar is also extremely close to Sunny Beach, as its newly built houses to the north almost merge with the resort. Noteworthy, lots of excursions in the country and abroad are organised for holiday-makers and tourists during the weekends or at the end of their holidays. Not far from Sunny Beach is located the beautiful Emine cape.
The town of Nessebar has about 10,000 inhabitants and extends over a small peninsula. It lies 37km northeast of Bourgas. Its beach is considered to be one of the finest along the Black Sea coast due to a large sandy strip of land between the town and the village of Ravda, covered with clean golden sand.
The present-day town is the successor of a Thracian fishermen's settlement named Menabryia (meaning literally 'the town of Mena'), the foundation of which dates back to the 2nd century BC. Later it remained the only Doric colony along the Black Sea coast, as the rest were typical Ionic settlements. The Greeks named it Messembria (which was later transformed into Nessabar by the Slavs), and it grew into a big and well-fortified town-state. The town benefited from natural protection from both the land and the sea.
Remains suggest the existence of aqueducts, a sewerage system, fortified wails, an amphitheatre and numerous cult edifices (including an impressive temple of Apollo) at that time. The town became a popular commercial centre as a variety of goods from the Aegean and the Mediterranean regions were traded there and it also minted its own coins in the 5th century BC. Two centuries later, it founded its own colony called Navlohos near Obzor. The whole land between Nessebar and Obzor used to be a granary that supplied the two colonies with food as well as goods of exchange.
In the 1st century BC the town surrendered to Marcus Lukulus' legions and was subjected top Roman domination, during which the construction of a second colony of Messembria began and was finished. The second colony, built to the south of Nessebar, was named Anhialo (present-day Pomorie). In the early Middle Ages the town rebuilt its fortress walls and stayed part of the Byzantine Empire until 812 when the protobulgarian Khan Kroum conquered it, including it in the territory of Bulgaria. During the reign of Ivan Alexander the town went thorough a cultural and economic boom, and occupied substantial territories beyond the stretch of the peninsula.
It was around that period when most of the churches of Nessebar, remains of which are to be found in the present-day town, were built. In 1366 the knights of Amadeus of Savoy conquered the town, and then sold it to Byzantium for 15,000 golden ducats. In 1453, shortly after Constantinople fell under Turkish domination the town was conquered by the Ottoman Empire and went through a period of decay. The Liberation found Nessabar as a small fishermen's settlement, with well-developed viticulture on the hills above the town.
Places of Interest
Nowadays, Nessebar is one of the most popular resorts among foreign tourists for its ancient spirit and well-preserved remains. According to legends, the churches of Nessebar were no less than 41, which, when compared to the small population of the town, make the latter one of the world's settlements with the highest number of churches per capita. One of the oldest sanctuaries is the Basilica built on the coast most probably around the beginning of 5th century.
The Old Bishop's Residence located in the centre of the town is probably the most impressive church in Nessebar. It is more than 25m long and 22m wide while its three naves were decorated with a colonnade and arches. St. Ivan the Baptist Church was built much later, in the 11th century, and is a typical cross-domed church with three naves, and four columns supporting the dome. One can see there fragments of frescoes dating back to the 13th century.
The St. Stefan Church or the so-called New Bishop's Residence, situated in the vicinity of the harbour, was built in the 10th century. Its decoration is so picturesque that it marked the beginning of a typical local style, seen in the construction of churches of later times. The facade of the church is ornamented with built-in glazed ceramic figures of different colours and tiles. The same style was followed in the construction of St. Todor Church, though only two original facades have been preserved until present days. The St. John Aliturgetos Church perching high above the harbour is considered to be the most beautiful one. It has three naves and the decoration of the facades is of unique beauty.
Besides well-preserved churches, one can see the remains of fortress walls (best preserved at the old town's gate and the port), authentic medieval, Roman and Greek street pavements, fortifications of different epochs, administrative and other buildings. Some of the typical houses of Nessebar built in a unique style of the 16th-19th century are real architectural monuments (e.g. the houses of Diamanti, that of Panayot Mouskoyani, which hosts an ethnographic exhibition, the one of Captain Pavel). The old quarters of Nessebar show remarkable taste and mastership in the construction of houses, stone walls, and streets. The Turkish bath and the windmill at the beginning of the causeway are of particular interest.
Outside the town, one can visit the village of Aheloy, in the vicinity of which the Bulgarian Tsar Simeon I destroyed the armies of the Byzantine emperor Lion Foka. Aheloy is situated on the motorway to Bourgas near the mouth of the Aheloy River. The field of the landmark battle, which made the Bulgarian state the uncontestable dominion of the Balkan peninsula, is called nowadays Kokalos (having its root in the Bulgarian word for 'Bones') after the scattered corpses of killed soldiers.
Accommodation: The most famous hotels in the town are Messembria Hotel, Globus Hotel and Bourgas Hotel. There are also a lot of small hotels and private lodgings without prior booking (including in the old town. Traditionally, tourists arriving to the town are met by a bunch of local people offering accommodation at private houses and small hotels.
The town is rich in restaurants, old-style mehanas and pubs ranging from the highest to the lower average class. Prices are somewhat above the average level of other old towns along the coast, though these are quite reasonable if compared to the nearby high-class resorts of Golden Sands, Albena or Sunny Beach.
There is a regular transport connecting Bourgas, Pomorie, Nessebar and Sunny Beach. Similarly to other seaside resorts during the peak season, there are a lot of private taxis and minibuses at competitive prices as well. Besides regular water transport to Bourgas, one can often hire local boatsmen to visit nearby places in the bay.
The Sveti Vlas (St.Vlas) village has about 3,000 inhabitants and is situated just 4 km to the north of Sunny Beach resort and 9 km away from the town of Nessebar. It lies in the skirts of the Stara Planina mountain (also called the Balkan mountain) and thus offers a beautiful combination of sea and mountain climate, considered favourable for those suffering from lung diseases. The adjacent beaches are of a total length of about 1km and average width of 16 metres. Besides the village's central beach, there is also a smaller one (the so-called 'Campinga' after the campsite there), stretching from the Sun Palace complex to the Riviera complex. The eastern end of the village's adjacent coastal line hosts the small port of local fishermen.
The village of Sveti Vlas (St. Vlas) is believed to have been founded by the Thracian tribe of Larisi in the 2nd century BC. At that time, it reportedly bore the name of Larisa. It was renamed 'Sveti Vlas' in the 14th century AC after the patron saint of cattle growers and merchants. During Ottoman rule (late 14th-19th century AC), the village appeared in administrative registrars as 'Manastir' ('Monastery') or 'Kyuchuk Manastir' after the five monasteries in the vicinity of the village. Unfortunately, none of the monasteries has been preserved up to present days. Officially, it restored its name of Sveti Vlas after the reunification of the Bulgarian state in 1886.
The numerous private hotels of Sveti Vlas offer a variety of styles and high-quality service, making the small village a preferred destination for holidaymakers. The four-star Laguna Hotel stands out against the rest for its beautiful design and top-class service. There is also a plenty of 3-star hotels in the village, such as Alfa, Astra, Bel Ami, Gala, Intzaraki. Similarly to other seaside villages, accommodation with private pensions and houses is on high supply as well.
The quick expansion of the village into a modern resort driven by the spillover of entrepreneurship from the nearby holiday city of Slanchev Bryag has spurred the emergence of numerous pubs and restaurants. Guests of Sveti Vlas can also take advantage of the various tourist facilities, including outdoor food, of Slanchev Bryag, which is just 5min away by car.
There is regular bus transport from Nessebar and Bourgas to Sveti Vlas, and plenty of private minibuses, route and ordinary taxis. Besides, there is also water transport to and from Nessebar and Bourgas to Sunny Beach, which is just 4km away from Sveti Vlas.
Sofia - Rila Monastery
Two days by bus
Departure for Plovdiv. Tour of city, lunch. Rila Monastery via Borovets. Dinner and wine-tasting in period monastic environment. Overnight.
Morning service at monastery. Departure for Sofia. Tour of city landmarks. St. Alexander Nevsky Memorial Church. Lunch, return trip to Sunny Beach.
Plovdiv - Bachkovo
Two days by bus
Departure for Stara Zagora, lunch in the city. Plovdiv, tour of old Town. Dinner.
Breakfast. Departure for Bachkovo Monastery, tour. Departure for Plovdiv, free time. Lunch in Asenovgrad. Return trip to Sunny Beach.
Departure for Kazanluk. Tour of of Thracian Tomb and Museum of the Rose. Lunch in town. Visit to Shipka Memorial Church, Etura Theme park. Departure for Veliko Turnovo, free time, dinner.
Tour of Veliko Turnovo. Visit to mediaeval Tsarevets Fortress and one of Bulgarian's loveliest period villages, Arbanassi. Lunch and return trip to Sunny Beach.
Kotel - Zheravna
Day trip by bus
Departure for Zheravna with brief rest on the way. In Zheravna, tour of a museum house, the church and icon collection. Free time, lunch.
Departure for Kotel. Visit to the museum of old Kotel arts and crafts, Galatean's school, with demonstration of folk musical instruments by students at the unique folk music school. Visit to the Ethnographic and natural History Museum. Return trip to Sunny Beach.
Varna - Golden Sands
Day trip by bus
Departure for Varna with brief rest on the way. Visit to Dolphin Show at the Dolphinarium. Lunch at Golden Sands, free time, return to Sunny Beach.
Varna - major port and resort on the northern coast. Regional administrative, economic and cultural center. Amazing Maritime Gardens with rich variety of local and Mediterranean plants, Aquarium and Dolphinarium. Theatre and opera house, several museums and art galleries. Annual international music festival VARNA SUMMER.
Sozopol - Ropotamo
Day trip by bus and boat
Boat cruise to the estuary of the Ropotamo River. Visit to the Archaeological Museum in Sozopol, fee time. Visit to Bourgas, free time. Return trip to Sunny Beach.
Bourgas. Modern city with old cultural tradition. Industrial, commercial, transport and tourist center on the southern coast. Lots of cultural events. International folk festival in summer.
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