Welcome to Burgas, the oldest and largest port on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast and the 4th largest city in Bulgaria after Sofia, Plovdiv and Varna. The city itself is a true hidden gem known for its vast green spaces and a mild Mediterranean climate, which makes it attractive for visitors all year long. Also known for its rich flora and fauna, Burgas is a gateway to the iconic, UNESCO-listed Nessbar Old Town, enchanting Saint Anastasia Island, and Chengene Skele, an idyllic fisherman’s village.
In this article, I share with you information on Burgas cruise port and the best things to do in the city, including day trips to Nessebar, St Anastasia Island and Chengene Skele. You can also watch my YouTube video about Burgas, which I had a chance to visit during the 63rd MedCruise General Assembly that took place in this beautiful port city.
Port of Burgas Overview
Burgas port is located in the heart of the city, within a 10-minute walk from downtown Burgas. The port of Burgas is the largest cargo and container port in Bulgaria and consists of dozens of berths covering a large area of thousands of square meters.
Burgas cruise terminal (Burgas Maritime Station) opened in 2013 and consists of 2 berths with a depth of 10 meters, built to accommodate the largest cruise ships sailing in the Black Sea. A second passenger terminal also has 2 berths and serves tourist coastal trips.
These 4 berths are now part of the Public Access Zone, intended for yachting, passenger service and recreation. Here, you will find a Planetarium, a tourist information office, a supermarket, the International Congress Center Burgas, and a walking path, restaurants and cafes. The port area is an attractive place for walking and a popular area for cultural and sporting events. Nearby, you will find the best hotels in Burgas, including the 5-star Primoretz Hotel.
5 Best Things to Do in Port of Burgas
1. Burgas City Center
Downtown Burgas is located an easy 10-minute walk from the port area. The Sea Garden is a vast seaside park stretching more than 5 km along the coast, offering breathtaking views of the Black Sea. The park is a national monument of landscape architecture and a favorite place for both locals and tourists. It is home to numerous fountains, sculptures, exhibitions, the Summer Theater, and the Marine Casino. A park is a must-see place for those who seek to get away from the bustling city center.
A stone’s throw from the Sea Garden, you can access the Old Town, where you can check out the shops, restaurants and cafes, or visit one of the museums. You can visit the Archaeological Museum of Burgas, which is part of the Regional History Museum, the largest museum in Southeast Bulgaria.
Aleksandrovska Street is the largest and most famous pedestrian zone in the city, dotted with shops, restaurants, and small businesses such as exchange offices and banks. Even though Bulgaria has been part of the European Union since 2007, the official currency in Bulgaria is the Bulgarian Lev (BGN) and you will find exchange offices at every corner.
This street stretches from the railway station to the Troikat Square, the main square of the city, dominated by the Alyosha Monument, dedicated to the Soviet Soldier and World War II. The buildings of the Cultural Center and Regional Court surround the square. Nearby, you can also visit the Church of Saints Cyril and Methodius, the largest and one of the most beautiful Orthodox churches in Burgas.
The ancient city of Nessebar is one of the major seaside resorts on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast, nestled a 40-minute drive northeast of Burgas. Nessebar Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the city itself is a living museum. Nestled on a small peninsula a stone’s throw from Sunny Beach, Bulgaria’s largest and most visited seaside resort, Nessebar is dotted with dozens of medieval Orthodox churches that you can admire on your stroll through the town.
Upon accessing the Old Town, you’ll spot the ancient walls and the Archaeological Museum of Nessebar, featuring impressive collections of artifacts, objects and jewelry related to Nessebar’s 3,000-year-old history.
Nessebar Old Town is famous for a large number of centuries-old churches, among which only a few can be visited from the interior. One of these churches is the stunning 11th-century Saint Stephen Church, home to 258 mural paintings and a remarkable iconostasis.
Other important religious objects include the Church of Saint John the Baptist, the Old Metropolitan Church (Church of Saint Sophia), and the Christ Pantocrator Church, which can be visited only from the exterior.
3. St. Vlas Marina and Sunny Beach
Sveti Vlas (St. Vlas) is a town and resort in Nessebar municipality, located near the iconic Sunny Beach. If you are looking to try the fresh fish and seafood specialties and indulge in the local wine – look no further, because this scenic place has it all! Also known as Marina Dinevi Yacht Port, the marina is an upscale place lined with restaurants and clubs.
Nestled just a few minutes’ drive from there, Sunny Beach is the largest and most popular seaside resort in Bulgaria, featuring a long public beach and a 5 km (3 miles) long strip of high-rise hotels. The resort is home to two water parks and hosts numerous cultural and sporting events throughout the year.
4. Saint Anastasia Island
St. Anastasia Island is a scenic little island that you can reach by boat from Burgas port in less than 30 minutes. This picturesque isle covers a territory of only one hectare and is known for its rich history and numerous legends and mysteries associated with it.
The island was named after the former St.Anastasia convent which was founded in the Middle Ages and existed until 1923 when the island was transformed into a prison. Today, the monastery building hosts a museum where you can learn about Saint Anastasia, the patron saint of the island, the island’s history, and the Black Sea sea life. In a nearby cafe, you can enjoy a cup of tea made of herbs growing on the island.
5. Chengene Skele
Only a few minutes’ boat ride from St Anastasia Island, you can visit Chengene Skele, a cultural and tourist complex also known as a Fisherman port or just Chengeneto. After the expansion of the port of Burgas in 1972, the boats of the local fishermen were moved to this village, and three artificial canals were built, housing their shacks and boats. Today, you can visit the workshops and the museum where you can learn about the fisherman’s traditions, customs and everyday life.
In addition, you can see the exhibitions and glass-making demonstrations, before heading to a local restaurant to enjoy the local specialties based on old recipes.
To wrap up, Burgas is an interesting destination that definitely deserves your attention! From a wide variety of activities, and rich cultural and historic heritage, to lively events and great food, Burgas invites you with open arms and guarantees a pleasant stay.