Last Updated on September 17, 2023 by Ellen
Everyone uses smart budget slow travel tips at destinations around the world, such as make your food at ‘home’, picnic instead of eating out every day, use buses instead of planes for long distances, etc. This post is specifically about budget slow travel tips for Varna, Bulgaria.
This article will help save you money – and help you to get to know Varna much more than the casual tourist.
5 Budget slow travel tips for Varna, Bulgaria
Bulgaria is cheaper than most other European Union nations. In fact, it is among the lowest income countries in the EU. That said, you will find housing and restaurants — away from Golden Sands — to be quite reasonable for such a lovely city with so much to offer.
1. Get a city bus card
This will cut your local travel costs in half. If you buy a ticket from the machine on board (or from the attendant on some 409 buses), the ride costs 2 lev ($1.10). But if you buy the card, rides are half the price – 1 lev (55 cents). If you stay for a month, and ride the bus every day, you’ll save a small sum.
Get the card at a nondescript building a two minute walk from the tourist office. There is no signage on the building. It’s inside the red circle on the map below. The transit office is open during regular business hours on weekdays. The card costs 12 lev to start – but you get 11 rides pre-loaded. So after 11 rides you will break even. Machines on the buses supposedly reload the transit card, but honestly — I never got it to work. The card can be reloaded at the office.
2. Walking tour
We take ‘free’ walking tours in cities all over Earth. The guides spend a few hours giving groups the lay of the land and basic history, and occasionally some great insider information. Then walking tour attendees tip the guide.
In Varna, the tourism office offers free walking tours — totally free and no tipping expected. The guide is a paid employee. However, we felt it was worth it to tip anyway, especially since we ask a lot of questions.
In seasonally good weather, the guide meets tourists in front of the tourist center at 10:30 a.m. More details are on the official Visit Varna website.
3. Weekend flea market
Varna has several second-hand clothing stores, which I touched on in a previous post. But if you need something other than clothing, like luggage or an odd souvenir or gift, try the fleat market near the Western Industrial Zone. The location is by that neighborhood’s vegetable market, as seen on the map below.
Not only will you find a good bargain if you have the patience to look, but you’ll be helping some of the lowest-income Bulgarians in the city. Win-win.
4. Coffee vending machines
Cafes are everywhere in Varna, and they are places to ‘be seen’. But sometimes you just want a cup of something hot (coffee, espresso, tea, chocolate) and would prefer a park bench to a smoke-filled coffee shop.
Enter these coffee vending machines. I know – it sounds a little weird. I eventually got used to seeing these things everywhere – and in the middle of nowhere.
Drink options are in Cyrillic, and usually not in English. The price is about .6 or .7 lev per (small) serving, which is only about 35 to 40 cents.
5. Free zones on the beach
People visit Varna for the beaches in and near the city. Golden Sands several kilometers to the north is an especially popular vacation destination — with way higher prices. Whatever beach you decide to spend the day (in seasonally good weather), free zones are a great way to save money.
Simply put: these are areas where you can throw down your beach blanket and soak in the sun – for free. On other areas, restaurants and hotels have chairs and umbrellas set up. Chairs in Varna cost about 5 lev ($2.75). In Golden Sands, chairs with padding run 15 lev ($8.25).
Varna: the next hot spot
Bulgaria’s affordability as an EU and NATO member is a huge draw for people looking for a budget-friendly vacation space in Europe.
The adventurous, savvy traveler will find culture and nightlife, beaches and parks,shopping and more – in Varna, at a bargain. After all, how many times can a tourist go to Paris, or Venice, or Rome? Especially with rocketing prices?
Varna is already a hot spot for Europeans because it’s more affordable than their home countries. It’s only a matter of time before more American retirees find it.
More articles about Varna, Bulgaria
- What it’s like for budget slow travelers in Varna, Bulgaria
- Kortan’s Crib: Varna, Bulgaria edition (Airbnb rental video tour)
- Commentary on the oldest gold in the world (found in Varna)
- Treasure hunt in Varna
Thanks for reading, “5 Budget slow travel tips for Varna, Bulgaria.”
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