Last Updated on November 7, 2023 by Ellen
We’ve left the beach, crossed into Turkey, out of the EU (European Union), and now we’re in inner-city Istanbul – where the European and Asian continents and cultures collide.
The border-crossing bus ride from the Black Sea city of Varna, Bulgaria to Istanbul was a comfortable, scenic ride through rolling hills, forests, and farmland that took nearly nine hours. (A delay at the border as three passengers were removed from the bus: visa issues?)
What follows is what we spent during our month-long stay in seaside Varna.
Budget breakdown: Varna, Bulgaria for 1 month
As always, the figures below are taken directly from daily spending records — which we religiously enter into our “Spending Tracker” cell phone app.
$653 — Housing
$266 — Restaurants
$252 — Groceries
$210 — Supplies
$198 — Charity/Gifts
$96 — Local transport
$83 — Excursions
$70 — Beer
$55 — Health
$17 — Distance travel
$1900 2 people / 30 days
Just like our previous month in Bucharest, Romania, we are quite happy with any total under $2000. And just like in Bucharest, the primary reason for our budget-friendly total: lower housing costs.
See also: How we scored great deals for 2023
Great monthly apartment rental deals
In both places, we found and booked super deals (outside tourist areas) on Airbnb many months in advance. Compared to other similar rental offerings, we probably saved $500 on each stay.
Aside from housing, a few other explanations:
It cost us only the $17 (Distance travel: bus tickets) to get from our previous stop in Bulgaria to Varna. Obviously, anyone specifically visiting Bulgaria from further away would have far higher travel expenses.
Varna in summer is high $eason. Our rental was about two miles inland from the beach. Thus the fabulous Airbnb bargain. We took local buses ($1 each way) to the beach almost every day. The “local transport” category shows the bus fare total.
“Supplies” for the month included over $100 for our annual Earth Vagabonds website hosting and domain service. Also a new beard trimmer, Ellen’s haircut, a plastic outdoor chair, a few clothing purchases.
(This is an independent website, we pay all costs associated with it and keep this site as an ad-free resource for fellow travelers.)
In summary, Varna turned out to be the favorite place of our three-month east Balkan tour. The parks, pedestrian zones, and area beaches are plentiful, big, and have great sand.
Restaurant/cafe/bar/umbrella/chair service is available everywhere at moderate prices. (Beach umbrellas/chairs = $2.50 & up / beach side beers = under $3 / carry out beer = .60 to $1.00) It can get crowded with Eastern European tourists – Russians too. But free beach zones, more secluded/natural areas, and off-beach and cultural activities exist too.
It had been more than a year since we enjoyed any long-term, quality, beach time. We are now tan in Turkey. Pleasant, sunny, relaxing, seaside Varna can certainly be called a super value for the European continent. I shudder to think what a similar high-season stay might cost on the French Riviera or Spanish Costa del Sol.
As always, be thankful and generous, happy trails & more beer.
Life is NOW!
Thanks for reading, “Bon voyage to Black Sea beaches.”
Read more about Varna and Bulgaria: