What it cost to live in Varna, Bulgaria for 1 month

Beach in Varna, Bulgaria with the bus that goes to Istanbul, Turkey

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.

Incidentally, we have video tours of both our Varna and Bucharest  residences if you wanna see what $650 per month gets you in the eastern Balkans.

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.)

bar chart of expenses for varna, bulgaria, 2023

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. 

See also: 5 budget slow travel tips for Varna, Bulgaria

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:

4 thoughts on “What it cost to live in Varna, Bulgaria for 1 month”

  1. That’s a clever way of putting it! I can’t find the link, but there used to be a law saying that if a building was constructed and completed within 24 hours, the authorities wouldn’t tear it down. There are a lot of those buildings in that district, and many, unsurprisingly, are either rubble or in very bad condition. We didn’t have any problems there and would always say hi to the abis sitting outside the chai evis playing backgammon, but we didn’t go out at night, either. We were not far from the Omer Hayyim bus stop, and about a 7-8 minute walk from where the bomb blast on Istikal was.

    We adored the Asian side. It’s much more tranquil. The ferries were easy. Also, the subway was great.

    Favorite restaurants:

    * Lipsos in Beyoğlu
    * Ken Sushi & More in Kadıköy
    * Balıkçı Lokantası in Kadıköy (BTW, a Lokantası is a cheaper restaurant, but the food is almost always just as good as a regular restaurant)
    * Meşhur Beşiktaş Köftecisi in Beşiktaş
    * Taps Bebek in Beşiktaş for Theo; go upstairs for non-smoking
    *Torch Brewery in Şişli again for Theo
    * Aksoy Döner in Fatih

    Also, if you have meds you take, try to stock up while there. We loaded up on Relpax for my wife at the pharmacy right up the street from where we stayed (https://maps.app.goo.gl/8U6rxaTFkJn9i68M6?g_st=ic). The pharmacist spoke great English. You can probably do the same at any local, non-chain pharmacy, but the English capability may be hit or miss. Sometimes, there’s a Turkish equivalent name for whatever you’re looking for; that was the case when I got prescribed Singulair after getting COVID there.

    If you want the contact info of a guide who can do a walking tour of Üsküdar, shoot me an email, and I’ll send you her WhatsApp info.

    I am looking forward to the write up of Istanbul!

    1. Jason, I read your wonderfully detailed comment aloud and we chuckled a few times. Seriously: thank you for all of the great information! We are grateful for your valuable guidance. Our first Istanbul report will probably not be what one might expect… lol… stay tuned.

  2. We unexpectedly stayed in Tarlabaşı during our stay in Istanbul. It was eye-opening. When we return to Istanbul, we’d love to stay in the Kadıköy area near Baghdat Cadessi. I’m sure you’ll have a great time in Istanbul. The people are very warm and the food was exceptional!

    1. We haven’t been to the Asian side yet but our walking tour guide today recommended we check out that area. Will definitely check it out now that you liked it, too. Looking at the map, Tarlabasi appears to be just north of Istikal Cd., while we are a 10-minute walk south of Istikal. So far, we love it! Theo is wondering if that area where you were was eye-opening because of the … gentrification?

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