Visit Sozopol, Bulgaria For An Enjoyable Weekend
Written by Guy Marlow from Discover Bulgaria.
The weather was beautiful, and the summer heat was warming my face. I sat on a village bench, wondering what to do with my upcoming long weekend off work.
I wanted the sea, sand, culture, and fun. Here I was sitting in the idyllic and calm Rhodope mountains, but longing for the sea and sand – a far cry from where I was.
I weighed up my options of where to go on the Black Sea coast of Bulgaria and decided that Sozopol was the place to visit. With three beaches and a wealth of history, Sozopol beat the other options I had in mind.
Now I had chosen to visit Sozopol; my next course of action was to find myself a hotel. There are a wealth of lower-cost options for hotels in Sozopol, but I wanted to treat myself and booked a 5-star hotel called the Blu Bay Hotel. The pictures of the rooms looked nice, the reviews were great, and the balcony overlooking the harbor sold me.
With a hotel booked, I packed my bag, filled the car with petrol, and was ready to go and visit Sozopol for my enjoyable weekend.
Getting To Sozopol
Travel By Car
I decided to travel by car because Sozopol is easy to drive to, even from the west side of Bulgaria. I drove from the Plovdiv region, a 3-hour drive, but most of the journey was on the A1 highway.
I drove onto the A1 at Plovdiv and stayed on the A1 until near Burgas. I joined highway 6 before going into Burgas and changing to highway 9. Again it was a straight drive to Kraymorie, where a switch to main road 99 took me to Sozopol.
Travel By Bus
While I went by car, it’s also easy to get to Sozopol by public transport during the summer season; it takes about 5 hours by bus to visit Sozopol from Plovdiv, with the buses regularly leaving from Plovdiv Bus Station.
Similarly, it’s 6 hours 30 minutes by bus from Sofia Bus Station to Sozopol. Other cities also have bus services to Sozopol.
Travel By Train
Traveling by train to visit Sozopol is not so straightforward, and I wouldn’t advise it.
Parking In Sozopol
Once I arrived in Sozopol, I needed to find parking. I hadn’t arranged anything other than the hotel in advance. I hadn’t even made an itinerary of what to do while I was here.
I found three public car parks in Sozopol – 2 are next to each other by Harmani beach. There is a short road to Harmani beach as you enter the town center before the road becomes pedestrianized. The car parks are next to each other on the left-hand side. Both offer hourly parking at 3 leva an hour and a 24-hour (all day) rate of around 20 leva. These two were a 10-minute walk from my hotel, so the lazy person inside me decided to find a car park closer.
I found a different car park less than a minute’s walk from the hotel; also, it was perfect for the harbor, visiting the old town, or going to Central beach. This car park is right by the harbor. The prices were about the same as the other two car parks in terms of hourly and daily rates.
Staying In Sozopol
I lugged my bag into the Blu Bay Hotel reception and was warmly welcomed by the concierge.
I got my room key and was very happy with the layout and comfort of the room. I really liked how they tastefully had a sea theme to their design. The room had a raised wooden floor for the bed and had a light, worn wooden design for the bed and corner sofa as if the wood was driftwood from the sea.
Walking to the balcony, I basked in the beauty of the harbor and water behind that the balcony overlooked.
Things To Do In Sozopol
Visit The Old Town
Now that I was in Sozopol and settled, culture and history were what I wanted to embrace on my first day.
If you visit Sozopol and want culture and history, then the Sozopol old town is the first place to visit, and this is where I started. Luckily the hotel I was staying in was on the cusp of the old town, so it was only a 1 to 2-minute walk to get there. This said, if you want to visit the old town, it is at most a 10 to 15-minute walk from one side of the town to the other so that you won’t be far away.
The main focus of the old town has to be the beautiful Bulgarian revival-style architecture. I wandered around the small cobbled paths winding left and right, up and down, just taking in the calm and breathtaking architecture of these beautiful buildings. In total, there are approx 180 houses of the Bulgarian revival style in Sozopol.
Walking around the old town, you will see small pathways and staircases. These are part of the walkways through the old town and take you on shortcuts from top to bottom.
Enjoy The Best Bulgarian Breakfast
After finishing my walk around the old town, I stopped off at a shop on the main street leading out of the old town where there are a lot of stores and found a shop selling Zakuska. Zakuska translates as breakfast, and you will discover Bulgarian-style savory pastries at these stores. My favorite and what I bought for my lunch was a Banitsa. This is layers of filo pastry and Sirene (Bulgarian feta-like cheese). I stopped and sat to eat this warm, and delightful Banitsa washed down with a bottle of water.
Take A Long & Leisurely Walk
With the extra energy of lunch inside me, I went to look at Central Beach (also known as Town Beach) from the path just above. Many people enjoyed the paid and free zones on the beach to sunbathe and have fun in the sea. I longed to be on the beach but decided the next day would be my beach day of relaxation. Turning to the left, I saw the rocks reaching out to the sea and the footpath below the old town around the sea. This wasn’t just any footpath, though; I could see a majestic wall and tower. I realized this was the old Sozopol fortress wall and tower. Not only would I enjoy walking around the outside of the rocks and looking out to see, but I would also enjoy more history as I did so.
The walk was spectacular, with lots to enjoy. Dotted along the walkway are many small restaurants. Some were open for lunch; others were closed and only open for evening dinner reservations. Walking the length of the walkway took me back to the far end of the old town, so I could walk around through the old town on a different route than my previous time and enjoy more of its splendor.
Sometimes those extra accidental journeys add to your trip! Here I found the ruins of a medieval church dating back to the 13th century. It was nestled between houses from the revival period and small souvenir stores. While I couldn’t go in to visit the ruins themselves, it was a joy to be able to see this old building.
Coming back to where the old town meets the new, I saw a small market and went to investigate. I found many art-style market stalls mixed with those selling souvenirs and children’s beach toys. I picked up a Sozopol magnet, something of a tradition for me when I visit somewhere new.
After my enjoyable and tiring walk, I went for a rest at the hotel before dinner.
Dine On A Traditional Dinner
There are so many restaurants across all price points in Sozopol. Some need reservations, while others you can walk in. I chose a small restaurant called Ginny and sat in the corner. I liked the restaurant as it had a great view of the sea and Central Beach. I gorged on delicious traditional Bulgarian food. First was a Shopska salad made with Cucumber, Tomatoes, and Sirene (feta-like cheese). I followed this with Bulgarian fries with Sirene grated on top and two homemade Kufte (a Bulgarian type of meatball that is wonderfully seasoned). I washed down my tasty meal with a couple of Kamenitza beers.
I slept well in my hotel room – I was happy and tired, and the bed was extremely comfortable. Waking up in the morning, I sat on the balcony and enjoyed the view while I gently woke up before going for breakfast at the hotel and leaving for the beach.
Relax At One Of The Stunning Beaches
I decided to try out a different beach to Central Beach as I had spent my time around the old part of town the previous day. I took a pleasant stroll to Harmani Beach. It was about 10 minutes and is in the new town of Sozopol. Here it is more commercial, with lines of restaurants and stores selling all sorts of seaside fare. The red flag was out, so I looked to see other beach options and noticed a beach called Kavatsite Beach, only 3 kilometers from the town center.
It took me to a car park that cost 10 leva for the day and had a direct path onto the beach. I strolled back to the car and took the short journey to Kavatsite beach, where I found a car park by following the beach parking sign. The flag at Kavatsite was yellow, so my choice turned out to be a good one rather than staying at Harmani beach.
There are paid and free zone areas on all Bulgarian beaches. I chose a paid zone area, so I spent 10 leva renting an umbrella for the day and 10 leva more on a sun lounger. Then I settled down for a rest on the beach with an intermittent paddle in the sea. The Black Sea was warm and enjoyable. I saw a variety of water sports you could pay for on the beach, but I had already decided day 2 was my day of rest, so I didn’t partake.
There are several café bars on the beach, so I bought a Frappe. The people working at the café were friendly, and the Frappe tasted great. The prices were relatively high by Bulgarian standards, though. The café bars offer a variety of drinks and food.
After lounging at the beach for most of the morning and early afternoon, I returned to the hotel and packed my belongings. Reminiscing on my time in Sozopol, I could safely say that I wished I had more time in the town and would come back again to visit Sozopol.
There is much more to do in Sozopol than I mentioned, but even with limited time, I managed to enjoy some of the beautiful sights in the town.