A complete guide to the best things to do in Sozopol, Bulgaria (+ the best sunset spots, best beaches and where to see the famous vampire).
The small town of Sozopol (Созопол) is located 35km south of Burgas on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast. It is one of the most beautiful ancient seaside towns in Bulgaria. Narrow cobbled streets, old wooden houses, beautiful beaches and historic atmosphere. This is what you’ll find in Sozopol.
The current town was founded by Greek colonists in the 7th century BC. However, its history can be traced back to the Bronze Age. Besides its ancient history, the town is famous for the Apollonia art festival and the Sozopol vampire.
Best things to do in Sozopol
Unlike the popular sea resorts Sunny Beach and Varna, Sozopol offers a more laid back beach experience. If you look for beautiful beaches, ancient history and dramatic sea views, this is the destination for you. So, without further ado, here are the best things to do in Sozopol.
Best things to do in Sozopol, Bulgaria
- Explore the Old Town of Sozopol
- Discover the Fortress Wall
- See the famous vampire of Sozopol
- Pet some cats
- Enjoy the beautiful beaches
- Drink a cocktail at a beach bar
- Dinner with a view
- Watch the sun sets over the sea
Explore the Old Town of Sozopol
Sozopol is divided into New Town and Old Town. The Old Town with its quaint charm and magical atmosphere will take you back in time. Ancient ruins, cobblestoned streets, seagulls’ caws, peaceful evenings, locals selling fig jam in front of their houses. All this creates a unique ambience that will touch your heart.
Take a leisurely walk and discover the beautiful well-preserved houses in the Old Town. Most of them are built from stone and wood in a Bulgarian Revival style.
Discover the Fortress Wall
Sozopol was surrounded by a fortress wall from the 4th century AD until the 14th century. Nowadays, only a small part of it remains along the southern rocky coastline in the Old Town.
You can stroll down the wall and enjoy the sea views from there. I highly recommend visiting the wall at night, when everything is illuminated.
You can also visit the South Fortress Wall and Tower Museum Complex and climb the 11th-century watchtower for stunning views over the Black Sea.
See the famous vampire of Sozopol
Romania is not the only country known for its vampires. In fact, vampires are very popular in all of eastern Europe. And here, in Sozopol, you have the unique chance to see the remains of one of them.
The skeleton of the Sozopol vampire is more than 700 years old. This means he lived almost two centuries before the world-famous Romanian vampire, Vlad Dracula!
His body was found during the excavations of the Monastery of St. Nikolay the Wonderworker. Because of the ritual of his burial, he was identified as a vampire. An iron stake was driven through his left chest. According to the legends, this will prevent a person from rising from the dead.
The remains of the vampire are housed in the Sozopol Archaeological Museum. Besides them, you’ll find a reliquary containing relics of St. John the Baptist and a rich collection of over 100 medieval amphorae!
Pet some cats
If you’re a cat lover I have some good news for you. The Old Town is full of friendly cats. You’ll bump into them on every corner. Some of them are homeless, some – not, but all of them – cute and eager to be pet.
Enjoy the beautiful beaches
Sozopol boasts two great beaches within the city limits and a few camping sites nearby. Harmani beach is located in the New Town, while the Central beach is in the Old Town, next to the Fortress Wall.
Both beaches feature a great selection of restaurants and bars along the beachfront. I prefer Harmani beach, as it’s more spacious than the Central beach and it’s easier to find a place for your towel.
There is a bus that runs from Zlatna Ribka (Santa Marina village) to Kavatsi and stops at the main bus stop in the centre of the New Town of Sozopol (see the schedule here).
Drink a cocktail
Unlike Sunny Beach and Varna, Sozopol is not a party town. Yet, there are plenty of great bars right on the beach where you can sit, and enjoy a nice cocktail and sea views.
Most of these bars are located on the Central beach, like Ginny Bar, JACK-BAR, Elvis Bar. My favourite one is Ginny Bar because I love rock music. Plus, there are tables placed directly on the beach just a few metres from the water. You can feel the breeze while listening to the sounds of the sea mixed with rock music.
Dinner with a view
For dining out, I recommend you to head to the Old Town or the Fortress Wall. This is where you’ll find plenty of nice restaurants with the most beautiful sea views you can imagine.
Urania Bistro is a great option if you look for something close to the Fortress Wall. They offer a mix of Bulgarian and Greek cuisine with a contemporary touch.
To enjoy some sunset views while you dine, head to the Old Town. Try Restaurant Tangra, The Windmill, Mehana Neptune or Panorama Sv. Ivan. All of them boast stunning sea views and excellent traditional Bulgarian food. In addition, The Windmill also features a folklore program in the evening.
Watch the sunset
The best place to watch the sunset in Sozopol is the western part of the Old Town. Two of the most popular spots are Wild Beach and the harbour.
From Wild Beach, you’ll get an awesome view of Saint Ivan Island as well. It’s the largest island on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. Inhabited by the Thracians in the 7th century BC, then by the Romans, the island became a pirate base in the 17th century. The Cossack pirates used it as a base to raid the western Black Sea coast.
Where to stay in Sozopol
To truly experience the charm of Sozopol, I’d recommend you to stay in the Old Town. It’s a tranquil area with lots of old historic houses and nice little restaurants.
Plus, this is the place where you’ll spend most of your time unless you prefer to go to Harmani instead of Central beach. Even in this case, you can easily reach Harmani beach in less than a 15min walk.
Situated on the rocky coast of the town, the hotel occupies a beautifully renovated house in Bulgarian style. The location is ideal, in the heart of the Old Town, just a short walk from Central beach. Plus, you can enjoy breathtaking sea views of St.Peter and St.Ivan Islands from your room!
Why book – 300m from the beach, air-conditioned rooms with free Wi-Fi and sea views, garden and a cliffside restaurant
If you’re after a luxury experience, this is the place to stay. Overlooking the yacht port, Blu Bay Boutique features an infinity pool. However, if you prefer sunbathing at the beach, the Central beach is only 200m away.
Why book – 200m from the beach, stylishly designed rooms with sea views, outdoor pool and a sun terrace
How to get to Sozopol
The closest airport is the Burgas Airport (BOJ). To go to Sozopol you need to take a bus from the South bus station in Burgas.
There are regular buses from Burgas to Sozopol every hour (see the bus schedule). The price is about 5 BGN (~2,60 EUR) and the trip is about 40 minutes.
This is the easiest way to get to Sozopol. There are regular direct buses from Sofia Central bus station to Sozopol (about 6h journey).
There are no trains to Sozopol, but you can take a train to Bourgas from Sofia Central railway station. From Bourgas, you have to take a bus to Sozopol (the bus station in Bourgas is just next to the railway station). Yet, I wouldn’t recommend this option, as only the train journey is more than 10 hours.
There are regular flights from Sofia to Bourgas in the summer (the flight is less than an hour). From there you have to take a bus to Sozopol.
Best time to visit Sozopol
The best time to visit Sozopol is between mid-June and mid-September. If you’re visiting out of this period, there is a high chance a lot of the restaurants and bars to be closed.
July and August is the peak season, so for a more relaxed atmosphere plan your vacation at the end of June or early September.
Also, the famous Apollonia art festival takes place every year at the beginning of September. The festival includes musical and dance performances, exhibitions, theatre shows and other events.