Bulgaria’s most popular tourist destination for foreigners is without a doubt Sunny Beach. Located on the Black Sea an hour from Burgas, it’s a hell of a place. Take one part underworld circus, one part Disney World and one part Cancun, garnish with tons of super hot Bulgarian party chicks, stir, and serve. In small doses if you know what you’re doing you can really have a blast but if you show up unprepared you will not have a successful trip and run the risk of disaster. The place is over-run with DAFFs, crooked taxi drivers, drunk rich German kids celebrating their high school graduations, mafia douchebags and lots of other undesirables looking to rip you off any way they can.
Sunny Beach has a lot in common with Cancun. It attracts the worst of the West and the worst of the Bulgarians. Many Bulgarians hate Sunny Beach and refuse to go there, however it’s home to some of the best beach clubs and the best all night house parties in the country (namely Cacao Beach and Bedroom Beach) so you may want to try your luck for a weekend there. Unfortunately, a lot of other Western tourists have the same idea and you will encounter much more competition than typical in Bulgaria and much more hardened, anti-foreigner chicks than in the rest of the country. It’s doable but to succeed in Sunny Beach the single dude traveler will need a higher skill level and bigger budget than almost anywhere else in Bulgaria.
Basically, if you’re going to go to Sunny Beach you really better be on your A game and have your bullshit detectors set to maximum sensitivity. Lots of people will try to rip you off. Never ever take a taxi, period. That kind of sucks because that means you have to stay close enough to the center to walk everywhere. There aren’t really any other options but trust me the taxi drivers all want to rip you off. Most of the hotels are way more expensive than anywhere else in Bulgaria and you could easily be charged more just because you’re foreign. You will need to hunt for a good one or book in advance, try not to pay more than 20 – 40 BGN. There is a hotel right behind Cacao Beach that charges 20 BGN but the hotels on either side of it (virtually attached) cost 100 BGN. Be on the lookout for shit like this. Restaurants commonly have menus in different languages… how nice of them, right? Wrong, the menus in foreign languages often have higher prices. Learn to read Cyrillic (we’ll cover it in detail in a future article)! Even better is if you have a local or at least a Bulgarian with you. Sunny Beach would be a good place to go with some Bulgarian chick you picked up somewhere else in the country that can watch your back and speak the local language. I can’t stress how much of a tourist trap this place is.
Lesson 1: Bring a Bulgarian with you to Sunny Beach, and if you can’t, be that much more alert for scams.
Now that I’ve told you about the bad let me tell you about the good: all night beach parties until the sun comes with big name DJs. Cacao Beach and Bedroom Beach are the places that run these parties and they are way expensive in comparison to the rest of Bulgaria but they are worth it if your budget isn’t super tight. Truckloads of half naked Bulgarian chicks high as kites on the drug of their choice and partying until the sun comes up is standard fare. It’s a hell of a time. Just don’t get to drunk or high when you’re out there, people will not have your back.
Other than partying on the beach there isn’t much to do in Sunny Beach that doesn’t get involve getting ripped off. However there is a great, quaint little historic town right next to Sunny Beach called Nessebar. It’s super old and super beautiful and it’s the perfect place to take your hot Bulgarian girlfriends for a delicious seafood dinner right before you go out and party your asses off on the beach all night. Just make sure you check your bill. Even though this place looks old and authentic (which it is) it’s still full of people looking to ripoff tourists. Charlie, Raul and I were there once at a restaurant with some girls once and when we got our bill they tried to charge us 200 BGN extra on our tab for “imported” wine when we what we actually requested was generic local 15 BGN per bottle wine. A serious argument ensued, and we ended up leaving while the staff followed us out while yelling at us to try to intimidate us into paying. This is not the best way to seduce Bulgarian chicks, so be on the lookout for scams before your check arrives.
When you’re done with Sunny Beach and Nessebar head south along the coast and go check out Burgas (you probably already passed through it on your way to Sunny Beach). It’s not anywhere near as good as Varna unless it’s during the Spirit of Burgas, a three day music festival on the beach in the summer, which rocks. Regular Burgas was not good for us. In a unscientific study based upon a couple of nights partying in Burgas we found girls there to be the least friendly of the Bulgarian girls.
Our recommendation is to head south from Burgas and check out the closeby strip of smaller, lower key beach places such as Smokinia, Sozopol and Lozenets. Sozopol and Lozenets are resort areas that are targeted more towards the locals, (read: even more hot Bulgarian chicks, little to no DAFFs and lower prices). There’s lots of chalga and house here and some nice cool places to go out for much less than Sunny Beach. Smokinia is a thing all of its own. It’s a bit rustic with the Bulgarian version of a beach campground, where all the hippies hang out, camp on the beach and smoke pot. When the Bulgarian bands that open up for the big names that come to Spirit of Burgas come to the beach I they go to Smokinia.
Some friends of the site have created a new online guide to Sunny Beach called MySunnyBeach.bg. It’s a pretty slick site with an English and Bulgarian version. You can find bars, clubs, hotels, news, events, party photos, etc. It’s a work in progress but it looks like they will be adding more and more quality info. If you are visiting Sunny Beach check it out.