Bulgaria’s breathtaking Black Sea coast is one of the country’s greatest assets. And accordingly, Bulgaria is one of the leading beach tourism destinations in Europe, with major resorts like Sunny Beach and Golden Sands and romantic coastal towns like ancient Nesebar and historic Sozopol.
And although much of Bulgaria’s coast has been urbanized and adapted for mass tourism, many pristine sandy beaches and places of unspoilt natural beauty still remain on its Black Sea shores. From cult hippie oases to scenic red rock coastlines, kashkaval tourist presents 9 pristine beaches on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast!
1. Where the mountain meets the sea: Irakli
A few kilometres south of Obzor near Emona, Irakli has achieved cult status as a favourite hangout of hippies and other young people with alternative views. Nowadays, everybody who respects nature is welcome on this unspoilt sandy beach, and camping there for weeks at a time is a common summertime activity. Irakli is often visited by nudists, and skinny dipping is by all means encouraged!
Irakli (Иракли) lies just next to Cape Emine, the Balkan Mountains’ easternmost point, and this is where Kom – Emine, the epic and gruelling hiking trail along the entire length of the mountains terminates… with a refreshing bath in the clear Black Sea waters, of course!
2. Protected by the rocks: Silistar
Silistar (Силистар) is a protected coastal area in the southernmost Bulgarian coast, south of Sinemorets and not far from the border with Turkey. With its beautiful sandy beach somewhat off the beaten path, Silistar is the best-kept secret of the residents of Burgas.
Located in a tranquil cove within the Strandzha Nature Park, Silistar has avoided the mass construction and urbanization that has befallen other pieces of beauty on the Bulgarian coast. Silistar features a quiet camping site, so you can spend the night by the sea and wake up for a majestic sunrise!
3. Harbour of the last Black Sea pirates: Kara Dere
Located just north of the Balkan Mountains, Kara Dere is an untouched plot of sandy coastline. Kara Dere (Кара дере) has long been inhabited by a small group of outcast fishermen who call themselves ‘pirates’ and engaging in dubious activities – made famous by the hilarious documentary The Last Black Sea Pirates.
But don’t be scared of the ‘pirates’, who mostly keep to themselves and leave the nature-loving tourists alone throughout the summer. Kara Dere’s legendary beach is several kilometres long and commonly accommodates hundreds of tents. Sea conditions are amazing for a pleasant swim and even allow for some surfing!
4. The Bear’s Cove: Arkutino
A huge and remarkably diverse beach, Arkutino lies north of the gorgeous mouth of the Ropotamo River, between the Arkutino Swamp and the sea. Named after the Greek word for ‘bear’, this unspoilt Black Sea area features amazing sand dunes, blossoming sand lilies and an incredible view towards the small Snake Island just off its shore.
Though the tiny island off Arkutino (Аркутино) isn’t inhabited by snakes, it boasts Bulgaria’s only wild cactus colony, planted on royal orders in the 1930s. Arkutino is a clothing-optional area, so if you’re into nudism, then that’s one more reason to pay a visit!
5. Camping on an unspoilt beach: Pasha Dere
A wild beach just south of Bulgaria’s coastal capital, Pasha Dere is a favourite spot of the citizens of Varna. Pasha Dere’s wide sandy coastline is entirely devoid of any human intervention. And no surprise, as this beach oasis accessible only via a narrow, partially unpaved road.
Pasha Dere (Паша дере) is visited by many young people who prefer its calm and relaxing surroundings to the busier ‘mainstream’ beaches. It’s also a popular camping location and features a nude beach. And just nearby is Chernomorets (Черноморец), another largely pristine coastal area with steep rocky shores dotted by tiny sandy beaches.
6. Pearl of the north: Krapets
Situated in the northernmost part of the Bulgarian Black Sea shore, Krapets (Крапец) is the last coastal village before the border to Romania. And Krapets’ kilometres-long unspoilt beach undoubtedly ranks as one of the best and longest in the area.
A small fishermen’s village north of Cape Shabla with its picturesque lighthouse and southeast of Lake Durankulak, Krapets boasts a peaceful and extensive sandy coastline with a soft and pleasant sea bottom. Just across the border, you can pay a visit to Romania’s southernmost beach locality – Vama Veche, an icon of Romanian counterculture!
7. Across the Fox’s Lagoon: Alepu
Nested between the sea and the swampy lagoon of the same name, Alepu is a wild beach to the south of Sozopol. The area’s name means ‘fox’ in Greek, though you’re highly unlikely to see any foxes – just a lengthy pristine coastline with high dunes separating it from the brackish lagoon.
Alepu (Алепу) is conveniently located just off the main coastal road, so you can’t really miss it. Just park your vehicle and hop off to enjoy some quality beach time!
8. Narrow gorge by the sea: Bolata
Though not exactly untouched, as it includes some beach infrastructure, Bolata is an amazing beach on a small cove surrounded by majestic red limestone rocks. Part of the Cape Kaliakra reserve, Bolata (Болата) is the only natural sandy beach in this spectacular rocky area.
The red rocks surrounding Bolata are rife with caves, which reveal traces of ancient human settlement, and a disused military facility sits atop the cliffs. If you’re a diving fan, then you’ve come to the right place, as Bolata is one of Bulgaria’s prime snorkelling and scuba diving hotspots!
9. Past the impenetrable jungle: Kamchia and Shkorpilovtsi
The Kamchia biosphere reserve is one of the Black Sea’s most unique locations. A thick jungle-like wetland of alluvial longose groves that surrounds the mouth of the Kamchia River, this place is as wild as the Bulgarian coast gets. A boat cruise on the river down to the sea is a truly memorable experience.
Remarkably, as you reach the coast, the impenetrable jungle gives place to the pure golden beaches of Shkorpilovtsi (Шкорпиловци) and Kamchia (Камчия). With its 12 kilometres of sand, Shkorpilovtsi’s beach is one of Bulgaria’s longest, and by many accounts the village offers the most affordable beach holiday in Bulgaria.