– By Neeta Lal
The city of Burgas located on the Black Sea coast in southeastern Bulgaria is postcard territory. Dotted with picturesque beaches, a sea garden, a bay with breathtaking ocean views, wide promenades, atmospheric restaurants and world-class hotels and spas, it is becoming a hub global tourist attraction enticing visitors with its heady blend of freshness and aging urbanity.
The city’s dynamic mayor, Dimitar Nikolov, is widely credited with transforming Burgas from a sleepy municipality into a vibrant one offering discerning travelers and professionals world-class amenities and infrastructure. According to him, the uncharted region offers “a plethora of attractions for Indian travelers eager to explore an immersive and thrilling travel destination”.
“Burgas is an important port city on the Black Sea and currently ranks among the top summer tourist destinations. Our coastline is uncrowded and the waterfront park is a major attraction. The city has a lively atmosphere and friendly people that make tourists want to come back,” he explains.
Burgas also enjoys four seasons, enjoys a central location and is part of the European Union which gives it various political and geographical advantages, he adds. “We are also connected to major international airports through a dynamic air and rail network and high-speed highways. We have the fastest Internet in the country, and our “Internet Project” (a huge fiber optic network) has opened Bourgas to the world,” says Nikolov.
The city also attracts lovers of art and literature and has managed to leverage technology to boost its cultural initiatives. The town, considered a muse for the great poets and writers of Europe due to its spectacular landscapes, continues to attract the footsteps of artists. “We offer a formidable cultural ecosystem including an academy of fine arts, a constellation of galleries regularly presenting works by modern and contemporary regional and international artists. Together, artists from different cultures and backgrounds enable the emergence of dialogues between the creative community and a global audience.
An ongoing exhibition featuring Picasso’s 347 Suite series of etchings (the maestro’s last), on display at the city’s Sea Casino Cultural Center until August 31, 2022, and curated by prominent Bulgarian curator and gallerist Stephan Stoyanov, was very well received, underlines outside the mayor. “We hope to continue these synergies with the main international museums and galleries in order to encourage the commitment of art lovers and artists”, reiterates the mayor.
History buffs will revel in the historically rich region that dates back 2,500 years with the Thracians, Greeks and Ottomans all leaving an indelible mark on Burgas. Various archaeological sites and excavations have brought to light amazing discoveries about these fascinating civilizations.
The architecture of the city is also a big decoy. St. Cyril and Methodius Church, known for its striking stained glass windows, is the fulcrum around which Burgas flows. Its other attractions include the Natural History Museum, the Soviet Army Monument and the Archaeological Museum. The Ethnographic Museum celebrates Bulgarian folk culture, with colorful costumes and everyday objects. Along Burgas Bay is the Sea Garden, with wide promenades, performances in its summer theater and a viewing platform at the end of its pier.
“Burgas has an artistic spirit and art is an integral part of the lives of its people,” said Rodvesta Stewart, Director, Municipal Enterprise Tourism, Burgäs. “Besides events in museums and galleries, we also regularly organize international cultural festivals such as the ongoing beer festival and a sand sculpture exhibition featuring international artists called Burgassic Park.”
The latter exhibits sculptures representing ancient creatures such as dinosaurs and mammoths inspired by the film Jurassic Park. The 12 mammoth figures can withstand potential rain thanks to the special adhesives mixed with the sand. “The works of art weigh 5,600 tons and cover an area of five acres and have received a phenomenal response from visitors. Overall, we have a rich calendar of arts and cultural events that attract the international creative community to live and work here,” says Stewart.
Due to its scenic locations, Burgas has also attracted the attention of Bollywood directors and scouts who wish to film here. The municipality deals with their proposals. Wellness enthusiasts are drawn to the city’s salt and mud lakes, known to treat a range of ailments.
For those looking for an adrenaline rush, Burgas offers exciting beach sports including kitesurfing, stand-up paddleboarding and snorkelling. It also hosts regional and international regattas. Not far away is Sunny Beach, a sprawling resort that attracts young international travelers for its sand dunes, water sports, vibrant nightlife, clubs and bars, and an amusement and water park that offers daytime family entertainment.
Indian foodies can expect to try a tantalizing range of Chinese, Japanese, Asian and Mediterranean cuisines at F&B outlets in Burgas, ranging from grand establishments in opulent buildings to nondescript restaurants dotted along coastal streets. “We are proud of our culinary heritage and local restaurants and hotels serve delicious local and seasonal dishes for all palates,” explains the mayor.
Due to the proximity to the coast, fresh seafood dishes are on offer in abundance. From Tarator, Bulgaria’s beloved cold soup, to flavor-laden Kebapche (the Bulgarian version of kebab) and shopska salata (cheese salad), diners looking for an immersive dining experience won’t be disappointed. . Turkish, Greek and Serbian specialties are also offered, including cevapi (grilled sausages) and grilled meats, as well as healthy options for vegetarians and vegans.