Balchik will always remain one of the most enigmatic but popular Bulgarian resorts. Not only you will find neither a diversity of sights as in Nessebar or Burgas, you also cannot find a huge number of noisy late-night discos as in Sunny Beach or Golden Sands, making the place a rather quiet beach getaway.
In spite the things that Balchik lack, it still attracts a lot of tourists from many parts of the country and also from around the world. Its calm, slow-paced lifestyle goes hand-in-hand with its amazing natural environment. Another nice feature of Balchik is its cheap prices, compared to heavily promoted Bulgarian resorts.
For young people in the city there are a handful of discos and nightclubs. One of them is rather unusual: in its interior are used beds, where you can relax if you are too tired to dance.
Despite the fact that Balchik is a third largest port city in Bulgaria (after Burgas and Varna), it has good and clean sandy beaches. Tourists like newly developed but complex “new beaches.” The minus point is its size. In peak summer months, it can get crowded.
The city streets are bizarrely stretched on the slopes of hills in tiers, creating a romantic mood. A highlight to the resort add houses of the local population – they are all built of white stone with red roofs. If you want to see Balchik in all its glory, we recommend to take a look at it from the sea or from the hill at the outskirts of the city.
The history of Balchik
The history of the city dates back to the 6th century BC, when it was created by the ancient polis, named Krounoi. This name was due to a large number of karst springs. In consequence of this, most of the houses were built of white limestone. Later the city was renamed many times.
Balchik acquired its current name during the 14th century A.C., when it became a part of the Despotate of Dobruja. Then it was decided that the city should be assigned with the name of its first ruler, a noble named Balik. At one time the city managed to get under the rule of the Ottoman Empire (during the 16th century) and Romania (in the beginning of the 20th century). And only in 1940 Balchik again became a part of Bulgaria.
The attractions of Balchik
The resort town of Balchik is not too rich when it comes to sights. However, there is one standout — the vast, lush and luxurious Botanical Gardens, which is considered the “pearl” of the entire Balkan Peninsula. Within the garden complex there is also the summer palace of the queen of Romania, Maria, which is popularly called as the “Quiet Nest.”
In Balchik there are also unusual sights – a yacht club and a golf club.
A salt lake is located roughly four kilometers from the city. It is famous for its curative mud. The Balchikskaya Tuzla contains a balenological resort.
The residence of Romanian Queen Maria
During the time when Bulgaria was under Romanian rule, Queen Maria chose a quiet, lush and green Balchik to build her summer residence in 1921. She fell in love with the place that she ordered to lay out a park of impressive dimensions and build a small summer palace. The queen named it “Quiet Nest” or “Lonely Nest.”
If you think that the summer residence look excessively grand, in reality it looks rather modest, but still it is an exquisite palace. It has three stories, and a tower-minaret rises over it, which gives the summer palace a special flair. A stone throne is situated near the main entrance of the palace; Queen Maria supposedly liked to sit there and watch the sunrise.
The interiors of the palace is remarkably austere. A picture gallery is on the ground floor, while preserved rooms of the Queen are located on the second floor (some of the rooms are opened to tourists). There is also a spacious balcony, from which you can stand and view the sea and beautiful panoramic scenery.
It costs five levs (adult) to enter this palace. The payment is at the ticket office in front of the Botanical Garden.
The Botanical Garden
The Botanical Garden boasts an amazing world of flora – a diverse and multifaceted.
Through the efforts of Queen Maria, and later, hardworking teachers together with students, the garden has acquired an unusual combination of plant species, some of them are really exotic.
The Botanical Garden is famous all over the world for its collections of cacti, succulents, palms, exquisite alleys, outlandish flowers and man-made waterfalls. It’s beautiful and cozy at the same time.
Each year the park is visited by a lot of tourists from all over the globe. For example, when we were there, a tourist from the United States gladly photographed us.
You can come to the Botanical Garden by yourself or with your excursion group. An organized excursion will cost a bit more expensive, but as a bonus will be the presence of a tour guide.
To get to the park, you will have to pay 7 levs (for one adult) at the front office. But the beauty of the palace and the overwhelming emotions that you will feel, will be worth the entrance fee.
To learn more about the Botanical Garden and the palace “Quiet Nest”, see our separate article: The Botanical Garden and the Palace of Romanian Queen in Balchik.
Museums and churches
For those who like cultural programs, there are four museums and four churches in Balchik.
The most interesting is the Historical Museum, which is located in the central square. There is also the Ethnographic Museum, where you can learn about the culture and life of the inhabitants of this land. You can enjoy the architectural complex of the Bulgarian Renaissance or visit the Art Gallery with magnificent paintings of famous Bulgarian artists. Entrances to the museums are paid.
There are four churches in Balchik. The Church of Saint George is relatively new, built in 1897. It is valuable in terms of art due to a carved iconostasis and a bishop’s throne. The Church of Saint Paraskeva of Tarnovo’s construction began during the Romanian occupation in 1935. The construction of the church was completed by the locals. The Church of Saints Constantine and Helena adorned the city in 1894. After the occupation of Romanians, and the years that followed, the temple was used as a concert hall. Nowadays, the church has been sanctified, and is open to parishioners. The Church of St. Nicholas was built in 1848. It survived the destruction, and was rebuilt in 1866.
Accommodation in Balchik
Not so long ago the city was an “elite” resort and a favorite place of members of the Bulgarian Communist Party. Exclusive villas and numerous sanatoriums used to be situated here. Nowadays, Balchik is a quiet and a calm city, where you can find cheap hotels and a variety of restaurants. This region is especially beautiful in spring and summer, when everything is replete with greenery and blooms.
For those who choose Balchik for a holiday but have not yet decided on the place to stay, we offer to read the information below.
A selection of hotels in Balchik
Like many other Bulgarian resorts, Balchik has a great number of hotels for every taste and price. There are five-star hotels for those who want a luxurious stay and not mind about the cost. But for tourists with limited funds, they can find good two-star hotels with just the basic amenities.
A selection of residential rooms or apartments in Balchik
Sometimes it is a bit cheaper and much more comfortable to rent a room or even an entire apartment with a kitchen instead of a hotel room in the resort. For travelers who prefer to cook their own meals or to live in familiar surroundings, they should choose AirBnb. If you use this service at least once, you will no longer want to refer to other sites for help in choosing an ideal place to stay.
Where is Balchik situated and how to get there?
The town of Balchik is situated on the Black Sea coast, near the small resort of Albena. The distance from Balchik to the capital of Bulgaria, Sofia, is about 500 kilometers. To Varna – no more than 50 kilometers
Getting to the city is most convenient by bus or by rented car. For those who can afford to spend a little more, they can take a taxi or even sail on a boat. We would like to warn you in advance: it is difficult to get to Balchik by bus without a change. As we know, there are direct routes from Varna, Sofia or Albena. From Nessebar, where we stayed, we had to get to Balchik with a change in Varna, which was very difficult in summer heat.
Below we have attached a small map on which are indicated a bus station and a bus stop, where it is most convenient to leave the bus to get to the Botanical Garden.
For those, who are interested in a bus schedule to Balchik and from it, there is a separate article: Balchik: buses and public transport in 2016.
A selection of beautiful photos of Balchik
Useful links and interesting information:
- Which of the Bulgarian resorts to choose? Briefly about the features of every seaside resort.
- Actual prices for excursions in Bulgaria in 2016.
- The magnificence of the Botanical garden of Balchik and the Palace “Quiet Nest”: a detailed description and many photos.
- At what resorts in Bulgaria are the cleanest beaches and the sea?
- Renting a car in Bulgaria: where and how much?
- A bus schedule of Balchik in 2016.
- Independently to Bulgaria: what do you need for it?