Sunny Beach is one of Europe’s party capitals where revellers will encounter clubs and bars that are full of party-goers in July and August. It’s one of those raucous destinations in Bulgaria that pulls in the students and stag parties and makes sure they have all they could want for an action-packed holiday.
The endless sandy beach and nightlife are matched with a water park and amusement park, and by day you’ll also find a range of activities available, like diving and day trips.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Sunny Beach:
1. The Beachfront
The scene at Sunny Beach is one you’ll know from the most popular Mediterranean beach resorts.
There’s a long and very wide golden sandy beach that reaches out for several kilometres next to Flower Street.
All along you’ll be able to hire a parasol and sun lounger, and after that you can rest easy, safe in the knowledge that all the amenities and services you could want are just a few steps away.
For young party animals there are beachfront bars with djs, while kids won’t be able to resist the playgrounds and bouncy castles next to the promenade.
Move away from the main strip and follow the coastal road round towards Cape Emine, and you’ll come to Irakli Beach.
This is the perfect antidote to the mayhem of the Sunny Beach strip.
There’s little sign of civilisation in the wooded hillsides that rise behind the beach’s golden sands and if you like you can take a walk along the sand beneath the tall bluffs that mark Irakli’s eastern boundary.
On a clear day the sea at Irakli is almost transparent, and the moderate currents will be safe for most swimmers.
Sunny Beach is now well-established as one of Europe’s wildest party destinations, up there with Malia and Kavos for the 18-30 crowd.
The resort has some 15 bars and nightclubs, many of which are huge venues that can pack in a few hundred partygoers, and put on themed nights with paint and foam.
There are also several companies in Sunny Beach that organise bar crawls at night, and all sorts of activities and parties by day.
So if you’re a party animal you’ll be pretty pleased with what you find here.
4. Turkish Bath
For those visiting Sunny Beach for a Stag holiday or a week of clubbing, a couple of hours at a Turkish Bath may be the perfect therapy if you’re worse for wear.
The Erma Spa in the centre of the resort is a Hammam, where you’ll enter a “hot room” before washing off in cold water and taking a massage.
Women can also indulge in cosmetic treatments and mani-pedis, so by the end of a visit everyone should be feeling a little more like themselves again!
5. Action Aquapark
Bulgaria’s first water park, Action Aquapark has been around since 2001 and gets bigger with each new year.
There are 30 water attractions in all here ranging from extreme plunges to more relaxing rivers and pools.
If you’re up for some action then you’ll want to make straight for the Free Fall, with speeds of up to 70 km/h, or the ominously-named Kamikaze, which starts at a height of 18 metres.
The Kids Zone is where the little guys and girls can make a splash in shallow pools or clamber through the various rope bridges and nets of the pirate-themed Adventure Island.
6. Sunny Beach Luna Park
Sunny Beach has its own large amusement park, with a host of funfair rides and games.
Big kids and adults can strap themselves into white-knuckle rides like The Booster, in which they enter one of two pods and will be flung at high-speed at the end of a rotating arm.
There’s also a roller-coaster with loops, all joined by the classic fairground games that we know from our childhoods.
Smaller children aren’t forgotten either; there are carousels for little ones, as well as the Family Apple Coaster with a caterpillar theme.
Nearby Nesebar is home to Angel Divers, a five star PADI dive resort.
The centre can offer courses and excursions for all levels of experience, and organises trips all along the Black Sea coast.
So whether you’ve always wanted to head beneath the waves for the first time, or want to get qualified, or are a seasoned diver who wants to explore a new sea, you’ll find what you’re looking for.
If wreck diving is your thing then there are tonnes of vessels on the seabed off Sunny Beach, including no fewer than three German u-boats!
8. Karting Track
Sunny Beach has a go-karting track just off the Burgas-Varna road outside the resort.
It’s more family-friendly than you might think as the track puts speed restrictions on children’s karts, so kids as young as eight or nine will be able to take part.
But the karting track is a day out that will appeal to 20-somethings looking for an alternative to the beach and waterpark.
The 400-metre track is well looked-after, while the staff are friendly and helpful.
9. Day cruises
For the ultimate day of relaxation you could spend a day aboard a luxury catamaran, sunbathing and indulging in great food and drink.
On a typical cruise you’ll board the boat in the morning and then lie back as you make a serene voyage to a remote beach.
The captain will drop anchor here and you’ll be free to go swimming or snorkelling in these tranquil waters.
Climb aboard for lunch and if you want you’ll be able to take the wheel and steer the catamaran for a while.
10. Off-road tours
In the countryside it also pays to call on someone who knows the terrain.
In Sunny Beach there are a couple of businesses that organise 4×4 excursions along the coast and into the backcountry.
If you aren’t renting a car during your trip to Sunny Beach, this represents the easiest way to see the landscapes around the resort.
You’ll visit a windswept lighthouse, a medieval orthodox church, swim at a deserted cove and explore Cape Emine the rugged and undeveloped headland just up from the resort.
The whole trip will be interspersed with little activities like walks, archery and rides on a horse and cart.
11. Bulgarian food and drink
Sunny Beach is replete with kiosks and food joints with international menus where kebabs appear alongside pizza and hamburgers.
Food is a bit more affordable at Bulgarian resorts compared to those on the Mediterranean.
It might be that you’re in the mood for an authentic night of dining. If so you could make for one of the smaller towns or villages around Sunny Beach such as Nessebar, where there are Bulgarian taverns or Mehanas.
Here a meal will involve lots of meat seared over hot charcoal and served with rakia or Bulgarian Marvrud wine.
This coastal town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is just moments from Sunny Beach.
Nessebar is crammed with churches, some of which date to the years when Christianity was only just starting to spread through the Roman Empire.
The Church of St. Sophia is from the 400s and often listed as one of Bulgaria’s top tourist sites.
Even though it has been a ruin since the 700s three sides of the building are still standing, including the nave.
Take time to explore the rest of the town, stopping by the old fortifications and the distinctive windmill that marks the entrance to Nessebar.
A short drive or bus ride south of Sunny Beach will get you to Pomorie a seaside town with a picturesque location at the end of a peninsula.
Of course, you’ll find the hallmarks of a resort here, with sandy beaches and waterfront bars. But if you delve a little deeper you can see wonderful fragments of history here.
There’s a Thracian tomb from the year 200 and the old town has houses built in the traditional wooden style. Also check out the Monastery of St. George, as well as the saline Pomorie Lake, a birdwatcher’s paradise, where salt has been harvested for millennia.
South of Sunny Beach the city of Burgas borders the largest lakeland area in Bulgaria.
The shores of these lakes have been inhabited since the Bronze Age when they became a vital Thracian trading post, and new discoveries are being made all the time.
On the shore of Lake Mandrensko there’s ancient Deultum, with mostly Roman ruins that include the detailed hypocaust of a bathing complex.
On a column of land between Lake Mandrensko and the sea is the Poda Protected Area, wetlands that support 46 nesting bird species (with large colonies of herons and egrets) and welcome many more migratory species.
Also see: Things to do in Burgas
If you have a car then you could also spend the day in the city of Varna, around 90 minutes up the coast from Sunny Beach.
Varna is often described as Bulgaria’s “Summer Capital”, the coastal city that people from Sofia escape to when inland temperatures shoot up in July and August.
What you get a is all the fun of a seaside resort, including a humongous waterfront Sea Garden with a host of attractions and sights, with some serious pieces of culture.
If you do nothing else here, go to the Varna Archaeological Museum where the Gold of Varna is on display.
This is the oldest gold treasure in the world, dating back 6,000 years to the beginning of the Thracian civilisation.