Southeastern Bulgaria by the Sea Road Trip Itinerary

Your road trip itinerary significant places: Burgas, Chernomorets, Gradina Sozopol, Kavaci, Alepu, and the Drivers’ Beach, Arkutino, Ropotamo river and mouth, Primorsko, Veleka River and mouth, Sinemorets, Rezovo, Strandzha Preserve, Brashlyan, Mishkova Niva, the Bastet Cave.

The southeastern coast of Bulgaria is a region of unparalleled natural beauty, with a varied landscape that includes sandy beaches, rocky cliffs, and picturesque fishing villages. One of the main attractions of the southeastern coast is its long stretch of sandy beaches, which are perfect for sunbathing, swimming, and water sports. The region is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Bulgaria, such as Duni, Drivers’ Beach, and Silistar, known for their crystal-clear waters and warm sands. The region’s mild climate and long summer season make it an ideal destination for beach lovers and nature explorers, who can enjoy the warm sunshine and refreshing sea breeze from June to September.

In addition to its beaches, the southeastern coast of Bulgaria is also home to several charming fishing villages, such as Sinemorets and Sozopol, which offer a glimpse into the traditional way of life in Bulgaria. These villages are known for their narrow streets, stone-made houses, and picturesque harbors filled with fishing boats and yachts. Visitors to these villages can sample the local cuisine, which is known for its seafood and its wines, and rakia, a traditional Bulgarian brandy.

The southeastern coast of Bulgaria is also home to many cultural and historical sites, which offer a fascinating look into the region’s rich history and cultural heritage. The region is home to several Byzantine churches and monasteries, including the Fortress of Messembria, which dates back to the 4th century BC. These sites offer a unique opportunity to learn about Bulgaria’s past and cultural traditions.

The southeastern coast of Bulgaria is a diverse and attractive region that offers something for everyone. Whether you are looking to relax on the beach, explore the region’s natural or cultural and historical sites, or enjoy the local cuisine, the southeastern coast of Bulgaria is a must-visit destination. Bulgaria’s southeastern coast is a place you will never forget with its stunning beauty, rich cultural heritage, and warm hospitality.

Southeastern Bulgaria by the sea road trip itinerary is suitable for those who would like to combine the relaxation of the sea and the beach with ancient history and discoveries in the wild. This itinerary provides opportunities to explore wild nature while making relatively easy and short day-trip escapes from the relaxed seaside holidays. The compact southeastern Bulgaria region you will discover on this trip allows you to be based on one or multiple Black Sea towns. We recommend staying in or around Sozopol, as this location is most efficient for commuting to the various places you will visit. This trip is suitable for kids and will not require more than 30 minutes of walking in one go (one direction). The journey reveals many scenic views and makes you discover hidden treasures in the southeastern part of Bulgaria and the wild Strandzha preserve.

We organized this trip itinerary with you being based in Sozopol and provided you with day-trip ideas combing various experiences, such as water sports, nature and discoveries, lonely Black Sea beaches, and culture.

Relevant resources for Southeastern Bulgaria by the Sea Road Trip

Renting a car in Bulgaria?
Driving in Bulgaria?
South-East Bulgaria by the Black Sea Road Trip Itinerary Map

Day 1: Departure from Burgas Airport (BOJ) to Sozopol

Distance for the day: 45 km | Time in the car: ~45m | Driving on a motorway

Flying from the western part of Europe to Burgas in the summer is easy as there are many flight options. Burgas airport (BOJ)is a tiny one-strip airport, and you will notice this immediately. After landing, you will be asked for an ID/passport check because Bulgaria is still not in the Schengen area. After collecting your luggage, you will exit in the main area of the airport where ren-a-car service providers are located. Our advice is to book a rent-a-car in advance and collect it at the airport. Please follow the directions from your rent-a-car service provider. Alternatively, you can take a taxi to Sozopol. No need to worry, a taxi is a very efficient way to travel in Bulgaria, but still, you may need to ask about the rate or the lump sum for the transfer to Sozopol or your place of stay.

Tip: It is recommended to ask for a parking space when you are booking your place of stay. If you are staying in the old town of Sozopol – use the central parking at the old town harbor.

Sozopol

Sozopol

From above

Sozopol on the day of my arrival

Sozopol is a small town located on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast, known for its historic charm and beautiful beaches. In high season, it is a popular destination for tourists because of its picturesque setting, with narrow streets and traditional Bulgarian houses. The town is also home to several cultural and artistic events, including the annual Apollonia Art Festival, which features music, theater, and dance performances. The festival takes place in September each year.

Sozopol

Sozopol

the town

One of the main attractions in Sozopol is its old town, which is a well-preserved example of Bulgarian architecture and history. The old town of Sozopol is home to many churches, museums, galleries, and several restaurants and cafes that offer traditional Bulgarian cuisine.

Sozopol is also known for its beautiful beaches, which are famous for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports. The town is surrounded by pine forests, which provide a refreshing escape from the heat during the summer months.

Sozopol is a charming and picturesque destination with a mix of history, culture, and natural beauty. If you enjoy exploring historic towns, experiencing local culture, or relaxing on beautiful beaches, the vibrant summer atmosphere of Sozopol is an excellent hub for your vacation.

Southeast’s Unique Places

The Lion’s Head

The Lion's Head is a natural rock formation located in the Ropotamo Reserve, resembling the profile of a sleeping lion's head. It can

Black Sea Sands

The type of sand found along Bulgaria's Black Sea coast is likely to vary depending on the area's specific location and geology. Sand

Mishkova Niva

Mishkova Niva (the Mouse's Field) is a Thracian cult complex dating from the fifth to third century BC. The more extensive ancient complex

Ropotamo River Mouth

There are three possible ways to reach the beautiful Ropotamo river mouth. By boat from the river Along the Ropotamo River, you can

Day 2: Explore the coast between Sozopol and Primorsko

Distance for the day: 80 km | Time in the car: ~2h | Driving on country roads | Local trip | Includes short walks

There is a local road by the sea from Sozopol going South. It reveals picturesque views over the sea and the coast. Starting from Sozopol, you will pass by Kavacite, and the camping Smokinya. The road goes further up the hill, then it descends to reveal a stunning view over Duni and the Drivers’ Beach. The area around Drivers’ Beach is called Alepu, a protected natural preserve area. This is an unguarded beach loved by locals for its tranquility. Fewer tourists are attracted by it, as it provides no service amenities. The Drivers’ Beach has a steep seabed floor, and big waves are not uncommon as the shore is exposed to the winds from the North. It is beautiful, though, and making a stop there is highly recommended.

Tip: If you are traveling with small kids, and if the weather is windy and there are big waves, make sure you keep an eye on them while on the beach and close to the water.

The most Northern area of the beach has hotels, a serviced area offering lounges, umbrellas, water-sports activities, a cocktail bar, and restaurants. It is part of the Duni resort. The Southern part of the Drivers’ Beach is neighboring the luxurious St. Toma resort. This area of the beach is services as well, offering lounges, umbrellas, and lifeguard support.

The Drivers' Beach

The Divers' Beach

The beach and the Alepu preserve

On the land side of the road, you can see the Alepu marsh, with the many rare and protected local and migrating birds, turtles, small lizards, and insects finding their home there. The Alepu marsh is below sea level and can be filled with rain and drained seawater or partially dry during the dry summer periods. The swamp is circa 3 km long and up to 320 meters wide. The sand dunes are also a protected area, together with the sand lily and the other plants that grow there. The Alepu area is part of the Ropotamo Important Bird and Biodiverse Area (IBA).

You can stop the car on the roadside. There are no dedicated marked parking spaces, and please be careful not to run over protected local species. It is a paradox that you can freely drive and park in the heart of the protected area. You can also see a lot of campers and caravans parked on the roadside, while the regulations in Bulgaria prohibit wild camping. Please behave responsibly and do not leave any waste on the beach or anywhere in and around the protected nature preserves. This will help to protect and sustain nature in its natural conditions.

Alepu

Alepu

The Marsh and a swan

Just after the Alepu marsh, the road turns slightly right, and after a kilometer, you will join the main road traveling North to South. To continue your journey to the South, you will turn left there. Be patient and allow for a distance when making the left turn, as it is a speed road section.

Arkutino area – a beach that offers surfing and tranquility

In a few kilometers to the South, you will be reaching the Arkutino area. Arkutino beach has very nice sands and sand dunes. It has serviced zone and a free zone. As a rule, the paid zone has a bar and food area, provides water sports activities, and offers lounges and umbrellas. It is also lifeguarded. The non-serviced zone extends kilometers to the South and provides a more tranquil beach experience. The serviced zone is closer to the parking space.

On the other side of the main road is the Arkutino reserve, a part of the more significant Ropotamo reserve. Continue reading about the Arkutino natural reserve.

Traveling a few kilometers South by the Ropotamo river will lead you to where the main road and the river intersect.

Take a boat for a short Ropotamo river adventure

There is a boat station just after the bridge where you can take a boat upstream or down to the Ropotamo river mouth. The river mouth is a beautiful place with two small and tranquil beaches. If you take a boat downstream, you will notice a Lions’ Head rock formation on your right side. There are alternative ways to reach the river mouth – by the sea, or by walking.

Ropotamo River

Ropotamo River

Boats

Next, you can drive for twenty more minutes South and enter the town of Primorsko. Primorsko, which name translates as “By-the-sea” is a relatively modern town compared to Sozopol’s or Nesebar’s historical heritage. You can drive straight to Beglik Tash or check the town’s many cafes and restaurants for refreshments. The next possible stop to refresh yourself is Perla Beach, ten minutes away by the sea driving north. You will pass close to Perla Beach going to Beglik Tash.

What is Beglik Tash?

Beglik Tash

Beglik Tash

Beglik Tash

Beglik Tash is an ancient rock sanctuary. At the end of the natural cave, archaeologists discovered ceramic artifacts from the Early Iron Age (10th-6th century BC) and an artificial stone altar. According to the findings, Beglik Tash was used as a place of worship. Every day at noon, a ray of sunlight enters the cave’s narrow entrance and transmits light to the cave’s back wall.

What is going on at Primorsko Airfield?

Primorsko Airfield

Primorsko Airfield

LBPR

The last stop for today is the Primorsko airfield (ICAO: LBPR). The airfield provides opportunities to explore the Black Sea seashore from above. We can only recommend this activity as it is an excellent chance to see many of the landmarks we discussed. You can fly small two- and four-seater planes or gyrocopters, and other options are available too. Some photos we have here are taken from a similar plane trip. Please check on the spot for availability.

“The road is a journey, and not just a simple means to get there”

Day 3: Explore the coast between Primorsko and Rezovo

Distance for the day: 140 km | Time in the car: ~2h 35m | Driving on country roads, and short gravel roads | Local trip | Includes short walks

For this one-day trip, we recommend driving to Rezovo and exploring the shore from the South to the North. As always, check the weather first, and if rainy, schedule the trip so that you get the rain while driving and not at places you stop to visit. Usually, it rarely rains in that area, and the rain storms are short and over narrow pieces of land.

From Sozopol to Rezovo is 66km, and it will take approximately one hour and ten minutes to get there. The more South you go, the narrower the road becomes. Please drive carefully, and observe for cars parked on the roadside.

Why go to Rezovo?

The village of Rezovo is the “South-Easternmost” point of the European Union, located at the Black Sea. Just meters away from Rzeovo is the Turkish border. There is a small square where you can stand just a few meters from the Turkish border. Rezovo has a tiny beach located at the very edge of the Bulgarian territory; in most cases, it is open to the public. Rezovo also has two to three restaurants where you can grab some food if hungry. Don’t expect any luxury. It will be basic local Bulgarian food.

Tip: Rezovo region is an EU border region and is patrolled by Bulgarian border patrols. They may ask for documents or ID when entering the village. That’s why it is recommended to bring your ID and car documents on this trip.

After being at the South-Easternmost point in the EU, you can start your trip North to explore the many sunny beaches this Black Sea region offers. Less than twenty-five kilometers drive will bring you to the Sinemorets and the mouth of river Veleka. You will pass by Lipite Beach and be close to Butamyata Beach, the southern beach of Sinemorets.

Sinemorets, Veleka River Mouth, and Veleka Beach

Veleka River Mouth

Veleka River

The river Mouth near Sinemorets

Veleka moth and beach are North of Sinemorets. Veleka beach offers one of the region’s best and most unique beach experiences. It is positioned on the sand stray between the Veleka river and the Black Sea, immediately next to the Veleka river mouth. It is spacious and has magnificent views. The beach offers a free and paid zone (with loungers and umbrellas), a beach bar, and showers. Its convenient location by the river and the sea makes it suitable for SUP surfing, kayaking, and boating. When windy, Veleka beach is becoming very popular for windsurfing or kiteboarding.

Tips for families with small kids: Seabed can be steep, and kids may need supervision if you stay at the beach’s free and unguarded areas. The paid zone is recommended for families, as it provides lifeguard support if required and is also closer to the food areas.

Tips for getting there: There are two ways to get there by car. To access the beach via Sinemorets, you will need to drive through the village and go North to bar Koraba. Another access is the one that will be shown on your GPS if you point directions to Veleka Beach. If you are bringing more stuff to the beach, we recommend using the access your GPS will provide you with. Both access routes’ last hundred meters are gravel roads and may be rocky. Drive carefully.

Driving fifteen minutes North will lead you to Ahtopol.

What to see in Ahtopol

Ahtopol is a typical relaxed Bulgarian town by the Black Sea. Ahtopol is tiny and has its fishing harbor on the South, guarded by the city from the Northern winds, and lovely beach areas on the North – Ahtopol Beach and the Dolphin Campground. You can stop for a coffee by the sea, overlooking the Ahtopol lighthouse.

Driving further Nort, you will pass Varvara, Lozenets, and Kiten, all small towns by the sea, and a few iconic Bulgarian beaches – Nestinarka Beach, Arapya Beach, Coral Beach, Atliman beach, and the Sand Dunes Beach just before Primorsko. Most of these beaches in the past were tranquil, and today, they are very busy with tourists because of the new hotels and spontaneous campgrounds. Indeed, the landscape can change rapidly, and once quiet and peaceful places by the sea suddenly become busy resorts. Google maps indexes the places mentioned above, and you can easily find them.

Days 4: Exploring Strandzha Preserve

Distance for the day: 220km | Time in the car: ~3h 10m | Driving on country roads, and gravel roads | Local trip | Includes short walks

Why Brashlyan village and Mishkova Niva?

Indeed, this is a relaxation and an energy trip.

Mishkova Niva in Strandzha is a rich and fascinating site with a long history and a wealth of cultural and historical significance. The domed temple and the mound necropolis are undoubtedly exciting and essential landmarks. The Thracian fortress on Mount Golyamo Gradishte and the Bastet sanctuary at the foot of the peak add to the complex’s cultural significance.

Brashlyan village has a long and interesting history, with evidence of the ancient human presence in the form of dolmens, mounds, and sanctuaries. It’s also interesting to note that the village was initially called Sarmashik, and that it was founded in the late 17th century. The village church of St. Dimitar is also an exciting feature of Brashlyan. The church has likely played a central role in the community over the years, and it’s probably an essential cultural and historical landmark for the village.

Thracian civilization was an ancient civilization that flourished in what is now Bulgaria and parts of southeastern Europe from around the 5th century BC to the 6th century AD. The Thracians were known for their skilled craftsmanship and sophisticated culture, and their legacy can still be seen in the many ruins and artifacts discovered throughout the region. Mishkova Niva sanctuary and the surrounding area are rich in Thracian history and culture and are worth a visit for anyone interested in ancient civilizations or Bulgarian history.

Day 5: Your day in Burgas

Distance for the day: 65 km | Time in the car: ~1h | Driving on a motorway, and in the city | Local trip | Includes city walk

Burgas

Burgas

Above the city

Located on the Black Sea coast, Burgas is known for its beautiful beaches, rich cultural history, and vibrant nightlife. We have a few kid-friendly suggestions for things to do while visiting Burgas:

  • Relax on the beach: Burgas has several beautiful beaches, including Central Beach and North Beach, which offer various water sports and activities.
  • Visit the Burgas Art Gallery: This gallery features many exhibits, including paintings, sculptures, and installations by Bulgarian and international artists.
  • Visit the Burgas Archaeological Museum: This museum houses a collection of ancient artifacts and exhibits, including items from the Neolithic and Bronze Age and the Roman and Byzantine periods.
  • Take a stroll through Burgas Central Park: This picturesque park is a great place to relax and enjoy the outdoors, with tree-lined paths, a pond, and various plants and flowers.
  • Visit the Burgas Zoo: Located just outside of the city center, the Burgas Zoo is home to a variety of animals, including lions, tigers, bears, and monkeys.

There are many things to see and do in Burgas, whether you’re interested in culture, history, nature, or simply relaxing on the beach.

Day 6 and 7: Beach days and enjoying Sozopol

Something unique about the beach in southeastern Bulgaria makes it the perfect place to relax and unwind. Whether you’re lounging on the sand, swimming in the waves, or building sandcastles with the kids, the beach offers endless opportunities for fun and enjoyment.

But even if you want to kick back and relax, the beach is the perfect place. The sound of the waves, the warmth of the Black sea waters, and the cool breeze on your skin all create a sense of peace and contentment that’s hard to find anywhere else. You may need some time out on the last days of the trip. Head down to one of your favorite local beaches and let the sea breeze and the sand between your toes work their magic. You won’t be disappointed.

Your Southeastern Bulgaria road trip itinerary technical information and data: we only show the elevation above sea level for some of the places you will visit; the trip’s kilometer build-up is not shown as many of the daily trips are optional; please refer to the daily trips for individual distances.

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