Varna is one of the most popular destinations in Bulgaria thanks to its Black Beach location, party miles and 1 July celebrations. However, if you are looking for amazing landscapes in Bulgaria, the unique Petrified Forest, Pobiti Kamani (Побити камъни), is only an hour away. Here’s how to get there even if you are travelling Bulgaria only by bus.
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What is the Stone Forest Varna?
Pobiti Kamani translates to “planted stones” and the name is pretty telling. Stone columns are poking out of a desert, looking like oddly shaped fingers (or phallic symbolism) dotting the landscape-
It’s a little bit like the Pinnacles in Nambung National Park, Western Australia. The Stone Desert is actually the only desert in Europe with desert reptilians and animals. Even cacti grow here and occasionally sandstorms and sand twisters sweep through the region!
Since it is the only one of two naturally occurring deserts in all of Europe, Pobiti Kamani has received the status as a designated natural landmark.
How Did the Stone Forest Form?
It is not entirely clear how the petrified forest in Varna, Bulgaria came to be. One thing is sure: The rock formations near Varna are entirely natural. Some scientists believe that the entire area was covered by water once and coral complexes and bio buildups became petrified.
Others think that these limestone formations, formed from bubbling reefs, simply eroded over time. One thing pointing to this is the fact that the stone pillars are actually hollow and filled with sand on the inside. The can be as high as 7 metres and up to 3 metres thick.
What Legends are there about Pobiti Kamani?
Regardless of the theories of scientists, there naturally have been local folk tales about the origins of the unique fossilised stones in Bulgaria.
According to one, there was a village in Pobiti Kamani ages ago. One day, God appeared to one local boy and in turn for keeping quiet about this, He promised to make the human immortal.
You know how the story goes, that promise didn’t last too long because the boy fell in love with a girl. And he had to come up with a way to save her from an arranged marriage with one of the Sea Titans.
So he struck a deal and promised to share the name of God if he could get the girl instead. But he didn’t just give them the name, he arranged the titans on the beach in the shape of the name.
God immediately struck the titans and turned them to stone, to be standing in the desert forevermore. The boy and girl lived happily ever after.
How to get to the Stone Forest Near Varna?
The easiest way to visit the “Bulgarian Stonehenge” is with a rental car or taxi. The journey only takes 15 minutes. A taxi ride costs between $5 and $7. If you are using a local taxi, make sure to call an official number (your reception can help you) or get it through the trusted TaxiMe app.
There are plenty of fake taxis, especially in Bulgaria’s tourist hubs. One key thing to look out for is the cab colour (yellow or sometimes green) and the taxi fares written on the dashboard.
If you want an adventure, take the local bus. It takes nearly 45 minutes to get to the last but one stop on the line 43. Check the bus schedule here. From there, you have to walk all the way to the Pretrified Forest entrance.
There apparently is a small entrance fee of 3 leva ($1.8), which you in the shop at the entrace. It’s about 5-6 leva. Plus, if you want a local guide, you only have to pay another 3 leva ($1.8) and 2 leva ($1.1) for students and kids. Get in touch via phone (+359 888 544506) or email ([email protected]).
Available tour times are between 10AM and 5PM. In winter they operate from Monday to Friday and in summer daily except on Mondays.
What is the Best Time to Visit the Stone Forest?
Basically, the area looks great all year round. I mean, there isn’t all that much lush vegetation. It’s a desert. The best time in the day, however, is just before sunset. It’s then that the beige-yellowish sand turns all kinds of pastel reds and the rock formations create interesting silhouettes.
What Else Is there to Do in Varna?
Aladzha Monastery – Bulgaria has absolutely stunning Orthodox churches throughout the country. However, a very special one is the medieval Orthodox Christian monastery in a cave! It used to be inhabited by hermit monks. It’s pretty close to Varna, Bulgaria and makes for a great afternoon getaway. If you don’t have a rental car, check guided tour times here.
Silistra – Right at the border to Romania, you can find the port town Silistra. It is well known for its archaeological findings, including a decorated Late Roman tomb, medieval fortress ruins and an Ottoman fort. The first Roman fortresses in Silistra date back to AD 29. If you like slow travel, book a group tour with guided service.
Shumen – For even more heritage sightseeing, why not plan a day trip from Varna to Shumen? It is the 10th largest city in Bulgaria and utterly striking with its restored wall fragments and tower of the Shumen fortress. During the Second Bulgarian Empire it kinda acted like a capital, it was that important! Check tour deals here to hear all the details from a local tour guide.
Pink Lakes – A hidden secret but big among locals, the Pink Lakes and Black mud baths near Burgas are THE magnet in warmer months. You can slather on the healing muds and float on the super salty pink lakes. All complete with health and beauty benefits! It’s possible to get a bus to Burgas and taxi to the lakes, but the easy way is a tour. Check availability in advance.
Sunny Beach – Another popular beachside town, Sunny Beach is for sun lovers. Why not rent a catamaran and cruise the Black Sea? You can even get on a Moonshine cruise if that’s more to your liking. It’s popular, so reserve your ticket in advance.
Russe – The city of Russe / Ruse lies in the North of Bulgaria, right by the river Danube. What makes it so picturesque is its 19th- and 20th-century Neo-Baroque and Neo-Rococo architecture, giving it the nickname Little Vienna. If you want a guided day trip to Russe, you can check tours here.
Tell me: Why do you want to visit Pobiti Kamani?
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