Most visitors to Bulgaria travel to the larger cities, such as Sofia, Veliko Tarnovo and Plovdiv, or to the Black Sea. However, if you do’t want the tpical party destination by the Sea and pair it with wonderful seaside views, then Sozopol (Созопол) is ideal.
It’s not far from Burgas and the Pink Lakes and makes for a great day trip. Here’s what you should know before visiting Sosopol. Fun fact: Sozopol used to be named Apollonia (Ἀπολλωνία).
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Top 12 Things to See in Sozopol
Ancient Gate of Sozopol
Sanctuary of Demeter and Persephone in Sozopol
St Ivan and Peter Islands
Sozopol Old Town
The Castle of Ravadinovo
Diving Center Sozopol
Orthodox East Church
St. Martyr George Church
St. Nicholas Chapel 1
St. Nicholas Chapel 2
St Thomas Island
The town’s history dates back all the way to the 7th century BC, Ancient Greek times. Back then it was called Antheia (Άνθεια) and quickly became the most important, largest and richest Greek Black Sea hub for trade. So you gotta at least check out today’s port in Sozopol.
Address: Яхтено пристанище за Марина порт, 8130 Sozopol, Bulgaria
To really dig deep into Sozopol’s history, a visit to the Archeological Museum is due.
Address: ulitsa Han Krum 2, 8130 Sozopol, Bulgaria
One of the best sunset spots on Sozopol is the ancient gate. Huge chunks of it remain and you can climb down the cliff a bit for the best lookout over the Black Sea and the setting sun over the horizon.
Address: 8130 Tsentar, Sozopol, Bulgaria
Just a quick walk away from the ancient Gate, you can find the remains of the sanctuary dedicated to Demeter and Persephone. The site is said to have been built in the 6th century BC.
Address: 42.425361, 699829, bul. “Bulgaria” 27, 5006 Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria
Walking around Sozopol port, you will spot the two nearby islands of St Ivan and Peter (Ostrovi “Sv.Sv.Ivan I Petar”). They are protected areas and cannot be visited but look beautiful nontheless.
Apart from the old Grecian archeological findings, the Old Town in Sozopol is very special. The traditional wooden houses are well preserved and you can get wonderfully lost for a bit among the cobble stones.
For such a small town, Sozopol sure surprised with two museums. The first dedicated to the very ancient roots and the latter to more modern historical past. It is more of a house musem, the Ethnographic Museum and you can enter one oft he stunning wooden houses.
Address: ul. “Kiril i Metodiy” 34, 8130 Tsentar, Sozopol, Bulgaria
Before you swoon over an intact castle in Sozopol, this isn’t real. It is a rather modern interpretation of what a fairy tale castle ought to look like. But there’s a wine cellar and stellar views, so who can complain? It makes for great photos, there is horse riding, a sculpture park, summer cinema and art gallery onsite.
Address: The Castle of Ravadinovo, 8146 Ravadinovo, Bulgaria
Do you fancy getting close and personal with the local sealife? You can book a (scuba) dive at the town’s PADI Dive Centre. They offer diving training for individuals, families and groups, too.
Address: ul. “Yani Popov” 27, 8130 Tsentar, Sozopol, Bulgaria
Sozopol has a central sandy beach, which offers great views over the Old Town. And it has a beach bar. It’s a great spot to watch the sun rise – if the clouds decide to part.
A church pretty in white and hard to be missed as it stands in stark contrast to the historical nearly black wooden buildings, you should step inside if you can.
Address: pl. “Han Krum”, 8130 Tsentar, Sozopol, Bulgaria
Another beautiful old church, St George is worthy of a quick peek. As is typical for Bulgaria, it is of the Orthodox denomination.
Address: ul. “Apolonia”, 8130 Tsentar, Sozopol, Bulgaria
While we’re at it and you are at the Gate, step inside the small room of the chapel on the southern wall. Here, you can find wonderful wall paintings of “St. Nicholas the Miracle Worker” (Южна крепостна стена, “Св. Николай чудотворец”).
Address: 8130 Tsentar, Sozopol, Bulgaria
An alternative chapel for St Nikolai is just up the road in Old Town. I am not entirely sure but it might refer to St. Nicholas of Sofia the New (Свети Николай Софийски Нови) , who was a Christian saint and martyr from the 16th century.
Address: ul. “Milet” 46,8130, Център Tsentar, Sozopol, Bulgaria
Only 15 kilometres (9 miles) south of Sozopol you can admire actual wild cacti in Bulgaria. That’s the only place they grow!
They are called opuntia cacti and came all the way from the botanical garden in Bratislava, Slovakia. The island once houses a chapel dedicated to St Thomas, hence the name.
Best Time to Visit
As is typical for the Bulgarian Black Sea coast, high season is in summer. That makes perfect sense because the weather is nicely warm, the Black Sea is nicely refreshing and days are long.
Note, busy season can already start in May and last until September. Off season means you only a few tourists and that local bed and breakfasts aren’t fully booked.
However, businesses are slow during that time and not many restaurants and hotel might have opened their doors yet. So you should double check availability in advance or just plan a day trip and sort out your accommodation in Burgas.
Where to Stay in Sozopol in Bulgaria
While in most places, travelling in off season means plenty more options for accommodation as rooms aren’t fully booked, for Sosopol it might mean many of hotels and bed n breakfasts being closed. So it’s better to check availability as soon as you know your possible travel dates.
Low Budget Places to Stay in Sozopol
I visited Sozopol in May and found only about two hostels offering their rooms. Both were basically empty during my one day in Sosopol. I had an entire hostel to myself! It was brilliant. If you want a beach getaway in utter piece, I recommend this!
The hostel I picked and really enjoyed was Just a Hostel and the owner personally stopped by to welcome me and make breakfast in the morning. Super lovely! If you’re not a hostel type but on a small budget, try Guest House Diamant and their comfortable beds. Plus, you will likewise be greeted with outstandingly friendly service.
A couple of readers highly recommended their stay at The Muses in Sozopol. It is located just a little outside of Sozopol but within walking distance of the town centre. It’s literally a walk along the beach! The hotel offers double rooms and seems to be open in summer only. Double check with your travel dates here.
Mid Range Hotels in Sozopol
Mid range in Bulgaria means regular hostel prices in Western European countries, so why not splurge? Get a nice and modern hotel room with a private balcony overlooking the Sea at Zdravko Guest House.
For a typical retro Bulgarian interior, check into Hotel Bobchev, which has a garden and is only 300metres from the Port as well as the bus station of Sozopol.
Best Luxury Hotels in Sozopol
Fancy a huge hotel with giant pool? Book your stay now at Art Complex Anel. It’s like a resort with little hotel house units dotted among green paths and overlooking the Sea. There are shore pools down below as well.
An alternative is Villa Maria with a Mediterranean vibe. Rooms come with a balcony and you can add a terrace as well. In case you want to be self catering, there are kitchen options as well.
How to Get to Sozopol in Bulgaria
If you book a rental car, follow the main routes 9 and 99 southward along the Black Sea shores. It’s pretty straightforward but keep looking for the signs pointing to Sozopol (Созопол) to be extra sure. Use your Google Maps or Maps.Me app for navigation help.
It’s possible to book a taxi as well since it takes only half an hour and costs around $12. Make sure you book your taxi service through a trusted company. Ask at the reception and look for the taxi prices displayed on the dashboard. A good app for using taxis in Bulgaria is TaxiMe.
Local buses operate between Burgas and Sospol. If you are further away, in Varna or Sunny Beach (Bulgaria’s popular beach resort), you can take a bus from there to Burgas. It costs between $2-3.
During off season, buses don’t go as regularly (and it’s mostly mini vans), so it’s wise to check schedules online. You can book online or show up at the bus station but don’t expect people to speak fluent English.
To take away the hassle of sorting out bus schedules and not get stuck in Burgas for an hour waiting for the minivan to show, hop on a guided tour. This way, you have a local guide, meet fellow travellers and see even more sights you didn’t think to include before. I love small group tours for those perks.
To get from Sunny Beach to Sozopol, book a day tour with Get Your Guide. They also offer day trips from Varna – another hotspot by the Black Sea – and stop by the other historic site Nessebar as well. Check availability here.
There are no trains going to Sosopol.
Top 5 Items to Pack for Sosopol
Is Visiting Sosopol Worth It?
Sosopol is one of the cutest places in Bulgaria and well worth the day trip or at least an overnight stay from Burgas. Getting there is not hard and you can just spend some time by the beach, stroll around the historic streets or dine on authentic Bulgarian cuisine.
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Loved this. Hope to explore the area after covid.
Oh yes, I really hope travel will be possible soon. Bulgaria is so beautiful. Have you visited the Black Sea area before? I noticed you wrote about Sofia.