The unspoiled Northern Bulgarian seaside: the most amazing places north of Kavarna

Тази статия може да я прочетете и на: bgБългарски

Anna likes to wake up around 6.30 am, with the first rays of the spring sun. Then she comes to our bed and wakes her baby sister Adriana and starts hugging her. Anna is 4 years old, Adriana is only 6 months at this time. The first one wants to play – the other one – to sleep. About us – well, no one ask us whether we want to sleep. This is our life in the spring mornings, when we are on a family holiday to breathe some fresh seaside air and enjoy some quality time together. This time we have decided to hide from the noisy life and settled in small village on the northernmost part of the Bulgarian seaside.

Maria, Adriana and Anna early in the morning
Maria, Adriana and Anna early in the morning
The story in this article happened during the Orthodox Easter holidays. I mention this because during the holidays you can find more working restaurants, hotels and other such things to serve the needs of Bulgarian or Romanian visitors. It is possible that in the off-season many such objects might be closed.
Anna walking on the tiny beach of Krapets village
Anna walking on the tiny beach of Krapets village

Krapets village, somewhere in the north

In the early morning, when Anna gets up, I take her for a walk around the village and to the fishing boats. We stayed in the southern end of Krapets village, on the last street, in one of the houses of our friends Svetlio and Kremena, who have created a real oasis for families like us.

We were looking for something we had not found on the Bulgarian seaside before – a cozy calm place with a nice green yard. As a bonus, there we found chickens and a rooster waking us up in the morning from the neighbouring house. This is how we found Svetlio and Kremena and their guest houses.

The small seaside park in Krapets village and the fortified coast
The small seaside park in Krapets village and the fortified coast

In Krapets village you will not find anything too special. I thing this is the most special thing here, because we are a bit tired of the numerous overcrowded and luxurious places along the Bulgarian seaside. Many Bulgarians have not even heard about Krapets. In the village there are a few small hotels and guest houses, and also a slightly larger hotel complex with a restaurant, just on the coast. During our stay we visited it twice to enjoy delicious seafood. This is the Yanitsa restaurant.

Rose Anita from Rupel winery, Bulgaria
Delicious seafood dinner on the veranda
The fishing boats at Krapets village
The fishing boats at Krapets village

But let’s get back to our walk with Anna to the quiet streets of Krapets. We cannot get lost, because everything leads to the coast. So we slowly follow the streets and every time choose a different one. In April and May fishing is prohibited because of the breeding season of fish. So in the fishing part of Krapets you will mostly see boats on the coast and even some fishermen sitting next to their houses. The coast of Krapets is fortified and raised above the sea level, but I like the morning view and the walks along the narrow sand strip.

More fishing boats, I find the place very charming
More fishing boats, I find the place very charming

The beach of Krapets

The beach of Krapets is located outside the village, some 3-4 km north. In the spring it has nice golden sand, covered with shells in the spring, and is quite deserted, merging with the beach of the nearby Durankulak village. We imagine how it would look in the summer – probably there are not big crowds and you can have full relax. There are probably 1 or 2 beach bars working, but I don’t mind them.

The beach near Krapets village, Bulgaria
The beach near Krapets village, Bulgaria
Many shells covering the beach of Krapets
Many shells covering the beach of Krapets

The northern Bulgarian seaside is usually windy and a bit cooler than the south. However, this does not prevent us from thinking of a summer holiday here. At least it will be perfect for kites.

Bolata beach and bay

Some places were preserved because access to them was limited for a long time. One of them is Bolata bay, which was inside a military zone until some 20 years ago. Nowadays the beach is still very authentic and despite it is stunning beautiful and known of many people, in the spring you rarely meet someone there. In the summer, like every beach in Bulgaria, it has visitors. The North Bulgarian seaside always fascinates me with its wild places.

If you decide to visit the Bolata beach, there is only one road to it. It starts between Cape Kaliakra and Balgarevo village (the same village where is the popular restaurant for mussels – Dalboka). From there, by the narrow road you will reach the bay and the beach.

Bolata bay
Bolata bay

From the beach there is a steep path to the place where these photos were taken from. From there you can enjoy this amazing view of the reddish rocks and clean waters. The colour of the rocks is read because of the clay that contains iron oxides. Anna and I stood here for a while, she was a little scared from the height but we had nice time enjoying the serenity and peace.

The path to Bolata bay
The path to Bolata bay
Anna making faces at Bolata
Anna making faces at Bolata

The lighthouse at Cape Shabla (Shabla lighthouse)

Can you imagine when the Shabla lighthouse was built and it is still in operation? The oldest lighthouse in Bulgaria is a big attraction. It is also the tallest lighthouse in Bulgaria (32m), the nortnernmost one and the only one coloured in two colours – white and red strips. Moreover, it located on the easternmost point of Bulgaria – Cape Shabla. But the most important thing is that the Shabla lighthouse was built in the late 18th century and later renovated in 1856 , when was put into exploitation again.

The lighthouse at Cape Shabla, Bulgaria
The lighthouse at Cape Shabla, Bulgaria

When you go to the lighthouse, you will see that it is still beautiful with its fading red strips and the greenery around. Access to it is limited, actually most of the lighthouses in Bulgaria are with limited access because they fall into a military zone. But sometimes the authorities in Shabla municipality organize open-doors days when the lighthouse can be visited.

The Shabla lighthouse
The Shabla lighthouse

The history of the Shabla lighthouse takes us back to the late 18th century, just before the Russian – Turkish war of 1768 – 1774. The lighthouse has probably been built to guide the Ottoman fleet in the war. Almost 100 years later, during the Crimea war, when the Ottoman empire is united with France (Napoleon III), the French finance construction of lighthouses across the empire. So was renovated the Shabla lighthouse, which was inaugurated in July 1856, during the rule of sultan Abdulmejid I.

The boats in the fishing village near Shabla lighthouse
The boats in the fishing village near Shabla lighthouse

The Shabla lighthouse was initially painted only in white, but while it was within Romanian territory it was renovated and painted in white and red.

The weird pyramids in the park around Shabla lighthouse
The weird pyramids in the park around Shabla lighthouse

Around the Shabla lighthouse there is a recently build fishing village – Karia. There you can have a nice walk between the boats, we came here with Anna and Adriana both during day and night. Maria and I had a lot of fun between the strange houses. And I still have no explanation of the weird art installation next to the lighthouse.

Yailata

I admit I fell in love with this place. Nature makes miracles, every time, everywhere, and here it did a wonderful job. When you stand on the edge, a step after the sign “Do not pass! Danger!” and enjoy the amazing view, under the torrential spring rain at 7 am, you can only be grateful and happy to be here on the edge.

Something like a sunrise early in the morning
Something like a sunrise early in the morning
The fortress at Yailata
The fortress at Yailata

What is actually Yailata? Well, yayla comes from Turkish language and means plateau. Yailata is indeed a plateau. But an extremely beautiful plateau, raising some 10-15 m above the sea level and about the same distance under the continental level.

Какво представлява Яйлата? Ами yayla от турски означава плато, това е в общи линии – плато. Но много красиво плато, издигнато на 10-15 метра над морското равнище и на около толкова под континенталното ниво.

The fortification wall at Yailata
The fortification wall at Yailata
Yailata
Yailata

On Yailata there are several historical sites. The most recent one is an early Byzantine fortress, dating back to the 5th century. Parts of the fortification walls have been preserved and recently they were upgraded to look more impressive. However, the most important sites are actually the caves and necropolis from the 5th millennium BC.

Ancient necropolis at Yailata, Bulgaria
Ancient necropolis at Yailata, Bulgaria
The rocky coast of the plateau with caves visible - Yailata, Black sea, Bulgaria
The rocky coast of the plateau with caves visible

Yailata is a wonderful place for walks early in the morning or upon sunset. If you are there on a hot summer day, you can find the walk exhausting, because there is little shadow.

The entrance of the rocky dwellings
The entrance of the rocky dwellings
The rock dwellings on Yailata, Bulgaria
The rock dwellings on Yailata, Bulgaria
The Andreev family on the rocks of Yailata, Bulgaria
The Andreev family on the rocks of Yailata, Bulgaria

We had a nice evening family walk after the morning walks of Andrey. We walk on the ancient necropolis, trying to explain to little Anna that the holes below her feet are actually graves. Not that we insist to talk to her about life and death at this moment, but she asks questions all the time. All kinds of questions.

The paths of Yailata
The paths of Yailata

Then we take the path along the coast, enjoy the rocks and the horizon which is in the form of an arc, showing us how Earth is round, indeed. We pass by the fortress, get into the rock dwellings. Anna manages to make many mischiefs. Rain almost poured on us. It was an emotional walk on an emotional place.

Durankulak lake

Just before you reach the northernmost village on the Bulgarian seaside, you will reach the Durankulak lake. If you are bird lover, here you can take a walk on the coast and look for interesting birds. The area is a part of Via Pontica – the main migration route of birds from Europe to Africa. If you are history lover, you can pass by the wooden bridges and go to the large island in the middle of the lake.

Here you can go deep into the history of humanity. While we walk among the remains of old dwellings and ancient streets, we can hardly imagine what is exactly under our feet. However, millenia ago here lived, walked and worked people. If you have time, you can go to the history museum in Dobrich and see the oldest gold jewelry in the world.

The bridge to the big island in Durankulak lake, Bulgaria
The bridge to the big island in Durankulak lake, Bulgaria
Until recently I thought that the oldest processed gold in the world was discovered in the Varna Chalcolitic Necropolis. However, the Varna necropolis is dated to the period of the Varna culture (4400 – 4100 years BC). The discoveries in the Durankulak lake are related to the local Hamangia culture, dated to 5500 – 4500 years BC. So, the jewelry found on the big island of the Durankulak late are around 200 – 250 years older then the gold found in the Varna necropolis. Indeed, there is one more nominee for the oldest processed gold in the world. It is a golden bead found in the Yunatsite mound near Pazardhik, Bulgaria. What is the truth – who knows..?
The archaeological remain on the Big island of the Lake Durankulak, Bulgaria
The archaeological remain on the Big island of the Lake Durankulak, Bulgaria
The big island in the Durankulak lake
The big island in the Durankulak lake

At noon the walk on the Big island is hot and tiring. The stone foundations somehow lose their charm and Anna is starving. So we decided to head to the nearby restaurant on the shore of the lake – Kibela. Here the service is not really quick, but the food was nice.

Cape Kaliakra

Even if you go to this amazing region every day, you won’t be able to see everything worth seeing. And you should go again and again. One of our top places on the northern Bulgian seaside, where we go again and again, is Cape Kaliakra. Here Anna learned what is a cape is. (In Bulgarian language the word for Cape also means “nose”. So she wondered whose this nose was. Finally, we agreed that it was a nose of a giant. )

But let’s get back to Kaliakra. It is indeed a very beautiful cape with remains of fortification walks and old dwellings. A notable place, among our favourites in the spring.

Cape Kaliakra - if you like aerial photos, follow Stefan, a very cool guy and my good friend Н
Cape Kaliakra – if you like aerial photos, follow Stefan, a very cool guy and my good friend

The walk on Cape Kaliakra is very rich and interesting. All of the time we enjoyed the view of blossoming yellow flowers, walked through the remains of ancient houses and the impressive fortification walls. The earliest settlers here lived around the 4th century BC – the Thracian tribe Tirizis.

To the gate and fortification wall at Cape Kaliakra, Bulgaria, Black sea
To the gate and fortification wall at Cape Kaliakra, Bulgaria, Black sea

The story of all the tribes and peoples who lived and built on Cape Kaliakra is long and interesting. Can you imagine how they lived on this remote place, like on the top of the world? Then the sea view was not the most important thing in terms of aesthetics but helped a lot about security. The high rocks are inaccessible from the sea and the only access to the area is from the narrow strip of land, where the fortification wall was built. It has probably been quite secure to live there.

A view from Cape Kaliakra to the continent
A view from Cape Kaliakra to the continent
The rocky and stunning beautiful coast of Cape Kaliakra, Bulgaria
The rocky and stunning beautiful coast of Cape Kaliakra, Bulgaria

We had a long walk through the cape and also passed by the monument of Russian admiral Fyodor Ushakov who crashed the Turkish army of Hussein Pasha during the 1787 – 1792 war. This victory put an end to the war.

Anna was enthusiastic to be pictured with the monument and asked a thousand of questions about it. It wasn’t easy at all to explain that matter to a 4 year-old girl.

The walking path passes by a restaurant on the cape and reaches the local museum, which was just closing during our visit. The museum is free to enter when open.

The chapel at Cape Kaliakra
The chapel at Cape Kaliakra
St. Nicola chapel on Cape Kaliakra
St. Nicola chapel on Cape Kaliakra

Finally, we went down to the St. Nicola chapel, on the edge of the rocks, and then returned by the same path, looking again at the old remains and the yellow flowers.

Our family at  the point where everyone takes photos on Kalliakra - the edge of the rocks
Our family at the point where everyone takes photos on Kalliakra – the edge of the rocks

On the route we met many photographers, mostly bird-watchers. In the area you can see various interesting and beautiful birds. More about Kaliakra we will tell in a separate story, because there is a lot more to tell.

The lighthouse and military base on Cape Kaliakra, Bulgaria
The lighthouse and military base on Cape Kaliakra, Bulgaria

Tyulenovo and the rocky arch

The name of Tyulenovo village has always sounded very exotic and romantic for us, as some lonely and wild place with special energy. In Bulgarian Tyulen means Seal. So we imagine flocks of seals lying on the rocks or hiding in the underwater caves.

The arch in Tyulenovo
The arch in Tyulenovo

Seals were probably a real picture here in the middle of the 20th century. In 1942 the village was named Tyulenovo exactly because of the seals living in the underwater caves in the area. Where the seals came from – well, this is another story. Locals tell that in the 1930s the Romanian queen Maria received as gift a couple of seals. First they lived in a restricted territory near Balchik but later she decided to release them. After this, the seals picked the rocky coast of Tyulenovo as their habitat.

The famous fishermen harbour in Tyulenovo, a favourite place of photographers
The famous fishermen harbour in Tyulenovo, a favourite place of photographers
Tyulenovo bay, Bulgaria, Black sea
Tyulenovo bay

Unfortunately, seals have not been seen in the area for decades. But the beautiful rocks and caves on the coast are still there and keep this special energy, inherent to seaside places that to not have a beach. We take the narrow path from the village’s small harbour which leads us to the famous rock arch. Actually, there is a road leading straight to the arch. However, we would never trade the pleasant 10-minute sunset walk through the red rocks. Tourists come in groups and go. And after long minutes enjoying the sunset and the arch, we return slowly by the narrow path and by the boats.

The coast of Tyulenovo, Bulgaria, Black sea
The coast of Tyulenovo
The rocks around Tyulenovo village
The rocks around Tyulenovo village

Tyulenovo is a small village that does not have a beach and is still a territory reserves for those visitors who prefer to dive in the caves or jump from the rocks. It is also a place reserved only for those who are not scared of Mother Nature’s character. Because the waters around Tyulenovo may become dangerous even by the first wind.

Our team as small dots on the arch of Tyulenovo
Our team as small dots on the arch of Tyulenovo

Kamen Bryag and Ogancheto (the little fire)

Several kilometers south of Tyulenovo is the village Kamen Bryag, quite famous with its sunrise rock festival every year on July 1st. The most popular place in the area is known as Ogancheto (meaning “the little fire”).

Ogancheto is an old gas field which was lit many years ago and is still burning. If you pass by it in cold weather, you can easily go and have some warmth. Once the small fire was burning just on the edge of the rocks, but it was later moved for safety reasons.

Ogancheto, Kamen Bryag, Bulgaria
Ogancheto, Kamen Bryag, Bulgaria

The flat rock coast is the place where every year hundreds of rock music lovers and romantics seekers greet the July morning. The view is indeed very beautiful, the feeling is the same as Yailata.

Kamen bryag, Bulgaria
Kamen bryag, Bulgaria

What we left for the next time

No matter how long we stay in the region, the time will never be enough to see everything worth seeing. Even if we can go through all beautiful places in a few days, the next season they will look and feel different, so we will have to go again. So there is no need to hurry, we just enjoy the moment on the places we visit and look forward to visiting the others we missed.

For the next time we left the Lake Shabla and the Shabla Tuzla. Also, we will have to return some other year in May to see the field of peony in Yailata. Or in the summer for a beach day at Bolata. Or maybe in October – I wonder how autumn looks like in this seaside region.. Autumn is indeed one of our favourite seasons for taking photos. Moreover, next time we could go south of Kavarna and go to the stunning palace and botanical garden in Balchik. And to you we wish to see at least the places we saw this spring and enjoy them slowly, not hurrying from one place to another. They are as beautiful only if you give them the attention they deserve.


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