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Nomadic Matt Hates Sunny Beach, Should You?

Love it or hate it, Sunny Beach is probably the most affordable place to have a seaside vacation inside the EU. (Especially if you want all-inclusive!) So let’s take a closer look at this seasonal city, and see if it’s worth the visit!

Where is Sunny Beach Anyway?

Sunny Beach is located on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast, not far from the city of Burgas.

Map shows Sunny Beach Bulgaria marked between Varna and Burgas

During the summer season you can fly to Burgas, or the northern city Varna, from many European centers. These routes are operated primarily by low cost carriers, so getting to Sunny Beach won’t break the bank.

Things to Do in Sunny Beach

Water Parks

There are several water parks in the Sunny Beach region, and at least two that have free shuttle buses along the main road in Sunny Beach.

Simply wait at the bus stops with aqua park signs and at some point a shuttle will come along. (Not necessarily on time.)

An elf on the shelf inside an inflatable pool toy in front of aqua Park nessebar.

Action Aquapark and Aquapark Nessebar are the two big ones. The water parks aren’t “cheap” by Bulgarian standards, but definitely affordable compared to North America or other parts of Europe. Depending on the park it will be approximately 25 to 35 Euros per person. Sometimes they have discounted tickets for later in the afternoon.


I’ll be honest, “going out” is not really our thing, so we haven’t taken in any of the shows in Sunny Beach. If that is your thing, there is a good variety of concerts and other entertainment acts in Sunny Beach during the summer.

Khan’s Tent in particular, is highly recommended by other travellers for a fun evening out. It is a restaurant in the hills outside of Sunny Beach with stunning views. They offer a 4 course meal with entertainment.


Pop up shops along the Promenade at night in sunny beach bulgaria with the lt up ferris wheel behind.

The shopping in Sunny Beach is not really luxury stores, but more pop-up type shops that you would expect along the beach boardwalk in other parts of the world. You can buy pretty much anything, especially inexpensive resort clothes, pool toys, sandals, hats, and sunglasses.


The beach in Sunny Beach is actually really nice. It’s fairly clean and looked after, sandy, and not much for weeds.

A long stretch of sandy beach at sunset in Sunny Beach

You can swim in the water and it’s relatively warm. While you can rent sun loungers and enjoy the service of a beach club, there are large areas designated for free public use.

Along the beach you can also go for a boat ride, rent a jet ski, or go parasailing.

A price list for Jet Ski Rides, Water Attractions and parasailing. Parasailing is 130 lv for one, 180 lv for two. Jet Skis 110 lv for 15 minutes, 120 lv for 20 mins, and 180 lv for 30 mins. Water attractions 30 lv.
2024 Prices

Amusement Park

There is a decent amusement park near the main pedestrian street of Sunny Beach. Just look for the sling shot!

An amusement park ride spinning over head with the sun setting behind tall trees in Sunny Beach Bulgaria

There are also other little areas that have rides along the boardwalk with mixed reviews.


There are a lot of resorts in Sunny Beach, and plenty of people choose to spend their week sipping bevvies by the pool. This is one of only a few places in the EU that you can even find an all inclusive resort, and they are generally pretty affordable!

Hotel Riagor an All Inclusive resort in Sunny Beach, late on a sunny day  with pool loungers arranged around the swimming pool.

In fact, I wouldn’t book a self catering apartment in Sunny Beach, because the grocery stores aren’t very good and they’re a little expensive. If you want to do self catering, Burgas or Varna would be better.


Sunny Beach is a short and inexpensive bus ride to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Nessebar. The entire old town of Nessebar is included in this site. You can cover the whole area on foot easily. Here you will also find better quality souvenir shops, if that’s something you like to browse.

A picturesque street in Nessebar with little string lights overlooking the sea.

Nessebar has lots of cafes and restaurants, some of which have stunning views over the sea. It does get quite crowded, so avoid the weekends if you can.


Pomorie is home to what might be my favorite archaeological site in all of Bulgaria! This unassuming hill down a dirt road is an ancient tomb.

The inside is still very well preserved and it is never very busy.

The domed inside of the Thracian tomb at Pomorie with lights.

The entry ticket is just a few leva.

About Sunny Beach the Town

Now a little more about Sunny Beach in general, and why you might not want to visit.

Sunny Beach exists entirely for tourists. There are no two ways about it. We’ve driven through Sunny Beach in the winter and it is a ghost town of boarded up buildings. Even the supermarkets and fast food restaurants are closed.

While you can enjoy some culture while you’re in Sunny Beach (like Nessebar or Pomorie) the town itself is not going to provide any of that. It is all light-hearted sun seeking and entertainment, and yes, a little soulless.

The pedestrian street is the dirtiest that we’ve seen in Bulgaria, and most people are out to make a buck while the sun is shining.

If you are looking for relaxation, or a nice place to get some work done, Sunny Beach is perfect for that. There is no real pressure to get out and tick important sights off your list, because there aren’t any.

It’s just a different kind of vacation, and that’s okay.

Transportation in the Sunny Beach Region

Because it’s geared towards outsiders, Sunny Beach does transportation really well!

Orange Buses

The orange buses have very regular service up and down the main street of Sunny Beach. Some of the routes go all the way to Sveti Vlas in the north, or Nessebar in the south.

The buses are just 2 leva (approx 1 Euro). The downside is that they are not air conditioned, and they can be very crowded.

Tourist Train

The tourist train takes you all along the boardwalk near the waterfront all the way from Sunny Beach to Nessebar and back.

A tourist train drives by in Sunny Beach.

Water Taxi

For a bit of a splurge you can take the water taxi from Nessebar to Sunny Beach or the reverse. It costs about 15 lev per person one way, but it is actually faster than most of the buses. (And cooler!)

Buses to Burgas

From the bus station in Sunny Beach you can take the bus to Burgas for 8 lev per person one way. (Approx 4 Euros.) Just ask around for which buses are the most direct, because again – no air conditioning! – and some of the routes are longer than others.

We like to take the odd trip to Burgas to visit Happy (the Bulgarian chain restaurant), but the bus fare does add up. It costs about 24 Euros for our family of 3 to make the round trip.

Where to Stay in Sunny Beach

We only have experience with one hotel in Sunny Beach because the vibes were immaculate, so now we can’t go anywhere else!

Hotel Riagor from the back.

Hotel Riagor

Riagor Hotel is a simply all inclusive hotel with comfy beds, nice staff, and good food. You can read my whole review here: Hotel Riagor Sunny Beach Review (All Inclusive Bulgaria!)

Luckily the hotel is walking distance from the beach and the “downtown” of Sunny Beach.

When to go to Sunny Beach

Definitely don’t visit Sunny Beach outside of May through September. Even in those end months there may not be much open. In the winter time, everything is closed. (Grocery stores, restaurants, pharmacies, etc.)

If you can avoid August, it’s a good idea. That is peak seaside season for practically the whole of Europe.

What is the Weather Like in Sunny Beach?

Sunny Beach is hot and – you guessed it – Sunny! We had only a couple of rainy days during the entire month that we stayed. You will want to have a pool or be very close to the beach, because with the humidity it can be very stifling.

A weather forecast for Sunny beach that indicates all sun and clear night skies for an entire week.

So to answer the question:

Should You Hate Sunny Beach?

No! But also, it’s okay if you do. There is nothing special about the town itself. For us Hotel Riagor makes it special, and we will keep coming back for a few calm weeks of sun and swim. If that sounds appealing, you will probably enjoy Sunny Beach. It’s nice to go on vacation with no pressure to always be out and “doing.”

Like budget destinations? Try these other places:

A child stands on a sandy beach in front of the blue water of the sea in Albania.