The Black Sea is a melting pot of landscapes, landmarks and cultures and an intriguing destination that has much to offer those who cruise its waters.
Black Sea cruises will see you venture to destinations shrouded in history and brimming with Eastern European tradition. The Black Sea is shrouded in a certain element of mystery, not least as to the origins of its name, and while the popular destinations of Istanbul, Nessebar and Kotor have long attracted travellers to the area, smaller ports are veritable treasure chests of culture, scenery and statuesque architecture.
Here are our picks of the lesser known ports that shouldn’t be passed by on any Black Sea cruise.
Constanta is the third largest city in Romania and is situated on the western coast of the Black Sea. Romania’s largest sea port, Constanta holds a wealth of archaeological and cultural treasures. Those with a naval interest can while away the hours in the Naval History Museum, where everything from Navy vessels to weapons and even uniforms are on display.
The museum is perfectly situated to offer spectacular panoramic views across the Constanta harbour. The city also houses art and folklore museums, both of which are worth a visit too.
Constanta’s long and interesting past is evident through the landmarks of its Old City. The art nouveau construction of the Casino Constanta is deserving of a visit on any tour of the city. The building is majestic from the exterior, its position on the shores of the Black Sea adding to the grandeur and creating a dramatic approach. Closer inspection reveals the peeling paintwork and weathered stone of a long-forgotten masterpiece, but visitors must venture inside in order to truly appreciate the opulence of ones of Romania’s most beautiful abandoned buildings. The grandeur of the chandeliers alone makes the visit entirely worthwhile!
Those in search of beach based relaxation can choose to sample the sandy delights of Constanta or venture north to the high-end beach resort of Mamaia. Situated 5 miles from Constanta, Mamaia is Romania’s most popular and exclusive beach resort. Perfect for those seeking a more active shore excursion, the seaside resort is home to Aqua Magic; a vast water park and a favourite with families visiting the area.
Sun-seekers will be intrigued to hear that Mamaia is the only resort in Europe with the pure white sand usually only found in the likes of Hawaii. Add to this the cool blue waters and an average daytime temperature of 25-30°c (May-Sept) and you have the perfect beach day.
Batumi delivers an enthralling combination of new and old, serving as a great introduction to Georgia. Since 2010 the city has been transformed by the construction of high-rise landmark buildings and the renovation of the Old Town, and Batumi is now a must see destination with much to offer its visitors.
The range of terrain, architecture and scenery in Batumi is abundant; from the lush flora of the Botanical Gardens, to the pastel hued buildings of the Old Town and the soaring glass constructions decorating the skyline of the city. Come evening landmarks old and new are bathed in colourful mood lighting, adding to the cosmopolitan feel of this unique city.
Batumi beach is edged by a well-kept and popular boulevard. Stretching five miles along the shoreline Batumi’s ‘Seaside Park’ is a grand example of new and old working together perfectly. Traditional structures and architecture intermingle with thoroughly modern artwork and impressive water fountains; all bathed in jewel toned light.
The development of Batumi has brought with it some of the most weird and wonderful constructions in the world, which must be seen to be believed. The elaborate Technical University Tower dominates the skyline and is the first skyscraper ever to accommodate an integrated Ferris wheel (yes, you read that right), with eight air-conditioned cabins rotating at an altitude of 100 metres. One for the brave!
A visit to the White Restaurant is an experience not to be missed. Designed to look just like an upside down White House (as you do…), even the interior of this wacky building is topsy-turvy. It’s a weird but wonderful experience, supplemented by some excellent food and great photo opportunities!
Varna is the largest city and seaside resort on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast and the third largest city in Bulgaria. Considered Bulgaria’s most cosmopolitan resort, the area is packed with modern attractions and historical landmarks.
The well-preserved ruins of Varna’s Roman Thermae (Ancient Roman baths) are the fourth largest in Europe. Built in an area known in the Roman Empire as Odessus, the site is interesting even in ruin and entry is inexpensive. Pick up a guidebook for an interesting read and a great souvenir.
Primorski Park is a vast green space stretching over 4 miles along the coastline. Said to be the largest of its kind in Europe, the park attracts both tourists and locals, and is a relaxing spot to sit and watch the world go by. Manicured lawns and beautifully landscaped gardens are a lush green haven amidst the hustle and bustle of the main city. With several quaint cafes, an aquarium and a summer theatre it’s possible to amble away several hours of on shore time in Primorski Park alone.
The Varna City Tour is a relatively new hop-on/hop-off open top bus tour that takes in the best sights and tourist spots throughout the city. The tour gives passengers chance to experience a good variety of the best areas in the city, from its beaches and waterparks to the historic Aladzha Monastry and Varna Cathedral. Shoppers can hop-off at Mall Varna for some retail therapy or at the outdoor Orient Market for a more traditional Bulgarian atmosphere.