The south coast’s prime urban centre and transport hub of Bulgaria, Burgas provides easy access to the picture-postcard town of Nesebar to the north and Sozopol to the south, a not to be missed stops in any MSC Mediterranean cruises in the Black Sea.
Bypassed by most tourists, the pedestrianized city centre, lined with smart boutiques, bars and cafés, is pleasant enough, though Burgas’ best features are the well-manicured Sea Gardens overlooking the beach, and its pier at the eastern end of town.
When you are cruising the Mediterranean Sea with MSC Cruises, the most obvious excursion when you are in Burgas is Nesebar’s old town: it’s famous for its delightful medieval churches, nineteenth-century wooden architecture and labyrinthine cobbled streets. 35km northeast of Burgas, lies on a narrow, man-made isthmus connected by road to the mainland. It was founded by Greek colonists and grew into a thriving port during the Byzantine era; ownership alternated between Bulgaria and Byzantium until the Ottomans captured it in 1453.
Standing just inside the city gates, the Archeological Museum has an array of Greek tombstones and medieval icons on display. Christ Pantokrator, the first of Nesebar’s churches, is currently in use as an upmarket art gallery. It features an unusual frieze of swastikas – an ancient symbol of fertility and continual change. Another shrines you can discover with an MSC excursion is the eleventh-century church of St John the Baptist, only one of whose frescoes still survives.
Totally different from the Church of Sveti Spas, outwardly unremarkable but filled with seventeenth-century frescoes. Without roof but charming in spite of appearances you can finally see the ruined Old Metropolitan Church, dominating a plaza filled with pavement cafés and street traders.