Strolling through Nessebar is perhaps the most culturally enriching experience on Bulgaria's Black Sea coast. This headland, known as the ‘Pearl of the Black Sea', is only slightly larger than the Vatican City yet has many more churches. Ivaylo, one of our expert local guides, says, ‘Nessebar is a living museum – there are monuments here that were built as far back as the 5th century. Due to its strategic location, the town has always been a busy merchant hub. This is why it was here, over 2,500 years ago, that money was invented and first used for trade.'
You'll begin with a guided walking tour of the old town, which is crammed onto a narrow peninsula jutting out into the Black Sea. Historians know that there's been a town here for 3,200 years, making it among Europe's oldest. There's so much history packed into the old town that Nessebar is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Relics from the second millennium BC, from classical antiquity and the Middle Ages have been unearthed. There's evidence here that reflects the architectural progress of the whole Balkan and East Mediterranean regions.
Winding streets and alleys fringed with characterful timber homes lead you to more than 40 churches dating back as far as Byzantine times. There's also some free time to explore the town on your own, soak up the scenery on a seaside stroll or browse for souvenirs.