Take a bath
The locals of St Constantine and Helena often take advantage of the healing properties of the seven mineral springs dotted around the area. The reputation of the springs has spread, and the town is now known as a spa resort. With temperatures up to 40°C, the hot springs aid recovery from injury, relieve aching joints, reduce stress and encourage relaxation.
A visit to a different kind of baths, the Roman Thermae, will give you a glimpse into the past. At 7,000 square metres, they were the biggest thermal baths on the Balkan Peninsula. Today, you can explore the well-preserved ruins of this once-magnificent building and bathing complex.
Monasteries and mansions
Holidays to Bulgaria wouldn’t be complete without some appreciation of the country’s cultural heritage, and there are some sterling landmarks to see on your St Constantine and Helena holiday. A medieval monastery built into a cave of limestone rock, the two-storey Aladzha Monastery houses a church, sleeping cells, a crypt and a chapel. Close by are more caves called the Catacombs, where artefacts such as coins and ceramics were found.
You should also visit the royal summer palace, Euxinograd. This Bulgarian Revival-style 19th-century building is now used as a presidential residence, and the accompanying park houses more than 300 varieties of plants. Stroll around the park, and you’ll see the lake of lilies, bronze figures and a sculpture of Neptune.
Varna City lies 8km away from St Constantine and Helena. It showcases some of Bulgaria’s most interesting historical and natural landmarks. Walk along the Sea Garden and the seafront park, which is also home to a zoo, and visit the Dolphinarium or casino. Varna Cathedral and its gleaming copper domes have a Russian feel; in the 20th century, the Russian Tsar Nicholas II donated many of the decorations found in its interior.
The only desert in Bulgaria is found in Varna, and it’s home to Pobiti Kamani, the Stone Desert. This natural phenomenon is a collection of stone pillars, which ancient locals consider to be a sacred site. For another rock phenomenon, head for the village of Asparuhovo, 4km from Varna. Here, you’ll find 50-metre tall limestone needles on the banks of a river, which resemble fortress towers.
Bulgaria in bloom
Spend a peaceful day exploring the flora and fauna of Bulgaria in the Eco Park of Varna, also known as the botanical gardens. You will start to feel at one with nature as you walk, jog or cycle around its network of paths. Take a picnic to the rose garden and breathe in the delicious floral scents of more than 70 different types of roses, or marvel at the stunning iris collection. Wander through the lily garden or see how many different varieties of aquatic plants you can recognise that live in the garden’s beautiful ponds.
Whether your holiday desires are beach-based, culturally inspired or more naturally inclined, St Constantine and Helena provides vast opportunities for exploring, relaxing and immersing yourself in the local culture. Temperatures sizzle throughout the summer months, and the warm waters of the Black Sea are a swimmer’s delight. Head for the nearby hills to hike under a leafy canopy before soothing your muscles with a soak in a thermal spring. One thing’s for sure: your memories of your holiday in beautiful Bulgaria will shine brightly for many years to come.