24 Hours In: Varna

Party all night long, but don't hit the sack until you've watched the spectacular sunrise from the beach


Get up early for the sunrise

06.30: Bulgaria's coast faces east so you have to watch the sun rise over the Black Sea at least once. Make sure you've got a seaview at the Alekta Hotel (00 359 52 335 040), 27 Sv. Nikola Area and set your alarm for 6am. It's a spectacle not to be missed - some people sleep on the beach to ensure they are in the right place at the right time. Doubles start at €80 (£54).

Splash out in the Roman baths

09.00: Take a stroll. With six gold Byzantine domes, the Church of the Assumption, Maria-Louiza Boulevard, was completed in 1886. The ruins of the Roman Bath Complex (00 359 52 600 059) on San Stefano Street are also impressive. Admission 5 lev (£1.75).

Take a stroll in the sea garden

11.00: Wander down to the Sea Garden, a 19th-century park with playgrounds and a boating lake that separates the town from the shore. Have a coffee at the Planetarium and Observatory (00 359 52 684 441). It is open 9am - 3.30pm, except Sundays.

Dip your toe in the Black Sea

12.30: If the sun is shining, the water is probably still warm enough for a dip. Then you can pick up a bite at one of the temporary restaurants that spring up every summer along the shore. If the weather's bad look inside the Art Nouveau Aquarium (00 359 52 632 066; open 9am-7pm daily), which showcases examples of local marine life and flora.

Sample wine in a royal villa

14.00: Time for a trip. Balcik is 43km north of Varna and is where the English-born Queen Marie of Romania built The Quiet Nest (00 359 579 7 68 51), a series of villas which was her summer home from 1930-1939. Admission to the grounds is 5 lev (£1.75). You can also look around the villas she built for her children. One of these is now the Queen's Winery House where you can try wines and brandies. For something more active contact Jeep Safari (00 359 52 361 904) or Club Adrenalin (00 359 52 606 605; adrenalin.vega.bg) who will organise bungee jumping.

It's time for an evening cocktail

18.00: Pull up a chair at a café in Independence Square by the Opera House. This is where people congregate to drink cocktails and be seen. Or go to Pench's Club on Lawyer's Square.

Be brave and try the rakia

20.00: Try the shopska salad (tomatoes, cucumber, onions and feta) washed down with Rakia at Hashove (00 359 52 616 877), 54 Osmi Primorski polk blvd, a traditional trattoria in the town centre with live music. For some of the best Italian food in the city head forLa Pastaria (00 359 52 255 236), 45 Dragoman Str.

Dance with the locals till dawn

22.00: For locals, Varna doesn't really get going until after sunset. Join them at the Tari Beer House (00 359 52 610 269), 22 Slivnitsa Boulevard, for 30 kinds of beer (starting price 1 lev) and contemporary rock music until 2am. Planet Club (00 359 52 63 14 84), 26, Tzar Simeon I Str plays Brit-house music and is open 24 hours a day.

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When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
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