Sofia Adventures

If you’ve spent any time on Instagram, you’ve probably seen gorgeous pink lakes in the Yucatán peninsula of Mexico or Western Australia. But what few people know is that Bulgaria has its very own pink lake. And what makes Bulgaria’s pink lake even better is that you can actually swim in it — in fact, it even has medicinal properties!

Called Lake Atanasovsko (don’t worry, there won’t be a quiz on its spelling!), the entire lake is not pink. We found this out after we went to two different sections of the lake and finding it as a blue as you’d expect a lake to be. In fact, it wasn’t until we had entirely given up on seeing the pink lake that we actually ended up finding it on our way out of town!

Bulgaria - Burgas - Pink Lake

Once you see it, though, the pink lakes of Burgas are hard to miss!

This is because Lake Atanasovsko is a huge lake, and none of the blog posts I found about the pink lake of Burgas included accurate location information. The part of the lake that you actually want to find is the Burgas Saltworks (Бургаски солници as written in Bulgarian).

Like a lot of Bulgaria, Burgas is not super touristic yet — and its pink lakes are even less so. When I visited the pink lakes in Burgas with some friends a few days ago, we were clearly the only people who came as tourists just to take photos.

Spotted: an Instagram husband in the wild

 

Being my best and most basic self

Everyone else was in their bathing suits, in the pink lakes and enjoying an open-air, therapeutic mud bath! The mud is considered to have healing properties, which is why so many people come to these lakes for the afternoon.

As far as I could tell as an outsider, the procedure goes roughly like this: float in the salty pink waters for at least 20 minutes, then coat yourself head to toe in mud, and then wash yourself off with a dip in the Black Sea (conveniently located only about a hundred meters from the entrance to the pink lakes). There is also a small hut offering massages if you want to add some extra relaxation to your spa day.

People floating in the pink lake

 

People coating themselves in healing mud

 

Massage tent at the Burgas pink lake

The pink color is entirely natural: it gets its color as a result of microscopic brine shrimp who live in the ultra-salty water. While a small portion of the lake is basically a free, open-air spa, it’s also a functioning salt factory. Lake Atanasovsko produces 40,000 tons of salt annually, the biggest salt producer in Bulgaria.

Not only that, but Lake Atanasovsko is an important site for wildlife in Bulgaria, creating a hospitable environment for migrating birds, over 200 species of plant life, and animals such as otters. For these reasons, if you’re on the Black Sea coast, it’s definitely adding on a visit to the pink lake in Burgas. Far from just a cool Instagram spot, it’s a true cultural experience and supposedly good for you to boot!

The beautiful pink lake of Burgas – look how close th city is!

 

Bulgaria - Burgas - Black Sea

The Black Sea is just 100 meters away!

How to Get to the Pink Lakes from Sofia

Burgas is located on the other end of the country from Sofia, unfortunately, or I’d be visiting these pink lakes way more often! If you are driving, you can take the A1 highway all the way from Sofia to Burgas, and it’ll take roughly 4 hours. From the town of Burgas, you’ll want to head north towards Varna / Burgas airport. Immediately after you cross the bridge over the lake, you’ll want to take the off-ramp. Then, continue on the small road and you’ll start seeing pink on your right-hand side. Keep going until you hit a parking lot, about a 10-minute drive.

If you prefer to follow Google maps, I get you. Type in: Burgas Salt-Parking and it should lead you on the right path.

Stop when you reach the parking lot (this sign is telling you that parking costs 1 lev per hour)

If you don’t have your own car, you’ll want to take public transportation to Burgas. Take a bus from Sofia Central Bus Station to Burgas, which should take about 5-6 hours and cost around 20-25 leva. There are buses to Burgas about once an hour but you can check departure times on BusRadar here, which is usually pretty reliable for buses in Bulgaria. From Burgas center, you can take a taxi to the pink lakes if you want (show the driver the Bulgarian name: Бургаски солници). If you take a taxi you may want to pay them to wait for you as it will not be easy to get a taxi on the way back. However, it’s also possible to walk from Burgas. From the north end of the beach in Burgas, you need to walk about 30 minutes (2.5 kilometers) to reach the pink lakes entrance).

Bulgaria - Burgas - Pink Lake  black sea

Views of the beautiful Bulgarian Black Sea coast

Where to Go After the Pink Lakes

The city of Burgas is in a convenient location if you want to continue to enjoy the Black Sea coast! Obviously, you can enjoy some time at the beach of Burgas itself. However, there are some other towns near Burgas with nicer beaches.

A few of the best-loved beach towns on the Black Sea coast within a 45-minute drive include Chernomorets, Sozopol, Pomorie, and Nessebar.

Bulgaria - Sozopol - Black Sea

The beach at Sozopol

Advice for Visiting the Pink Lakes of Burgas

– There is no cost for admission to the pink lakes and salterns. There is both paid and unpaid parking a little further away. Paid parking costs 1 lev (roughly 50 euro cents) per hour.

Bulgaria - Burgas - Pink Lake

The paid parking area in the pink lakes

– There is a bathroom that you can access which costs 50 stotinki (25 euro cents) to use. If you would like to use their shower, it costs an additional 50 stotinki per 2 minutes of hot water. Be sure to rinse off the mud first and just use the shower to freshen up — you don’t want to get the bathroom really dirty for everyone else!

Bulgaria - Burgas - Pink Lake

Don’t be scared of the Cyrillic – there is an English-language explanation printed inside the shower as well

– There is a small restaurant where you can eat lunch or buy a snack (ice cream, beer, etc.). I have no idea about the quality or what exactly they offer because we didn’t stop to eat there. I imagine you could get basics like Bulgarian BBQ or some salads but I’m not certain.

The small open air restaurant by the lakes

Have you been to the pink lakes of Burgas? Did you even know Bulgaria had pink lakes?

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