Golden Sands Vs Sunny Beach in Bulgaria: Which One to Choose?

When I started planning my upcoming Bulgarian beach vacation, I found myself facing a dilemma: should I choose Golden Sands or Sunny Beach?

Both resorts have beautiful beaches, plenty of activities and low prices, therefore making the decision difficult. But it’s a decision that has to be made and if you are facing a similar dilemma, I’m here to help.

So let’s see what to choose: Golden Sands or Sunny Beach! In the end, your decision will probably be made based on what you’re looking for: the former is more laid back and more suitable for families, while the latter is more lively and party-oriented.

Both have some of the best All-Inclusive resorts in Bulgaria, though so I am sure that in the end, no matter which one is chosen, you will be happy with it. But let’s pit them together now.

Golden Sands vs Sunny Beach Overview

nomad not mad family
Greetings from the Nomad, Not Mad Family. We personally tested both resorts for you!

Let’s start by looking at what each of these amazing Bulgarian resorts has to offer in terms of the most common requirements: location, beaches and main features or attractions.


Golden Sands and Sunny Beach are two of Bulgaria’s most popular Black Sea coast resorts and are relatively close to each other (just a few hours drive).

I have visited both over the years (including Albena, which is the most suitable for families with young kids in my opinion – but not today’s topic) and I can say that each one has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. The latter always minor.

Golden Sands is close to Varna, one of Bulgaria’s largest cities and only 16 km away from Varna Airport. This makes it easily accessible for visitors coming by air.

Sunny Beach is further south, near Burgas, and around 30 km from Burgas Airport.

Both airports offer transfers to the resorts, with a private car transfer costing anything between 10 to 30 Euros.


When it comes to beaches, each resort offers something different.

Golden Sands beach and sea
Narrower, but still beautiful beach in Golden Sands.

Golden Sands, despite its name, doesn’t really stand out in terms of the quality of the beaches, in my opinion, when compared to Sunny Beach.

On the contrary, I would say: I found the beaches in Golden Sands to be narrower and although they’re in a great shape with fine, perfect sand, they’re usually a climb down (and then up) from most hotels.

We stayed at Melia Grand Hermitage – and otherwise amazing hotel that I thoroughly recommend for an AI stay in Bulgaria – and it was quite a walk down to the beach itself, although the hotel is right in front of the sea.

a long way up to hotel in Golden Sands
Yup, a bit of a climb from the beach to the hotel…

Sunny Beach, on the other hand, has a vast and beautiful 5 km long beach, stretching up to 100 meters wide in some areas.

The beach at Sunny Beach is known for its fine sand, making it a perfect spot for sunbathing and relaxation.

My son enjoying the beach at Sunny Beach
Sunny Beach has a much wider, fine sand beach that my son thoroughly enjoyed

Personally, I found the sands at Sunny Beach to be much finer and more inviting, but even the narrower Golden Sands beaches are not a deal breaker in any way.

Verdict: Golden Sands.

Each Resort’s Features

When it comes to features and activities for tourists, both Golden Sands and Sunny Beach have plenty to offer.

In Golden Sands, there are many luxury hotels and a variety of accommodation options to suit every budget, and all of these hotels will entertain their guests in multiple ways.

The same goes for Sunny Beach, so I will consider it a tie in this area of hotel entertainment.

However, in terms of entertainment and activities outside of the hotel, Sunny Beach offers a lot more.

Due to the way the resort is built, the attractions are also closer and easy to walk to, as opposed to Golden Sands which is narrower and longer so a bit more walking is needed. Not a bad thing, as you have to burn out some calories from that delicious Bulgarian food!

But Sunny Beach also offers a more vibrant nightlife, which is more attractive to younger crowds.

Throughout both resorts, you’ll find various activities to enjoy, such as water sports and beach volleyball.

As a constant traveler to Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast, I had positive experiences in both Golden Sands and Sunny Beach.

Whether you prefer the luxury and beautiful sands of Golden Sands, or the vibrant nightlife and expansive beaches of Sunny Beach, I believe both destinations have something for everyone.

I will call this a tie, although if I am to be completely honest – and just share how I felt in both places, without being able to actually pinpoint a special reason for that – I would still say that I liked Golden Sands Better.

Verdict: Tie

Entertainment and Nightlife

night view in Sunny Beach
Sunny Beach at night – view from our hotel, Evrika Beach

I have to be honest and say that I always visited Bulgaria on an All Inclusive deal (and that is what I recommend all travelers to choose).

So I haven’t explored the nearby bars and restaurants since I’ve already had everything covered, but I still took plenty of walks to be able to compare both resorts.

When I visited Golden Sands, I found that it had a decent number of bars and clubs, but it was generally more family-oriented compared to Sunny Beach (so not as noisy and alcohol-filled).

In Sunny Beach, on the other hand, there were many clubs and bars, perfect for party seekers or those looking for a lively night out.

In terms of restaurants, both Golden Sands and Sunny Beach offered a great selection of international cuisine, but also traditional Bulgarian food.

However, I noticed that Sunny Beach had an abundance of venues advertising English breakfast, which might be a preference for some. I haven’t seen as many similar options in Golden Sands.

Finally, we have the nightlife activities which have a clear winner here: Sunny Beach. I think it’s clear by now that Sunny Beach is the more party-oriented one, offering plenty of options for those who want to spend their nights enjoying the best DJ Sets.

Verdict: Sunny Beach.

Activities and Attractions

Water Sports and Pools

At Golden Sands, I found a wide variety of water sports and activities available, with plenty of options of having fun on the sea, from the “traditional” banana boat rides to paddleboarding, parasailing, jet skiing and more.

Depending on the hotel you choose to stay at, you will have one or more pools (have in mind that most pools in Bulgaria are not heated!) and other activities available.

sea view from hotel in Golden Sands
Beautiful large pool & sea view from Melia Grand Hermitage hotel in Golden Sands

Sunny Beach offers basically the same thing. It’s difficult to say who does it better of if one or the other has more to offer – I think it’s about the same experience no matter which one you choose.

Water Parks

Both resorts have a nearby waterpark. Golden Sands has the the impressive Aquapolis with plenty of pools and slides and especially great design.

The park also has a lazy river and a wave pool and it’s very kid-friendly. But I have to admit that it’s not very impressive and I don’t really recommend visiting it unless you really want to try the slides.

Our hotel had a couple and those were just enough to get the adrenaline pumping. Aquapolis is not mind-blowing by any means.

At Sunny Beach, I had a great time at Action Aquapark, with its fun range of water slides, pools, and other attractions.

It is suitable both for thrill-seekers and families, and it is definitely a much better choice than what Golden Sands has to offer.

You get more and better slides, and the place is (or at least feels) larger and nicer than Aquapolis.

In conclusion, both Golden Sands and Sunny Beach offer a great variety of water sports and pools, as well as water park experiences, but the latter has the upper hand here.

Verdict: Sunny Beach.

Family-Friendly Features

Since we usually travel as a family, it’s extremely important for us to choose a place with kid-friendly features.

While this is something that, in the end, matters the most when you choose your hotel, I’m going to compare the resorts as a whole for their family-friendliness.

If you don’t travel with children, though, you should skip this section as it doesn’t really have any effect on your decision.

Children’s Entertainment

crazy photo in Golden Sands

Both resorts offer the same things here. Apart from the waterparks mentioned above, we have in each a small amusement park with a few rides and bumper cars, as well as trampolines, bouncy castles and mini-golf.

The hotels usually offer a kid’s club with various entertainment options for the little ones.

Our son felt amazing in both Sunny Beach and Golden Sands, but he preferred the activities at Melia Grand Hermitage in Golden Sands, even though our Sunny Beach stay had a pool area dedicated to children.

In summary, both Golden Sands and Sunny Beach offer an abundance of family-friendly features, from children’s entertainment to family-oriented resorts that cater to the needs of families taking a beach vacation in Bulgaria.

But, this time, I will have to give the verdict based on my son’s preferences.

Verdict: Golden Sands

Costs in Sunny Beach vs Golden Sands

Bulgaria is a cheap country compared to Western destinations or more exotic ones. I found it the cheapest in the area and offering better quality than Romania, for example, for a lower price.

enjoying the Black Sea water in Sunny Beach
Yours truly enjoying the Black Sea water

And even though we’re talking about resorts that are tourist-priced (and inflation has had a massive effect over the prices), costs are still relatively low, services of at least decent quality and prices affordable.

Food and Drink Costs

I have found that Golden Sands tends to be slightly cheaper than Sunny Beach, although we didn’t really ate out due to our All Inclusive deals. But, for a meal at an inexpensive restaurant (main course), you can expect to pay around:

  • Golden Sands: $6 – $12
  • Sunny Beach: $7 – $14

When it comes to drinks, I noticed a difference in beer prices as well. Here is what I paid for a:

  • Domestic Beer (0.5-liter draught):
    • Golden Sands: $1 – $2
    • Sunny Beach: $1.50 – $2.50
  • Imported Beer (0.33-liter bottle):
    • Golden Sands: $1.50 – $2.50
    • Sunny Beach: $2 – $3
  • Bottle of pop (Cola or similar, 0.33-liter can)
    • Golden Sands: $1.50 – $2.50
    • Sunny Beach: $2 – $3

Other Expenses

Apart from food and drinks, I took into account other essential expenses during my holiday at both resorts. Here are my observations:

  • Accommodation: I found that Golden Sands offers more affordable accommodation options compared to Sunny Beach, but prices vary greatly based on the hotel you choose. When comparing apples to apples though, Golden Sands is slightly cheaper.
  • Transportation: Taxis are available in both resorts and even though I believe that you pay much more than you should in both, it won’t feel like a huge expense. Make sure to discuss the price prior to embarking, but don’t expect to take taxis too often in either resort as they’re both really walkable.
  • Activities: Sunny Beach has more options for different activities like water sports and a better water park, which could affect your overall holiday cost if you plan to participate in many of these. Golden Sands may have fewer activity options in comparison, but this might help keep your overall expenses down. But prices here for the various activities are also pretty much the same.

In summary, while both Golden Sands and Sunny Beach can offer an affordable and enjoyable holiday experience, some differences in cost of essentials do exist and the former is the cheaper one.

But, at the end of the day, the difference is not huge based on my experience, so I will call this a tie.

Verdict: tie.

Wrapping up

When choosing the best destination in Bulgaria between Sunny Beach and Golden Sands, since they’re both very similar, one thing will matter the most: are you traveling as a family or single / couple / with friends?

If you want a more party-oriented resort with plenty of partying and a younger crowd, then you should choose Sunny Beach. If not, you should opt for Golden Sands (which still offers plenty of entertainment options).

Even the scores that I have given above end up with a tie: Golden Sands was the winner in two categories, the same as Sunny Beach, with two ties as well.

So it all comes to this: for a more chill, family-friendly vacation, choose Golden Sands. For a more fun-packed experience, go for Sunny Beach.

If you have a different opinion – or if you want to share your experience with fellow readers, don’t hesitate to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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