Selfie-taking, seashell picking, and bird-watching are the best seasonal activities in Burgas. August marks the start of the bird-watching season in Bulgaria. And this allows for combining three relaxing activities in Burgas (part of the prominent bird-migratory route Via Pontica): observing birds, collecting seashells, and taking selfies against picturesque landscapes. With this post, I share practical tips for mapping your holidays in Burgas and a useful award-winning guide that you can download at the end of the article.

Best spots for selfies/photo sessions in the Burgas region

The conservation camp Atanasovsko Lake: constructing artificial islands for birds
The conservation camp Atanasovsko Lake: constructing artificial islands for birds. © Tatyana Garkavaya

Among the wide range of attractions in Burgas, the landscapes with splendid sunsets and sunrises are the top-ranked tourist choices for original photo sessions.

The unique position of the Burgas region – on the second largest in Europe bird migratory way Via Pontica – can make your photography experience unforgettable! It’s because of the presence of various bird species.

The conservation camp Atanasovsko Lake: sunrise
The conservation camp Atanasovsko Lake: sunrise. © Tatyana Garkavaya

Here are the most attractive places for your vacation photo sessions!

Atanasovsko Lake

Burgas Lakes and especially Atanasovsko Lake are definitely the spot number one for birding, seashell picking, and photo sessions! The location hosts one of the main Bulgarian reserves focusing on bird protection. You can observe over 400 bird species such as flamingos, pelicans, and herons. And, of course, the stork, the most beloved and symbolic bird for Bulgaria.

The most helpful starting point is the Nature Conservation Center Poda. They offer exciting seasonal tours and activities during the year.

The conservation camp Atanasovsko Lake is the most important event for birders and nature lovers. And it’s the oldest Bulgarian volunteer vacation that takes place every August.

Pomorie Lake

Flamingos at Pomorie Lake
Flamingos at Pomorie Lake. © Tatyana Garkavaya

With 200+ bird species, Pomorie Lake is the second most important bird-watching spot that, at the same time, offers a great choice of seashells and wonderful landscapes. The views with flamingos are the highlight of the place.

Like Atanasovsko Lake, the Pomorie Reserve also hosts its volunteer vacation which you can join in September.

More details about the vacations on Burgas lakes and other birding activities are in the free guide you can download below.

Seashell varieties in Burgas

The Best Free Things to do in Burgas in 2023: Enjoy sunsets, pick shells, and walk a lot! © Tatyana Garkavaya

These days my seashells collection from the Burgas region has hit 1000 pieces! And an accumulation of good ideas has been growing accordingly. If you share this passion for seashell picking, these ideas will be helpful for you. Learn how you can combine free things to do in Burgas, explore local biodiversity, and application of different seashell craft ideas!

There are about 20 types of seashells you can find on the Black Sea coast.
Mytilaster lineatus, Mya arenaria, and Tellina are the most frequent samples you will encounter in Burgas. They range in color, shape, and size.

The tiniest specimens (Bittium recticulatum) I have are just 1 cm long, while the largest (Rapana Venosa) reaches 15 cm.

Bittium recticulatum 1-1.5 cm long is the smallest seashell in my collection
Bittium recticulatum 1-1.5 cm long is the smallest seashell in my collection. © Tatyana Garkavaya

The highlight of my seashell collection is a set of Flexopecten glaber ssp. Ponticus in white, yellow, and black. I can rearrange these sophisticated, perfect sea masterpieces endlessly!

You can pick your favorite shells and organize a great variety of free things to do in Burgas looking for different seashell varieties. The richer the seashells’ diversity, the more original seashell craft ideas you can try.

Before testing different seashell ideas with your marine findings, clean seashells to avoid spreading parasites and bad smells. Additionally, consider covering the seashells with some protection (gel, oil, etc.). Otherwise, in 3 years, your seashells will become more fragile due to natural chemical processes and may be broken easily.

There are 3 basic steps for cleaning seashells:

  • Wash the seashells under cold water removing the crevices and any gunk. Dry the seashells in the sun or a dry room.
  • Cover them with acrylic spray or mineral oil. It will highlight their colors and make them shine.
  • Keep the seashells in a dry area. If there’s some dirt or dust, wash them occasionally with cold water.

The first thing you may get to know is what types of seashells you have found. My favorite way of doing it is to use iNaturalist.

In my earlier post, I already wrote about identifying birds and plants with iNaturalist and using that information for different workshops.

iNaturalist is a joint educational and scientific network of the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society.

It’s a popular citizen science initiative that unites amateur naturalists and professional biologists who map the world’s biodiversity by sharing their observations. iNaturalist is extremely useful for seashell identification! It’s how it works:

  • First, upload the images from your mobile phone to the app or website.
  • Then, at the stage of filling in the basic information (location, date, species, and so on).
  • Wait for the AI mechanisms to offer you some options analogous to the image in your photo. It usually takes several seconds.
  • Pick any label you consider as the most similar to your photo.
  • Later the scientific community will provide your finding with a more definite ID.

Psychological benefits of seashell picking

The sunset and my new seashells picked in August 2023
The sunset and my new seashells picked in August 2023. © Tatyana Garkavaya

Seashells have symbolic meanings in different cultures that extend their qualities to people’s well-being. Beauty, endurance, and determination are the most common strengths of seashells shared across diverse belief systems and religions.

As a good charm

For instance, in Feng Shui, various marine gifts are great sources of positive energy, good luck, and prosperity. Keep seashells at the window or in a basket at home.

Seashells grow in rough seas, and it’s believed good to have a seashell as a good charm that protects the owner from negativity.

For play therapy

Seashells are also helpful treatments in different psychological programs. Play therapy is the most popular way of increasing resilience and self-esteem. It’s sometimes combined with painting.

Various uses of seashells for treatment have resulted in the emergence of shell therapy. Many therapists use shells as symbols of the body and help people accept their own beauty and imperfection. Such activities encourage patients to discuss protective factors, resiliency, and self-esteem.

Seashells are also good reminders that simple things are distinct sources of happiness in life.

4 Easy Seashell Crafts

a heart of seashells
Easy seashell crafts ideas: a heart of seashells. ©

Seashells have various uses, from organic fertilizers and water purificators to home decorating ideas.
For this post, I’ve picked rather creative, easy seashell craft ideas that help to preserve the lasting memories of your exciting vacations in Burgas.

All you need is some glue, paints, beads, ropes, dry herbs, glass bottles, or boxes.

  • DIY Seashell Heart Shadowbox is another tutorial by Living Porpoisefully. With this step-by-step workshop, you can create a great gift for special people or make a cozy home decorating idea by simply arranging your favorite seashells in a creative way.
  • An original alternative to a traditional Christmas wreath, a seashell decoration can be used throughout the entire year – in winter on the door, in other seasons by the window, or on a shelf. Try different approaches to creating your ideal seashell wreath with the following tutorials How to Make a Beachy Wreath with Sea Shells! and How to Make a seashell wreath.
  • 10 seashell crafts ideas in 10 minutes is a great video by the DiY BIGBoom channel – 10 Home decorating ideas handmade with Seashell | Seashell craft ideas.
  • The blog post BUTTERFLY CRAFT FOR KIDS is a great source for those needing various ideas for art activities with children. Super-easy, colorful, and engaging!

What are your favorite ways of using seashells?

Download a free guide to the best bird-watching spots in Burgas and Beyond!

I named this e-book Cultural Insights into Conservation Volunteer Bird Watching Holidays in Bulgaria: It’s Not Only About because it represents a collection of unique nature conservation activities in the best Bulgarian reserves. Each project offers a wide diversity of outdoor pastimes for different types of vacations in Bulgaria.

What makes this guide to birding in Bulgaria unique? The experiences of the participants kindly shared with me during my two-year-long ethnographic study. For one year of its edition, this e-book has already received various awards. Download the manual and map your vacations in Bulgaria!