Vama Veche: Bohemian Party Town On The Black Sea

Vama-Veche

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Vama Veche is legendary in Romania. 

During the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, this little village on the country’s southern Black Sea coast was a haven for artists, intellectuals, hippies, bohemians and other dissidents, who would come here to escape from life under their repressive communist government.  It’s where people went to be free, creative, and just to have fun.

Today, Vama Veche is one of Romania’s favourite party towns.  From May until September, people of all ages head to Vama (as they call it) to party, relax, and be free.

Vama-Veche-beach
Vama Veche, Romania - beach by day

I love this place.  Sure, it has become quite commercialised in recent years (a complaint you’ll hear echoed by many people).  But, even so, it has largely succeeded in preventing itself from becoming in any way upmarket.  Vama is also much less pretentious than other party towns in Europe.  Counterculture is the norm here.

Despite the crowds who flock here in the summer, you can still find something of the carefree hippie spirit that made Vama famous in the first place.  It’s laid back, non-conformist and non-judgmental.  It’s awesome.

** Romania is not currently in the Schengen Area.  Still, many nationalities can visit visa-free for up to 90 days.

If you require a visa, I recommend using iVisa.com.  Their online visa processing service is quick, secure, and easy to use. **

What To Do In Vama Veche

Vama Veche Party!

Vama Veche is basically a festival that lasts all summer.  From 1st May (when there is a giant party celebrating the start of the season) until mid-September, it’s non-stop every day.

Throughout the season, Vama hosts regular film screenings, art festivals, exhibitions, book launches, and various other celebrations of creativity and culture.  Live music is huge here, with everything from rock to reggae, folk, punk, jazz, classical, you name it.

Sunset Festival Vama Veche is a music festival, usually held in August, that gathers big crowds, decent line-ups, and showcases the best of the Vama Veche bohemian spirit.

Vama Veche is also famous for its all-night parties, where people light bonfires, dance on the beach, and (mostly) anything goes.  Embrace the Vama Veche party!

Vama-Veche-moon
Dancing in the moonlight on one of the best beaches in Romania

You’ll find many bars and restaurants along the seafront.  Prices have been slowly creeping up in recent years, but it’s still very cheap by European standards.  Stuf Bar is a great place to check out.

For amazingly fresh fish and seafood, straight off the boat and grilled over an open fire, I’d highly recommend Cherhana.

Sunrise over the Black Sea

Vama-Veche-sunrise-over-black-sea
Do not miss sunrise!

Sunrise is possibly the most magical thing about Vama Veche.

As the sky lightens, the sea turns orange.  Rays of sunlight start to break through the darkness, and speakers on the beach play Ravel’s ‘Bolero‘.

Hundreds of people gather on Vama Veche beach, many still up from dancing all night on the sand, silently soaking in the magical start of a new day.

This ritual happens every day during the summer.  It’s surreal, beautiful and unlike anything else I’ve experienced.  Beyond awesome.

Coastal walks

Coastal-walk
Peaceful walking close to Vama Veche, Romania

It’s easy to get away from the crowds if you want a bit of peace and quiet.

Simply head north by foot along the coast.  Walk as far as you like.  Before long, you’ll have a stretch of tranquil coastline all to yourself. 🙂

Cycle to Bulgaria

Bulgaria-border
Border crossing straight out of a John le Carré movie

Vama Veche is less than 1 kilometre from the Bulgarian border.  If you fancy a bit of exercise, and the easiest international bike ride ever, you can rent a bike from several of the shops in the centre of town. 

There’s not a huge amount to see along the way, but it’s a fairly pleasant way to burn off some of the beer calories.  Also the Vama Veche border crossing post is quite cool and looks like something out of a Cold War-era spy movie.

Don’t forget to bring your passport.  You’ll need to show this to cross the border, as neither Romania nor Bulgaria are currently in the Schengen Area.

The first village you’ll encounter on the Bulgarian side is Durankulak, about 5 kilometres from the Vama Veche border crossing.  There’s very little here, other than a shop where you can buy (marginally cheaper than Romanian) beer and other supplies, should you wish.

How To Get To Vama Veche, Romania

Vama Veche is 50 kilometres south of Constanta, Romania’s largest sea port.  From there, you can either take a minibus direct to Vama, or change at Mangalia.  Minibuses are cheap (less than EUR 5) and frequent (about every hour) during summer.   

If you have your own car, take the E87 south from Constanta for about 45 minutes and keep an eye out for signs to Vama.

Where To Stay In Vama Veche

Hostels and guesthouses

Elga’s Punk Rock Hostel, on the main road through town, is a fantastic place to stay in bohemian Vama Veche, Romania.  It’s cheap, clean, comfortable, and a two minute walk from the beach.  The couple who run it are also extremely friendly and helpful. 

If they are full, there are many other cheap hostels and guesthouses.  Standards tend to vary a bit, though most are decent enough.  Ask at Elga’s for recommendations.

Alternatively, check booking.com or Tripadvisor.

Elgas-Punk-Rock-Hostel
Elga's Punk Rock Hostel is a Vama Veche institution

Camping on Vama Veche beach, Romania

The cheapest (i.e. free) option is to camp on Vama Veche beach.  

This way you can fully embrace the Vama Veche hippie festival atmosphere, at the cost of practically nothing.  (I mean, who needs to shower when you can jump into the sea, right?)

Okay, there are signs saying that you shouldn’t do this.  But loads of people do, and nobody actually seems to care.  As long as you walk a bit down the beach, and don’t try to pitch up right outside a bar or someone’s house, you should be fine.

Check out this article where I review the best tents for wild camping.

In short… One of the best tents that money can buy is the MSR Hubba Hubba 2-person tent.

Vama-Veche-sunrise
Ahhh, Vama Veche sunrise... a perfect moment during your Black Sea party

Have you ever been to Vama Veche?  Ever been to a Vama Veche beach party?  When were you there?  What did you think?  Let me know in the comments below.

Check out some of my other posts on my favourite beaches, including:

** Or why not take a road trip through Romania… **

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