Summer Palace of Queen Marie & Botanical Gardens

Top choice in Black Sea Coast

At the far western end of the seafront, this palace was completed in 1926 by King Ferdinand of Romania for his English wife, Queen Marie, when Balchik was part of Romania. Size-wise, it's a relatively modest villa, though the architecture – a blend of local, Gothic and Islamic styles topped with a minaret – is unique. Behind the palace are the extensive botanical gardens. The complex also includes a water mill, a winery and the tiny Chapel of Sveta Bogoroditsa.

The half-dozen or so rooms on show contain original furnishings, including paintings by Marie, and several photographs of the queen striking dramatic poses on the grounds. Also here is a curious collection of local archaeological finds, including Roman pottery and mammoth bones. In the garden, around 600 species of flora are featured throughout a series of themed terraces, including an impressive collection of cacti.

If you’re travelling here by bus from the southern coast, get off at the bus stop opposite the palace – either look for the tour buses and souvenir stalls, or ask the driver to drop you off at the dvorets (palace). The entrance here leads into the top end of the botanical gardens. Another entrance is off the seafront promenade.