Tsarevets Castle, Veliko Tarnovo. The historic hilltop castle overlooking picturesque landscapes.
Destinations,  Bulgaria,  Europe

1 Day In Veliko Tarnovo: A Bulgarian Gem

Traveling is one of life’s greatest pleasures, offering the chance to explore new places, experience different cultures, and create lasting memories. There’s always something exciting about discovering a new destination. In this post, we’ll be taking a closer look at one of Bulgaria’s most enchanting cities, Veliko Tarnovo. From its rich history and stunning architecture to its vibrant cultural scene and natural beauty, Veliko Tarnovo can be a day trip destination that will captivate and inspire.

A Little Bit Of History

Veliko Tarnovo is a city in central Bulgaria with a rich history dating back to the 3rd millennium BC. It was the capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire in the Middle Ages and a cultural and political center.

The city played an important role in the struggle for Bulgarian independence and experienced growth and development after independence in 1908.

Today, Veliko Tarnovo is a popular tourist destination known for its medieval fortifications, palaces, museums, galleries, and cultural events.

How To Get There

Veliko Tarnovo is located in central Bulgaria, and there are several ways to get there depending on where you’re starting from. Here are some options:

By Train

The national railway company, BDZ, operates several trains per day between Sofia and Veliko Tarnovo, with journey times ranging from 4-5 hours depending on the type of train. The train station is located in the town center, making it easy to get to your accommodation.

By Bus

Buses are a convenient and affordable way to get to Veliko Tarnovo from other parts of Bulgaria. Several bus companies operate routes to and from Veliko Tarnovo, including:

Union Ivkoni: This is one of the largest bus companies in Bulgaria and offers frequent services from Sofia. The journey takes around 3-4 hours, and several departures throughout the day.

Biomet: Another famous bus company that operates services to and from Veliko Tarnovo, with connections to cities such as Varna, Burgas, and Plovdiv.

Avtogari: This website aggregates bus schedules and ticket prices for various bus companies in Bulgaria, including those that operate routes to and from Veliko Tarnovo. You can search for bus schedules and book tickets online through their platform.

Most buses depart from the Central Bus Station in Sofia and arrive at the Bus Station South in Veliko Tarnovo. The bus station is outside the town center, but you can take a taxi or public transportation to get to your accommodation.

The Veliko Tarnovo bus station is outside the town center, but you can take a taxi or public transportation to your accommodation.

By Car

If you’re renting a car or driving your own, you can take the A2 highway from Sofia to Veliko Tarnovo, which takes around 2-3 hours, depending on traffic. Several other highways and roads connect Veliko Tarnovo to other parts of Bulgaria.

One Day In Veliko Tarnovo

Here is my program suggestion for a day trip to Veliko Tarnovo

Start Your Day By Visiting Tsarevets Fortress

This medieval fortress is one of the most iconic landmarks in Veliko Tarnovo! The fortress offers breathtaking views of the town and surrounding countryside. In addition, visitors can explore its well-preserved ruins and learn about its fascinating history.

The entrance fee for Tsarevets Fortress is 6 BGN. Feel free to dedicate some time to wander around. Every corner of the castle has something different to offer. The aura is just majestic!

Pro tip: If you have more days to spend in the town, you should definitely see the light show, an impressive light and sound display at night! You can watch the free show from Tsar Asen I Square or purchase tickets online for a more exclusive experience. So make sure to take advantage of this fantastic opportunity!

Take A Lunch Break

A Tasty Lunch

After an entire morning of walking, it is time for a break! Head back to the center and sit at the fantastic Restaurant Shtastliveca. It is home to the best food I’ve ever had in Bulgaria. The delicious traditional food gets even better, considering the spectacular views of the town. Highly recommended!

Things To See/Do Near The Center

Now that you are full let’s continue the day! Here are some of the things you shouldn’t miss during your day trip.

1) Stroll Through Samovodska Charshia

This historic street is full of traditional Bulgarian houses. It is a great place to explore local handicrafts, jewelry, and souvenirs. Remember to also walk around the alleys, as every corner of this town has a surprise to offer. There are also many viewpoints around, where you can enjoy breathtaking views.

2) Visit The Museum Of Bulgarian Revival And Constituent Assembly

This museum is dedicated to the history and culture of Bulgaria during the Ottoman Empire. It also explores the country’s transition to a modern state. Visitors can explore exhibits such as traditional Bulgarian clothing, weapons, and artifacts from the 19th and 20th centuries.

3) Finish The Day At The Asenevtsi Monument

The majestic Aseventsi monument

The Asenevtsi Monument is a giant statue in the heart of Veliko Tarnovo. It is dedicated to the medieval Bulgarian rulers who led the country to its golden age. The monument features four horse riders surrounding a giant sword. It’s THAT impressive. 

It’s a popular spot for tourists and locals and offers stunning views of the surrounding hills and valleys. Next to it stands an art gallery, while there is also a bar where you can sit and enjoy a local beer and popcorn. Take advantage of this last one; the views are breathtaking, and the aura is majestic.

Final Thoughts

Veliko Tarnovo is maybe the place that got me the most excited after returning from my trip to Bulgaria. Although it can be discovered in more days, this town is the perfect day trip destination! I highly recommend you put it on top of your basket list, and you won’t be disappointed.

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