Veliko Tarnovo is a city in north-central Bulgaria, on the Yantra River and strategically located on main roads connecting the West Balkans. The city is known for its rich history and importance as one of the main Bulgarian cities, often called the “City of the Tsars”. Veliko Tarnovo serves as the administrative center of Veliko Tarnovo Province and has a total population of 68,783 residents.
Veliko Tarnovo has a long, rich history dating back over 5 millennia, making it one of Bulgaria's oldest continually inhabited settlements. It was an important stronghold of the medieval First Bulgarian Empire and later played a significant role in Bulgaria's National Revival period when Bulgarians were fighting for independence from the Ottoman Empire. The city contains many well-preserved examples of traditional Bulgarian National Revival architectural style.
Veliko Tarnovo was liberated from Ottoman rule on July 7, 1877, by Russian forces led by General Iosif Gurko. The city became an important economic and cultural hub in newly independent Bulgaria. Veliko Tarnovo is home to two major universities and a diverse economy based on education, tourism, manufacturing and food processing industries.
Veliko Tarnovo offers many interesting attractions and activities for visitors. Top sites include exploring the medieval ruins of the Tsarevets Fortress, walking along the cobblestone lanes of the atmospheric Samovodska Charshiya crafts market and admiring the Bulgarian National Revival architecture along Gurko Street. The Archaeological Museum provides insights into the region's ancient history. Visitors can hike up nearby forested hills for scenic views over the city. Veliko Tarnovo features cafes, shops and restaurants to relax at when taking a break from sightseeing. Veliko Tarnovo is in the Eastern European Time (EET) zone. This timezone is UTC+2, meaning Veliko Tarnovo is two hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). Veliko Tarnovo and the rest of Bulgaria observe daylight saving time (DST) by shifting the clocks forward by one hour during summer.
Listed below are the best things to do in Veliko Tarnovo.
- Tsarevets Fortress. Tsarevets Fortress is a partially restored medieval citadel on a hilltop overlooking the town of Veliko Tarnovo in northern Bulgaria. It was the primary fortress and last refuge of the Second Bulgarian Empire from 1185 to 1393. Visitors can explore the remains of over 400 houses, 18 churches, the royal palace, towers, secret tunnels and more within the fortress walls. Highlights include the Patriarchal Cathedral, fortress walls, towers with scenic views and sound and light shows at night. Guided tours provide historical context. The fortress is open daily year-round besides holidays.
- The Samovodska Charshiya Complex. The Samovodska Charshiya Complex in the old town of Veliko Tarnovo comprises restored traditional Bulgarian houses, shops, craft workshops and art galleries around the historic Samovodska Charshiya market square. It showcases well-preserved 19th-century Bulgarian National Revival architecture. Visitors can browse shops and galleries, observe craftspeople, dine at restaurants and enjoy the historic atmosphere. The open-air market, Emilian Stanev House Museum, Hadzhi Nikoli Inn and galleries like Artissimo are key sites. The complex provides a glimpse into Bulgaria's past before modernization.
- Museum of Illusions. The Museum is in the old town of Veliko Tarnovo at 6 General Gurko Street. This museum allows visitors to experience optical, sensory and educational illusions through over 70 interactive exhibits and visual tricks. Highlights include an inverted room, a rotating tunnel, optical illusion paintings and holograms, a clone machine, uneven floors, puzzles and brain teasers related to science and perception. Visitors can take photos of themselves with the illusions, attend workshops and visit the gift shop.
- Asen's Monument. Asen’s Monument is in the center of Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria, commemorates the Asen dynasty that founded and ruled the Second Bulgarian Empire. It features statues of the four key rulers – Tsar Ivan Asen I, Tsar Peter IV, Tsar Kaloyan and Tsar Ivan Asen II on horseback raising swords around a large central sword. The monument conveys the power and glory of the Second Bulgarian Empire. Visitors can view and photograph it and take in scenic views of the town.
- Monastery of the Holy Forty Martyrs. The Monastery of the Holy Forty Martyrs in Veliko Tarnovo, also called the Forty Martyrs Church, was built in 1230 in the Assenova district. It has medieval fortress architecture with stone walls, small windows and defensive towers. Highlights include the ossuary, stone iconostasis, murals of historical figures and wooden furnishings. Visitors can light candles and take photos but should remain quiet and respectful inside the active Orthodox church.
- Mini-Bulgaria Park. Mini-Bulgaria Park in Veliko Tarnovo is an open-air ethnographic museum recreating Bulgarian architecture and heritage on a 1.25 miniature scale across 1.61 hectares. It contains over 50 models of Bulgaria's most famous landmarks, buildings, monuments, villages and houses. Visitors can see artisan demonstrations and performances. Highlights include miniatures of the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Shipka Memorial Church, Sexaginta Prista and Ivanovo Rock Churches.
- Waterfall Kartala. The Waterfall Kartala is along the road between Veliko Tarnovo and the Transfiguration Monastery near Kartala Peak. It cascades 8 meters down a rocky cliff. Visitors can walk along the trail to admire views of the waterfall and gorge. The trail leads to nearby attractions like the monastery, Kartala Peak lookout and small caves. It makes for a nice 2-3 hour hike from Veliko Tarnovo into nature.
- Patriarchal Cathedral of the Holy Ascension. The Patriarchal Cathedral is within the historic fortress of Tsarevets in Veliko Tarnovo. It was built in the 12th century and reconstructed multiple times during the medieval era when it served as the seat of the Bulgarian Patriarchate. It features impressive architecture, such as a triple apse design, stone columns, ceramic ornamentation and an iconic bell tower. Visitors can explore the interior, admire the frescoes and take in views of Veliko Tarnovo.
1. Tsarevets Fortress
Tsarevets Fortress is a medieval citadel on a hilltop overlooking the town of Veliko Tarnovo in northern Bulgaria. It is also called Tsar's Fortress. Tsarevets Fortress was the primary stronghold and last refuge of the Second Bulgarian Empire from 1185 to 1393, making it an important historical and cultural site for Bulgaria. Tsarevets Fortress is in a dramatic hilltop location and the partially restored ruins give visitors a glimpse into Bulgaria's medieval past.
Visitors to Tsarevets Fortress can explore the remains of over 400 houses, 18 churches, the royal palace, towers, secret tunnels and more within the fortress walls. The highlight is the Patriarchal Cathedral, which was reconstructed in the 20th century and contains modern interior murals depicting Bulgarian history. Visitors can walk along the fortress walls and climb the towers offering scenic views over Veliko Tarnovo and the surrounding countryside. Visitors can also check out sound and light shows on summer evenings that bring the fortress's history to life. Guided tours provide extra historical context. Tsarevets Fortress appeals to visitors of all ages interested in history, architecture and archaeology. Families with kids old enough to walk the hilly terrain will also enjoy exploring the ruins. The easiest way to reach the fortress is by walking or driving into central Veliko Tarnovo. There is parking at the foot of Tsarevets Hill and regular buses from around town. The fortress grounds are open daily and year-round besides a few major holidays. Admission costs €6.30 ($6.92, £5.43) and guided tours cost extra.
2. Samovodska Charshiya Complex (Old Town)
The Samovodska Charshiya Complex is in the old town of Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria along the cobblestone streets of Samovodska Charshiya and Nikola Zlatarski. The complex comprises restored traditional Bulgarian houses, shops, craft workshops and art galleries around a historic market square. Samovodska Charshiya is a well-preserved Bulgarian National Revival architecture from the 19th century and the opportunity for visitors to experience traditional Bulgarian crafts and culture.
Visitors to the Samovodska Charshiya Complex can browse the traditional shops and artisan galleries, observe craftspeople at work, purchase locally-made pottery, artwork, antiques and souvenirs, dine at atmospheric restaurants serving Bulgarian cuisine and take in the historic atmosphere. Key sites include the open-air Samovodska Charshiya Market, the Emilian Stanev House Museum, the Hadzhi Nikoli Inn and art galleries such as the Artissimo and Matea Art Gallery. The complex provides a glimpse into Bulgaria's past before modernization.
The easiest way to reach the Samovodska Charshiya Complex is on foot, as it sits right in Veliko Tarnovo's pedestrian Old Town area. Visitors can also take a taxi or local bus from other areas of Veliko Tarnovo. The complex appeals to all visitors, including families, couples, solo travelers, history buffs, architecture enthusiasts, artists and anyone interested in Bulgarian culture. Entry into the Samovodska Charshiya Complex is free. There are charges to enter some sites, such as the Emilian Stanev House Museum. Purchasing handicrafts, artwork, antiques or food from shops and restaurants also requires payment.
3. Museum of Illusions
The Museum of Illusions is at 6 General Gurko Street in the old town of Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria 5000. The museum allows visitors to experience a range of optical, sensory and educational illusions through interactive exhibits and visual tricks. Visitors can see and interact with over 70 exhibits that challenge their perceptions, twist their senses and teach them about vision, the human brain and science. Some of the most popular exhibits include an inverted room that makes it look like people are standing on the ceiling, a rotating tunnel that appears to turn visitors upside down, optical illusion paintings and holograms, a clone machine, a room with uneven floors and puzzles and brain teasers. There are exhibits on astronomy, mathematics, biology, physics and geometry. Everything is hands-on and family-friendly.
Other activities for visitors at the Museum of Illusions include taking photos of themselves with the illusions, attending educational workshops and exploring the gift shop. The museum appeals most to families with kids over 5 years old, students, artists, photographers, tourists and anyone interested in visual perception, science and experiencing something unusual. The Museum of Illusions can be accessed on foot from downtown Veliko Tarnovo, near Gurko Street. Visitors can also take bus line 40 and leave at the Lavov Most bus stop. The museum is open daily except Tuesdays. Entry tickets to the museum cost €6.15 ($6.69, £5.30) per person. Guided tours are available for groups and tickets for families are also available.
4. Asen's Monument
Asen's Monument is in the center of Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria. This iconic monument commemorates the Asen dynasty that founded and ruled the Second Bulgarian Empire from 1185 to 1280. Asen's Monument special celebrates the four key rulers – Tsar Ivan Asen I, Tsar Peter IV, Tsar Kaloyan and Tsar Ivan Asen II. Statues of each ruler sit atop horses, raising swords and encircling a large central sword pointing skyward. The monument powerfully conveys the might and glory of the Second Bulgarian Empire.
Visitors to the Asen's Monument can view and photograph the imposing monument, reading the plaques detailing the accomplishments of each Asen ruler. Its elevated position provides excellent views overlooking the Yantra River and Veliko Tarnovo’s old town. The site also offers a place to relax on benches under shady trees. Some visitors may choose to have a picnic at the monument. The monument appeals to all visitors – history buffs, families, students, tourists. Asen's Monument is across the street from the main entrance to Tsarevets Fortress. It can easily be accessed on foot from most areas of central Veliko Tarnovo. Public buses also stop nearby. There is no cost to view or access Asen’s Monument. It is outdoors and freely open to the public at all times.
5. Monastery of the Holy Forty Martyrs
The Monastery of the Holy Forty Martyrs, also known as the Forty Martyrs Church, is at 2 Rakovski Street in the historic Assenova district of Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria. This monastery was built in 1230 to honor Tsar Ivan Asen II's victory over the Byzantine Empire. It has the architecture of a medieval fortress with stone walls, small windows and defensive towers. Visitors to the Forty Martyrs Church can admire the well-preserved medieval Bulgarian architecture and frescoes depicting Christian saints and biblical scenes.
Key highlights of the Monastery of the Holy Forty Martyrs include the ossuary with the remains of Bulgarian rebels killed in the 1185 uprising, the stone iconostasis and the wooden ceiling and chandeliers. Some of the murals feature historic figures like Tsar Ivan Asen II. Visitors can light candles and take photos but should remain quiet and respectful inside the active church. The monastery appeals to adults interested in Bulgarian history, architecture and Orthodox Christianity. Families are also welcome. The Monastery of Forty Martyrs Church is in central Veliko Tarnovo near sights like Tsarevets Fortress and the Archaeological Museum. The monastery can easily be reached on foot. There is no admission fee to enter the Monastery of the Holy Forty Martyrs. It is open to visitors daily as a functioning Orthodox church. Visitors should dress modestly and may not be allowed inside during certain worship services.
6. Mini-Bulgaria Park
The Mini-Bulgaria Park is an open-air ethnographic museum at 15, Nikola Pikolo Street in the Asenova Quarter of Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria. It does not have an alternative name. The Mini-Bulgaria Park recreates Bulgarian architecture, culture and heritage on a miniature scale across 1.61 hectares (4 acres). Visitors can explore over 50 miniature models of Bulgaria's most famous landmarks, buildings and monuments at a 1.25 scale. Highlights include miniatures of the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Shipka Memorial Church, the ancient Roman fortress Sexaginta Prista, the Rock-hewn Churches of Ivanovo and more. There are also models of traditional 19th-century Bulgarian villages and houses to walk through. All the miniatures are outdoors and accompanied by educational information in Bulgarian, English and Russian.
Visitors of the Mini-Bulgaria Park can see artisan demonstrations at the miniature craft workshops making pottery, ironwork and more. Folklore dance and music performances occur on certain days and the park has a kids' play area and a souvenir shop. Seeing the demonstrations and miniature crafts brings Bulgarian history and culture to life in a fun and interactive way. The museum is best for families, school groups, tourists and visitors wanting an overview of Bulgaria's top sites without extensive travel. Mini-Bulgaria Park is in central Veliko Tarnovo and can be accessed on foot from most hotels and downtown attractions like Tsarevets Fortress. Entry tickets to Mini-Bulgaria Park cost €3.68 ($4, £3.16). Children under 6 get free admission. Family and group discounts are also available.
7. Waterfall Kartala
The Waterfall Kartala is along the road between Veliko Tarnovo and the Transfiguration Monastery, near Kartala Peak in northern Veliko Tarnovo. The waterfall cascades over a few small leaps down a rocky cliff, with the tallest drop being 8 meters (26 feet). Visitors can walk along the trail to admire the waterfall's natural beauty, take photos and relax or picnic at the tables and benches provided along the route. Some of the best views overlook the gorge formed by the Yantra River.
Visitors can continue walking along the marked trail from the Waterfall Kartala to reach other nearby attractions like the Transfiguration Monastery, the Kartala Peak lookout and small caves tucked into the wooded hillsides, taking a roundtrip walk of 2-3 hours. The waterfall trail is easily accessible on foot from central Veliko Tarnovo through the Kartala neighborhood or Varusha neighborhood. The activity appeals to nature enthusiasts and hikers of all ages who want to explore beyond the city. No admission fee is required to access Waterfall Kartala or walk along the trail. It is freely open to the public. The surrounding eco-route contains wooden steps and bridges to aid walkers as the terrain gets steeper or rockier in some areas. Seeing this waterfall makes for a nice half-day hike from Veliko Tarnovo into nature.
8. Patriarchal Cathedral of the Holy Ascension
The Patriarchal Cathedral of the Holy Ascension referred to as the Ascension Cathedral, is in the historic fortress of Tsarevets in Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria. It sits atop Tsarevets Hill at the address Ulitsa ‘Sveti Kliment Ohridski' 43, 5000 Veliko Tarnovo. The cathedral has a rich history, impressive architecture and beautiful interior decoration. The cathedral was built in the 12th century and reconstructed multiple times over the medieval era. It served as the seat of the Bulgarian Patriarchate during the height of the Second Bulgarian Empire. The church features a triple apse design, stone columns, intricate exterior ceramic ornamentation and an iconic bell tower.
Visitors of the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Holy Ascension can explore the cathedral interior, admire the architecture and frescoes depicting Biblical scenes and medieval Bulgarian rulers, take photographs and view Veliko Tarnovo from its hilltop location. It provides insight into Bulgaria's past as a mighty medieval empire. The Patriarchal Cathedral is within the grounds of the Tsarevets Fortress complex, uphill from downtown Veliko Tarnovo. It's easily accessible on foot or via the free shuttle to Tsarevets. The cathedral appeals to visitors interested in history, architecture and Eastern Orthodox Christianity. No separate admission fee is required to enter the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Holy Ascension. It is freely accessible to visitors who have paid the general Tsarevets Fortress complex entry fee, which is €2 ($3, £1). The cathedral is a highlight of visiting Veliko Tarnovo's medieval history.
9. Sveta Gora
Sveta Gora or Holy Forest Park, is a large public park in Sveta Gora Neighborhood, Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria, 5000. Sveta Gora is the biggest park in Veliko Tarnovo, spanning over 50 hectares (123 acres) of forests, meadows and scenic overlooks with panoramic city views. Visitors to Sveta Gora Park can take relaxing walks beneath century-old trees along over 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) of pathways and trails. The park contains plenty of benches, gazebos and picnic areas for visitors to enjoy the natural setting. There is an outdoor fitness zone, football pitch, climbing wall, skatepark and playgrounds for children. Sculptures and pieces of art are dotted throughout the grounds. A highlight of the park is the panoramic terrace overlooking Veliko Tarnovo. The park appeals to all visitors, including families, couples and students who want to relax in nature or participate in sports or activities.
Sveta Gora Park sits above the city, 1.5 kilometers (0.9 miles) from Veliko Tarnovo's downtown area. It can easily be reached via Bus Lines 4, 5, 13, 30 and 70 which stop at the park's entrance. Entry to Sveta Gora Park is free and it is open year-round. Some facilities like the skatepark may charge a separate fee. The park offers a nice outdoor escape from the city without needing to travel far, with lovely views and opportunities for recreation that make it a popular spot for locals and tourists.
10. Marno Pole Park
Marno Pole Park is at 15 Nikola Pikolo Street in the Asenova Quarter of Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria, near Mini-Bulgaria Park. Marno Pole Park special recreates traditional 19th-century Bulgarian village architecture and lifestyle across 2 hectares (5 acres) of outdoor exhibits.
Visitors can explore over 15 authentic buildings showcasing how Bulgarians lived 100+ years before modernization and industrialization changed society. Highlights include a typical Bulgarian village house, barn, well, mill, school, church, tailor's workshop and more. All the structures contain genuine artifacts, furniture, tools and decor replicating that era. Costumed guides and staff provide additional context.
Visitors to the Marno Pole Park can see folklore dance performances on a stage, listen to a kaba gaida (Bulgarian bagpipe), participate in arts & crafts workshops for pottery or textiles and kids can play traditional village games. The park comes alive through these immersive activities that showcase intangible Bulgarian heritage. There is also a souvenir shop and cafe on site.
Marno Pole Park is in central Veliko Tarnovo and can be accessed on foot from downtown attractions like Tsarevets Fortress. The park can be reached via Bus Line 20. The park appeals to all visitors interested in Bulgarian history and culture, such as families, tourists and students.
Entry tickets to Marno Pole Park cost €2 ($3, £1). Children under 7 get free admission. Family and group discounts are also available. The ticket allows access to all exhibits and buildings within the park. This includes any workshops, performances or activities happening during open hours.
11. Tsarevgrad Tarnov
Tsarevgrad Tarnov, also known as the Veliko Tarnovo Wax Museum or Multimedia Visitor Center Tsarevgrad Tarnov, is at 6 Nikola Picolo Street in Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria 5000. This wax museum brings Bulgaria's medieval history to life through sculptures and paintings depicting historical figures and events from the Second Bulgarian Empire in the 13th-14th century. Visitors can see 29 wax figure sculptures spread over two floors that recreate famous Bulgarian rulers, military leaders, clergy, aristocrats, artisans and ordinary people. Some of the major scenes represented include Tsar Kaloyan's victory over the Crusaders and Latin Emperor Baldwin I in 1205, Tsar Ivan Asen II and his wife Irina commemorating the establishment of the Second Bulgarian Empire and Boyana Church founder Kaloyan and his wife Desislava. The wax figures were created by renowned sculptor Boris Borisov to capture this important era in Bulgaria's past centered around its capital and spiritual heart Tarnovgrad, today's Veliko Tarnovo.
Visitors can walk around Tsarevgrad Tarnov while viewing the wax sculptures and paintings to visually immerse themselves in medieval Bulgarian culture and lifestyle under the Second Empire. Information plaques provide historical context and multimedia presentations about Bulgaria's history. Touchscreen audio guides are available in Bulgarian and English. The wax museum appeals most to visitors interested in the history of Veliko Tarnovo. Visitors can take bus lines 20, 40, 50 or 110 and get off at the Carevec bus stop to get to the museum. The wax museum is open year-round except Mondays. Entry tickets cost €3.68 ($4, £3.16). Guided tours are available for an additional fee.
12. Gurko Street
Gurko Street (Ulitsa Gurko) is in the old town of Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria. This cobblestone pedestrian street lined with traditional 19th-century Bulgarian houses is considered one of the most picturesque streets in Veliko Tarnovo. Gurko Street was named after Russian General Iosif Gurko who led his forces to liberate Veliko Tarnovo from Ottoman rule in 1877. The street follows a steep slope overlooking the Yantra River below, with the houses along it seemingly piled on top of one another. Gurko Street has preserved the traditional Bulgarian Renaissance architectural style of the houses built during the 19th century. Visitors can see many authentic details like flower-filled window boxes, ivy on walls and wooden balconies. The winding, uneven cobblestone pavement and stone stairs add old-world charm. Panoramic views of the Yantra River and Asen Monument open up from Gurko Street.
Visitors to Gurko Street can take in the scenic views while walking along the cobblestones and stopping to take photos of the picture-perfect houses. Some houses now contain shops, restaurants, museums and workshops that can be visited. An example is the Sarafkin House museum, which represents 19th-century folk crafts and interiors. There are also cafes and eateries to stop for a drink or meal along the street. Gurko Street appeals to all visitors, such as couples, families and solo travelers who want to experience the historic atmosphere preserved in this part of town. Gurko Street is easily accessible by foot from central Veliko Tarnovo. It can be accessed on foot from most hotels or downtown. There is no admission fee to walk along Gurko Street and view the architecture and river. Only individual shops or museums charge an entrance fee.
13. Bishop's Bridge (Vladishki Bridge)
Bishop's Bridge, also known as Vladishki Most, is a medieval stone arch bridge in the old town of Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria. The Bishop's Bridge is one of the few surviving landmarks from medieval Tarnovgrad, the capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire in the 12th and 14th centuries.
The stone bridge was built in the 1850s to replace an older wooden one from the Middle Ages. Its single-arch construction stretches over the Yantra River, connecting the Sveta Gora hill to the Trapezitsa hill. Bishop's Bridge offers scenic views along the river and of the historic houses in the Varosha district. It is near the site of an old covered bridge used by medieval Bulgarian rulers that gave the bridge its name.
Visitors to Bishop's Bridge can walk across it to enjoy panoramic views of Veliko Tarnovo's hills, visit the shops and cafes near the bridge, take photographs of the surroundings and architecture or observe the river below. The bridge provides access to trails leading up to the ruins of the Trapezitsa Fortress. There are also tourist information boards detailing the history and significance of this landmark. The bridge appeals to all visitors including families, couples, historians and photographers who want to explore Veliko Tarnovo's medieval past. Bishop's Bridge is in central Veliko Tarnovo and can be accessed on foot from most hotels in the pedestrian area of Samovodska Charshia. There is no admission fee to see or walk along Bishop's Bridge. It is free and open to the public at all times. This allows visitors to view and appreciate this historic river crossing point that has been part of the city for over 850 years.
14. Arbanasi Village
Arbanasi is a village 4 kilometers (2.4 miles) from the city of Veliko Tarnovo in central northern Bulgaria. Its full address is Arbanasi 4181, Veliko Tarnovo 5000, Bulgaria. Arbanasi has preserved its Bulgarian Renaissance architecture and rich cultural heritage through its churches, houses and monasteries that look much the same as they did over 400 years ago.
Walking through the narrow cobblestone streets of Arbanasi is like taking a step back in time. Visitors can explore well-preserved Bulgarian Renaissance-style houses, some of which now house museums, art galleries, hotels and restaurants. The village has over 80 historical monuments, including the impressive 17th-century Church of the Nativity, which contains intricate frescoes, carvings and mural paintings. The Konstantsalieva House and Hadji Nikoli Inn Museum are top attractions showcasing traditional crafts and architecture.
Other activities for visitors at Arbanasi Village include shopping for souvenirs, attending a concert at one of the churches, going on guided walking tours to learn about history or simply roaming around and photographing the remarkable architecture. Local cuisine and wine can also be enjoyed at one of the traditional taverns. The village appeals to visitors interested in history, arts and Bulgarian cultural heritage. Arbanasi can be reached by taxi, bus or private transport in 10-15 minutes. There is no admission fee to walk around the village. There is an entrance fee to tour some of the historic home museums and sites around the village.
15. Hadji Nikoli Inn Museum and Art Gallery
The Hadji Nikoli Inn Museum and Art Gallery is at 19 G.S. Rakovski Street in the old town of Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria 5000. The museum is housed within a beautifully restored historic inn built in 1858, allowing visitors to experience 19th-century Bulgarian culture. Visitors can explore reconstructed period rooms in the museum, showcasing authentic furnishings like wood-beamed ceilings, handmade textiles and traditional crafts. Examples include an old-fashioned kitchen, an innkeeper's office, guest rooms, an Ottoman-era Hamam and even a recreated courtroom. Informational signs explain the history and significance of various artifacts. The museum also contains a gallery with rotating exhibits of contemporary Bulgarian fine art, including paintings, graphics, sculpture and ethnographic art.
Other activities visitors can do at the Hadji Nikoli Inn Museum include attending musical concerts or theatrical performances held within the building, browsing the gift shop stocked with artisan souvenirs, grabbing a drink or meal at the atmospheric inn-style restaurant or admiring the 19th-century architectural details preserved throughout the property. The museum and art gallery appeal primarily to visitors interested in history, culture, architecture and art exhibitions.
The Hadji Nikoli Inn Museum is centrally located from downtown Veliko Tarnovo hotels and restaurants. An entrance fee of €1.53 ($1.67, £1.32) to access the museum exhibits. Guided museum tours are available by advance request.
16. Asenevtsi Monument
The Asenevtsi Monument, also referred to as The Horseman Statue or Monument of the Assens is on an island in the Yantra River in the old town of Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria 5000. It has no alternative names. This monument commemorates the Asen dynasty that founded and ruled the Second Bulgarian Empire from Veliko Tarnovo in the 12th to 14th centuries. The monument was created by sculptor Krum Damyanov and architects Petar Barakov and Atanas Agura between 1981 and 1985. It depicts the four Asen brothers on horseback with swords, surrounding a 17-meter high concrete pillar topped with a bronze statue of the winged prophet Elijah. The pillar is shaped like a sharpened sword blade thrust vertically into the air and at the base lies bronze figures of lions as symbols of power and nobility.
Visitors to the Asenevtsi Monument can walk around the monument island, connected by two small bridges, to admire the sculpture and symbolism from all angles. The best views of the full ensemble looking back towards Veliko Tarnovo open up from Gurko Street's pedestrian area or the northern bridge. Photographing the monument with the city or Yantra River in the background makes for a memorable picture. Informational signs provide context about the historical significance. The monument appeals to all visitors including families, photographers, historians and sightseers who want to see this iconic landmark. The Asenevtsi Monument is in central Veliko Tarnovo and can be accessed from most hotels, shops and restaurants on foot.
There is no admission fee to view the Asenevtsi Monument. Visitors can freely walk around the sculpture park and small island, take photos and read the information signs without charge. The monument is open year-round and can be appreciated both during the day and illuminated at night.
17. Stambolov Bridge
The Stambolov Bridge is over the Yantra River in the old town of Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria. This historic stone arch bridge is also called the Humpback Bridge or the Double Bridge due to its unusual shape and prominent arch in the middle. The original Stambolov Bridge was built during Roman times but has been destroyed and reconstructed multiple times over the centuries. The current bridge structure dates back to 1931. Its unique double-humped design allows ships to pass underneath while providing a crossing point high enough over the river.
Stambolov Bridge has a significance in Veliko Tarnovo’s history. It is the only bridge connecting the two sides of the old capital, Tarnovgrad and it played an integral role as a key access point for trade, troops and transportation over the Yantra River. The steep stone steps from the bridge provide scenic views along the river. Visitors to the Stambolov Bridge today can walk across the historic structure, observe the architecture and construction techniques used to create its distinctive shape, take photographs of the surroundings or simply enjoy the fresh air while watching the river flow underneath. The bridge also provides access to nearby shops, cafes and walking trails. The bridge appeals to all visitors, from historians to tourists looking for a stroll and views. The Stambolov Bridge can be accessed on foot from most hotels, restaurants and attractions. It can easily be reached on foot. Visitors can freely cross over or view the structure without any charge. Its scenic river views and historical significance make it a popular site when exploring Veliko Tarnovo.
What are the best museums to visit in Veliko Tarnovo?
Listed below are the best museums to visit in Veliko Tarnovo.
- Archaeological Museum. The Archaeological Museum in Veliko Tarnovo traces the region's history over the past 1,000 years, strongly emphasizing the medieval Second Bulgarian Empire. It displays many artifacts from prehistoric times through the Roman era, Byzantine period and medieval Bulgarian kingdoms, including pottery, tools, weapons, coins and jewelry. Visitors can view exhibits spread over three floors, learning about the culture and society of past eras through the everyday objects and treasures on display. Audio guides are available in several languages for a more in-depth experience exploring the museum's collection. This is an excellent museum for getting an overview of the long and eventful history of Veliko Tarnovo and its surroundings.
- Museum of the Bulgarian Revival and Constituent Assembly. The Museum of the Bulgarian Revival and Constituent Assembly in Veliko Tarnovo focuses on the recent history, of Bulgaria's struggle for independence from the Ottoman Empire. It has exhibits related to the Bulgarian National Revival period, showcasing the cultural and economic development of Veliko Tarnovo in the 19th century. A key highlight is the assembly hall on the top floor, where the first Bulgarian constitution was formulated and signed in 1879 after the Liberation War. There is also an extensive display of Christian artworks produced during the Ottoman rule and objects that capture the lives and traditions of the period. This museum provides great insights into Bulgaria's path towards becoming an autonomous state.
- Tsarevgrad Tarnov Multimedia Wax Museum. Tsarevgrad Tarnov Multimedia Wax Museum in Veliko Tarnovo is a modern, interactive wax museum that brings medieval Bulgarian history to life through lifelike wax figures, costumes, scenes and audiovisual effects. Walk through wax models of Bulgarian tsars, clergymen, soldiers, peasants and artisans, placed within painstakingly recreated settings. Key highlights include the throne room of Tsar Ivan Asen II, Tsar Kaloyan's coronation and the Tsaravet's fortress defense. The museum has information available in multiple languages and it is an entertaining way for kids and adults alike to learn about Bulgaria's Second Empire.
- Hadji Nikoli Inn Museum and Art Gallery. Hadji Nikoli Inn Museum and Art Gallery in Veliko Tarnovo is a restored 1858 inn and is the only surviving example of the 70 inns that once operated in Veliko Tarnovo. Its ornate interiors glimpse Bulgarian Renaissance architecture and how a wealthy tradesman would have lived. The former inn now houses a museum with exhibits related to the city’s vibrant past as a center of commerce and crafts. It also contains an art gallery displaying works by contemporary Bulgarian painters and has an upscale restaurant and wine bar on site. Visitors can admire the well-preserved building while learning about the 19th-century way of life and view quality artworks over a glass of wine or meal.
What are the best things to do in Veliko Tarnovo with kids?
Listed below are the best things to do in Veliko Tarnovo with kids.
- Tsarevets Fortress. The reconstructed Tsarevets Fortress in Veliko Tarnovo transports visitors back to Bulgaria's medieval past, with fortified stone walls, palace ruins and churches to explore. Kids can walk along the fortress paths, climb up narrow stairs to reach the top and view the city from the Patriarchal Cathedral. The Sound and Light show brings the history of the Second Bulgarian Empire to life through music, lasers and special effects. It is an engaging way for families to immerse themselves in Bulgaria’s rich history.
- Tsarevgrad Tarnov Multimedia Wax Museum. Tsarevgrad Tarnov Multimedia Wax Museum in Veliko Tarnovo is a modern, interactive wax museum that features lifelike wax figures of Bulgarian rulers, religious leaders, soldiers and artisans from the Middle Ages. Families with kids can walk through wax model scenes of a medieval peasant home, the throne room of Tsar Ivan Asen II and the Tsaravet's fortress defense. The museum displays costumes, authentic settings, audiovisual effects and an entertaining way for kids to learn about medieval Bulgarian history.
- Trapezitsa Hill and Cable Car. Trapezitsa Hill in Veliko Tarnovo features partly ruined churches and fortifications with scenic views over Veliko Tarnovo. Kids will especially enjoy riding the cable car up the hill for fun views of the city below. At the top, they can let off steam by exploring the ruins at their own pace and checking out the small museum to learn more about the history of this site. It is a nice outdoor option for families.
- Mini Bulgaria Park. Mini Bulgaria Park features miniature models of over 40 top Bulgarian landmarks, buildings and monuments at a 1.25 scale. Kids can walk around spotting mini replicas of sites across Bulgaria, like the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Plovdiv's Old Town and local attraction Tsarevets Fortress. An interactive way to get an overview of Bulgaria's top destinations.
- Samovodska Charshia Crafts Market. Samovodska Charshia Crafts Market in Veliko Tarnovo has various craftspeople demonstrating traditional Bulgarian handicrafts like pottery, woodcarving, metalworking and jewelry. Kids over 5 can wander through the open-air workshops watching the artisans practice their trades, often having items to buy as souvenirs. The market offers a glimpse into time-honored local crafts.
What are the best activities for a business traveler in Veliko Tarnovo?
Listed below are the best activities for a business traveler in Veliko Tarnovo.
- Hadji Nikoli Inn Museum and Art Gallery. Hadji Nikoli Inn Museum and Art Gallery in Veliko Tarnovo is a restored inn that houses a museum, art gallery, wine bar and upscale restaurant, making it a multifunctional venue suitable for both formal business meetings and casual after-work relaxation. The historic ambiance and quality dining options provide an elevated experience compared to regular restaurants. Business travelers can also simply admire the exemplary Bulgarian Renaissance architecture while passing time before other appointments.
- Tsarevgrad Tarnov Multimedia Wax Museum. Tsarevgrad Tarnov Multimedia Wax Museum in Veliko Tarnovo is an interactive wax museum that brings medieval Bulgaria to life through meticulously crafted wax figures placed in authentic settings with audiovisual effects. It offers an unconventional activity to share with colleagues or clients for 45-60 minutes, sparking conversations through the lifelike scenes. The multimedia elements make Bulgaria's complex history surprisingly accessible even for those less familiar with the era.
- Archaeological Museum. The Archaeological Museum in Veliko Tarnovo allows business travelers to take a quick, 30-45 minute tour to get an overview of Veliko Tarnovo's transformation from prehistoric times to the medieval capital. The well-organized collection grants visitors a solid understanding of how the region developed over the centuries through everyday objects.
- Gurko Street. Gurko Street in Veliko Tarnovo is a cobblestone street lined with 19th-century houses perfect for a relaxing 20-30-minute stroll along the river during spare time. Business travelers can admire the Bulgarian Revival architecture while passing several cafés and restaurants that are perfect for an unhurried lunch break from meetings.
Where is Veliko Tarnovo?
Veliko Tarnovo is a city in north-central Bulgaria and serves as the administrative center of Veliko Tarnovo Province. The city is on the Yantra River and strategically located on main roads connecting the West Balkans. The coordinates of Veliko Tarnovo are 43°04′40″N 25°37′00″E. The distance from the capital city, Sofia, is approximately 210 kilometers (130 miles) The city has an area of 60.9 square kilometers (23.5 square miles). Veliko Tarnovo is known for its rich history and importance as one of the main Bulgarian cities, often called the “City of the Tsars”.
What is the history of Veliko Tarnovo?
Veliko Tarnovo is one of the oldest settlements in Bulgaria, dating back more than five millennia. The first traces of human presence in the region date from the 6th century BC, with a Thracian village, found on Tsarevets dating back from the 3rd millennium BC. The city was a stronghold of the First Bulgarian Empire and played a significant role in the National Revival. Veliko Tarnovo was liberated from Ottoman rule on July 7, 1877, by General Iosif Gurko's army and the Russian Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich entered the city on June 30, 1877. The city has a rich history of architecture, with many examples of Bulgarian National Revival architecture, including works by the outstanding architect Kolyu Ficheto. The city is built on three hills, Tsarevets, Trapezitsa and Sveta Gora, which makes it one of the most beautiful in Bulgaria and adds special charm to the city's atmosphere.
Veliko Tarnovo is also known as Turnovo, Tsarevgrad or Turnov and it is a city with over 7,000 years of history. The city has many important examples of Bulgarian National Revival architecture, including works by the outstanding architect Kolyu Ficheto. The city was liberated on July 7, 1877, by General Iosif Gurko's army and the Russian Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich entered Tarnovo on June 30, 1877, greeted by thousands of Bulgarians and passing under a specially built triumphal arch.
What language is spoken in Veliko Tarnovo?
Bulgarian is the primary language spoken in Veliko Tarnovo, the official language of Bulgaria. The city has two universities, Veliko Tarnovo University and Vasil Levski National Military University, which offer higher education opportunities. The city has four secondary schools, including Secondary School Emiliyan Stanev and Secondary School Vela Blagoeva. Veliko Tarnovo is a popular destination for learning Bulgarian, with the “Kiril and Metodi” University, named after the founders of the Cyrillic alphabet, offering courses in Bulgarian language and culture. English is also widely spoken in Veliko Tarnovo, making it easy for tourists to communicate with locals. The city is a popular tourist destination and guided tours are offered in Bulgarian, English, Russian, French, German, Spanish and Greek languages.
What time zone is Veliko Tarnovo in?
Veliko Tarnovo is in the Eastern European Time (EET) zone. This timezone is UTC+2, meaning Veliko Tarnovo is two hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). Veliko Tarnovo and the rest of Bulgaria observe daylight saving time (DST) by shifting the clocks forward by one hour during summer. This shift occurs on the last Sunday of March when the clocks are set forward by one hour at 3.00 am local time, effectively changing from EET to Eastern European Summer Time (EEST), UTC+3. This change allows for longer daylight hours during the summer evenings.
How many people live in Veliko Tarnovo?
The total population of Veliko Tarnovo is composed of 68,783 residents. There are 2,800 males (48%) and 35,900 females (52%) indicating an equal gender split between men and women. A total of 8,600 residents (13%) are children under 15 years old, while 45,500 (66%) are working adults between 15-64 years old. Veliko Tarnovo has an elderly population of around 14,700 people over 65, which is 21% of the total residents.
What are the most interesting facts about Bulgaria and Veliko Tarnovo?
Listed below are the most interesting facts about Bulgaria and Veliko Tarnovo.
- Currency. The official currency used in Veliko Tarnovo is the Bulgarian Lev (BGN). It is advisable to exchange currency at banks or exchange offices for the best rates. Credit and debit cards are widely accepted in the city, especially in hotels, restaurants and larger stores.
- Language. The primary language spoken in Veliko Tarnovo is Bulgarian. While English is spoken in tourist areas and by the younger population, learning some basic Bulgarian phrases is helpful to facilitate communication with the locals. Learning a few words in the local language can also enhance the travel experience and show respect for the culture.
- Timezone. Veliko Tarnovo, like the rest of Bulgaria, is in the Eastern European Time (EET) zone, UTC+2. Bulgaria observes Eastern European Summer Time (EEST) during the summer months, which is UTC+3. Travelers should adjust their schedules accordingly when planning activities and transportation.
- Power Plugs. The standard voltage is 230 V and the frequency is 50 Hz in Veliko Tarnovo. The power plugs and sockets used are the standard European sockets type F. Visitors from other regions may need a power plug adapter to fit the European sockets. It is recommended to bring a universal adapter to ensure compatibility with the local power outlets.
How many days are needed to see Veliko Tarnovo?
Spending 1 to 2 days to see the top sites of Veliko Tarnovo is recommended. The city's compact size allows visitors to explore its highlights, including the Tsarevets and Trapezitsa fortresses, the Samovodska Charshiya Complex, the Museum of Illusions Veliko Tarnovo and the Asen's Monument. Visitors can walk around the city and visit the Monastery of the Holy Transfiguration of God, which can be accommodated within a day. A well-planned one to two-day itinerary allows visitors to experience the beauty of Veliko Tarnovo, making it a worthwhile stop for those traveling through Bulgaria.
Is Veliko Tarnovo worth visiting?
Yes, Veliko Tarnovo is worth visiting. Veliko Tarnovo is one of the oldest settlements in Bulgaria, dating back more than five millennia. The city was a stronghold of the First Bulgarian Empire and played a significant role in the National Revival. The city is built on three hills, Tsarevets, Trapezitsa and Sveta Gora and offers views of the surrounding landscape. Veliko Tarnovo is home to many cultural attractions, such as the Archaeological Museum, the Museum of Illusions Veliko Tarnovo and the Monastery of the Holy Transfiguration of God. The city is on the Yantra River, which adds to its natural beauty and offers outdoor activities like walking along the riverbank. Veliko Tarnovo is one of the best places to visit in Bulgaria with reasonable prices for accommodation, food and souvenirs.
Is Veliko Tarnovo expensive to visit?
No, Veliko Tarnovo is not expensive, making it an attractive destination for budget-conscious travelers. The city offers affordable accommodation options, with hostel dorms ranging from €7.69 ($8.37, £6.62) to €11.27 ($12.27, £9.71) per night and private rooms costing €17.93 ($19.51, £15.45) to €28.19 ($30.68, £28.19). Many hostels provide free Wi-Fi and self-catering facilities, further reducing costs. For visitors interested in exploring the city, bicycle rentals are available for €6.15 ($6.69, £5.30) daily, offering a budget-friendly way to get around. The city's affordability extends to its dining options, with reasonably priced meals available at local restaurants. Veliko Tarnovo provides a cost-effective travel experience, allowing visitors to enjoy its rich history and cultural attractions without breaking the bank.
Is Veliko Tarnovo safe to visit?
Yes, Veliko Tarnovo is safe to visit. The city is known for its low crime rates, violent crime and theft. Solo travelers are safe in Veliko Tarnovo, but taking standard precautions, such as keeping valuables secure and out of reach is always good. The city is small and quiet, making it an ideal destination for a relaxing holiday. In recent years, the crime level in Veliko Tarnovo has fallen and the city is generally considered a safe place for tourists. It is still essential to be aware of the surroundings and take necessary precautions, such as avoiding poorly lit areas at night and being cautious when using public transportation. Taking standard precautions and being aware of your surroundings, you can enjoy a safe and memorable trip to this charming city.
Is Veliko Tarnovo easy to visit with kids?
Yes, Veliko Tarnovo is easy to visit with kids. The city offers many outdoor activities, such as hiking and exploring the surrounding countryside, which can be enjoyed by both children and adults. Families with kids will also appreciate the city's rich history, which can be experienced through museums and historic landmarks. Veliko Tarnovo provides family-friendly attractions, such as Park Sveta Gora, which features special sports and playground areas, making it an excellent place for families with children. The city's safety, outdoor activities and family-friendly attractions make it an easy and enjoyable destination to visit with kids.
What is Veliko Tarnovo famous for?
Veliko Tarnovo is famous for several things. Firstly, it is famous for being the medieval capital city of the Second Bulgarian Empire from 1185 to 1393. It was Bulgaria's political, economic and cultural center during this period. The impressive Tsarevets Fortress on a hill overlooking the city dates back to this medieval heyday. Secondly, Veliko Tarnovo is known for its unique architectural style and picturesque nature. The old town is built on multiple hills around the meandering Yantra River, creating a visually stunning landscape. The houses have a distinctive Bulgarian Revival architecture, colorful facades and red-tiled roofs. Lastly, the city is a major cultural center and tourist destination today. It has many museums, historical monuments like the grand Asenevtsi Monument and cultural attractions that showcase its past as a thriving medieval capital. The massive fortress and the atmospheric old town draw visitors from around Bulgaria and abroad.
Who are the most important people born in Veliko Tarnovo?
Listed below are the most important people born in Veliko Tarnovo.
- Ivan Asen (1190-1241). Ivan Asen II ruled the Second Bulgarian Empire at its peak from 1218-1241, overseeing military conquests to expand its borders and a golden age of economic and cultural prosperity based in Tarnovo. He helped establish the Patriarchate of Tarnovo and convened the first literary school where texts in the Old Bulgarian language were transcribed and preserved for future generations.
- Patriarch Evtimiy (1325-1403). Patriarch Evtimiy was a key Bulgarian religious leader and man of letters who served as Patriarch of Bulgaria in the late 14th century, producing influential translations and compilations of texts while promoting the distinct Tarnovo literary school. Patriarch Evtimiy is a writer, scholar and artist who elevated the Bulgarian language and literature status through his prolific literary activities in the then-capital.
- Vasil Levski (1837-1873). Vasil Levski was a revolutionary figure who arose in the 19th-century struggle to liberate Bulgaria from Ottoman rule, traveling widely to organize a resistance network and becoming the de facto leader of the liberation movement. This “Apostle of Freedom” was captured and executed by the Ottomans, but remains one of Bulgaria's greatest national heroes.
- Statesman Stefan Stambolov (1854-1895). Statesman Stefan Stambolov dominated Bulgarian politics in the 1880s and early 1890s as a prime minister, working to establish Bulgaria as an independent nation, stabilizing its economy and defending its sovereignty against foreign interests. He was controversial but undeniably effective in shaping the early Bulgarian state.
- Lyudmila Zhivkova (1942-1981). Lyudmila Zhivkova was an influential political figure as the daughter of Communist leader Todor Zhivkov, leveraging this position to greatly promote various Bulgarian arts and cultural initiatives like the National Children's Complex and preserving historic Rila Monastery. She left a legacy in Bulgarian cultural development before dying at age 38.
What to eat in Veliko Tarnovo?
Listed below are what you can eat in Veliko Tarnovo.
- Banitsa. Banitsa is a Bulgarian baked good and popular food in Veliko Tarnovo and across the country. Banitsa is flaky, golden phyllo dough layered with salty white cheese into a pastry found at any local bakery in Bulgaria. Visitors can grab a piece of this iconic snack, often eaten for breakfast or a midday bite and enjoy its crisp, buttery exterior and molten interior. Banitsa is one of the best Bulgarian foods to eat in Veliko Tarnovo.
- Kebapche. Kebapche are minced meat patties, usually pork or a pork-veal blend, mixed with traditional spices and grilled to order at small street food stalls around Veliko Tarnovo. It is similar to hamburgers and makes for a quick, hot and protein-packed meal while walking around sightseeing. A popular street food in Veliko Tarnovo and cities across Bulgaria.
- Shopska salad. Shopska salad is Bulgaria's signature salad, comprised of juicy tomato wedges, cucumber slices, onions and roasted peppers, all topped generously with grated sirene cheese, a brined white cheese similar to feta. This fresh, vegetable dish can be found in any restaurant in Veliko Tarnovo.
- Moussaka. Moussaka in Veliko Tarnovo features minced meat, either pork or beef, layered between sliced potatoes, eggplant and a from-scratch bechamel sauce for a hearty, comforting casserole. It is a staple menu item at most local restaurants in Veliko Tarnovo and a fixture of Bulgarian cuisine.
- Yogurt. Yogurt is popular in Bulgarian cuisine. Veliko Tarnovo offers excellent local cow, sheep or goat yogurt varieties. Visitors can try it plain, topping heartier foods as a cooling complement or mixed into drinks like ayran.
- Slow-cooked meat stews. Slow-cooked meat stews are a Bulgarian comfort food on menus across Veliko Tarnovo. Tender lamb, goat or chicken simmers for hours with vegetables into fork-tender dishes perfect for chilly days, ideally paired with local red wine. These stews are icons of Bulgarian cuisine.
What are the best places to eat in Veliko Tarnovo?
Listed below are the best places to eat in Veliko Tarnovo.
- Restaurant “Ivan Asen”. Restaurant “Ivan Asen” offers a mix of native Bulgarian dishes like kavarma, kebapche and shopska salad, paired with local wines, all served on a terrace overlooking the medieval fortress in the heart of Veliko Tarnovo's old town. The restaurant is known for its friendly service and very reasonable prices. It is a favorite affordable option for tourists and locals to experience authentic local cuisine. Restaurant “Ivan Asen” is also one of the best restaurants to eat in Veliko Tarnovo.
- Restaurant “Ethno”. Restaurant “Ethno” provides diners with a taste of Mediterranean and Asian fusion dishes like salmon carpaccio and halloumi appetizers in a modern, welcoming interior along the main street of Veliko Tarnovo. Its diverse menu also includes pizza, pasta, steaks and a large selection of salads and desserts, with efficient service in a relaxed atmosphere.
- City Pub. City Pub is a popular pub in Veliko Tarnovo where diners can enjoy craft beers on tap and watch Premier League football matches in an interior decorated with an original industrial style. Its menu offers pub grub favorites like burgers, ribs, wings and Tex-Mex dishes that diners consistently rate as tasty, fresh and fairly priced.
- Shtastliveca Restaurant. Shtastliveca Restaurant is perched along the scenic Yantra River with views of Veliko Tarnovo's city park. Shtastliveca Restaurant provides visitors with a large Bulgarian and international cuisine menu, including many vegetarian/vegan options. Highlights noted by diners include the refreshing salads, oven-baked dishes, risottos and decadent desserts, with friendly and prompt service.
What are the best areas to stay in Veliko Tarnovo?
Listed below are the best areas to stay in Veliko Tarnovo.
- Old Town (Samovodska Charshiya Complex). Old Town (Samovodska Charshiya Complex) is a historic area neighborhood in Veliko Tarnovo that sits along the Yantra River and is known for its cobblestone streets, red-roofed houses and medieval Bulgarian architecture. It is near attractions like Tsarevets Fortress, Samovodska Charshia crafts market and Gurko Street. The central location and touristy atmosphere make it generally safe for solo travelers.
- Varosha District. Varosha District is next to Veliko Tarnovo's bus station. This central neighborhood provides easy access to transport links for getting around the city. It sees a lot of tourist foot traffic near sights like the Archaeological Museum Veliko Tarnovo and Asenevtsi Monument. The busier streets are safe for solo travelers to explore and stay.
- Sveta Gora Neighborhood. Sveta Gora Neighborhood is at the foot of Sveta Gora Hill, known for its scenic views overlooking Veliko Tarnovo’s red-roofed houses and the Yantra River. The neighborhood offers a quieter alternative to staying in the hustling old town and provides easy access to the main tourist zone. The surrounding neighborhood is described as friendly locals and safe for solo travelers.
- Arbanasi Village. Arbanasi Village is 4 kilometers (2.4 miles) from central Veliko Tarnovo. This historic village with streets lined with traditional Bulgarian houses provides a peaceful atmosphere outside the city. It is near attractions like the Arbanassi Plateau and scenic views over Veliko Tarnovo. The neighborhood area feels secluded and safe for solo travelers.
- Gurmazovo District. Gurmazovo District is a residential area on a hilltop overlooking the city, 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) from Veliko Tarnovo's center. The neighborhood offers great views along with a local vibe. The area is considered safe and has regular bus connections to reach the top sights easily.
What are the best accommodations to stay in Veliko Tarnovo?
Listed below are the best accommodations to stay in Veliko Tarnovo.
- Yantra Grand Hotel. Yantra Grand Hotel in Veliko Tarnovo is an upscale hotel set along the scenic Yantra River, featuring elegant rooms equipped with king beds, minibars, free WiFi and furnished balconies with panoramic views of the medieval Tzarevets Fortress. Additional amenities include the onsite Vienna Café with sweets and pastries, an indoor pool and hot tubs at the modern spa and fitness center and massage services for ultimate relaxation.
- Boutique Hotel Tsarevets. The Boutique Hotel Tsarevets in Veliko Tarnovo is housed within a restored 1891 building wedged dramatically between the river bend, providing spacious and stylish rooms with free WiFi and parking just steps away from the top attraction Tsaravets Fortress. The hotel is decorated with warm tones and wooden accents. The rooms open to excellent views of Veliko Tarnovo’s iconic red-roofed houses clustered around the medieval ruins along the river. It is also one of the recommended hotels to stay in Veliko Tarnovo.
- Hotel Stambolov. Hotel Stambolov is on the main street in Veliko Tarnovo's old town quarter, set within a 19th-century National Revival-style house that melds history with modern comforts like free WiFi access. This boutique hotel features contemporary-styled rooms with unique layouts showcasing original wooden beams, exposed brick walls that date back over a century and scenic balconies overlooking the Yantra River. Hotel Stambolov's enviable location allows easy walking access to top attractions like the medieval Tsarevets Fortress, the traditional Samovodska Charshia crafts market and the iconic town center lined with Bulgarian National Revival architecture.
- Gurko Family Hotel. Gurko Family Hotel in Veliko Tarnovo provides easy walking access to top attractions like the medieval Tsarevets Fortress, the traditional Samovodska Charshia crafts market and the Yantra River. The hotel's comfortable rooms feature hardwood floors, air conditioning, minibars and flatscreen TVs, allowing guests to relax after a long day exploring the cobblestone lanes of Veliko Tarnovo's atmospheric old town quarter, known for its Bulgarian National Revival-style architecture.
- Family Hotel Slavianska Dusha. The Hotel Stambolov is set within an old 19th-century National Revival style house, melding history with modern comforts like free WiFi access and chic, contemporary-styled rooms featuring unique layouts with wooden beams, exposed original brick walls and scenic balconies overlooking the Yantra River. Family Hotel has staff to assist guests in planning their itineraries to top attractions like Tsarevets Fortress.
How to get from Veliko Tarnovo to Gorna Oryahovitsa Airport?
There are a few ways to get to Gorna Oryahovitsa Airport from Veliko Tarnovo. These are by train, bus and driving. Firstly, take a direct train from Veliko Tarnovo railway station to Gorna Oryahovitsa train station which takes 20-25 minutes. Trains depart several times a day and the train station is right next to the airport terminal building. Secondly, take direct buses from Veliko Tarnovo's main bus station that drop passengers off at Gorna Oryahovitsa's bus station. From there, travelers can take a taxi ride to the airport. The total journey time is 30 minutes by bus. Lastly, drive from Veliko Tarnovo to Gorna Oryahovitsa Airport via route E772. Travelers take this main road the entire way. Parking is available at the airport in both short- and long-stay car parks. Having or renting a car gives the most flexibility. The journey to the airport by driving takes 30 minutes. The most convenient option is to take the direct 20-25-minute train which drops travelers right next to the airport terminal entrance.
How to get from Veliko Tarnovo to Sofia?
There are a few ways to get to Sofia from Veliko Tarnovo. These are by train, bus and driving. Firstly, take regular direct train services between Veliko Tarnovo and Sofia. The journey takes 4-5 hours depending on the train and tickets can be purchased at the train stations. Secondly,
buses run frequently between Veliko Tarnovo and Sofia, with travel times of 3 hours and 15 minutes on average. Popular bus companies operating this route include Union Ivkoni, Grup Plus and Global Biomet. Buses leave the Veliko Tarnovo bus station and arrive at the Sofia Central Bus Station. Lastly, drive through the main E772 road, which connects the two cities directly and from Veliko Tarnovo to Sofia, which takes 3 hours. Having or renting a car allows flexibility in stopping along the way. Parking is available in Sofia city center. Taking a bus to Sofia is the most convenient and popular option for getting between the two cities.
Where to go shopping in Veliko Tarnovo?
There are several great places to go shopping in Veliko Tarnovo. Firstly, Samovodska Charshia is a shopping street and the site of the town's marketplace in the 19th century. Samovodska Charshia combines craft shops, souvenir stalls and traditional Bulgarian restaurants. The street is known for its unique atmosphere and offers a variety of local products, such as handmade crafts, traditional clothing and local delicacies. Visitors can also find souvenirs and gifts to take home, making it a popular tourist destination. Secondly, Piccadilly is a well-known Bulgarian supermarket chain with a branch in Veliko Tarnovo that offers a variety of food and drink essentials. The store is conveniently located and provides a wide selection of products, making it a popular choice for locals and tourists. Lastly, Vino Veritas is a wine shop that offers a selection of local and international wines, wine tastings and tours. The shop is known for its knowledgeable staff and offers a unique experience for wine enthusiasts, allowing visitors to taste and learn about different regional wines.
What festivals or events are taking place in Veliko Tarnovo?
Listed below are the festivals or events that are taking place in Veliko Tarnovo.
- Stara Planina Fest Balkan Folk. The Stara Planina Fest Balkan Folk in Veliko Tarnovo is an authentic Bulgarian folk festival held at the end of April or the beginning of May. This festival attracts participants from all around the country and offers a vibrant display of Bulgarian folk culture, including music, dance and traditional arts. The event occurs in Veliko Tarnovo and allows visitors to experience the region's rich cultural heritage.
- International Folklore Festival. The International Folklore Festival in Veliko Tarnovo is one of the largest in the Balkans, held from the 21st to the 28th of July. This festival features over 120 bands from Bulgaria and various other countries, presenting traditional music, dance and colorful costumes on the Summer Theatre stage in Veliko Marno Pole Park. The event celebrates diverse cultural traditions and attracts many participants and spectators. It is also one of the much-awaited festivals in Veliko Tarnovo.
- Stage of the Ages. The Stage of the Ages in Veliko Tarnovo is an open-air cultural event held at the Tsarevets Fortress during July and August. This event features opera and ballet performances, allowing visitors to experience high-quality artistic performances in a unique setting. The event is held outdoors and offers a memorable experience for locals and tourists.
- Samovodska Night Bazaar. The Samovodska Night Bazaar in Veliko Tarnovo is a traditional event held in September, typically in the famous street of crafts. This three-day festival combines past and present, offering a unique blend of traditional crafts, music and local cuisine. The event creates a festive atmosphere and is an excellent opportunity for visitors to experience the local culture and traditions.
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