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Better Moments Bulgaria - Small Group Guided Tours

Veliko Tarnovo

Велико Търново in Bulgarian

A town (population ca. 89.000) in North central Bulgaria and often referred as the “City of the Tsars” and of course famously known as the historical capital of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom, attracting many tourists with its unique architecture. The old part of the town is situated on three hills, Tsarevets, Trapezitsa, and Sveta Gora, rising amidst the meanders of the Yantra river. This town has the most glorious history of any town in Bulgaria and is the symbol of Bulgarian state hood.


Veliko Tarnovo is one of the oldest settlements in Bulgaria, with a history of more than eight millennia. The first traces of human presence, dating from the 6th millennium BC, were discovered on Trapezitsa Hill. Veliko Tarnovo has a lot of history, you feel it around you when you walk through the old city. A visit to Tsarevets fortress is almost a must. This fortress is on top of the hill with the same name. You can visit the fortress daily between 09.00 and 18.00 hour. In the summer there are several cultural festivals inside the fortress, with opera, music, dancing etc.


The old part of the town has a cosy small shopping street. The street with the name Gurko Street is well known for his small shops, restaurants and bars. The main shopping street is Stefan Stambolov with many international shops. Visit one of the many museums, churches, galleries. It’s too many to visit them all! A walk to the monument of the Asen Dynasty will bring you over the old iron bridge with the name Stambolov Bridge which was built during the same period as the Eiffel Tower. Standing on the bridge (closed for car traffic etc.) you will see the Asen Monument, the state of art Gallery Boris Denev and the old communist hotel Interhotel Veliko Tarnovo. This hotel is a big reminder form the communistic period of Bulgaria.


In the surroundings of Veliko Tarnovo is much to see and to explore. When you like to visit monastery’s, this is probably one of the best areas in Bulgaria. Dryanovo Monastery is nice to visit, but we thought it looked a bit touristic. Sokolski Monastery is fantastic to visit, very peaceful and specially the chapel is unique. The garden is full of roses. Preobrazhenski Monastery (Transfiguration Monastery) is a must visit place, it’s not big, hidden in the mountains and with a part of the monastery totally overgrown with plants and trees. A climb in the tower with nice view should not be forgotten. Lyaskovets Monastery is built on top of a hill with great views.


Many small towns, and sights, around Veliko Tarnovo are worth to visit. Drjanova, Bozencite, Gabrovo, Trjavna, Elena. The Emen Eco trail hike, the Kaya Bunar waterfall close to Hotnistsa and Etnho Village Etar, the ethnographic open-air museum a little south of Gabrovo. This is the only ethnographic open-air museum in Bulgaria, with the crafts man trade street that offers 16 models of the Balkan architecture, showing the original talent of revival builders. The museum is open all year around from 09.00 – 17.00 hour (in summer until 19.00 hour).


A fantastic day trip is the Shipka Pass (1190 meter above sea level). The Shipka Pass is located 13km North of the town Shipka (South of Gabrovo). The drive to the pass is amazing with fantastic view, specially the last part when you get closer to the monument. On top of the Shipka Pass you will find a monument, a brick tower from almost 32 meters high. Entrance of the tower costs a few BGL and is more than worth to visit. Inside is a museum explaining what happened on the Shipka Pass during the war in 1877 and 1878 between the Russians (and Bulgarian volunteers) and the Ottoman Empire (Turkish army). A view from the top of the tower is your treat…..


Veliko Tarnovo has a humid continental climate. This means cold snowy winters and warm humid summers. Average temperature in the winter is around -4c and average summer temperatures are around 30c. 

What to do and see

Old town of Veliko Tarnovo

It’s a very nice and cozy old part of the town to have a walk. Many small shops look around, and restaurants for a lunch or dinner. The Gurko street is the most touristic street. Take your time to walk around, you will find many interesting buildings, statues, monuments, churches, and small narrow streets. Leave your car at your hotel, parking is a big problem close and in the old town.


Tsarevets Fortress

The most popular touristic attraction in Veliko Tarnovo. It is amedieval stronghold located on a hill with the same name. Tsarevets is 206 metres (676 ft) above sea level. It served as the Second Bulgarian Empire’s primary fortress and strongest bulwark between 1185 and 1393, housing the royal and the patriarchal palaces, and it is also a popular tourist attraction.It’s open daily from 09.00 until 18.00 hour. You can buy tickets close to entrance (sign “tickets”) or at the tourist information. It’s normally ca. 10-15 minutes walking from the old town to Tsarevets. Most of the hotels are also on walking distance, as explained before, leave your car at hotel parking as parking around the Tsarevets Fortress is difficult.  Don’t forget to ask for festivals etc. Specially during the summertime there are many.


Sokolski Monastery and Preobrazhenski Monastery (Transfiguration Monastery)

We couldn’t choose between them, so that’s why we have them both in the list. Two totally different monasteries and both more than worth to visit. 


Shipka Pass

To make a nice day trip or visit it when you are leaving Veliko Tarnovo when you travel to the south. The road with the many curves (very good road) driving true the forests and ending up on almost 1200 meters above sea level. Beautiful views on the way, and nice spot to make some very nice pictures. Just before the monument there is also a small monument on the side of the road with some old canons. The tower and museum is absolutely worth to visit and to understand what happened during the war from 1877 and 1878 between the Russians and the Ottoman Empire.


Etnho Village Etar

The ethnographic open-air museum a little south of Gabrovo. This is the only ethnographic open-air museum in Bulgaria. Almost one hundred buildings from “the past” close to each other in a village. Daily open from 09.00 – 17.00 hour (summertime 09.00 – 19.00 hour). Entrance is 6 BGL per person.

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