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  • Writer's pictureKrista the Explorer

Alternative Guide To Spending 1 Week in Bulgaria

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If you’ve never considered visiting Bulgaria before - why not? There’s a lot to discover in Bulgaria including beautiful traditional towns, seaside resorts, incredible historic ruins and landmarks, breathtaking mountains and national parks, and the country isn’t short of unique places to visit either. Having spent a week in central Bulgaria I was able to get off the beaten path and drive to some fascinating attractions that aren’t along the usual tourist route and that I wasn’t able to visit during my previous trip to Bulgaria.


For first time visitors to Bulgaria I would highly recommend spending at least 2 days in Sofia and a day in Plovdiv because there’s a lot to see in each of these cities. The area in and around the Central Balkan National Park is incredible to drive around though and whether you like hiking or want to visit some of Bulgaria’s most unique attractions you’ll have a lot of options in this area. Here’s my alternative guide to spending 1 week in Bulgaria - you can thank me later.


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Renting a Car in Bulgaria

The first time I drove in Bulgaria was a little daunting but I was fully prepared for the crazy drivers the second time around. For this Bulgaria road trip I rented a fully automatic Peugeot 208 from Top Rent A Car who are the top rated car rental company in Bulgaria. The pickup process from the airport was very straightforward and it took no more than 15 minutes for me to be handed over the keys in the parking garage. Drop off was very quick as well and they released the deposit on my card immediately.


The Peugeot 208 was a beautiful car to drive. The car was brand new and in pristine condition inside too. There was plenty of room in the backseats as well as the trunk for all of my bags and CarPlay was available on the screen which was very useful. What I loved most about the car was the sleek modern design inside and the comfort of the driver’s seat - even on badly paved roads the car was comfortable to drive. I had the car rental insurance included with my booking so there was nothing to worry about except where to drive next!


Unique Places To Visit in Central Bulgaria

The best time to visit Bulgaria depends on your weather preference. When we last visited Bulgaria in the autumn most of the days were rainy so we couldn’t appreciate the beauty of the rural parts of the country as much as we would have liked. This time I visited in June though and the weather was near perfect and not too hot either. Here are some unique places to visit in Central Bulgaria to add to your itinerary.


Bozhentsi

Traditional Bulgarian village with stone rooftops and a well in the square.
Bozhentsi

One of the most beautiful places to visit in Bulgaria where you can admire some traditional architecture is Bozhentsi. This architectural reserve is surrounded by mountains and is rumoured to have been founded in 1393 by a noblewoman who the town is named after but evidence suggests it was actually founded in the 16th century by residents fleeing the Ottoman Turks who had taken control of Veliko Tarnovo - the country’s former capital.


There are a number of interesting buildings to look at here and parking is available outside of the town centre. It does say it’s paid parking but when I visited there was no one there and the ticket machine didn’t work. I would recommend spending an hour here before moving on to another nearby small town in Bulgaria.


Selishte

Forested mountain view on sunny day in Bulgaria.
View on a hike around Selishte

My accommodation during my 1 week in Bulgaria was at Karashka House (see more below) which is located in the very small rural town of Selishte. The town itself consists of only 10 houses but it’s a very popular area with locals who enjoy hiking. There’s a beautiful trail leading from Karashka House where you’ll pass by a few traditional Bulgarian houses as well as the remains of other buildings. You’ll also get incredible mountain views and may see some wildlife along the way. If you intend on backpacking in Bulgaria this is a great area to visit!


Tryavna

Stone bridge crossing a river in Tryavna village in Bulgaria.
Tryavna

Nestled right in the heart of central Bulgaria is the town of Tryavna. It’s a popular place to visit in Bulgaria among locals but not too many people outside of Bulgaria know about it - which is what makes it so unique! I didn’t spend a lot of time in Tryavna but I did walk through the main square of the old town and see some of the main attractions of Tryavna which include the clock tower, the old bridge, and the street of crafts.


Krushuna Falls

Small cascading waterfall in a forested area in Bulgaria.
Krushuna Falls

There are quite a few waterfalls in Bulgaria to visit and many have parking lots nearby so there’s not a lot of walking involved. Krushuna Falls is located in a rural setting in central Bulgaria and is easily accessible by a walking trail that also leads to other parts of the forested area. There are several sections of the falls to look at with the highest being over 60 feet tall. This is a fairly off the beaten path place to visit in Bulgaria so it won’t be overrun with tourists but it does get busier in the summer months and on weekends.


There’s a small entrance fee (cash only) but parking is free and you’ll be given a map of the park too. I walked along all of the trails here and unless you have a lot of time on your hands I wouldn’t recommend going further afield than Krushuna Falls since there isn’t much else to see.


Troyan Monastery

An old stone monastery with living quarters in Bulgaria.
Troyan Monastery

Troyan Monastery is one of the top places to visit in Bulgaria and is the third largest monastery in the country. It’s located outside of the town of Troyan, where you can purchase some beautiful handmade Troyan pottery, and is completely free to enter. The monastery itself is still active and was founded in the 16th century, although there are signs of religious life dating back to the 14th century. There’s parking available on site which you’re supposed to pay for but both of the times I’ve been no one has asked me to pay. Arrive as early as possible to avoid the crowds!


Shipka Monument

Aerial view of a tall monument in Bulgaria with lion on the front.
Shipka Monument

Bulgaria certainly isn’t short on impressive monuments and central Bulgaria is home to some of the biggest around. Shipka Monument is a popular tourist attraction in Bulgaria that sits at the top of the Shipka Pass. It’s also referred to as the Monument of Freedom and was built to commemorate the fallen Bulgarian and Russian soldiers who fought in the battles of 1877 against the Ottomans.


There’s a small entry fee of 3 BGN to enter the monument where you can find a small museum and climb up to the top of the tower for panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. Arrive as early as possible to Shipka Monument to avoid the tour buses that stop here with large crowds of tourists.


Buzludzha Monument

Large communist monument in the shape of a spaceship.
Buzludzha Monument

One of the most unique places to visit in Bulgaria, and a personal favourite of mine, is the Buzludzha Monument. Once you’ve visited the Shipka Monument you can continue down one of the mountain roads until you reach a dead end at the summit - that’s where you’ll see this giant spaceship. The Buzludzha Monument once served as the seat of the Bulgarian Socialist Party and was built on the site of a battle that took place in 1868 between Bulgarian revolutionaries and the Ottomans. The site is no longer in use, and going inside the monument is prohibited, but you can still walk around the outside and admire the views as well.


If you’re spending 1 week in Bulgaria this definitely needs to be on your list. The first time we drove here it was about to snow so when we made it to the top we could hardly see the outline of the building through the clouds which was eerie. Make sure you visit the Buzludzha Monument when the weather is nice or you’ll be disappointed.


Arch of Freedom

Giant arch monument with people carved into it on a hill.
Arch of Freedom

Those of you visiting Bulgaria for the first time may want to consider driving along the Troyan Pass which cuts through the Central Balkan National Park. It’s a beautiful drive and there are some fantastic viewpoints along the way. Towards the top of the pass is the enormous Arch of Freedom which is dedicated to the Bulgarian and Russian soldiers who fought for the country’s freedom. There’s a narrow road leading up to the monument or you can park below the hill and walk up the trail.


Hotnitsa Waterfall

Small waterfall in a forest at the end of a wooden boardwalk.
Hotnitsa Waterfall

Hotnitsa Waterfall may not be the most beautiful waterfall in Bulgaria to visit but it’s very easy to access and is actually one of the most photographed waterfalls in the country. It’s located only 20km from Veliko Tarnovo and is the starting point for a unique eco-trail. The area around the waterfall is a bit more touristy than Krushuna Falls and you can park less than 5 minutes from it so if you’re in a rush you can easily add Hotnitsa Waterfall to your central Bulgaria itinerary.


Koprivshtitsa

Different coloured buildings in a small square in Bulgaria.
Koprivshtitsa

One of the most beautiful places in Bulgaria is the town of Koprivshtitsa. It was founded around the 14th century but most of the buildings today date from the 19th and 20th century and are beautifully painted in various colours which is what attracts thousands of tourists to this town every year. There are a lot of important attractions to visit in Koprivshtitsa and it’s a popular option for a day trip from Sofia or Plovdiv.


Singing Rocks

Hiking trail leading up to rock formation in the mountains in Bulgaria.
Singing Rocks

Visiting Bulgaria in the summer is the perfect time to hit up the hiking trails. I did a few hikes during my trip to central Bulgaria but my favourite one by far was to the Singing Rocks. Luckily the owner of Karashka House was kind enough to drive me as far as possible up the mountain otherwise it would have been a full day hiking up and down the trail. The road isn’t accessible to everyone so most people will need to hike to the top. Where the road ends is where you’ll find a hut that offers hikers accommodation as well as breakfast for early risers like me!


From the hut the hike took us under 90 minutes and along the way we saw some mountain goats and a lot of deer in the distance. This was a sunrise hike which is the best time to see wildlife so stay alert! The view from the top of the Singing Rocks is spectacular and the trail isn’t too difficult to follow either. It’s one of the best hikes in Bulgaria and if you enjoy being surrounded by nature then you’ll love this route.


Where To Stay For 1 Week in Bulgaria

Karashka House

This was my second time visiting central Bulgaria and my second stay at Karashka House. This beautiful self-catering guesthouse is located in the rural town of Selishte, right in the heart of the mountains. The house itself was originally built in 1921 and it's now been lovingly restored using traditional methods and natural materials. The stone roof is a highlight of the building which takes a painstaking amount of work to construct by hand and is reminiscent of 19th century buildings in the area.


The main building can sleep up to 5 people upstairs, which is where you’ll find the shower and toilet, and on the ground floor is the kitchen, dining, and living room as well as a fireplace. The style inside the house is very traditional and perfectly matches the outside. There’s even a fully stocked spice drawer as well as a hidden compartment where you can purchase locally made drinks and preserves. The latest addition to Karashka House is the studio located under the shed which can sleep 2 extra people if needed and features a lovely open plan living space with a surround sound speaker system.


The house itself is stunning but you should also take some time to enjoy sitting outside if the weather is nice. From the entrance to the house you’ll have an incredible view of the mountains and you can join one of the nearby hiking trails behind the house as well if that interests you. There’s plenty of free parking space available too and the owner is just a text away if you need him. You won’t find a better rural retreat in Bulgaria with access to so many interesting places than Karashka House.


>> Click here for the most up to date prices at Karashka House <<


If you’re looking for an alternative way to spend 1 week in Bulgaria there it is! There are a number of places to visit in Sofia, and cities such as Plovdiv are also worth visiting, but sometimes it’s nice to get away from tourist areas and explore off the beaten path locations too. Central Bulgaria has a lot to offer visitors, even if you don’t intend to go hiking, so the next time you find yourself planning a trip to Bulgaria I’d highly recommend coming to this lesser known region of the country.


If you have any questions about how to spend 1 week in Bulgaria, are wondering where to visit in Bulgaria, or want to know some must see places in Bulgaria please get in touch with me via email or on Instagram and I’ll do my best to help or point you in the right direction.


 

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