We were planning to hitchhike from Bucharest to Sofia but decided that 350km is a bit too ambitious for a day. After a couple stressful experiences being stuck somewhere as the night falls and simply wanting to take it easy we decided to stop by Veliko Tarnovo for a night on our way to the capital. I have never heard of this city before and it completely blew me away when we got there. Here are a few reasons why you should absolutely visit Veliko Tarnovo, in Bulgaria.
1. The view
I did not expect the city to be located on such beautiful mountains and was blown away! From pretty much any place in the city you can see the valley surrounding it. I have tried taking pictures to capture the view but nothing really compares to being there. If you are a fan of nature and hiking, be sure to stay an extra day to go on a hike in the Bulgarian wilderness.
2. The street art
How amazing is it city with a population of under 70 000 people to have street art and graffiti everywhere!? While admittedly made by the same few artists, it’s nice seeing an old town with a rich history that doesn’t stop evolving and reinventing itself. I’m a big fan of everything related to street art so I obviously took a crazy amount of pictures, here are some of my favorites:
3. The fortress
Being ignorant of Bulgarian history, I found out there that the city used to be the capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire which is why the architecture was so amazing and they built an incredible fortress called Tsarevets. It’s a little hike from the town, but very manageable. I think it took us about 20 minutes to get to the top. However, it can get very hot during the summer so plan ahead to avoid going at noon and take some water with you. It’s a great place for photos and admiring the view. On top of that (literally), there is a very charming cathedral with the most unique murals I’ve ever seen. The modernist murals vaguely remind me of Picasso – not something you see in a cathedral every day. I have to mention that access to the fortress is not free. The 6 leva that is costs to get in are absolutely worth it.
4. The crazy streets
Simply walking around the small city is delightful in its own right. Wear good shoes because the streets can get very steep, but that’s all part of the city’s charm. Gurko street is known for the steep and winding walk that gives you a great view on the valley.
5. The people
You can visit everything on the “tourist checklist” in a day. Even in a couple of hours actually: we did not even spend 24 hours there and still managed to see so many things! However, as with any city there is a hidden side you’ll only see if you spend more time there and Veliko Tarnovo is a great place to set up camp for a little while to relax when you’re a bit tired of moving around constantly. We were couchsurfing there and our host’s father did not speak a single word in English. However, he did everything in his power to make us feel welcome in his home! He even gave us some dried figs from their garden to eat on the road: he said we won’t let us go hitchhiking hungy 🙂
What’s your favorite underrated city in the world?