This spring, I made it my mission to see as much of Bulgaria as I possibly can. Over spring break, I was fortunate to have my bestie from the UK join me in Bulgaria for several days. As she had only visited Sofia before, we decided to stay in Plovdiv for a few days and then head to Veliko Tarnovo (Велико Търново) for a couple days. As we only had 48hr in Veliko Tarnovo, we opted to make the most of our time and see as much as possible!
Wondering what to do in Veliko Tarnovo? There is a lot to see and do, but you can cover the highlights in 48hr or a long weekend. I’ve put together a great list of things to do in Veliko Tarnovo and am happy to share it with you!
What to do in Veliko Tarnovo
Assen Monument and Boris Denev Art Gallery
We were fortunate enough to have an Air BnB that looked out over Assen Monument and the Boris Denev Art Gallery. We didn’t have time to go in the art gallery, due to the holiday hours, but we took a bit of time to walk around the grounds. If you are making a battle plan to hit all of the highlights, I would start or end your walk here (depending on the location of your hotel).
Samovodska Charshia (Самоводска чаршия)
This little street, also known as Old Town, in Veliko Tarnovo is packed with souvenir shops and traditional craft shops. One of my favorites was a woodcarving and crafts shop where I picked up a Kukeri to hang on my wall. You can easily spend an hour or so shopping and soaking in the old-world feel of this charming street.
General Gurko Street (Улица Гурко)
Ulitsa General Gurko is a wonderful street to walk along and check out the restaurants, the views, and the traditional Bulgarian houses. This is a prime spot to take some gorgeous photos and spend a little time meandering to (or from) Tsarevets Fortress.
Tsarevets Fortress (Царевец)
I recommend you start or end your day here, as it is on the other side of the Yantra River. This medieval fortress is absolutely stunning and much bigger than you’d imagine. Tsarevets was primarily used from 1185 to 1393, during the Second Bulgarian Empire, is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Bulgaria. It will take you a couple hours to meander around the grounds and soak up the gorgeous views of Veliko Tarnovo and the countryside.
Additional things to do in Veliko Tarnovo
Find yourself with some extra time? Definitely check out Trapezitsa, Nativity of Virgin Mary Cathedral, and the Holy Forty Martyrs Church.
Veliko Tarnovo Restaurants
Restaurant Shtastliveca (Ресторанти Щастливеца)
This was BY FAR our favorite restaurant in Veliko Tarnovo. We liked it so much we ate there 3 times in 48hr! There are only a couple of these restaurants in Bulgaria, and they are truly something special. You’ll spend a bit more $$ here, but it is absolutely worth it. They serve primarily upscale Bulgarian fare and a few international dishes as well. Go to this restaurant….just go!
Ego Pizza & Grill
This is the first place we ate at in Veliko Tarnovo and it wasn’t too shabby! They have a few locations around town and the vibe is much more relaxed than Shtastliveca. They serve some traditional Bulgarian food and plenty of pizzas and pasta to go around!
This is a VERY popular place for lunch and dessert. Unfortunately, our experience there for lunch was not very good at all. If you choose to hit up this local hotspot, I’d recommend going for dessert only. I’m happy to fully admit that we visited Veliko Tarnovo in the offseason, so this restaurant might not have been at its best, but we were disappointed, to say the least.
Where to Stay in Veliko Tarnovo
There are a number of hotels in Veliko Tarnovo, and quite a few guesthouses too, but these come highly rated by guests: Boutique Hotel Tsarevets, Hotel Studio, and Hostel Stambolov. I stayed at this charming Air BnB, that came with some stunning views!
Veliko Tarnovo was one of my favorite places in Bulgaria and I highly recommend you to include it on your Bulgaria itinerary – you won’t be disappointed!
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