ORIANE GIROS • 2021-2022
IN COLLABORATION WITH
To travelers Enjoy every minute you are on the road
Things you need to know before coming
3 Interesting Cultural facts National Holidays Food & shopping Activities in Varna
Before travelling in Varna and around
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How to use Varna Traffic
How to use BDZ - The train company How to rent a car
How to use taxi in Varna
How to take a bus to another city
Destinations around Varna Beloslav Provadia Balchik Dobrich North Coast Journey Nesebar
Destinations futher away from Varna
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Shumen Burgas Ruse
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Veliko Tarnovo Kazanlak
Travel with us via Tik Tok
Introduction Here you are in Bulgaria! Welcome to this journey that will bring you a lot of joy and a rich experience! This book will accompany you during all your travels through the country and will help you to experience the most peaceful trip with the least possible inconveniences... But let's be fair - what would be traveling without those little moments of getting lost? As a traveler who volunteered in Bulgaria under the European Solidarity Corps, I had the feeling that this book could be helpful for a lot of people who want to discover the country. During my stay here, I found out by myself some cultural differences or some tips that I wish I had known earlier. So I made the job easier for you! Since I was living in Varna, the book focused on the journeys departing from Varna and around the city. There will be explanations about the city transports that will help you understand it faster. Also, there will be information on how to access places around Varna, what to see, etc. All the pictures were produced by me, so what you see is authentic. As a disclaimer, I would say that this book is based on my experience and my experience only. I want to say a big THANK YOU to my colleagues and European Solidarity Corps for giving me this opportunity to create my project, To my coordinator Elina Raynova, To my favorite colleague- and supervisor- Dilyana Koycheva And to everyone else who participated in the making of this project. Thank you for the support! To you, I am wishing you the best time in this beautiful country. You will be able to discover so many beautiful places that are worth your time. Oriane Giros 2022 5
Want to find more information about Varna? You can visit the website Visit Varna
Things you need to know before coming Before coming to Bulgaria some tips are good to know to make your travel easier and to not have a bad surprise that can be stressful!
Cultural interesting facts Here are 3 cultural facts you should know: Nodding Pretty sure you already heard about it, but nodding your head’s meanings are different here than in western European countries. Thus no means yes and yes means no! Confusing right! So don’t be surprised if while you head no to the cashier for a bag, he/she will ask you to repeat or give you the bag! Cats are everywhere In Bulgaria, you will meet a lot of stray dogs and cats in the streets. My tips will be to not pet them just to be sure. Some of them can have ticks (Especially dogs in small towns, mountains,...). In any case, don’t be afraid of those animals. They are really nice and calm. Sometimes they will run to you, bark at you, but they won’t hurt you. Behaviors Depending on where you come from it is possible that you find Bulgarian people a bit... Harsh. In Bulgaria, the level of English is really good in big cities such as Varna and Sofia but in the smaller cities, most of the people don’t speak English. In this case, it's possible that the person in front of you gets irritated. As frustrating as it can get at some point you'll find a way to make yourself understood. It's also possible that while trying to contact companies such as Taxi, Bus, Tourism center,... people won't speak English (or be bad at it). Even if you try to communicate it' possible that the person will hang up 7
or act like they don’t hear you. Again, don’t panic! Try multiple times to call back and if they still don’t want to talk to you, try to find someone who will agree to call for you (your hotel, your colleagues, friends,...). You will also be amazed by the behavior of certain people that will try their best to help you even if they don’t understand! And their kindness will mean more than the behaviors of any bad person you may encounter.
Three important National Holidays in Bulgaria: 1srt of March: Baba Marta Day The 3rd of March is also the day to celebrate Baba Marta (Grandma March)! This lady is supposed to be upset with her two brothers January and February. That’s why the sun only comes back when she smiles. To celebrate her presence, Bulgarians wear a red and white bracelet called Martenitza. The tradition is to take off the bracelet and put it on а tree next to you when you see a stork. 3rd of March: Liberation Day This holiday honors the Bulgarian soldiers from the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878. The date of March 3rd marks the date of the signing of the peace Treaty of San Stefano in 1878. Easter in May Easter is the principal festival of the Orthodox Church. The tradition revolves around eggs. Bulgarians paint eggs in a very creative way. Оne egg has to be painted only in red to represent the blood of Christ. This egg will be put on top of the others and will be kept for one year until next Easter. The Christian tradition of the egg is said to represent rebirth and resurrection. The tradition ends in an eggs fight. Two people crash the top and the bottom of their boiled eggs together. In the end, the one whose egg didn’t break wins one year of good luck.
Tips: During National Holidays, Museums are free in Bulgaria! 8
Food and shopping It is important that you always have cash on you! Most of the shops, restaurants, and bars don’t accept payment by card. And if you are worried about thieves, they are really rare! Also in restaurants and bars, you can’t split the bill. You need to organize your money with your friends. At the restaurant, you will be surprised to see that not all plates arrive at the same time! When something is ready, they will give it to you. That’s how sometimes if you order a starter, a main dish and a dessert you can have all of them at the same moment. If you go to the toilets while shopping, or at a restaurant, you will notice trash. In Bulgaria, you don’t throw the toilet paper in the toilet bowl, you throw it in the trash. Indeed, the system can cope with toilet paper. But what about food now??? The best part is coming! In Bulgaria, you have many traditional foods and drinks! Here are 3 examples: Banitsa This pastry can be found in every bakery in Bulgaria. Banitsa is very commonly eaten during breakfast. You can combine it with the thick fermented wheat drink boza for a full Bulgarian experience…. Be careful though, the taste of this drink can be… surprising! Where to find the best one in Varna? In my opinion, one of the best ones I tasted was in Master Baker Varna - ul. "Kapitan Petko voyvoda" 16, 9000 Varna Center, Varna Rakia When you come to the Balkan, you need to try the Rakia at least once! As the Bulgarians say, it will cure any diseases! Tarator If you come in summer and you wanna have the most refreshing meal try the tarator! Instead of ordering it at a restaurant, why not try to make this one at home? Scan the QR Code to see the recipe! But don’t forget to try also Musaka, Ayran (drink), Shopka Salad, Kebapche, Boza (drink),... 9
Activities in Varna Many activities are possible to discover in Varna! Beach sports, climbing, crafts,... Many opportunities are available. Here is a list of activities I tried and enjoyed here: Pole dance/ Fitness/ Stretching Pro Sport: From stretching to Yoga, Zumba, Gym, or also Pole dance - many possibilities are offered to you. The price is very affordable and you will meet wonderful trainers like Tanya and Georgi! Where: 1 Boulevard Hristo Botev, Varna Price: Between 5 leva and 10 leva depending on the class you take Do they speak English: Yes How to contact them: You send a message via the Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Fitness-Trainer/Pro-Sport776466152401389/ Bulgarian Dance Want to learn more about Bulgarian culture? Why don’t you try to learn the folklore dance? Very fun but very sportive, be prepared to discover that your cardio is maybe not that good! Where: ul. "Solun" 2, 9000 Varna Center, Varna (Between the café and the fitness gym) Price: 5 leva Do they speak English: A little How to contact them: The best way is to go directly to the center. Fly Yoga Заедно is an organization that proposes different kinds of relaxing sports. You will be able to discover different Yoga practices and maybe find the most convenient one for you. Personally, I tried Fly Yoga there. A way to relax, meditate and stretch while using a hammock. Where: ul. “Knyaginya Mariya Louiza” 8, floor 3, Varna Price: 20 leva Do they speak English: Yes How to contact them: It's best to contact them by phone - 087 953 0971. 10
Before traveling in Varna and around It can be hard sometimes to understand how transports work in a new city. Here are some tips to try to make it all easier for you.
How to use Varna Traffic Varna traffic is an app for the public transportation in Varna. You can still use Google maps to help you to know on the moment. Nevertheless, if you want to plan your trip, or if Google maps doesn't find your destination, here is how to use the website: This is the main entrance from your smartphone
Click here to change the language
After selecting the language you will arrive here
If you click on "Line", you will arrive on this page. It helps you to know the bus stops for every line, when is your bus coming, where it is,.... Click here to change the bus line you want to see
Click here to change the direction of the bus
Here you can follow your bus, to know where it is
This time shows when the next bus is arriving
If you click on the name of a bus stop, you will arrive on his page. For example, if you click on DOM MLADOST
Here are all the bus passing by this stop and their schedule
Click here to see where is the bus stop on the map
If you click on "Schedule", you will arrive on this page. It helps you to know the schedule for a certain bus for the day.
Click here to change the direction of the bus
Click here to change the bus line you want to see
If you click on the bus stop you are interested in, it will highlight the line in yellow
If you click on the name of a bus stop, you will arrive on the same page as before 13
If you click on "Journey Planner", you will arrive on this page. It helps you to find which bus to take, at what time, where to stop ... It will be your life saver when Google doesn't know!
A: is the destination you come from
Click here, so that the website locate you
B: is where you wanna go
If you don't know the adress of where you wanna go but know where it is: You can check on the map and click on the location, it will ask you if it is the beginning or the end of your journey
And here is your itinerary. How to read it? You should take the n°41 at Dimcho Debelyanov (the one which goes to Opso). You have 4 stops before getting off the bus at Avtogara. You can click on the map to visualize the itinerary.
How to use BDZ - The train company BDZ is the train company of Bulgaria. Taking the train in Bulgaria is not that usual, people tend to prefer to take bus (which is more comfortable or fastest) or airplane (way faster). Trains in Bulgaria are quite slow, but it's a nice experience that I would recommend! And if you don't want to travel during the day, you can still take the night train! This is the home page from your smartphone Click here to change the language
Here you can select, the city you're departing from, where you want to go, when and at what time
If you click on search, you will land on this page, you will then be able to see all the available train and the schedule
If you click on "Buy Online" you will arrive here. The website will ask you the same question about the destination, the date,... Click here, to change in English
After clicking on search you will arrive here
Click on the train you are interested in (it will highlight in blue) and then click on "Next"
After clicking on "Next" you will have to connect (or create an account), you will then complete your data, check everything, and pay.
How to rent a car In Varna, you will find many options to rent a car! The best is to choose depending on the price during this period (comparate before choosing one of the companies.) and the car you want to drive. Most of the companies are located at the airport. Tips: You can find "Top rent a car" next to the University of Economy in Varna. The company is very serious and professional! Also, keep in mind that renting a car is profitable if you are several people. Here are some pieces of advice to know before renting your car: While renting on a website, you need to know that you will have to pay for some extra when you get the car. For example, if you return the car after 20 pm, you will have to pay an extra. The renting company may offer you insurance. I will recommend taking it in case anything happens. Don’t forget that you need to have also money in your bank account to provide the deposit, which is usually around 200€.
How to use taxi in Varna? Taxis in Varna are very not expensive! Going back from the airport to the cathedral will cost you around 11 leva. You need to know that if you catch a taxi at the cathedral, some taximen will try to make you pay a higher price. The best options are to use and contact only those two brands: Triumf Taxi- With this company, you won’t have any problem. You can call a taxi at this number (the person on the phone speaks English) 0879 644 444 or you can also order a taxi directly on their website https://triumftaxi.com/en/ (If the website doesn’t find any taxi available try to call). You can only pay by cash and be careful - most of the drivers don’t speak English. Hippo Taxi- This second brand is also very trustworthy. You can call a taxi at 052 344 444, order on their website https://hippotaxi.bg/orderonline/#pll_switcher or order via their messenger chat. With this company, you can pay by cash or card. To be sure that a taximan is not gouging you out, check if they put the counter on. 18
How to take a bus to another city? From Varna, you have the possibility to go to a lot of different places: from a big city like Sofia to a small town like Dobrich, the choice is yours. To take one of those buses, you need to go to the station, which is next to Grand Mall (Now that you know how to use Varna traffic, I let you find the best option to go there). Arriving at the station, you need to get to the counter to buy your ticket. Above the counter, you will find a list of all the destinations and the schedule. Nevertheless, you can organize your trip in advance by checking the schedule online: https://autogaravn.com/ The site is available in English and very easy to use. Unfortunately, you can not buy your ticket directly from the website. When you get your ticket check your platform and go to this one.
Tips: Most of the people there don’t speak English. Go look at the end of this book to know how to ask for a ticket. Moreover, you can’t buy your ticket to come back here! It’s only a oneway ticket. So you need to find by yourself first the schedule of the buses to come back to Varna. You can find that information on the internet - on the website of the city or on the website of the bus station of the city you are going to. Sometimes you can buy your ticket directly from the bus driver. You always need to have cash! You can not buy tickets by card even at the station.
Destinations around Varna
Now it's time to travel! It's time to discover Bulgaria together! Let's first discover sights close to Varna:
Stone Forest The natural phenomenon “Stone Forest” is better known by its Bulgarian name “Pobiti Kamani” which could be translated as “stones beaten into the ground”. This impressive area is full of history and is also known as one of the only deserts of Europe. How to get there? By bus with the line 43 - bus stop "Razklon Banovo". You can also rent a car or go by taxi Tips: Be careful - by taxi it shouldn't cost you more than 20 leva from the Cathedral.
Aladzha Monastery This beautiful rock monastery is the most famous medieval cave monastery on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. It was inhabited by hermit monks during the XIII- XIV centuries. How to get there? By bus line 29 to the bus stop Aladzha Monastery or bus line 9 to bus stop Chaika. You can also rent a car or go by taxi Tips: Be careful - By taxi it shouldn't cost you more than 12 leva from the Cathedral. 21
Discover more Saint Constantine and Helena Time to finally relax! In Saint Constantine and Helena, you will find many spa and resort hotels only for you to relax and enjoy a calming moment for a very cheap price. How to get there? By bus with the line 409, 9, 109 - bus stop "Balkan", 31,31A - bus stop "Letovicht". You can also rent a car or go by taxi Tips: Be careful - by taxi it should't cost you more than 12 leva from the Cathedral. For the spa, Aquahouse is the one we used to go the most.
Devnya Dvenya is nowadays, a little industrial town. When you arrive in Devnya you may be surprised by the difference between the city of Varna and this town. Nevertheless, Devnya is full of undiscovered history. You will find there the museum of mosaics. The story behind it is quite impressive
How to get there? By train, it's only 40 min. You can also rent a car. Tips: From the train station, the road to get to the center is a bit destroyed so be careful. Also, there is an amphitheater to see in the city. But it has not been dug out yet. You can only see the top of it.
Beloslav A little bit of History: This small industrial town will surprise you by its history! The first settlers inhabited a cave near the town, where 12,000-year-old items were found.
How to go there: From Varna, you have many ways to go to Beloslav: You can rent a car. It will take you 24 min to go there. You can go by train also. It will take you 18min to go there. You can go by bus. In that case, it will take you 30min to reach the city.
Overall Tips: One day is enough to go and to explore the city. If you have the time to visit the city don't hesitate to do it! But if you want to climb some hills, some of them don't have a trail to access to it- so be careful! And if you feel adventurous, you can visit some caves around the city.
3 things to see: The Glass Museum: Beloslav is an old centre of artistic glassblowing and fireproof glassmaking. The museum is a fun way to discover the different glass technics. The submarine Museum "Slava": Slava submarine was manufactured in the former USSR and started operating on September the 27th 1959. It became a part of the Bulgarian Navy in 1985. Tips: The two museums are next one to another. Attention! Check the working hours of the museum before coming. Most of the days it's only open during the morning. Beloslav Ferry: If you take the train, you will need to take the ferry to have access to the main part of the city. A fun and free way to enjoy some time discovering Varna's lake. 23
Provadia A little bit of History: During the Middle Ages, the town was a key center of the First Bulgarian Empire. This small city is full of history and perfect for an enjoyable walk.
How to go there: From Varna, you have many ways to go to Dobrich: You can rent a car. It will take you 45 min to go there. You can go by bus. It will take you 1h00 to reach the city.
Overall Tips: One day is enough to visit this city. If you come by train, don't follow Google to access the fortress. There is a way easier entrance, you need to take the metal spiral stairs. To make it easier from the station search for the Ovech Complex Restaurant. This restaurant is next to the entrance to access the stairs.
Things to see: Ovech Fortress: The fortress was inhabited successively by Thracians, Romans, Byzantines, Bulgarians, and Turks. From the fortress, you will discover a beautiful view of all the city and of the gorge.
Balchik A little bit of History: The town was established 26 centuries ago by Greek settlers named Krunes. Nowadays, Balchik is a seaside resort full of history.
How to go there: From Varna, you have many ways to go to Baltchik: You can rent a car. It will take you 45 min to go there. You can go by bus also. It will take you 1h15 to go there.
Overall Tips: One day is enough to visit Balchik. Going by bus there is really easy!, Nevertheless, check where you are on the map because the bus stop is not that obvious. When you want to go back, stay focused on the time to not miss the last bus. To catch the bus, you need to go to the bus station or next to the hospital you will find a bus stop.
3 things to see: Balchick Palace: The official name of the palace was the Quiet Nest Palace. It was constructed between 1926 and 1937, during the Romanian control of the region, for the needs of Queen Marie of Romania. Baltchik Botanical Garden: The garden was established in 1940 at the place of the palace's park. It has an area of 65,000 square meters with 2000 plant species. Sea view: Having a nice walk along the seaside of Balchik will help you to distress and relax. 25
Dobrich A little bit of History: Dobrich is the ninth-largest city on Bulgaria. This small city hides a lot of richness and nice discoveries! Perfect for a nice and relaxing walk!
How to go there: From Varna, you have many ways to go to Dobrich: You can rent a car. It will take you 54 min to go there. You can go by bus. In that case, it will take you 1h10 to reach the city.
Overall Tips: You don't need more than one day to enjoy the city. If you take the bus to come to the city, you can stop just in front of Dom-Pametnik Yordan Yovkov Museum. But keep in mind that, for the way back, you need to go the bus station.
3 things to see: Dom-Pametnik Yordan Yovkov Museum: This Museum was opened in 1980, in occasion to the 100 anniversary of the famous Bulgarian writer. The museum holds more than 10 000 exhibits related to the life and work of Yordan Yovkov. Old Dobrich Museum: The open-air ethnographic museum "Old Dobrich" is located in the center of the modern city of Dobrich. Here are stored and presented crafts from the late XIX and early XX century. The entrance is free of charge. Park "Sveti Georgi": This beautiful park is perfect for a calm walk in the middle of the city. You will even be able to smell the scent of roses during summer time. 26
North Coast Journey Here is a little proposition of a short itinerary to visit around Varna. Those 4 beautiful spots can be seen in one day with a rented car. Full of history, you will realize that many beautiful things can be found around Varna.
Time to discover: Cape Kaliakra, Yaylata, Tuylenovo, Shabla
Scan here to have the itinerary on Maps
Nesebar A little bit of History: Often referred to as the "Pearl of the Black Sea", Nesebar is a rich city museum. Classified at UNESCO, you will be amazed by the beauty of this city.
How to go there: From Varna, you have many ways to go to Nessebar: You can rent a car. It will take you 1h30 to go there. You can go by bus also. It will take you then 2h15 to go there.
Overall Tips: Nesebar Old Town is really small, you only need one day to visit it. During winter, you need to keep in mind that all the restaurants are closed. Also, if you take the bus from Nessebar to Burgas for example, it's important that you wait next to the Archeological museum on the port side. If you wait on the other side, it's possible that the bus won't stop.
3 things to see: Church of Christ Pantokrator: Build in the 13th–14th century, the outside of the church is just beautiful. Church of Saint Sophia: The basilica was constructed in the late 5th century. In 1257 the church was looted by the Venetians during a campaign against the Bulgarian Empire and many religious relics were taken in the Church of San Salvatore in Venice. The basilica was abandoned in the 18th century. Catamaran Trip on the Black Sea: During your visit to Nesebar, you have the option to do some activities during the summer. It's your chance to go on a Catamaran trip, discover the Black Sea and maybe have the chance to see some dolphins! 28
Destinations further away from Varna
Shumen A little bit of History: Shumen is the tenth-largest city in Bulgaria. Earliest reports for the Shumen fortress date back to the early Iron Age. Nevertheless, the history of the city is not completely clear.
How to go there: From Varna, you have many ways to go to Shumen. You can rent a car. It will take you 1h40 to go there. You can go by train. In that case, it will take you 1h36 to reach the city. You can go by bus also. It will take you 2h10 to go there.
Overall Tips: It's quite easy to visit Shumen. Nevertheless, if you want to be able to see the main touristic attractions you will need a car. It is also possible to get a taxi to go the different places. But it may be more expensive.
5 things to see: Historical Museum: The history museum in Shumen was built in 1857 when Sava Dobroplodni, a teacher from the Bulgarian Revival Period, organized the first expedition to the remains of the old Bulgarian capital Veliki Preslav with students. The exhibit was shown in the local of the school. Today, in this museum, you will discover a lot about Bulgaria's history! Shumen fortress: The history of the fortress is not clear. It was probably first built by Thracians, 3200 years ago, which would make it one of the oldest fortifications in Bulgaria. The fortress was later used by Romans, Byzantines, and Bulgarians until 1444. 30
Shumen Tombul mosque: Build between 1740 and 1744, this mosque is the largest mosque in Bulgaria and one of the largest in the Balkans. Founders of the Bulgarian State Monument: This impressive monument is located 450 m above sea level. It stands on Ilchov Bair Hill on the territory of Shumen Plateau Park. The monument was built from 1979 until 1981 for the 1300th anniversary of the establishment of the Bulgarian state (681). Tips: Those sculptures will give you the feeling to be as small as ever! But walking the 13000 stairs (for each year) is worth it! But if you don't feel it, you can still come by car or by taxi.
Around Shumen... Madara Rider: Dating back from the First Bulgarian Empire (9th century), the Madara Rider is representing the figure of a knight triumphing over a lion. The creation is carved into a 100-m-high cliff. An amazing performance for this time, which is now classified at UNESCO. The Madara Rider is a unique relief, having no parallel in Europe. Tips: If you go there, keep in mind that the technique and the authenticity of this creation are what make it impressive. If you are expecting something fabulous to see, you might be disappointed. To get there, you need a car. If you are in a hurry, I will not recommend going there. The road is not easy to access. 31
Burgas A little bit of History: Burgas is the fourth-largest city in Bulgaria. The city is surrounded by the Burgas Lakes and located at the westernmost point of the Black Sea. Charming, you will fall in love with this small city full of colors.
How to go there: From Varna, you have many ways to go to Burgas. You can rent a car. It will take you 2h00 to go there. You can go by train. In that case, it will take you 5h00 to reach the city. You can go by bus also. It will take you 2h30 to go there.
Overall Tips: It is really easy to visit the city on foot. Nevertheless, if you have the chance to get a car, you can visit some protected areas, and other places accessible by car. Burgas is a quite small city, 2 days are more than enough to see what you want.
5 things to see: The Sea Garden: Like Varna, Burgas also has a beautiful Sea Garden that you can visit and enjoy. Built in 1910, it's known as one of the most romantic places in the city.
Archeological Museum of Burgas: This museum is small but rich of discovery. You will be able to learn a lot about the old civilization.
Burgas Cathedral "Saints Cyril and Methodius": Built in 1897, you will find inside a beautiful stained glass over the main entrance of the cathedral portraying Cyril and Methodius. The unique stained glass was painted by the famous Bulgarian artists prof. Gyudzhenkov and Kozhuharov, who also painted the stained glass in the “St. Alexander Nevski” church in Sofia. Lake Atanasovsko : In Burgas, you will be able to see a pink salt lake! Good for the health, you can get a bath there! After spending some time in this pinky water, you will recover yourself with mud before running to the sea! Tips: The Lake is closed during winter. You can access it by different means of transport such as bike, taxi, or by foot if you feel like it. In front of the lake, you will also discover something quite particular... A beach with black sand! Around Burgas... Saint Anastasia Island: The most peaceful island you will be able to visit! Pirates, prisoners, monastery, this small island will amaze you by its rich history. Tips: In summer, this place is magical! Different boat companies propose ways to lead you there. Go to the port and ask the crew of the boat when they are leaving. And if you are lucky, you might see dolphins on the way to the island. Around Burgas... Sozopol: This beautiful seaside town is at only 30 min from Burgas by car. Sozopol is also one of the oldest towns on Bulgarian Thrace's Black Sea coast.
Ruse A little bit of History: Ruse is the fifth-largest city in Bulgaria. Next to the Danube, the city offers you a direct view to Romania.
How to go there: From Varna, you have many ways to go to Ruse. You can rent a car. It will take you 2h10 to go there. You can go by train. In that case, it will take you 5h00 to reach the city. You can go by bus also. It will take you 3h10 to go there.
Overall Tips: I will recommend renting a car to go to Ruse. Around the city, you can discover many beautiful things that you won't be able to reach without a car. If you want to stay in the city, everything is quite centralized.
5 things to see: Around Ruse... Orlova Chuka Cave: Unfortunately, I didn't have the chance to go there because of Covid. Nevertheless, I can assure you that the view when you arrive there is worth it (even when the cave is closed). Tips: The cave is closed from the 1st of November until the 1st of April. For the parking, park your car at the first parking. Don't take the path that goes down with the car (only by foot). Around Ruse... Basarbovo Monastery: Dating back from the 15th century this cave monastery is the last active one in the modern history of the country. Tips: The monastery is very nice. Nevertheless, if you are in a hurry, I won't say that this spot is the most important one. 34
Ruse Regional Historical Museum: Held in a former Battenberg Palace, the museum has a collection from the prehistoric period until the 20th century. Around Ruse... Ivanovo's Rock-hewn church: Next to the Lom River (where you have a nice hiking path), you will find a rock-hewn church classified at UNESCO. This is where the first hermits had dug out their churches during the 12th century. In the church, you will find paintings from the XIV c. from artists belonging to the Tarnovo School of painting. Tips: To access the Monastery you will need to walk through a path before taking stairs to get to the top of the hill. In the Monastery, you will find a guide that speaks a lot of different languages and will tell you a lot about the story of the church. Around Ruse... Lipnik: This beautiful park is the perfect place for pictures! The tree will amaze you with its colors and its crazy roots. You will also find a pretty lake with stepping stone,... Tips: Don't follow the GPS! It will bring you to the middle of the forest. And with a renting car, it can be dangerous... for the deposit! When you pass the bridge, take the first street to the left and don't go straight. You will arrive at the most interesting place! The view is very pretty but if you are in a hurry, this is not one of the most impressive sights.
Ruse Proposition of an itinerary: Here is a proposition of touristic tour you can organize in a day around Ruse. On this map, 5 tourist attractions are present! The itinerary is organized in a way to not lose time and see the most important spots around Ruse and then go back to Varna easily. Tips: This itinerary is good during the summer period. If you are visiting during winter, it's better to first reach the closest tourist attraction. Indeed, if you reach first the farthest one, you will lose sunny time. Moreover, some of the attractions such as the cave will be closed in winter.
Scan here to have the itinerary on Maps
Veliko Tarnovo A little bit of History: Veliko Tarnovo, originally Tarnovgrad, became the strongest Bulgarian fortification during the second half of the Middle Ages. The city became the capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire and could be seen as a cosmopolitan city. Indeed, many foreign merchants were coming there.
How to go there: From Varna, you have many ways to go to Veliko Tarnovo. You can rent a car. It will take you 2h40 to go there. You can go by bus. In that case, it will take you 4h00 to reach the city. You can go by train. In that case, it will take you 4h10 to reach the city.
5 things to see: Tsarevets Fortress and its unexpected church: The fortress was used during the Second Bulgarian Empire from 1185 until 1393. Due to its strategic place, the dominance of Tsarevets Hill, and its natural inaccessibility, the fortress was strongly built with a complex defense system for the safety of people living in the castle. In the fortress, you will find a church! Don't hesitate to go inside to discover one of the most unrealistic frescos of the time. Fun fact: When you get to the end of the cliff of the fortress, you will be on the "Execution Rock". It used to be the place where the traitors were executed by pushing them over the cliff. The view and the architecture: The city is rich in different architectures from the Middle Age, the Renaissance, the Baroque as well as the communist period. This richness and the particular location of the city make it even more charming. 37
Veliko Tarnovo Monument of the Assen Dynasty: Based in the middle of the city, the monument is dedicated to the kings: Asen, Peter, Kaloyan, and Ivan Assen II. It was built in 1985 for the 800 years of the Asen and Peter rebellion. The kings ruled Bulgaria after its liberation from the Byzantium empire. The view of the city from the monument is worth it!
Around Veliko Tarnovo.... Transfiguration Monastery Founded in the 11th century, this beautiful monastery will amaze you by its color and the view it offers. Located in the Derwent gorge of the Yantra River, the monastery was used during the RussoTurkish War (1877— 1878) as an army hospital. In gratitude for its hospitality after the Liberation the Russian troops presented bells, chandeliers and liturgical books for the church to the Monastery.
Around Veliko Tarnovo.... Arbanassi This beautiful village was founded in the 17-18th c. At this moment, the village became wealthy thanks to crafts and trades. Today Arbanassi is a picturesque open-air museum of cultural heritage. 38
Kazanlak A little bit of History: The oldest settlement in the area dates back to the Neolithic era (6th-5th millennium BCE). But the modern city dates back to the beginning of the 15th century. It was first founded as a military fortress to protect Shipka. Later it developed itself into a city of craftsmen.
How to go there: From Varna, you have many ways to go to Kazanlak. You can rent a car. It will take you 4h00 to go there. You can go by train. In that case, it will take you 5h20 to reach the city.
Overall Tips: Arriving in Kazanlak, it's quite easy to get to your destination by foot or by bus. However, if you want to see around, you will need a car. The buses may be a possibility for some destinations but the schedules are quite bad.
5 things to see: Thracian tomb: Next to Kazanlak, you will find one of the UNESCO treasures of the country: The Thracian tomb. Discovered in 1944, this tomb dates around the end of the 4th century BC. The mural frescos represent the Thracian burial rituals and culture. Tips: Keep in mind that to access the tombs you need a car or a guide. Moreover, if you visit the tomb, you will not be able to see the real one but a replica. Indeed, to preserve the paintings, the real tomb is not open tо visitors. Rose Museum: The only museum in the world dedicated to the rose. Nowadays, the Rose Museum stores more than 15 000 exponents related to the rose-picking and rose-production in Bulgaria. 39
Kazanlak Rose valley: As you may have heard, Kazanlak and Roses - it's a love story! The plant was introduced by the Ottoman Turks in 1650. In 1740, a French company imported from Bulgaria the first batch of rose oil.
The Rose festival: Celebrated for the first time in 1903, it has now become a tradition every first weekend of June. An event full of activities like rosepicking, international folklore festival, and the crowning of the Rose Queen. You will enjoy the event at its fullest. Tips: One of the best experiences you can go through in Bulgaria! If you have the chance to go there don't hesitate! Nevertheless, you will need a car to access the rose picking field.
Around Kazanlak... Shipka and its Russian church: The church, which was opened in 1902, is dedicated to the Russian, Ukrainian and Bulgarian soldiers that died for the liberation of Bulgaria in the Russo-Turkish War, 187778. Tips: To access the church you will need a car. But the travel is worth the view! The church and its colors are amazing. 40
Plovdiv A little bit of History: Plovdiv is the oldest city in Europe and one of the oldest in the world. The city is more ancient than Rome, Athens and Constantinople. Archeologists have proven that Plovdiv has been established at least 4000 years ago or more.
How to go there: From Varna, you have many ways to go to Plovdiv. You can rent a car. It will take you 4h30 to go there. You can go by train. In that case, it will take you 6h20 to reach the city.
Overall Tips: Plovdiv is easy to access and everything is quite centralized. Nevertheless if you want to visit around, you can rent a car or choose a guided tour. A lot of them are organized in Plovdiv to discover The Rhodopes and its wonders.
5 things to see: The old city and more specifically the house of Hindliyan: In the old city, you will discover beautiful and colorful houses, streets, and vestiges from the roman empire. If you have the time, go take a look at Hindliyan House! This beautiful house, which used to belong to the wealthy merchant Stepan Hindliyan. If you enter this house, you will immediately sense a refreshing perfume of rose... The house hides a beautiful rose fountain. 42
Plovdiv The center, Kapana sector and the mosque: Plovdiv is full of history. Everywhere you look, you will discover something new! Go take a walk in the center and discover the beautiful artcrafts from Kapana or visit the mosque. The city won't dissapoint you. The old Roman theater: Dating back from the 1st century AD, this Roman theater is impressively well conserved. Still used nowadays, if you have the time you may be lucky to see it in action. If you feel adventurous and sportive Alyosha will respond to all your desires: Watching the city from it's hill, the statue of Alyosha represents a Russian soldier. The name, Alyosha, comes from a common nickname for Russian soldiers. Erected in 1957, it stands as a monument to the Red Army’s “liberation” of the city during World War II. Is climbing this hill worth it? 100% the view from Alyosha's hill is wonderful, and during sunset it's incredible! 43
Plovdiv Proposition of an itinerary: Here is a proposition of a touristic tour you can organize in a day. On this map, 9 tourist attractions are present but on your way, you will see other beautiful things! The itinerary is organized in a way to not lose time and see the most important spots in Plovdiv.
Scan here to have the itinerary on Maps
Sofia A little bit of History: Sofia is the capital city and is the largest city in Bulgaria. The must-see place to enjoy the cosmopolitan side of the country!
How to go there: From Varna, you have many ways to go to Sofia. You can rent a car. It will take you 5h25 to go there. You can go by train. In that case, it will take you 7h30 to reach the city. You can go by bus also. It will take you 6h15 to go there.
Overall Tips: I will recommend renting a car in Sofia. Around the city, you can discover many beautiful things that you won't be able to reach without a car. If you want to stay in the city, everything is quite centralized and easy to access with the subway.
5 things to see: Archeological Museum: Hold in a former mosque, the museum is full of rich heritage coming from all over Bulgaria. Museum of Illusion: Fun and unusual, discover the secret behind the most famous illusion in this museum. Russian Church "Sveti Nikolay Mirlikiiski": Apart from the beautiful Saint Alexander Nevski Patriarch's Cathedral, you need to see and visit this beautiful Russian Church! The outside is beautiful and in the crypt, you will find the grave of Archbishop Seraphim Sobolev. The archbishop was considered a miracle maker by many orthodox Christians. Even nowadays many people write letters to him, asking for help, and leave the letters near his grave, believing that he will help them.
Sofia Around Sofia... 7 Rila's Lakes and the Rila Monastery: Rila is the highest mountain range of Bulgaria, the Balkan Peninsula, and Southeast Europe. In those beautiful mountains, you will be able to discover wonderful lakes that make the spot incredible. Moreover, a Monastery established in 927 is located in the mountains. Classified at UNESCO, you will be amazed by its beautiful paintings. Around Sofia... Belogradchick: The Belogradchik Rocks are a natural phenomenon aged more than 200 million years. Their unusual forms lead to a lot of tales. The first pieces of evidence of the settlement in the region are from the early Middle Ages. It is known that the Roman used the Rocks to build a fortress (around the I and III century). An incredible citadel can be seen now. Tips: Around Sofia, you can find many other different places such as the Pirin Mountains, Vitosha, Boyana Church, Koprivchtitsa, you can also ski in Bansko,... So many options are available. To access these places you can rent a car. In my case, I contacted guided tour agencies to have access to it. Without a car, you can't have access to those spots. To find my guide, I went on the app GetYourGuide and check the website of the companies. 46
Sofia Proposition of an itinerary: Here is a proposition of touristic tour you can organize in a day. On this map, 9 tourist attractions are present but on your way, you will see other beautiful things! The itinerary is organized in a way to not lose time and see the most important spots in Sofia for a day. Tips: But if you have free time in the morning, some Free tours are organised in Sofia! PS: Google maps doesn't allow more than 9 spots, but you have way more than just 9 spots to see in Sofia.
Scan here to have the itinerary on Maps
Useful words Here are some useful sentences, vocabulary to survive in Bulgaria: Everyday words: Good morning: Dobro utro
Good day: Dobar den
Good evening: Dobar vetcher
Good night: Leka nosht
Thank you: Blagodarya
Many/A bit: Mnogo/Malko
To find help: Can you help me?: Mozhete li da mi pomognete? Do you speak English?: Govorite li angliski? How much is this? Kolko struva tova? Do you have....?: Imate li....?
To use transports: Can I sit here?: Moga li da sedna tuk? Where is....?: Kade e...? Can I have two tickets for...?: Moje li dva bileta do...? To go from .... to: Ot ... do..... When is the train coming?: Koga pristiga vlakat? From which platform is the train/bus leaving?: Ot koy peron tragva vlakat?/Ot koya spirka tragva avtobusat? 48
You've decided to come to Bulgaria and specifically to Varna? Good choice! You also want to be prepared before traveling around here is а book with the best ways to do it! In this small guide, you will find all the information you need to travel safely in and around Varna. What transport to use and how, what to see... All the information you need is gathered in one place.
Author: Oriane Giros Pictures: Oriane Giros Design: Oriane Giros Under the supervision of Association For You, Dilyana Koycheva Sending organization: Eurocircle Project: EU’nited - 2020-2-FR02-ESC11-018126 Funded by: European Solidarity Corps Programme Varna, Bulgaria 2022