Who else is happy that the 1st of June is now a bank holiday in Romania? I know I am!!! So this year, because 4 and 5 June are also holidays, with only one day of work leave, we got ourselves with a total of 5 days away from the office life.
We usually don’t waste any chance to travel and this time was no exception. We organized a trip to our Bulgarian neighbors but not to the well known and probably crowded sea side …. surprise, surpriiise?! … but to Veliko Tarnovo and Plovdiv. They were the main stops, but on the way we discovered some other nice places to visit.
The rock hewn churches: Basarbovo monastery and the UNESCO site of Ivanovo
They are millennia old churches, carved in the Karstic cliffs and are situated only 15 km away from the Romanian border, just outside the town of Russe.
The village of Arbanasi
4 km away from Veliko Tarnovo, on the top of a hill, lies a picturesque Bulgarian village, where all the houses and the fences around them are build from stone, wood and tiles. Add to this a few interesting sites, the good roads, great restaurants and a great panorama.
We loved this medieval small Bulgarian town! It was the capital of the second Bulgarian kingdom and has so many interesting historic tales. It’s only 2.5 hours away from Bucharest and it is a perfect trip for the weekend. We will come back here again for sure.
I did not know too much about Plovdiv until this year, when I read about it on the blog post of travelgirls.ro, that I follow religiously for their great travel tips. So it got my attention right away and I was so surprised, in the best possible way, by this Bulgarian city. It is in fact one of the oldest continuously living city in the world.
You will hear a lot about Asen’s dynasty in Bulgaria, because they were the ones to liberate Bulgaria and to form the 2nd Bulgarian kingdom. Close to Plovdiv, some 20km away only, there is one of their fortresses, up up on a hill. However there is not too much left of it today, but the location is beautiful.
How much time?
So we had 5 full days at our disposal and we spend two nights in Veliko Tarnovo and two nights in Plovdiv. We left Bucharest the first day in the morning and stopped on our way to Tarnovo town, to visit the Rock Hewn Churches. The second day we continued the visit through the medieval town but we dedicated two hours in the 2nd half of the day to wander the streets of Arbanasi village.
The 3rd day we left for Plovdiv, where we arrived in the afternoon. We got out and about right away, no time to lose because there are many things to see. The 4th day we visited more in the city and got also to Asen’s fortress in the afternoon. The 5th day, we left straight for Bucharest because there were 6 hours of driving ahead. We only stopped for lunch in Arbanasi.
Veliko Tarnovo is more suited for a weekend escape. But Plovdiv, however would require at least 3 days to have a more relaxed trip.
Costs and some road advice
Bulgarians offer good services at really good costs. The prices to most of the sites, both in Veliko Tarnovo and in Plovdiv will vary between 3 Bulgarian Leva (6 Romanian Lei/ 1.5 EUR) and 6 Bulgarian Leva ( 12 Romanian Lei/3 EUR).
Food wise, you have a vast choice of great places to eat for every pocket. Their cuisine is quite similar to ours, but I found it however to be more fatty.
The Bulgarians are known to have managed to built a good infrastructure in order to grow their tourism. However between Veliko Tarnovo and Plovdiv, there were some really bad roads, that slowed us a bit, around the town of Stara Zagora. There are also many police filters, so don’t over speed.
01-05 June 2017