Map tips: each color represents a different day. Click a marker to learn more about the spot, and click the star in the map header to save the entire map under Your Places in Google Maps.
Day 1: Sofia
- Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
- Church of St. Nicholas
- Church St. George Rotunda
We took a train from Thessaloniki to Sofia (7 hours) and planned on staying there a couple of days. The trains were vastly different when we got to Bulgaria – much older and slower. We went to the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and then walked to the Church of St. George, which are only about 10 minutes apart by foot. The Russian Church is between the two and worth a stop for a picture. We explored more of the central area, and didn’t really find the city to be very interesting. We only spent one night in Sofia and took a train to Veliko Tarnovo the next morning.
Day 2: Veliko Tarnovo
- Tsarevets Fortress
Took a 3 hour train ride and then walked to Hikers Hostel, which is high up on a hill and overlooks the walls of Tsarevets. I still remember the walk up to the hostel and knowing that we were in a different place. There were barely any cars, old cobblestone roads, and it really was that slower place that you’re not sure if it still exists. We planned on being here for a day, but it turned out to be one of our favorite cities in the world and we stayed for 3 days. We just walked around the area after checking in to the hostel.
The next day we explored Tsarevets Fortress, which was awesome. We loved the ruins, and the walls that span the fortress grounds and walkway leading to it make you wonder how this place isn’t world-famous.
Shtastliveca is one of the best restaurants I’ve ever eaten at – huge menu and everything we had was amazing. We ate here for lunch and dinner each day, it was that good. We spent another day just relaxing and enjoying the city, food, and drink.
Hikers Hostel was great, too. I remember playing guitar on the rooftop overlooking the river and the fortress, and that’s one of my fondest memories of Europe. Since it wasn’t a really big tourist destination, the people who were staying there were all backpackers and very laid-back. Had a great time talking and getting to know them.
The city and restaurant are both places I dream of going back to someday, and taking my family there. The scenery, absence of tourism/development, and affordability made it one of the best places I’ve ever been. I hope it hasn’t changed much.
Traveled in August 2006