The Northern Central part of Bulgaria is a region rarely visited by tourists. Yet, it’s a region with some surprising places to discover. Apart from Veliko Tarnovo, which is east of the itinerary that will be described here. Rent a car in Sofia and start your tour. Car hire in Bulgaria is easy and affordable – with flexible and easy service, we help you on your way. Landscapes are quite varied, from sunflower fields to the steep mountains of the Stara Planina (Balkan) range. Then, in the northernmost part, there’s the Danube river, forming the natural border with Romania. Vast plains, called the Danube Plains, lead towards the river. The region is sunny yet there are plenty of micro climates. In several places it tends to rain more because of the locations surrounded by hills. Teteven and Ribaritsa are two such towns. The area is lovely and green. Actually, the road through Teteven and Ribaritsa is some of the more scenic drives of Bulgaria. Excellent for a roadtrip, and easy to combine with many other destinations. The benefit of car rental in Bulgaria is that you don’t rely on local transportation and you manage to see far more in your trip. Besides, public transport, while relatively reliable, is not always easy to figure out for foreigners.
Either way, no matter the place you choose, you’ll have a great time visiting some of the underrated places of Bulgaria. Let’s describe how you can set out on your adventure, starting from Sofia. Take the road north through Svoge, through a hilly landscape. Right after Svoge is the village Bov, a proud, historical village that has two waterfalls. The first one is Pod Kamiko, east of the village. Then there’s the more famous one, Skaklya. It’s on the eco trail ‘Vazova ekopateka’, named after the country’s famous writer Ivan Vazov, who lived in the area. Then, continue past the steep cliffs of Lakatnik. Make a hike all the way up, it looks farther than it actually is. Or, how about rafting down the Iskar river? Just a hundred metes farther ahead from the Lakatnik Cliffs is a rafting base. Two persons is the minimum to take part in this adventure.
Then continue northeast. Check out the Diado Yotso statue, the road on your left hand three kilometres after the village Opletnya. Once you get up, have lunch at the excellent local restaurant and admire the statue. It is said that Diado Yotso, meaning grandfather Yotso, used to sit on the hill when the railway line in the valley was constructed. As grandfather Yotso couldn’t see, he loved to listen to the trains pass by. He could often be seen on this hill and the monument was built to remember him. The wide view is just stunning.
|Diado Yotso statue||Cherepishki monastery||Eko-park Zlatna Panega|
Continue to the village Zverino, where you find the Oasis complex. Have a swim, enjoy a drink at the bar or try some more Bulgarian dishes. The next stop is Cherepishki monastery, on your left side after a sudden curve. Best is to have navigation so you don’t miss it.
Instead of heading north past Svoge and the Diado Yotso statue, you could take the Hemus highway northeast of Sofia and visit Glozhenski monastery. Steep uphill and with a fantastic view. On 6 May, St. George Day, celebrations take place at the monastery. Then you could continue north to Lukovit. It’s possible to end up here after visiting Svoge and Diado Yotso as well! Right before entering Lukovit, on your left, is the Geopark Zlatna Panega. This place has an eco trail, which you can follow along the Zlatna Panega river. Then, after enjoying the scenery, have a meal or some coffee at restaurant Rodina, right at the entrance of Lukovit - on your right hand. Have a quick walk on the main square of Lukovit, drive around it and turn right towards the Prohodna cave - also called the Eyes of God. As you approach the cave through the hilly landscape, you'd have no idea what’s hidden below you. Park the car and head into the cave – admission is free. Stand in front of the entrance, in awe of the shape of this immense cave. Look if you can see some people inside, so you get some perspective on how big it actually is.
The two holes in the ceiling of the cave do look like eyes, they are equally large and right next to each other. It's great to visit when the sun sets and the beams peek through the eyes - the whole cave lights up as in a golden flood. The eyes are not actually man made, they eroded in these shapes over hundreds of thousands of years. Evidence of human presence was found, people used the cave starting anywhere from 3500 B.C. to 1700 B.C., during the New Stone Age and Bronze Age.
The cave has two entrances, most likely you’ll come through the main entrance, where the cars are parked. This is the ‘small entrance’, 35 metres tall. The ‘large entrance’, as you cross through the 262 metre long tunnel, is 45 metres tall. This is Bulgaria’s largest cave arch.
Contact us for tips on where to plan an overnight stay – until now the program has become quite intensive. Please note the itinerary can easily be divided into several days – in fact as many as you want. With your rental car, you have the flexibility to design your itinerary just using inspiration and then setting out and following your senses.
|Krushunski waterfalls||Pleven||Bov Village|
Time to hit the road again! Head east to Lovech, where you find the famous covered wooden bridge. One of Bulgaria’s most unique landmarks. Inside the bridge, many nice boutiques sell hand-made artefacts such as cups and dishes. Woodwork is still done in the old way and several masters offer their crafts. On the eastern side of the river, which is called Osam, you find a lively square. With many cafes and good restaurants, this is the heart of Lovech. Uphill, you’ll see a large fortress and the statue of Vasil Levski overlooking the city. He’s Bulgaria’s national hero, playing a huge role in the resistance against the Ottomans. Take a walk up through the old quarter called ‘Varosha’ and make sure to visit the Ethnographic Museum on your left hand, or the Vasil Levski museum on your right.
Once uphill, enjoy the wide view over the city and look on the other side of the ridge as well. There’s just a dense forest and you see how close nature is in this country, at all times. Around Lovech, you’ll have many more sights to see. It’s best to have a rental car around Lovech because the best places are then easy to combine in one trip. Rent your car and we’ll help you prepare your trip through Bulgaria.
At 20 kilometres northeast of Lovech you find the Devetashka cave. Another excellent example of the beautiful Bulgarian caves. At its entrance, the cave is 30 metres tall and 35 metres wide. The cave itself has been inhabited by humans for tens of thousands of years, starting from the Old Stone Age about 70.000 years ago. A well-known fact is that The Expendables 2 was partly filmed in this cave. The place is home to 15 species of bats, which make for about 30.000 bats in total! As you leave the cave, on your right hand before the bridge, check the map of the region. There are many more relatively unknown places nearby that are absolutely worth your visit.
Get back to your rental car and continue the trip northeast, it’s only 16 kilometres to the Krushunski waterfalls. This natural phenomenon consists of many pools of natural water flowing downhill. The main waterfall is 20 metres tall – several paths lead around the water pools and you can even reach down and feel the lukewarm water in the midst of summer. The crystal clear water and green vegetation around make this feel like a lush piece of paradise.
If you’d like to see more on this trip, you have a rental car after all, continue to the historical city of Pleven. You’ll have several sights to see, such as the famous Pleven Panorama. This is where the Siege of Pleven took place, during the Ottoman era. The battle of the Russo-Turkish war in 1877 was fought between joint forces Russia and Romania against the Ottomans. Horrific losses on all sides, yet the Ottomans eventually surrendered. There are over 200 monuments by the people of Pleven to honour those who lost their lives in the four battles that took place in the city. The Pleven Panorama is a museum on a hilltop where, inside, you find a panorama painting (115x15 metres) that depicts events of the Russo-Turkish War (1877-’78).
Pleven nowadays is a pleasant city with a calm, pedestrianized center. It’s great to have a walk along the town square, sit by the fountains or visit one of the large parks. The largest is the Skobelev park, where you find the Pleven Panorama. For more impressive art, make sure to visit the Svetlin Rusev Donative Exhibition, a permanent exhibition with over 400 famous works of Bulgarian and foreign artists. These include artworks of Pablo Picasso. Another plus is that admission is free of charge! When visiting Bulgaria, make sure to rent a car in Sofia. It’s affordable and lets you be the most flexible. Not only to visit all the places on this itinerary but to basically drive where you feel like. Bulgaria is a country to explore, each backroad has something to show the curious traveler. Visit Bulgaria, rent a car, and the roads are pretty much open!
Read more fantastic stories about Bulgaria: https://www.leondeleeuw.net/travel-bulgaria
Savoy Rent a Car is one of the leading car rental companies in Bulgaria established in 2003. Our goal is to provide our customers with high quality services at the most competitive rates. Savoy offers a wide range of vehicles. Whether you are travelling for business or pleasure, we have a vehicle to suit your needs. Our fleet contains economy, compact, mid-size, SUV, minivans and full size cars. We guarantee: - Unlimited mileage - Full insurance coverage - 24/7 customer support - Free delivery - Delivery & transfers to every point in Bulgariaread more
Welcome to Bulgaria. Where you have an endless amount of places to see on a small surface. Where the climate is fantastic and allows for year-round tourism. You can make trips through the whole country and be surprised by something unexpected and pretty every moment of your stay. It might seem like you have to make a long round trip to make the best of your visit to Bulgaria. And making such a trip with your rental car is certainly worth it! However, it’s not necessary to go from hotel to hotel. There’s enough to see around Sofia to entertain you. For a trip as long as you wish. There’s so much to see around the capital, that you can stay there and make day trips. It’s just as fulfilling and will leave you with good memories. It is recommended that you use a rental car service, however. Public transport is relatively reliable but with a rental car you are considerably more flexible to do as you please. We will have your rental car, including insurance, ready in Sofia. You can choose one of the many hotels in our capital. In the wide array of accommodation, there will definitely be something that suits your needs. Most hotels have a place to park your car, so you can make your day trips and return in the evenings. Then, you can enjoy the many good restaurants of Sofia and the nightlife of this cool city! You might feel more comfortable and relaxed if you keep one and the same hotel during your stay and make day trips from where you are. No need to carry around your luggage, you take a daypack knowing you’ll be back at night. So, pick up your rental car from our office, and you’re ready for your first day trip! Vitosha Mountain Day 1 As you most likely already saw from the airplane, Sofia has a huge mountain right next to the city. In fact, there’s houses built against the slopes. This mountain is called Vitosha, with 2.290 metres quite a tall mountain to be right next to a metropolis. It’s a popular destination for local people as well as tourists. To get a breath of fresh air, to go hike or to practice winter sports. The mountain offers all kinds of ways to relax or get active during your trip. You could take the cable car up or drive towards the mountain hut ‘Aleko’, from where you can make excellent hikes. On the way, you will pass the Kopitoto tower. This TV tower itself is not accessible for the public but you can stay outside and enjoy the wide view over Sofia. During the day, it’s an excellent place for a picnic. At night, you will surely have the best view over the many lights of the busy Bulgarian capital. It’s a good place to celebrate New Year’s as well, if this is the time you visit. Just imagine looking at the fireworks you get to see! The place is best reached by car. There is a cable car but it’s not working since a long time – hiking there is too far from the city. If you come during the winter season, we will make sure your car is equipped with winter tyres so you can drive to the resorts safely and enjoy your winter activities! Apart from the slopes on Vitosha mountain, Bulgaria has several more and even better slopes for some action in the snow. Drive to Borovets, just under 70 kilometres from the capital. You could make a day trip – just as many locals do. Alternatively, you could surely spend the night there. Then there’s Bansko, however it might be a bit too far for just a day if you plan to spend many hours outside practicing sports. Visiting Vitosha mountain or Borovets is a wiser decision if you’d just like to spend a day. Day 2 If you come through any other season than winter, it will be interesting for you to see the Iskar gorge north of Sofia. The river, that was once far wider and mightier than it is now, carved many interesting shapes into the rocks. After many thousands of years of erosion, you can now admire the rock formations and tall cliffs that reach north of Sofia for over a hundred kilometres. A unique and scenic drive. Each village on the way will have something interesting to offer you, such as the Batulia monastery off the main road in Rebrovo, the little town Svoge with the Soleil restaurant (http://soleilbg.com/) or the wide views from the village Zhelen. Then, there’s two waterfalls in the villages Bov and Gara Bov. The ‘Vazova ekopateka’, in Gara Bov, will surely be a good option if you enjoy a hike uphill. Not too difficult and totally worth the climb. You’ll be rewarded with a wide view on the Skaklya waterfall. Keep in mind that it tends to dry up in high season, best is to come in early spring. Continue to Lakatnik and see the arguably most beautiful cliffs in the country. Visit one of the mountain huts that are up in the hills, to enjoy a strong cup of herbal tea. These mountain huts, called ‘hizha’ or plural ‘hizhi’, are spread all over the country. The ones you can visit on this day trip are Hizha Trestenaya or Hizha Gubislav. Iskar gorge Vazova Ekopateka Lakatnik Day 3 Drive northwest towards the small town of Godech, where you can have a coffee and visit the small river front with the many plants and flowers in springtime. Then, continue towards the waterfall Kotlite, which is at its best in spring. Late in summer, unfortunately, the waterfall is dry. Make sure to stop by at the Bukorovski monastery. You could walk downhill and visit Razboishte monastery, where you find a chapel inside the rocks and an interesting monastery complex of hundreds of years old. It’s situated along the Nishava river. Then, walk on towards Sveta Petka monastery. This place was abandoned but is now inhabited by a couple from Sofia, that is truly happy at this serene place. Now let’s get back to your rental car. There’s even more to see on the road! Head north towards Berkovitsa. You’ll drive the Petrohan mountain pass, through the dense forests of Western Bulgaria. You’ll approach Berkovitsa and can turn right on the way to Varshets. Then, after just a few kilometres, turn right again towards the Klisurski monastery. At that junction, you find Complex Stalin, where you could have a delicious meal. At the monastery, they sell many products such as homemade wine, honey and jam. Berkovitsa itself is a nice town to visit – with a wide view over the mountains. If you have time left, drive up until Hizha Kom. Have some tea at the mountain hut and enjoy a walk through the beautiful landscape. Day 4 Time to explore the region east of Sofia. There’s plenty to see! Drive towards Mirkovo, a little, peaceful town at the foot of the Stara Planina mountain range. The town has the second-largest golden dome of Bulgaria on a church, right on the main square. The first-largest dome can be found on the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia. You could have a meal or some drinks at the hotel/restaurant complex St. Ivan Rilski and perhaps enjoy a walk around the town. Then get back to your rental car and drive on towards Chavdar. Many say it’s the prettiest village in Bulgaria. This might count for the village square, which is renovated and indeed looks fine with many rose gardens and ponds, including fountains. As you drive east, you’ll come across many more towns and villages that will be interesting for you to see. If you’d like to return to Sofia, it might be nice to take the road south through Smolsko and Baylovo. You’ll most likely have the road to yourself, just be prepared to make sudden stops in case of animals on the road! You’ll end up at Gorna Malina, where, on a hot summer day, you could swim at the complex Vyatarnite Melnitsi. It means ‘Windmills’. Even though the entrance fee is not to be called cheap – the experience is certainly worth it! You could make a day trip out of just visiting the complex and once you had enough, then visit some villages. Design the trip as you want! Klisurski monastery Kom Monuntain Complex "Windmills" Day 5 Now let’s go south, the only direction you haven’t gone yet. On the road to Samokov, you’ll pas the Pancharevo lake. Another popular place for city folks to spend their free time. It’s nice to walk around a bit or to enjoy a picnic on the side of the lake. As you continue south, on your left you can’t miss the Iskar reservoir. This is an enormous lake where Sofia gets its tap water from. There’s several small paths leading up to the lakeside, where you can enjoy another stunning scenery. And you’re not even an hour outside of Sofia! Just a bit more south of the Iskar reservoir is the city of Samokov. The city is famous for its delicious potatoes – the best of the country. For that reason, and more, make sure to stop and spend some time in the center. An excellent place to have lunch is the Kokoshkova Kushta (www.clubsamel90.com/index_en.html). They cook wonderfully and have a spacious garden where you can enjoy their specialties. There are plenty of other small restaurants around town, all should serve the local potatoes! As you walk around, you’ll see plenty of architectural treasures in the form of old houses and churches. Many of these were built during the National Revival period in Bulgaria, starting around 1762 up until the liberation from the Ottomans in 1878. Samokov played an important role in the National Revival. The city used to have one of the three woodworking schools in Bulgaria and even nowadays, many examples of fantastic woodwork of masters from Samokov is found all over the Balkan peninsula. Mainly in churches. You’ll notice that there’s some tall mountains close to Samokov, this is the Rila mountain range. There, you’ll find the tallest peak of the Balkans, which is Musala mountain (2.925 metres). You could visit the mountain and ski resort Borovets or opt for a swimming or spa retreat in Separeva Banya. You will be nothing but impressed by the opportunity to see a lot in just a day – even when spending the night in Sofia! Would you like to get some more information on destinations nearby? Do not hesitate to contact us. We will prepare your rental car so you can enjoy a carefree trip through the surroundings of Sofia. Enjoy! by Leon de Leeuw Website: https://www.leondeleeuw.net/ Youtube: Visit Read more fantastic stories about Bulgaria: https://www.leondeleeuw.net/travel-bulgariaread more
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