The countryside of central Bulgaria is a joy to travel through with its beautiful mountain scenery and picturesque villages. We spent time in rural communities, staying in village houses or family pensions and took advantage of the many walking opportunities in the mountains.
Veliko Tarnovo is a pretty town, and one of the biggest in the region. It boasts an impressive fortress, Tsarevets, which was a stronghold in mediaeval times, overlooking the town from a position of strength on its hilltop location. It was the main fortress of the Bulgarian empire that ruled between 1185 and 1396.
It’s not too far from the impressive Dryanovo monastery and the Anduka Canyon.
Koprivshtitsa is a lovely rural community where you can wander around the village with all the locals.
Bulgaria’s rural heritage is celebrated at the Etar ethnographic museum located close to Gabravo. It makes for an interesting morning’s wander along the cobbled streets around the open-air village comprising traditional buildings with working displays as well as demonstrations of local crafts.
There are a number of exhibits showing technology that uses water, including water mills…
…there’s even a washing machine, used to wash rugs, that makes use of the stream that flows through the village.
A number of restaurants serve traditional Bulgarian food which is fresh, tasty and hearty. When you are used to eating mass produced supermarket food which looks perfect but has somehow lost all its flavour, it is joyful to be able to eat fresh fruit and vegetables which may be oddly-shaped, gnarly and, well, just a bit ugly, but the flavour is so good.
There is even a baker at Etar, churning out delicious fluffy loaves from a traditional wood-fired oven.