The cold outside is making me think about Summer when we were actually struggling to escape the sun. Like our day trip from Bucharest when we got to discover the wilderness and nature of Northern Bulgaria. In just one day, we explored two incredible caves, admired cool emerald waterfalls, and visited the town of Lovech. And we also entered Bulgaria twice in the morning. Wait, what?! Just read on and you’ll soon find out.
Going on a day trip from Bucharest to Bulgaria
Mathieu and I booked a tour with a Romanian travel agency to go on this day trip from Bucharest. While very affordable and with a great itinerary, this Balkan road trip is hard to recommend to foreigners. This is only because even though the staff was really nice and friendly, none of them was able to communicate directly with Mathieu. It worked for us because I translated all the information for him, and I’m really used and comfortable with doing this, but it might not be a feasible option for everyone.
If you really wish to book a bus tour for your day trip from Bucharest, you can check out a more foreigner-friendly option, provided by Viator. However, the price they have in USD is the same number we paid in RON. Therefore, we know for sure they’re not advertising the lowest available price. And our tour also included an extra cave!
Actually, the most affordable option is to rent a car, even if it means paying an additional cross-border fee. And with a GPS you should be fine, even if you can’t read the Bulgarian road signs. This will also make it easy to stop whenever you want during your day trip from Bucharest.
How we visited Bulgaria twice in less than one hour
Getting on with our story, now. We began our day trip from Bucharest early in the morning. Before crossing the border at Giurgiu, our bus stopped at a gas station. There, we had some coffee and get to know some of our travel companions. The tour guides kept telling everyone to have our IDs or passports ready for passing the border to Bulgaria.
When we arrived at the customs, we passed the Romanian checkpoint directly and arrived on the Bulgarian side. When the border police came to check our IDs, there was a lady who realized she forgot her ID at home. She tried to negotiate to get to Bulgaria with her driving license or a photo of her ID, but, of course, that didn’t work. Sadly for her, that’s where her day trip from Bucharest ended.
So we had to cross the Danube back again, drop the lady, and explain to the Romanian border police what happened. Luckily, someone who had just entered the country who offered to help her with a car ride.
The rest of us crossed the bridge over the Danube again and tries getting into Bulgaria again. We had another hiccup because our tour guide forgot that there was a French guy traveling with the group (I wonder who ? ), but, in the end, it was ok.
But hey, Mathieu never visited Bulgaria until then, and he got to enter the country twice before 09.00 am! It was already an amazing day trip from Bucharest judging by this!
The musical Orlova Chuka Cave
After driving through bright sunflower fields near the Pepelina Village, we made it to Orlova Chuka, in the Ruse National Park. With a length of 13,437 meters, Orlova Chuka is the second-longest cave in Bulgaria.
However, we arrived too early, so we all went to sit at some picnic tables and eat from the snacks each of us packed. There was also some time to take a look at the scenic view from the nearby Eagle Rock. After that, we waited for our cave guide to show up and take us inside Orlova Chuka.
Now, we were told that there are two guides at Orlova Chuka: one of them speaks Bulgarian and Romanian, the other speaks Bulgarian and French. Luckily for Mathieu, the latter was the one who showed up that day. And, for the rest of the group, someone who was better than me at French offered to translate in Romanian. ?
We followed the Bulgarian guide down 124 stone steps and finally arrived at the Orlova Chuka Cave. There, he opened the cave’s iron gate with a key and invited us in.
The interior of the cave is amazing. It has several halls with white undulated walls. The largest one is the Concert Hall, where the guide took out his harmonica and demonstrated the acoustics, then played a song on some stalactites.
The Bulgarian guide not only explained everything in great detail, but he also made the cave visit very entertaining. When we passed through the wide tunnel, he said that this is the cave’s Avenue des Champs-Élysées. He even had us join him on the chorus of the famous song while we passed through it.
But my favorite part of our day trip from Bucharest was when we went through narrow winding tunnels, and the guide played his harmonica for us to follow his song and not get lost.
Orlova Chuka Cave in the Ruse National Park
Open daily from 10.00 to 17.00. A ticket costs 6 leva (around € 3).
Address: 7158, Bulgaria | See on map
Tel. +359 89 556 7533
The Green Krushuna Waterfalls
After our fun visit to the Orlova Chuka Cave, we got back on the bus and we continued our day trip from Bucharest to the Krushuna Waterfalls, in the Maarata region of Bulgaria.
We arrived in a crowded parking lot, the sun was burning, and we felt so envious when we passed by a strand with people chilling in a big pool. But we soon entered the thick forest, and not only was our path shaded, but it followed a water stream, so we managed to cool down soon.
I had never heard about the Krushuna Waterfalls before and didn’t even research them before our trip. This is why I was genuinely surprised when I saw the waterfalls and the pools of water surrounded by lush vegetation. This sight made me think of Croatia’s Plitvice Lakes.
I later found out that this is the biggest travertine cascade in Bulgaria, and the main waterfall is around 20 meters high. Not only that, but the pools have mineral water!
We spent a lot of time admiring the Krushuna Waterfalls and wandering through the park on our day trip from Bucharest. In the end, we had to choose between getting lunch and visiting a grotto. We went with the food because we were starving!
Krushuna Waterfalls in the Maarata National Park
Open 24 hours. Tickets cost 2 leva per car (around € 1), and 3 leva per person (around € 1.5).
Address: 5561 Krushuna, Bulgaria | See on map
Tel. +359 88 633 1800
Rediscovering Devetashka Cave near Lovech, Bulgaria
Once we left the Krushuna Waterfalls, we headed to my favorite place in Bulgaria: the Devetashka Cave! I had already been to the Devetashka Cave, during my amazing Balkan road trip. I was left breathless the first time I stepped foot in it: it didn’t resemble any other cave that I had visited before. And this cave is actually why I booked this day trip from Bucharest: I really wanted Mathieu to get to see it, too.
The Devetashka Cave is anything but small. It’s really tall, and the openings in its ceiling allow a lot of light inside and encourage the vegetation to grow wild. The cave is also full of life, not just because it is the home of huge bat colonies, but also because it’s a nesting area for several bird species.
Mathieu really liked the visit here. Just like me, he felt as if it were a visit on a movie set, not in a place created by nature only.
Open 24 hours. Tickets cost 3 leva for adults (around € 1.5) and 2 leva for students (around € 1).
Address: 5555 Devetaki, Bulgaria | See on map
Lovech, the Firenze of the Balkans
Still in awe, we left the Devetashka Cave and headed to the last destination of our day trip from Bucharest: the town of Lovech. Here, everybody got to wander around to their heart’s content. Some went up to the medieval fortress, others, like ourselves, wandering in the city.
At one point, we arrived at the covered wooden bridge of Lovech, and for me, it was kind of like Ponte Vecchio in Florence, Italy. But, of course, built in the style of the Balkans.
Just like in Florence, though, the number of shops on the historic bridge disappointed me. That didn’t stop me from getting a souvenir, though. (A crochet bunny, in case you’re wondering!)
In the remaining time of our day trip from Bucharest, we found the lovely Fe Coffee and Friends where we sipped on some great sangrias. We really appreciated that the fruits were on skewers inside the glasses, and we believe more establishments should be serving it like that.
I took the photo above because that’s how I felt at the time, too. It was a great day trip from Bucharest and a wonderful opportunity for Mathieu to visit Bulgaria for the first time.
Covered bridge, Lovech
Open 24 hours.
Address: 5503 Вароша, Lovech, Bulgaria | See on map
If you or any of your friends are thinking about going on a day trip from Bucharest to Bulgaria, share this. It might help you with your planning!