Veliko Tarnovo is a beautiful city in northern Bulgaria, known for its rich history and cultural heritage. Located on the banks of the Yantra River, Veliko Tarnovo is a popular destination for tourists who want to explore the region’s vibrant culture and history.
The city is home to a number of fascinating sights, including the ancient fortress of Tsarevets, the beautiful churches of the historical quarter, and the vibrant street markets and shops. Another highlight is the beautiful Veliko Tarnovo street art.
In addition to its historical attractions, Veliko Tarnovo is also a great place to enjoy outdoor activities, such as hiking, biking, and rafting. Whether you’re interested in exploring the city’s rich history or enjoying the great outdoors, Veliko Tarnovo is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Bulgaria.
Veliko Tarnovo was the first stop on our Balkan road trip. We quickly found a convenient place to stay, based on the Lonely Planet recommendations, took a shower, and went for a long walk.
We discovered Veliko Tarnovo street art, admired its bright houses, and visited Tsaravets Fortress. That’s until the rain caught us at Assen’s monument. We also went to Marno Pole Park and found ourselves in the middle of a colorful festival.
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, The Travel Bunny will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. Thank you!
Is Veliko Tarnovo worth visiting? What to do in Veliko Tarnovo
Yes, Veliko Tarnovo is definitely worth visiting. The city is known for its rich history and cultural heritage, and it offers a wide range of attractions and activities for visitors to enjoy. Some of the top reasons to visit Veliko Tarnovo include:
The ancient fortress of Tsarevets
This magnificent fortress is one of the city’s most iconic sights, and it offers a fascinating glimpse into Bulgaria’s rich history. The fortress is home to a number of important historical buildings, including the Royal Palace, the Patriarchal Church, and the Baldwin Tower.
The historical quarter
Veliko Tarnovo’s historical quarter is a beautiful area of the city, with narrow cobblestone streets and picturesque houses. The quarter is home to a number of beautiful churches, including the Church of the Holy Ascension, the Church of the Holy Mother of God, and the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul.
The street markets and shops
Veliko Tarnovo is a great place to shop, with a wide range of markets and shops offering a variety of traditional Bulgarian products, such as handicrafts, jewelry, and local food.
In the city, it is best to head to Sveta Gora Park. Perched on the hill of the same name, this park offers some of the most beautiful views you can see of Veliko Tarnovo and the surrounding area.
Sveta Gora Park is a real oasis of greenery and peace, perfect for a quiet walk or a picnic with friends and family. Winding paths lead you through lush gardens, and playgrounds and open spaces offer plenty of places for the little ones to run and play happily.
And at the top of the hill, you will find a beautiful church and a monument dedicated to the heroes of Veliko Bulgaria. It is a perfect place to watch the sunset and admire the panoramic views.
In addition, the city is surrounded by beautiful countryside with a number of hiking and biking trails. In addition, the Yantra River is a popular destination for rafting and kayaking tours.
The vibrant nightlife
Veliko Tarnovo is known for its vibrant nightlife, with a wide range of bars, clubs, and restaurants offering a great selection of food, drinks, and entertainment.
Overall, Veliko Tarnovo is a fascinating and beautiful city, with a rich history and a wide range of attractions and activities for visitors to enjoy. Whether you’re interested in exploring the city’s cultural heritage, enjoying the great outdoors, or experiencing the local nightlife, Veliko Tarnovo is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Bulgaria.
Veliko Tarnovo street art
Veliko Tarnovo is known for its vibrant street art scene, with a number of beautiful and creative murals and graffiti throughout the city. The street art in Veliko Tarnovo reflects the city’s rich history and cultural heritage, and it offers a fascinating glimpse into the city’s vibrant artistic community. Some of the most notable examples of Veliko Tarnovo street art include:
Murals at Tsaravets Fortress
The ancient fortress of Tsarevets is one of the city’s most iconic sights, and it’s also home to a number of beautiful and colorful murals. The fortress walls are covered with a series of murals depicting scenes from Bulgarian history, including battles, festivals, and religious ceremonies. It’s one of the best Veliko Tarnovo street art that you can discover in this Bulgarian city.
The historical quarter murals
The historical quarter of Veliko Tarnovo is a beautiful area of the city, with narrow cobblestone streets and picturesque houses. The quarter is home to a number of beautiful murals, including a series of portraits of famous Bulgarian artists, musicians, and writers.
The city center’s urban art
The city center of Veliko Tarnovo is home to a number of interesting and colorful murals, depicting scenes from Bulgarian folklore and legends. The murals are located on buildings throughout the city, and they offer a great way to explore the city and discover hidden gems.
Veliko Tarnovo street art is a vibrant and fascinating aspect of the city’s culture.
As we were wandering in the old, narrow alleys of the city, we discovered many examples of interesting and beautiful Veliko Tarnovo street art. A favorite of mine, which we discovered by pure luck, is the painted staircase pictured above.
A secret garden after a wedding ceremony
While we were walking, we went down some other stairs and we ended up in a hidden garden of what I believe was a deserted church. However, it looked as if someone had held a wedding ceremony there not too long ago. The decorations on the ceiling were still there, and so were some light installations, although several of the bulbs were missing.
While searching for Veliko Tarnovo street art, I strongly advise you to lose yourself on the picturesque streets. Just pick random stairways to go up and down on. I promise you’ll always come across a nice surprise on the way!
Tsaravets, Veliko Tarnovo’s fortress
After admiring beautiful Veliko Tarnovo street art, we spent our afternoon visiting Tsaravets, the fortress of Veliko Tarnovo.
The fortress dates back to the second millennium BC and has faced many attacks, especially from the Ottoman Empire. The latter finally conquered it and burned it down in 1393. The story of the conquering and other important moments from the history of Tsaravets are now an audiovisual spectacle, called The Sound and Light Show. The show has been put on stage since 1985, and it consists of lasers, lights, music, and church bells.
As you climb up, at the very top you will come across a church, the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Holy Ascension of God. Step inside and you will get to gaze at some very interesting, modern frescoes.
Open daily from 08.00 to 19.00 (April – October) or from 09.00 to 17.00 ( November-March).
Tickets cost 6 leva for adults, and 2 leva for students. The scenic elevator ride costs 2 leva.
Address: Tsar Asen Square, Veliko Tarnovo 5000
Tel. +359 62 638 841
The Light and Sound Show
See upcoming dates and tickets or take a peek at the show.
Address: Tsar Asen Square, Veliko Tarnovo 5000
The Assen Dynasty Monument Veliko Tarnovo
This monument is dedicated to four kings from the Assen Dynasty (Assen, Peter, Kaloyan, and Ivan Assen II). You can see their representation around the large sword in the image below. This sword represents the power and the rise of Bulgaria in medieval times.
The Assen Dynasty Monument was built in 1985 when Bulgaria was celebrating 800 years since the rebellion of brothers Assen and Peter.
Assen Dynasty Monument
Address: Sveta Gora, Veliko Tarnovo 5003
The Veliko Tarnovo International Folklore Festival
In the evening, while we were walking through Marno Pole Park, we saw two guys heading to a stage. I followed them and asked if they knew what was happening there.
They were from a band from New Orleans called Komenka Ethnic Ensemble and they were taking part in a folk festival. They weren’t sure if we needed tickets or not, but since we had already entered backstage, the two of them told us to just go ahead and take a seat.
So we stayed a bit and we added to our beautiful collection of Veliko Tarnovo photos. Their band opened and they were followed by numbers from Mexico, Taiwan, and Argentina, then it was their turn again… And soon after that, we left, but we really enjoyed it! It wasn’t really Veliko Tarnovo street art, but it was outdoors, it was artistic, and in Veliko Tarnovo!
As we found out, the International Folklore Festival in Veliko Tarnovo is apparently a pretty big deal. It started in 1998 and, from its very beginning, it was one of the 270 festivals recognized by CIOFF*. It brings together groups from all corners of the world, into a wonderful musical mosaic, and is a pleasant way to relax and cool down at the end of a hot summer day.
* International Council of Organizers of Festivals for Folklore and Traditional Arts Official Partner of UNESCO
Veliko Tarnovo International Folklore Festival
See upcoming dates. The entrance is free of charge.
Address: Marno Pole, Veliko Tarnovo 5000
Coming from a different direction to see Veliko Tarnovo street art? Then you might want to know…
How do you get to Veliko Tarnovo from Sofia?
There are several ways to get from Sofia to Veliko Tarnovo, depending on your preferences and budget. Some of the most popular options include:
Driving to Veliko Tarnovo
If you want to explore the region at your own pace and see as much of the countryside as possible, renting a car is a great option. The journey by car takes around 2.5 hours, depending on traffic and the route you choose.
Getting to Veliko Tarnovo by bus
The easiest and most affordable way to get from Sofia to Veliko Tarnovo is by bus. Several companies offer regular bus services between the two cities, with buses departing from the central bus station in Sofia. The journey by bus takes around 3 hours, depending on traffic and the number of stops.
Hopping on a train to Veliko Tarnovo
Another option is to take the train from Sofia to Veliko Tarnovo. The train journey takes around 3.5 hours, and it offers a great way to see the local scenery and relax during your trip. The train station in Veliko Tarnovo is located just outside the city center, so you’ll need to take a taxi or bus to your final destination.
Overall, there are several different ways to get from Sofia to Veliko Tarnovo, so you can choose the option that best suits your preferences and budget. Whether you’re looking for a fast and affordable way to travel or a more leisurely and scenic option, there’s a transportation option that’s right for you.
Veliko Tarnovo accommodation deals
Where we stayed in Veliko Tarnovo
Mehana Slavyanska Dusha
Hotel and restaurant in Veliko Tarnovo, 8 minutes away from the Yantra River. The rooms are clean, the food is tasty, and the staff is very friendly, even though they didn’t really speak English. Perfect location to discover Veliko Tarnovo street art and main attractions.
Perfect for budget travelers. Family-friendly. Preferred by solo travelers.
Address: 21 Nikola Zlatarski, Veliko Tarnovo 5000
Who wrote about Veliko Tarnovo street art
Mirela Letailleur is a Romanian travel blogger living in the South of France. She writes on The Travel Bunny travel blog about affordable travel in Europe, creator of unique free travel guides, local travel expert. Problem solver. Wannabe coffee guru.
If you enjoyed discovering Veliko Tarnovo street art, you should also read
Devetashka Cave: Astounding must-see place in Bulgaria
How to become Zen: Visit Rila Monastery
Travel to Sofia, Bulgaria’s blissful capital