Update (Oct, 2015): This road trip in Bulgaria was my first real travel experience. I’ve learned and grown a lot since then but it still highlights the ups and downs of my journey and how I felt about it back in 2013. Now, I would do thing differently but I’m still proud I did it that way back then. Enjoy reading!
In the summer of 2013 I decided to travel around my home country. I felt very lost and very unmotivated about everything. I though I could find myself while being on the road… and I did.
For 10 days I travelled to 8 cities in Bulgaria mostly by train and by bus, staying in hotels and relatives. I did this adventure in September 2013. I took only my backpack, my boyfriend and some cash.
We had limited time in each city so we tried to take the best out of every place. So here’s my road story…
We took the train early in the morning from Sofia and we ended up in Karlovo. The initial plan was first to visit Koprivshtitza on the way to Karlovo but we decided to skip Koprivshtitza and visit some other time. (We visited Koprivshtica in March 2014).
Kalrovo is a town in central Bulgaria. It is located in a fertile valley where roses are grown. Karlovo is mostly famous for the worldwide-known rose oil used for producing expensive perfumes and cosmetics. We stayed one night in a nice hotel. The city is note very big but it has its own charm.
The other important thing is that Karlovo is the birth place of Vasil Levski — the most distinguished Bulgarian to start preparing the national liberation from the Ottoman rule in the late 19th century. We visited the birth house of the Apostle, which is now a museum. Also, there is a monument of Vasil Levski in the center of the city.
The day after Karlovo we headed to Plovdiv. We took the train at 5 am! Crazy!
Plovdiv is the second largest city in Bulgaria. It’s a place with ancient history. There are more than 200 archaeological sites, many remains from the antiquity… in one word — there’s a lot to see!
We visited The Ancient Theater (it was national holiday so we saw it for free, otherwise it would cost us 6 leva or 3 euro), walked trough the Old town with beautiful houses, churches and narrow paved streets, saw the modern center and so on.
We spend less than a day in Plovdiv but our time was more than awesome. From around 7 am to 5 pm we didn’t hurry at all and we saw a lot. Also there is a Free walking tour of Plovdiv you can join.
If you are planning to visit this beautiful town, do not hesitate at all!
3. Stara Zagora
At around 5 pm we took the train for Stara Zagora. We were going to stay at my aunt’s house for the night. We arrived in the evening so we decided to go straight to bed. Before that our hosts prepared a nice family dinner where I tried pig ears for the first time (and the last for sure).
The next day we were prepared for a long walk around the city before we leave. We visited the Zagorka lake, the center of the city, the famous park “Ayazmoto” and the Zoo (where I ruined my jeans and had to cover the big resin spot with my bag for the whole day).
We also visited the famous Hall of Laugh where you see yourself in huge distorted mirrors. We had a lot of fun there!
There’s a lot to see in Stara Zagora. If you give it a shot, you won’t regret it! At the end of the day we were exhausted.We were ready for a time out. We found it at the next point of our journey — Bourgas, where we travelled to on the same day.
We finally made it to the sea! In my opinion, Bourgas is one of the most beautiful cities in Bulgaria. We arrived around 6 pm, bought some dinner from the supermarket and went out for a walk in the city center alley. It was crowded but the atmosphere was delightful.
We rented a nice apartament in the center for 15 BGN (7EUR) at night per person. We were so tired and we slept like babies that night!
On the next day we went for a walk in the sea garden — very beautiful place. At the same time when we were in Bourgas there was a Sand sculptures festival so that happened! A lot of pictures with Shrek, Lady Gaga and more… The Sand Festival is happening every year so if you’re going to Bourgas in the summer my advice is to stop by and take a pic with the sculptures.
We bought some souvenirs and at 2 pm we were headed to the bus station for our next stop… SOZOPOL! We were going to stay 2 nights there…
We stayed in here for 2 nights just to enjoy the sea for awhile. We took a big walk in the city. The atmosphere here was delightful — old paved streets, authentic houses and a lot of history.
We had dinner in a nice restaurant then stayed at the beach for awhile. It was awesome and finally we could rest because we didn’t have to hurry for the train. So the two days were pretty calm and we just enjoyed the time in the city.
Sozopol is really old town. The ancient fortifications are pretty impressive, especially at night. We took a lot of pictures, we saved a lot of memories…
Tip: Be careful with the local Change Bureaus and preferably use the banks to withdraw money.
So after two nights in a hotel we went to Nesebar. If you don’t know, the old town of Nesebar is listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site – one of the nine in Bulgaria. Nesebar is an ancient city with a lot of history and beautiful architecture. The old town is pretty impressive. We walked, took pictures and enjoyed every moment.
After a long walk in Nesebar at the end of the day we took the bus for Varna — the sea capital of Bulgaria. And there we had to handle an unexpected situation! On the bus my friend called me and said that we can’t sleep where we planned. So we didn’t have a place to stay for the night. I was a bit worried but decided to start looking for a hotel. It was late, we walked through the center for awhile but we couldn’t find any place to stay…
So our last hope was my uncle, who lives in Varna. I called my parents, then my uncle, then we figured everything out. We got there, I hanged out with my cousins which I don’t see very often. It was pretty fun! On the morning we decided to go for a walk. Our goal was the Dolphin Show.
After a long walk with a map in our hands we finally got there. The nice lady sold us the tickets for the show with a discount for locals even though we told her we weren’t from Varna, so cool! Anyway, the show was awesome! And during the show the hosts picked me from the audience to attend a game with the dolphins! That was even more awesome!
8. Veliko Turnovo
The day after Varna we headed to Veliko Turnovo — an old capital of Bulgaria. Beautiful city!
We visited Tzarevetz — a medieval stronghold located in a hill in the city and a popular tourist attraction. We took a lot of pictures there! Then we walked around the city and enjoyed our last day of our epic Bulgaria road trip.
We stayed one night in Veliko Turnovo. Then we took the train to Sofia! It was an amazing adventure! I never thought I would do such thing…
Do you remember your first real road trip? I would love to hear your stories. Comment below.
- Hiking the Seven Rila Lakes in Bulgaria
- Monthly costs of living in Sofia, Bulgaria
- My epic Skydiving experience in Empuriabrava
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Katrina | April 17, 2014
Loved this post! My roommate at university was from Bulgaria, and I loved seeing her pictures and hearing her stories. It looks like a beautiful place to visit with a lot of history and culture!
Maria | Author | April 18, 2014
Hey, Glad to hear you liked it! You should definetely come here, I’ll show you around! There’s really a lot to see.
Simon Hill | June 2, 2018
Your blog is wonderful! I really enjoy reading it.