There’s an awful lot of concrete in Shumen, but it does make its own beer, Shumensko Pivo. Not only that, this somewhat faded but friendly industrial city full of communist memorials is crowned by a striking medieval fortress, and has a surprisingly wide range of eateries and drinking spots. Several museums, a park and a lengthy pedestrian mall where the locals stroll and sip coffee round out the local attractions.
Recent additions on the sleeping scene have also brought fancier, though still quite affordable, accommodation to town, making Shumen an even more comfortable base for day trips to the towns of Veliki Preslav, Madara and even Kotel. The city’s location, at the base of a low spur of the Stara Planina ranges, about halfway between the Black Sea coast and the Danube, also means it’s within a couple of hours’ drive of several unique destinations.