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Veliko Târnovo

Medieval history emanates from Veliko Târnovo’s fortified walls and cobbled lanes. One of Bulgaria’s oldest towns, Veliko Târnovo has as its centrepiece the magnificent restored Tsarevets Fortress, citadel of the Second Bulgarian Empire.

Historic Târnovo is tucked into the dramatic bends of the Yantra River, clasped by an amphitheatre of forested hills. Bulgaria’s 19th-century National Revival splendour is easy to relive along historic lanes such as ul Gurko; similarly evocative is the handicraft market, Samovodska Charshiya, which retains much the same atmosphere it had two centuries ago.

The modern town has burst these tidy seams, splaying west from busy bul Bulgaria. Today’s Târnovo has Bulgaria’s second-largest university and is home to a multicultural expat scene. Its location between Bucharest and Istanbul has made it a backpacker favourite, though it’s worth more than a stopover if you’re to see it from the heights of its fortress down to its ramshackle lanes.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Veliko Târnovo.