With its striking location just below a steep, narrow gorge in the Vrachanska Mountains, Vratsa makes a handy base for exploring the Vrachanski Balkan Nature Park, as well as Lopushanski and Cherepish Monasteries. It's a quiet, well-kept little town with plenty of laid-back pavement cafes, and there are a couple of worthwhile museums to visit, too.

The centre of Vratsa is pl Hristo Botev, named in honour of the 19th-century revolutionary whose giant statue stands here. Cafes and civic buildings congregate around this square, though most of the action is further east along the pedestrian street of bul Nikola Voyvodov, which finishes at the market near the train station.