From some of the best cheesy bread we’ve ever had to strange but fascinating contemporary art in the Patriarch’s church at the top of Tsarevets fortress.
We explore the tasty and the scenic in the former capital of the 2nd Bulgarian empire – Veliko Tarnovo.
Here or some of our favourite shots to help inspire you to visit Veliko Tarnovo yourself.
Veliko Tarnovo in Photos
Eating great food is one of the main reasons we travel. And, our quest for anything covered in cheese led us to ordering (And then re-ordering) this fantastic 3 cheese flatbread. Made with a blend of mozzarella and both local with and yellow Bulgarian cheeses, it just popped. The strong white cheese, a little more melty than feta, really give a piquance to the overall flavour. Combine that with a homemade Cabernet Sauvignon and you are winning every time.
And where did we eat this cheesiest of cheesy breads? Hadji Nikoli. This old coaching inn was built in 1858 for the incredibly successful merchant of the same name who was an important public figure in Veliko Tarnovo. It is the only one of 70 inns of this kind that still survive in the city and is one hell of an atmospheric location to enjoy dinner… And cheesy bread.
That moment when you walk past a gift shop and they are actively encouraging everyone to take photos wearing one of their crazy masks. The Kukeri masks are used to ward off evil spirits during the kukeri festival.
Tsarevets fortress is the largest in Bulgaria. The original fortress was constructed during the 12th century and was an important structure for Veliko Tarnovo as the then capital of the 2nd Bulgarian Empire. At the top of the hill within the fortress sits Patriarch’s Cathedral.
The inside of Patriarch’s cathedral features incredible, modern frescos. These were added during the reconstruction of the building, which happend in the 20th century. The original building was greatly damaged in 1393.
Another break for food – the best reason to travel! This is Mixed Sach – with chicken & Sausage, covered in cheese. At Bianco’s restaurant in downtown. Hadji Nikoli inn certainly had better food, but Bianco’s was great for tasty, simple dishes at a cheaper price.
Veliko Tarnovo stretches along the hillsides of the Yantra river. This makes for a lot of picturesque city views.
The hillside location also means scenic winding streets.
Back to the food again. We really did eat very well in Veliko Tarnovo. A fresh and tasty take on fries! The addition of herbs and onion really works.
As you walk around the town you discover unexpected art works everywhere.
When night falls, the Tsarevets fortress comes alive with lasers.
If you don’t want to pay for front row seats inside the fortress, you can watch the whole show from the hill opposite at Cathedral Rozhdestvo Bogorodichno.
A trip to an Balkan country would not be complete without a kebab. The kebapche is Bulgaria’s version of kofte kebab. Juicy minced meat mixed into a skinless sausage and grilled. Yep, this is simple but it rocks!
We always love cat cities, and Veliko tarnovo is full of cats! We ate great food at Малкия интер and were thoroughly entertained by the kittens all round the restaurant. This was probably our second choice for great food after Hadji Nikoli Inn. Try one of the stews baked in a clay pot.
We got very lucky and saw a super moon rise behind Patriarch’s Cathedral. Wow!
If I didn’t mention before how much we like cheese, and how awesome it is that Bulgarians love cheese too, well let me just reiterate that. Although this deep fried brie is not really Bulgarian, it was damn tasty, paired with cranberry sauce and fresh orange pieces.
We had no idea how good Bulgarian food was until we visited. It’s certainly jumped into one of our top foodie destinations. They even lay claim the “Greek Yoghurt” is actually “Bulgarian Yoghurt”. Just that the Greeks did a better job on international marketing! That really, the best and original yoghurt is in Bulgaria. Well, we like both. And we can’t wait to go back again to eat even more delicious Bulgarian meals.
The town itself has a unique charm being situated stretched like a snake across the valleys. You’ll get some exercise to work off all that tasty cheese, walking up and down those hills!
Accommodation in Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria
Some top picks of places to stay.
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