Bulgaria is easy to travel on the cheap but, even better than budget travel is when things are FREE! If you’re thinking of visiting the old capital and are looking for different alternatives to the usual tourist trails, try out some of these FREE things to do in Veliko Tarnovo.
1.Take a Tour
Tours are a great way to experience a place and get knowledge of the area through the expertise of a local guide. Tarnovo has two free tours: choose between a culinary tour of the city with The VT Foodies where you can sample traditional Bulgarian food from local eateries while hearing the stories behind recipes and the city itself. Personally, I loved visiting the market and learnt so much about the unfamiliar ingredients used in Bulgarian cooking.
The second tour is a free walking tour which guides you through the city’s streets and landmarks where you’ll learn all about both the city’s historical and contemporary tales, many of which you might not know without learning about them from these local and knowledgeable guides.
If you want to enjoy a different perspective on Tarnovo take a walk through the local quarter of Assenov, over the river and up in the direction of Abanassi for an eco trail through the forestry and spectacular views. Closer to the centre, wander upwards through the narrow, cobbled streets of Varusha, and walk into the hills which go as far as the Preobrzhensky Monastery. If off-the-beaten track is more your style, then further afield is the Emen Gorge and Hotnitsa waterfall where you can hike your way to a beautiful spot, take a picnic and, if you’re brave enough, take a dip in the waters.
3. Community Events
Check out the Bread House for a different perspective on the culture and history of Bulgarian bread of which there are many different types according to their celebrations and festivals. Mainly aimed at children, although not exclusive to, you can take part in making bread whilst understanding how important bread is to the Bulgarian culture. TAM bar also has many free events focusing on local and international poetry, music and art. Enjoy a herbal tea or something stronger and immerse yourself in some cultural inspiration.
4. Tourist Attractions
There is a huge amount of monasteries and churches in Tarnovo and the surrounding region. Although not all of them are free, you can visit most of them without paying an entrance fee and walking around these architectural beautiful buildings is a must on your visit. The city’s museums and galleries are all free on the last Thursday of every month so if you time your travels right, you can add them to your bucket list too. Finally, the Sound and Light show, usually held at Tsarevets with the 3D version happening at the Four Horses, is always free on Public Holidays but you might catch a free show if you’re in the area during other times too. Unfortunately, if other tourists have paid for the show, there is no way of knowing what days it’s on unless you head that way at nightfall.
The summer months are particularly popular for free concerts in the Marno Pole Park which includes the recent International Folklore Festival. Marno Pole park, the biggest in the centre, is where you can pass the time in one of the many cafes, or simply watch the locals playing chess. The Assens’ Monument (Four Horses) also has a variety of specially hosted cultural and music performances so if you’re here at the right time, you might even get to see and hear free concerts during the summer months.
Finally, it goes without saying that strolling through the streets of Veliko Tarnovo is an attraction in itself! And on your way, check out the free art which adorns the electricity boxes and brightens up abandoned wall spaces.
Do you know more free things to do in Veliko Tarnovo? If you do, please share in the comment box below 🙂