Earth : Europe : Balkans : Bulgaria : Central Northern Bulgaria : Veliko Turnovo
A town with very rich history, Veliko Turnovo was the capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire and has long traditions in the culture of Bulgaria. The city is rich in museums and historical sites, combined with vivacious night life propelled by the students in one of the largest universities in Bulgaria.
Although Veliko Turnovo's "Airport Gorna Oryahovitsa" located 4 km away is currently not open to passenger air traffic (it is possible to arrange private aircraft landings there by arrangement), it is possible to fly to Bulgaria's capital city Sofia, or the coastal city of Varna and then by rail or modern coach to Veliko Turnovo.
There is a small railway station in the town and it is possible to get a taxi to the centre of town from there for a cheap price. It usually serves trains that travel North-South and connect to the main lines : northern line (Bucharest, Rousse, Varna) and southern line ( Plovdiv, Bourgas and Istanbul. There are also local buses going just by the station, go to the bus stop next to a small restaurant building. There are buses at least every 20 minutes, and it costs 0,70 levs (~0,35 €). You should have small money with you. A bus ride to the city center takes about 10-15 minutes. You can also walk, which takes around 20-30 minutes.
An alternative is to get a train at the larger railway station at the nearby town of Gorna Oryahovitsa. You could then take a bus/minibus/taxi from Gorna Oryahovitsa station to Veliko Turnovo. Taxi from/to Gorna Oryahovitsa to/from Veliko Tarnovo should cost 8-10 levs - you can ask for fixed price if you want to be sure.
If you are planning to take the train to another country, tickets can't be bought at the train terminal. This is a place just behind the tourist information centre where you can buy international tickets. The train station is at considerable distance from this place.
One of the main roads in Bulgaria runs through the city, so car transport is not a problem to and from the city. Since the town is located relatively in the centre of Bulgaria, it is quite comfortable to stop there for an hour to rest and get a glimpse of the sights.
Busses run approximately hourly from Sofia and Varna. Several buses daily run from Plovdiv, Rousse and other major Bulgarian cities. The small bus station is ~1km far from the centre of town so arrange pickup during winter. The ticket for the busses, departuring from Sofia to Turnovo, costs about 20-22 leva (10-11 euro).
If in Veliko Turnovo, make sure to visit the castle of the old Bulgarian capital - Tsarevets. The city is divided into an old and new parts. The old city itself is a collection of traditional renaissance houses scattered over the hills around the river Yantra and the new part consists of a mixture of communistic and modern style buildings. There are various historical museums, located in Old Town, and an art museum on an island in the river. Nearby Arbanassi on the hilltop 4 km away is also worth a visit, a taxi will cost about 3-4 Leva
Shopska Salad is made from tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, peppers, and sirene (feta type) cheese; it is cheap and great as a snack. There are many restaurants and bars in Veliko Turnovo and this will be one of the most common things on the menu. More advance options are Ovcharska Salad (with ham) and Selska Salad (with eggs).
Bars and restaurants worth visiting:
Veliko Turnovo offers a wide range of accommodation, from very cheap private rooms and hostels to 4* hotels that can make you feel like you are in a Western European town or city. There is seemingly something to suit all types of people that are staying in the town.
There are a number of 4* hotels in Veliko Turnovo with modern facilities and clean, comfortable rooms.
With a little common sense and respect for the locals, your stay in Veliko Turnovo will be a safe one. It is a friendly student town with a lot of history and welcoming people.
A place to see is nearby village of Arbanassi.
The roads around Veliko Turnovo are generally in good condition, making for pleasant (if sometimes rather hilly) cycling. A number of monasteries are close enough for cycling day trips. The closest and easiest is Preobruzhenie Monastery, approximately 5km north-west of Veliko Turnovo. It is also moderately easy to cycle to Arbanassi, although a few kilometres of climbing and high traffic may put off beginners.
The city of Gabrovo to the south-west, at the foot of the Balkan Mountains, which has historic sites, a humor museum and impressive shopping and dining opportunities, is worth visiting.
Nature Park Bulgarka, just south of Gabrovo, provides many out door activities opportunities for people who enjoy nature and hiking.
The Road Junky Oasis is a creative retreat center for travelers with short courses and workshops going on 40km away in the forest near Elena.