Hotnitsa – the Piece of Heaven near Veliko Tarnovo

   You’ve all heard about Veliko Tarnovo (or Turnovo). If you haven’t I can tell you it’s the former capital of Vlaho-Bulgarian Empire, now a university city and a district capital, located 160 km away from Bucharest. It’s a lovely small city with an imposing stronghold and a history over 5000 years old, with warm people (seriously…I touched some) and beautiful women (them, I haven’t touched). I can’t really say what the most beautiful thing over there is–the green and skittish landscape, the narrow paved roads between old wooden houses, orthe huge stronghold where you can take a short nap on its walls. Or maybe you would like the local beer? Yes, there is also a beer factory there. Bolyarka, a decent beer at a very good price. The best is Zagorka though, which is almost 2 leva.

   We also enjoyed old time Kinder eggs, which we found in a small boutique, or the apple vodka of which we took plenty, back home.

   It’s a city that deserves a weekend, perhaps more than a ride to Braşov. It is easily reached by car after you pass Giurgiu bridge (5€ a crossing, 5€ bulgarian vignette). There are plenty of road signs. If you are a student don’t forget to bring your student card – it can save some money. Between 17th and 24th of July there will be the International Folklore Festival.

   But this article is not about Veliko Tarnovo..

Hotnitsa Waterfall

cascada hotnitsa

   Ok, you saw Veliko Tarnovo. You must take another day or at least a few hours for a relaxing walk in the nature at Hotnitsa. It’s not so easily found if someone doesn’t show you the way. Meanwhile signs started to appear.

   The only thing we knew when we wanted to get there was that, on the road to Ruse, we had to turn left somewhere. Obviously we missed the spot and there was nobody to ask. We eventually found a group of 3-4 Bulgarian people, one of which, we noticed afterwards, had a gun. And was wearing plainclothes. Anyway, after a few long minutes of gesticulations – we didn’t speak Bulgarian, they didn’t speak English – the guy with the gun got in a car and made a sign to follow him. After exchanging frightened looks we decided to follow him. We locked the doors, as if that could have stopped any bullets, and we started praying not to be shot. After about 2 km the guy stopped, made a sign telling us we need to go straight ahead, through the open field, all alone. We finally got to the destination.

   Hotnitsa is, to use the right words, a small piece of heaven. It’s quiet and not at all crowded because only locals know about it. The water is clear and has the nicest shade of blue. It smells heavenly, especially in spring due to the thousands of flowers around and you have about 2 km of marked trails, small bridges through a small canyon full of plants, butterflies and small waterfalls. Near the waterfall there are plenty of paddocks where you can lay for a short afternoon nap. But I will let the photos convince you:

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How to get to Hotnitsa

   From Veliko Tarnovo you head to Ruse. After 8-9 km you reach Samovodene village, where you have to turn left at the first crossroad. You go straight ahead and at the next crossroad you turn left again. And after a few km you reach Hotnitsa village, where there should be signs to Ecotrail or Hotnitsa Waterfall. You will have to turn left just when you enter the village, then keep the road and pass through a paddock. The road will split in two again. Remember to go on the right road, which descends slightly. After a few hundred meters you will reach a parking lot from where you can see the waterfall. Enjoy.

See Hotnitsa Waterfall on a larger map

Let’s go back to Veliko Tarnovo

   About Veliko Tarnovo you can find a bunch of information.

   Veliko Tarnovo is also known as a meeting place for climbers; A kind of Mecca of climbers. Plenty of rocks in the area (e.g. Trinity Rocks – 80m high and 1 km wide, Usteto – 40m high) are perfect for stuff like that.

   Here are some photos for the excitement of climbers:

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   You can find out more about where and how you will climb from Diana Peeve. We met Diana on an evening at a couple of Bolyarka beers. She is joyful all the time, absolutely passionate about her climbing and she can teach you how this stuff works.

   If you want to learn how to climb, rappel or if you are a professional and you need an escalade partner to show you the best places you can count on her. Diana and her colleagues offer beginner courses (and much more).

   They were the first to rappel on Hotnitsa Waterfall. It was crazy! We would have wanted to take a swim in the water but sadly it was too cold.

   You can find Diana at or  +359899 87 16 88. She can give you an introductory course, which means climbing half a day and having fun or a more detailed course where you learn more about equipment too. The prices are according to what you want to do and how much you want to learn and they start from 20 Euros.

   The readers of get a 5% discount if they mention in the email or at the phone the code: nomadic climbers

Where to stay in Veliko Tarnovo?

   We recommend Phoenix Hostel. We stayed there and felt like home. The owners are two Scottish people (Nick and Cathy) who got bored of the strict rules in Scotland, jumped on a motorbike and saw the world. They wanted to settle in Turkey but they found Veliko Tarnovo on the way. They liked it so much so they bought a house from 1850, renovated, convinced it to smell like wood and good spirit and they opened up the hostel. They have some very interesting stories in their bag.

   It is not the cheapest one in Veliko, but it surely is the most pleasant.

    A bed is 20 leva a night (approximately 10 Euros) and you get a delicious breakfast and a beer included in the price. The double room (actually the 4 bed one if booked in time) is 50 leva a night. They have free Internet and everything you can possibly need, and on a wall there are photos with people who stayed at them. You can also park the car or the motorbike near the house, only you have to be pretty handy to get it on the narrow steep roads.

   You will get precious information at the hostel about what more to see, including about the road to Hotnitsa. They can also plan trips with their car.

   They have a special offer: if u book in time and it’s not a big holiday (Christmas, Easter) and you pay for 2 night the 3rd night is free. You can find their contact details on their site

   Except for Hotnitsa and Veliko Tarnovo you can also see:

- Arbannassi village, which we didn’t find extraordinary, but it gives the city a nice perspective

- Emen Eco Trail – a small but spectacular canyon with a waterfall, at about 25 km from Veliko Tarnovo on the way to Sophia.

- Dryanovo


- Monastery, which is right near the cit and also gives a nice view

- The stone monasteries from Ivanovo Dryanovo on your way to Ruse

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Posted by Arbanasi – a Tourism Gem in the Heart of Bulgaria | world travel tours on May 25, 2010 at 4:10 am

[...] Hotnitsa – the Piece of Heaven near Veliko Tarnovo « Nomadic Lifestyle [...]

Posted by Tatyana Birch on February 23, 2011 at 7:07 pm

What Vlaho-Bulgarian empire???
Veliko Turnovo was the capital the Second Bulgarian Kingdom,
You guys seem to need to read a bit of history:

I like your anti-spamming technique though, I always wish sites ask for solving math tasks instead of reading blurred images to prove you are human.

And one more thing – we call Veliko Tarnovo, just Turnovo, as this was its name until 1965. The growing English community started calling it Veliko, which I am sure it means Great Tarnovo.

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