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Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria (Photo: Anton_Ivanov/Shutterstock.com)
Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria (Photo: Anton_Ivanov/Shutterstock.com)
5.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating

Cruise Critic Staff

Port of Veliko Tarnovo

Built high above the winding Yantra river, Veliko Tarnovo's whitewashed structures with red tile roofs appear to be perched one on top of another, almost hanging from the hills, and look as if they could collapse, domino-style, into the valley below.

The city is important in Bulgarian history -- it was the nation's capital from the 12th to the 14th century during its time of medieval greatness, when it was considered second only to Constantinople in its splendor. Today, it's a university town, which leads to a vibrancy among the historic buildings.

Situated in Bulgaria's mountainous interior, Veliko Tarnovo is reached via a bus ride through the country's agricultural breadbasket, with the hills and mountains rising to meet you as you approach. Most river cruises offer it as an included daylong excursion from the Danube port of Rousse, which itself is pretty dull; if this is your first time in Bulgaria, go.

Shore Excursions

About Veliko Tarnovo


One of Bulgaria's most beautiful cities, with fascinating history


City is a two-hour bus ride each way from the Danube

Bottom Line

Despite distance from the port, this hilled medieval city's charms is worth the trip

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Currency & Best Way to Get Money

The lev is the currency of Bulgaria, although many shops will also accept euros or American dollars. ATMs are also available in principal shopping districts, such as Samovodska Charshiya. For up-to-date currency exchange rates, visit www.xe.com.


Although the local language is Bulgarian, most visitors will have no trouble finding people who speak English in shops or other attractions frequented by tourists. A preponderance of the street signs, however, use the Cyrillic alphabet since Bulgaria is the nation where this alphabet was devised. Signage in English is common in places most visitors will stop.