Veliko Tarnovo is one of the most picturesque towns in Bulgaria. While it’s known for its’ history and unique architecture, there are still many things to do in Veliko Tarnovo with kids. From exploring the impressive Tsarevets Fortress to relaxing and playing in one of the parks, there’s plenty for kids to do while parents can explore the town, walk the charming streets and step back in time in this Ottoman-style Old Town.
Often called the “City of Tsars”, Veliko Tarnovo is one of Bulgaria’s oldest towns and was once the capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire. Ottoman-style houses rise up from the banks of the Yantra river, seemingly piled on top of one another and resembling an amphitheatre with the houses looking out over the river.
While this looks stunning in photos and provides some spectacular views, it also means that there are lots of hills and LOTS of stairs connecting streets on different levels. It is NOT a great place to walk around with a stroller. The stairs aren’t too steep for small children but it is a lot for little legs to manage.
That being said, my four year olds had a fantastic time and voted Veliko Tarnovo one of their favourite places to explore while we were in Eastern Europe!
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Things to do in Veliko Tarnovo with Kids
While there are plenty of things to do in Veliko Tarnovo with kids, the biggest attraction has to be Tsarevets Fortress and the Light and Sound Show.
Explore Tsarevets Fortress
Located high on Tsarevets hill, the reconstructed Tsarevets Fortress was formerly a home to the medieval tsars and is a great place to spend a few hours exploring. There are paths along the inside of the gates – if you head to the left, the paths follow the fortress walls. Kids are allowed to run free and explore, although be cautious at Execution Rock at the north end! As you walk along the paths, you can see the large lights that are used in the Sound and Light Show. In the center of the fortress, head up to the Church of the Blessed Saviour – the view of the city from the front steps is impressive!
Experience the Sound and Light Show
Tsarevets Fortress hosts an excellent Sound and Light Show, using lights, music, lasers and bells to depict the history of Bulgaria. The show lasts for approximately 25 minutes, and even without knowing any of the history, the show is still spectacular! The Sound and Light Show is performed a few times a week in the summer, and throughout the rest of the year only a few times a month. Check out the dates on their website (some are free, some are paid). If you have a minute, check out their website to read about the Second Bulgarian Empire and the history behind the show.
>>Tip: Head down to Tsar Asen I Square, right in front of the main gates of the Tsarevets Fortress, for a good spot to view the light show. Arrive early though, as it will get busy!
Other Things to do in Veliko Tarnovo with Kids
Visit Asen’s Monument
The Asenevtsi monument can be seen from many parts of Veliko Tarnovo. Four horsemen (the Asen brothers) surround a large sword, which symbolizes the rise of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom in the 12th and 13th centuries. While the history may be interesting for adults, kids will enjoy stretching their legs in the surrounding green space.
Explore Sveta Gora Park
This large park near the Asen monument is a beautiful place to walk and let kids stretch their legs. In the center of Sveta Gora Park there’s a playground for kids to burn off some energy. Parents will also enjoy walking along the many paths and admiring the great views.
Walk along Ulitsa Gurko
Take a stroll along Ulitsa Gurko, the oldest street in Veliko Tarnovo. The Ottoman-style houses that line the street appear to be piled on top of one another, lending to the street’s charm. There’s a beautiful view of the river and the Asen monument – if you’re there around sunset, the views are spectacular!
Shop on Samovodska Charshiya
In the 19th century, this was the biggest market area in Veliko Tarnovo, with vendors selling local produce alongside traditional craftsmen. Today, Samovodska Charshiya has many small shops selling handicrafts and sweets, making it a great place to pick up some souvenirs.
Relax and Play at Marno Pole Park
Located near the centre of town, Marno Pole Park is a popular spot with paths, benches, fountains, large trees and flower gardens. It’s a great spot to walk and take a rest from the stairs and hills found in other parts of the city! There is also a playground for kids with swings and climbing frames.
Walk across the Stambolov Bridge
The Stambolov Bridge crosses the Yantra River and connects the central part of the city with Mount Athos. It’s a pedestrian only bridge, although you will find bicycles crossing as well. Although crossing the bridge is an interesting experience on its’ own, many people cross just for the view of the Old Town.
Kids are warmly welcomed in Veliko Tarnovo, as they are everywhere in Bulgaria. This was the first place we visited in Bulgaria and we were surprised by how much the Bulgarian people loved kids. Don’t be surprised if the locals try to give your kids an extra treat!
Enjoy the history, picturesque lanes and charming houses that Veliko Tarnovo has to offer, and don’t worry about things to do in Veliko Tarnovo with kids. Almost everything (except the many staircases and cobbled lanes) is kid-friendly and if they aren’t, the locals will be more than eager to help you manage!
Now start planning your visit and make sure to include these things to do in Veliko Tarnovo with kids! I guarantee that everyone in the family will have a good time and I hope that you will love the city as much as we did!