It doesn’t matter if you are in Bulgaria for a week, a month or a year, there never seems to be enough time when you are traveling. As the people often say – you would always happily take few more days to fit in something that slipped away from the original to-do list. But there is also another saying – “the best way to get to know a country is to explore its countryside”. Here I will share with you my top suggestions for things to do in Koprivshtitsa. That small but charming Bulgarian town is one of the few managed to keep its authentic atmosphere through the centuries.
How to get to Koprivshtitsa
Only 109 km. from the capital Sofia you will find the town of Koprivshtitsa. There are three main ways to reach the town. Depending on your personal preference you can choose the one which suits you the most. I will try to point out some of the pros and cons in order for you to make that decision a bit easier.
Organized trip with a tour guide
Many travelers seem to enjoy organized tours so here are some of the reasons why:
- You don’t really have to move a finger. Someone else will do everything has to be done – logistics, transport, restaurants, entrance fees etc., everything but the tips. All you have to do is to show up on time.
- Ask and your questions will be answered. The organized tours have local guides and you will be able not just to ask, but also to spend the day together with a person who has in-depth knowledge and might be able to show you “hidden gems” you would never have found on your own.
- No “language issues” – there will be someone who will take care of the communication with the locals.
- You will be able to see more for less. Since the traveler’s time is often limited, being on an organized tour, you won’t waste valuable time searching for a restaurant, booking tickets or trying to figure out public transport.
Of course, sometimes not all you want goes to plan:
- Sharing a trip with people you’ve never met before, brings the risk of finding out that you have nothing in common with the others. So having the tour guide with the your group often is a way to break the ice.
- Traveling with a group has its own risks. Most of the times that means you have to conform with others and for those who are not very social, it’s better to book a private tour.
- Pre-organized tours follow a program and have a time frame, which often doesn’t give as much flexibility as travelling with car rental for example.
Traventuria offers a trip combing a visit to the revival town of Koprivshtitsa, and a visit to the 2019 European Capital of culture – Plovdiv. Joining this combo tour is a time-efficient way to explore two of the most-visited places in Bulgaria in one day only. Check/Book the tour: HERE . We also offer a tour to Koprivshtitsa and the beautiful Rose Valley: HERE
Rent a car
Yes, you can do that. The booking is relatively and has its positive sides:
- The flexibility is the biggest plus in my opinion. Along the way you will see different forests, wonderful views revealing the valleys around. And if you stay alert, at 15 km before Koprivshtitsa you can see a small waterfall whose water sometimes reaches the road itself. You can stop at any time to enjoy the beauty offered to you by the nature.
- Somebody else would take care for the vehicle after you are done with it.
- You can select the most convenient size of car for you and your friends or family.
At the same time there are some facts you should keep in mind:
- Driving on your own in a foreign country is not always the best experience you can have. Not being familiar with the local ways, you might end up frustrated instead of having fun and enjoying your vacation.
- What if you blow up a tire? Not everyone can handle the flat tire and it is not necessary – we are not mechanics.
- Papers, deposits and timing – many rental companies will give you tons of papers to sign, and for every little scratch on the vehicle they will take money from the deposit you were forced to give at the beginning.
Note that you will have to park and leave your vehicle away because of the cobblestone streets. The walk in Koprivshtitsa and sightseeing is not suitable for people with disabilities.
Public transport to Koprivshtitsa
No, I haven’t forgotten about that option, but I think it is actually the least attractive way. The pros are obvious to all of us:
- If you are one of the people who wants to reach from point A to point B as soon as it possible with no distractions – that should be your choice. No one will bother you and you will enjoy the views along the trip in your own way.
- You don’t have to worry about insurance or flat tires or any similar potential issues – but the same thing I could say about the organized trip with a tour guide.
- You can get to know the locals a little bit more, along your travel.
It is time to pay attention to the cons using the public transport:
- It is going to take much more time to reach the town of Koprivshtitsa with a public bus or even train, compared to the other ways from the listed above.
- If you miss the bus/train, nobody is going to wait and you might find yourself in the middle of the country you are not familiar with, trying to deal with a language barrier and searching for a solution of your situation on your own.
- Compared to the easy way to book a guided tour online, you will have to get your ticket for the bus/train from the station on spot.
- The last but not least – Koprivshtitsa train station is located 10 km. away from the town, because of the landscape including mountains and hills. There is a shuttle bus driving the people from the train station to the town, but you can think about this – what if there is a 20 seat bus, but the passengers are 22?
On the way from Sofia to Koprivshtitsa you can stop at beautiful places to have a short rest and to enjoy the surroundings. Also be aware and look around for storks, the majestic birds are permanent residents in the villages around, during the spring and summer season.
(View from the area near by the town of Koprivshtitsa)
Once arrived in the town of Koprivshtitsa, get rid of the vehicle and give yourself a moment to appreciate the beauty of the colorful houses, most of which were built during the revival period in Bulgaria. Few of them are turned into museums and can be explored by visitors. In the main square you will find the Tourist Information Center from where you can get a round ticket for six of the houses (maintained by the municipality) and most importantly – a map of the area. The map, I can assure you, is every traveler’s best friend – so make sure that it is always close to you. The museums we are talking about are not just random houses, but they were homes of lots of prominent Bulgarians. Politicians and diplomats, writers and poets, revolutionaries and patriots, have grown up here to become the strong personalities that Bulgaria knows and remembers to this day.
The route I usually take starts with the house of Nencho Oslekov. Keep in mind that this is a private museum and not related to the other six for which you already have a ticket.
The beautiful wood-carved ceilings, the rich wall paintings and in-house arrangements show how the wealthy people lived in the middle of XIX century.
Taste homemade jam and raspberry wine
Your walk can continue up the cobblestone street. In less than a minute after you leave the first house, a surprise will appear in front of you. The smell of freshly made pancakes will tease your senses. Right on time for a light breakfast. Аs in every place in the world, there is something in Koprivshtitsa that the locals are extremely proud of, and not without reason – the homemade jam.
(Street vendor selling sweets and pancakes)
Not just one specific type, no! Every single fruit which has “berry” at the end is a material for divinely delicious sweet jam. Strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, blueberry, elderberry and many more… you name it – they have it.
You can add the sweet jam to pancakes to eat along the way while exploring the town’s museums. If it happens for you to see a long bottle with red or pink liquid inside, do not hesitate – that is raspberry wine, made just as all the jams, by berries from the area around. Sweet and light, the local wine is another way to immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the small town.
Once received a dose of energy continue to the next house museum. the closest will be Dimcho Debelyanov’s house. The smoothest Bulgarian poet – as many people know him, lived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Pull out the map and by just following the directions and signs on the streets in couple of minutes you will see a beautiful blue house. All the time while browsing the house you will hear a voice reciting some of the most famous poems by Debelyanov.
Using the map as a guide light, find your way to Todor Kableshkov’s house. One of the youngest revolutionaries to give his life for Bulgarian liberation was born and raised here.
The ground floor is turned into an ethnographic museum, showing the lifestyle of the locals. while the upper floor is entirely devoted to the April Uprising which triggered all liberation moves.
You can continue by walking down the street until you reach the house of one of the renowned merchants in the area from the past. Fascinating with its amazing wood carved ceilings, visiting the house is one of the top things to do in Koprivshtitsa.
To enter all of the houses except for the first one, all you have to do is to show the round ticket you bought at the beginning of the tour.
Advice to keep in mind:
The expositions are amazing and fully reflect the local lifestyle and culture. However, there is no English explanation everywhere, and guides who work for museums are not always to be found, which can put visitors in an awkward situation. While being on an organized tour your guide will be able to answer all of your questions and add to the experience by sharing local legends and stories that could be hard to find on your own.
Time for lunch
Exhausted from the walking part, you can enjoy delicious local specialties at the charming restaurants around. You haven’t really been in Koprivshtitsa if you haven’t tried “Parlenka”. It is a small piece of bread that resembles pizza in shape. Often it is served with butter, garlic and spices on top. Another taste you should try is called “Lyutenitsa”.
In every part of the country, people use a different recipe for the preparation of this sauce, but there is something special in Koprivshtitsa’s “Lyutenitsa”. The main ingredients are tomatoes, roasted red peppers, eggplants, carrots and onions, but that is just the basics, the rest depends on the imagination of the locals.
Mixing these two, you will realize how much truth there is in the statement “the best way to get to know a country is to explore its countryside”. The most convenient place I believe, is a small family restaurant called “Chuchura”. Since it is located right at the main street it is hard to miss it. The friendly staff and remarkable food will make you want to stay there forever.
After lunch, if you still have the energy to explore, you can go from the other side of the small river dividing the town in two and find the rest of the museums. The map should be still with you, which is going to make the search into a treasure hunt.
Talk to the locals
During your tour, for finding museums you will get the opportunity to meet some of the locals. And here comes the fun with my personal tip for you…
We all know that in the small villages there is one storage of information, a force – able to stay strong and not change its nature through the time, one powerful well of knowledge that could never be questioned… Yes, I am talking about the old ladies, who spend their day sitting on benches in front of their houses by observing, sharing and talking with everybody who is willing to spend few minutes in their company.
Charming and smiling, they always enjoy the attention of visitors. And if you manage to win their trust, they can tell you stories you won’t find in any guide book. Note that this experience could be possible with the help of your tour guide only.
Find the high ground spot with the horseman
The place is easy to be found as it is 11m. height monument, depicting a charging horseman and it easily could be seen from the entire town. Not just a random warrior, but one of the great Bulgarian revolutionaries – Georgi Benkovski.
(Georgi Benkovski monument)
His detachment was known as “The Flying Band” (Hvarkovata cheta) because it toured the entire region tirelessly, mobilizing many insurgents. The place will give you astonishing view to the entire valley and a moment to appreciate the experience of that day.
After spending all day exploring the small revival town, you will probably be tired and want a break. But have some more patience for the sights you are about to see on your way back to Sofia. Along the way, the forests you saw in the morning will look completely different in the evening. The shades from the trees will provoke your imagination and recall some of the images you have seen during your walk in Koprivshtitsa.