Ok, ok, people who know me, know that I have a new obsession for lavender fields. I’ve searched for them last year while in Bulgaria on the Black Sea, but I couldn’t find any that would make me quite happy. So I decided to take the internet by storm and find the best place to find lavender fields in Bulgaria.
The task turned out to be not so easy and even though I’ve done a lot of research, I still could not really put my finger on the map on where these lavish lavender fields of Bulgaria will be found. Many might not know, but Bulgaria is now the largest lavender producer in the world.
Yes, forget France, the lavender fields in Bulgaria, one of the cheapest European countries, should be your next destination! Way cheaper and quite undiscovered and not touristic.
But together with friends, we decided to jump in the car, head to Veliko Tarnovo – a beautiful medieval town in the heart of Bulgaria, surrounded by mountains – and drive all the way to Kazanlak where all the lavender fields were supposed to be.
Getting to Veliko Tarnovo
If like me, you are traveling from Bucharest, you might want to rent a car and hit the road. Just make sure o read all the tips and tricks and be well informed about traveling Bulgaria by car before starting your drive.
Veliko Tarnovo is 170 km away from Bucharest and the drive there will take you around 3 hours. I know, that sounds a lot for this distance, but you must take into account the time you will have to wait at the border and the fact that you won’t be driving on a highway.
We paid the bridge tax at Ruse (around 5 EUR) and the vignette for driving one week on the streets of Bulgaria ( 8 EUR).
If you are coming from somewhere else and want to fly in, Sofia airport might be an option, from where you will have to take a train or rent a car and drive the 230 km. Also, Gorna Oryahovitsa airport is another option, located 10 km away from Veliko Tarnovo. Check this site out for other useful travel information.
Eating in Veliko Tarnovo
When we reached Veliko Tarnovo it was raining and the clouds were heavy over the mountain town, with a rather cold temperature for a late June day.
Since it was almost lunchtime and the weather wasn’t treating us very nice, we decided to head to town and grab a bite to eat. But let me tell you one thing when you are in Bulgaria you don’t only grab something to eat. Bulgarian portions are huge and delicious and you won’t be able to stop just after one bite. Get ready for a foodie weekend!
We decided to each try something else so we can share the food and see what we like most. You will see that there is a lot of meat on the Bulgarian menu, and a lot of oven-cooked dishes topped with cheese. My mouth is watering even as I’m talking about this.
Most restaurants in Veliko Tarnovo come with a view, and we stopped at Ego Pizza & Grill for lunch, but I would also recommend the restaurant just next to it, Shtastliveca.
Looking for another Bulgaria gem? Visit Plovdiv – European Capital of Culture 2019
For dinner, we chose another beautiful place, right next to the Tsarevets fortress – “Restaurant Ivan Asen”. Great traditional delicious Bulgarian food, at the right price and with great service. Don’t leave without trying the traditional dessert they serve here, we almost made this mistake and I’m happy the guys there insisted we try it.
Finding the lavender fields of Bulgaria
Once we regained our forces we decided to head toward Kazanlak.
After running around for a few hours, stopping by whenever we saw lavender fields in the distance only to understand that we could not reach them, have tried to reach one on foot only to find a great lake created by the heavy rain, we decided to give up.
Kazanlak was another disappointment, but I guess the town is beautiful during the Rose Festival, which had taken place one week before our visit.
On our way back towards Veliko Tarnovo, we managed to find one small and very poor lavender field, stopped and took some pictures, and headed back.
Needless to say, I was disappointed since I was dreaming about lavish lavender fields, me running up and down in the middle of their midst, and taking countless beautiful pictures. But let’s kill that dream, shall we?
Even so, the views in this area are beautiful and the wind bringing the pleasant lavender smell toward you makes you want to stay in such a field forever and ever.
Impressed by Veliko Tarnovo
All in all, even though the fields of lavender in Bulgaria were not what I expected them to be (wait for the surprise towards the end of our trip), the small town of Veliko Tarnovo managed to steal my heart and would easily make it on any list with what to do in Bulgaria.
The small streets, traditional colorful houses, hundreds of cats running around on the most hidden alleys, the beautiful mountain view, and the Tsarevets fortress, are only a few of the reasons why you should give this town a chance.
Climb the walls of the fortress, take the elevator to the top of the church, and admire the beautiful view that will fold right beneath your eyes. Wherever you look, you will be surrounded by hills, greens, and mountains.
Stay after dinner in town and don’t miss out on the beautiful lights game on the Tsarevets fortress. We asked around and found out there isn’t a specific time when the show starts, but you will know it as soon as the public lightning gets turned off.
Don’t leave Veliko Tarnovo without savoring a delicious glass of Bulgarian wine or their famous rose water. As you might know, I love a good glass of wine and the one in Bulgaria is particularly good at a surprisingly good price.
What else to do in the area?
Head to Arbanassi – only 3 km away from Veliko Tarnovo, this rustic quiet town will offer you the best views.
Take a detour 15 km away from Veliko Tarnovo to Hotnitsa waterfall not only to enjoy the clear blue water but only for a walk in the canyon. The stairs here are very steep but totally worth climbing, so you will need to come prepared with good climbing shoes.
Good things come to those who wait – the true lavender fields in Bulgaria
Like everything in life, all the good things come when you least expect them and maybe when you have already lost hope and have forgotten them.
That’s what happened to us and our quest for lavender fields. Heading home from Hotnitsa waterfall, the GPS took us on a different road, and after stopping at the most beautiful sunflower field, this beautiful thing opened before our eyes.
We were so happy to see it and you won’t imagine the smell these flowers have. Pure love.
Just make sure not to step on the flowers, they are very precious to their owners. Also, stop by only to take pictures, don’t take any, most of the fields have security so you might want to talk to the people and ask them if it is possible to take pictures only.
But the one thing I’ve learned from this trip is that you cannot force things and everything comes with patience.
Seems you’ve missed the Rose festival by one week, and it’s true that the lavender (or rose fields) near the main roads can be quite hard to access, or not that picturesque, but if you stray a bit from the main roads you’ll find hidden gems of rose fields during May/June.
Hope you’ll visit the rose festival some time soon, it is held every year on the first weekend of June!
Greetings from Kazanlak,
Hi Ivan! I would surely love to visit the area also during the Rose festival, because I have read so much about this and I think it would be an incredible experience. Where would you suggest going for it?