2. Veliko Tarnovo
The legendary City of the Tsars stands aloft on the edge of the rising foothills of Bulgaria’s northern mountains. Bisected by the S-shaped meanders of the Yantra River, the town’s setting is nothing short of breathtaking, with terraces of terracotta-coloured roofs looming over the waterways below.
The pretty cobblestone lanes and half-timbered homes of this one’s old town are prime examples of what’s now known as the Tarnovo school, which developed as the Second Bulgarian Empire boomed in the Middle Ages.
That means travelers here experience a mixture of natural beauty – courtesy of the wild coniferous woods that blanket the landscapes all around – and unbridled culture and history, oozing from the Tsarevets capitol and the clutch of gorgeous Byzantine churches.