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Road trip: Advice needed!

Me and some friends are thinking of going on a 5-day Balkan roadtrip . The main theme of the trip is Bucharest and the Peles and Pelisor castles in Romania, so we are looking to spend a couple of days there. We also intend to check out some cool places on the way to and from such as Veliko Tarnovo in Bulgaria. In this respect, we have a couple of questions:

We understand that the weather in Romania can be rough with quite a lot of snow in the winter. Is there any chance that the castles (or the road towards them) may be closed due to snow?

Any cool places to stay/check out in southern Serbia on the way back?

Any delicacies we should absolutely check out with respect to places? We are foodies!

The depicted route is a rough draft, suggestions are more than welcome but the total route time should stay at around ~23hr... thanks in advance!

Posted by
24061 posts

Where are you starting and ending up? Neither Veliko Tarnovo nor southern Serbia is particularly close to the places you mentioned in Romania.

Romania has some handsome cities that Ceausescu didn't get around to rebuilding in concrete. Brasov is one of them.

That part of the Balkan peninsula is rather poor, so you might benefit from doing some research on restaurants ahead of time. It wouldn't surprise me if a lot of the best restaurants are in high-end hotels. I remember a comment somewhere along the way (perhaps from Rick) back before my 2015 trip that Romanians couldn't really afford to eat out. My impression was that Bulgaria was no wealthier and ingredient quality could be an issue. I ate a lot of chicken kebabs. Veliko Tarnovo gets a lot of tourists (there was an Asian tour group at my hotel), so it has a lot of restaurants. In other places there weren't so many.

On Serbian menus you're likely to see several sauces/dips listed as add-ons. They cost only about the equivalent of $1 US at the time of my trip and were very tasty. Definitely try those. Serbia also has a flaky pastry (I think originally Turkish) sold at stands and probably also in bakeries. I don't remember whether they call it "borek" or something else; that might be the Turkish name. I had it, at different times, stuffed with salty cheese or sweet cheese. It's quite oily, so those with sensitive stomachs should be careful about consuming too much, and if you buy it to consume later you would do best to have a plastic bag with you.

In Romania I enjoyed the fresh-baked, ring-shaped bread (like really stretched out bagels) called "simit"--though I think you might run into them under another name. I suspect they, too, came originally from Turkey or the Middle East. You can get simit plain or with seeds on the outside. Once I found them with coconut, and I think they might sometimes be prepared with sweetened cheese or perhaps chocolate inside. They're a nice breakfast or snack to munch on while you walk around. I saw them being sold from street-side windows in bakeries all over Romania.

Posted by
9 posts

If you wanted to make an interesting trip out of it leave Sofia to the last few days (leave the car at the airport on your return as it will be a hindrence in Sofia) and drive directly from the airport to koprivshtitsa:

Stay overnight in Koprivshtitsa. it is just over 60 miles (108km) but will take you two hours.

the following day continue on via the shipka pass then call to the Etar Complex

The Etar Complex is 85 miles. (138km) from Koprivshtitsa.

It is then just 30 miles from The Etar Architectural-Ethnographic Complex to Veliko Tarnovo.

if you have time you could also visit Dryanovo monastery as it is on your way to VT.

It is well worth staying in Veliko Tarnovo in the Old town area. There are many very reasonably priced hotels in VT and it has several good Restaurants also; plus lots and lots to see and do.

My favourite restaurant in VT is the Shatastliveca, also known as the Happy Man omegle

It is 160 miles from Veliko Tarnovo to Albena.

Just a few ideas for your outward journey. Visiting all of these places will add aprox 80km, 50 miles to your total journey.