bulgarian villages

The epicenter of some of the world’s most iconic events, Bulgaria has many fascinating stories to tell. A cultural hotspot, Bulgaria is where nature and man have the perfect communion. Whether you long for fairytale palaces or are a fan of classical music, Bulgaria is set to satiate your most whimsical wanderlust.

The real magic of Bulgaria unfolds in its tiny towns and sleepy villages. To truly experience the essence of Bulgarian history and culture, a visit to these villages is a must. Here are our favorite villages in Bulgaria:

1. Shiroka Laka

Shiroka Laka  is a village in the very south of Bulgaria, located in Smolyan municipality, Smolyan Province. It is a proclaimed architectural and folklore reserve and lies in the central Rhodope Mountains, 23 km northwest of Smolyan, 16 km west of Pamporovo and 22 km southeast of Devin. Shiroka Laka is famous for its authentic Rhodopean houses set in tiers on both banks of the local river. The old houses were designed in the characteristic architectural style of the Rhodopes by the noted local building masters, and feature two storeys, oriels, built-in cupboards and a small cellar with a hiding place. The thick white walls hide the yard from the outsiders’ eyes. The yard is small and slab-covered and has a typical stone drinking fountain in the middle. Some of the most famous houses are those of the Zgurov, Uchikov and Grigorov families.

2. Village of Gela

Gela village is located at the foot of the most magnificent mountain peaks in the Rhodopi mountain – Goliam Perelik, Orpheus peak and peak Turlata, as the village is 18 kilometers away from Pamporovo and 30 kilometers away from Smolian town. It is situated in the heart of the mountain and the population of this small village is 98 inhabitants. This village has century-old history and has preserved beautiful legends.
Legends say that this village was the birth-place of Orpheus. The name of the mythical ancient Thracian singer Orpheus is associated with many legends – his name is associated with the cave Diavolsko gurlo and with the lands around Gela village.

3. Zheravna

Time has stopped here… You won’t see people hurry for work or anything else. Life is passing with the typical tranquility of the mountain villages living. People of Zheravna are somehow over the everyday things – maybe a remain from the great past of the village.


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4. Village of Bozhentsi

Тhe village of Bozhentsi is an architectural reserve in the Gabrovo region of Bulgaria.

The village has around 100 houses, all of which are well preserved from the Bulgarian Revival period. Most of the houses in Bozhentsi have been turned into museums, restaurants, shops or guest houses making it a popular tourist destination. The village is also protected from construction as it is part of UNESCO’s cultural monuments.

I recently spent 3 nights in Bozhentsi and used the great location as a base to explore the whole region. The guest house we chose, Halachevata House was just outside the main village centre, around 5 minutes by car. It’s a perfect place for a family to stay as the house has 5 rooms and sleeps up to 10 people. The only downside is that there are just 2 bathrooms so if it’s a full house it can get a bit busy! I can’t find any advertising in English for them but if you speak some Bulgarian, this is their number for reservations +359 897 984 795.

5. Kovachevitsa

Village of Kovachevitsa is located in the southwestern part of Rhodope Mountains, along the Kanina river, about 24 km northeast of town of Gotse Delchev. The village existed since XV – XVI century but its architecture which is kept until today and attracts many visitors, dates to XVII – XIX centuries.

The streets and  the houses are built almost of stone. Only the top floors of the tallest buildings and parts of their terraces are wooden. The roof  are made of slab-stones. The courtyards are surrounded by high stone walls with wooden gates.

6.  Village of Arbanasi

The village of Arbanasi is not far from Veliko Tarnovo – only four kilometres from the town. It dates back to XV century and it is situated on a plateau facing Tzarevetz and Trapezitsa hills. The picturesque atmosphere of the village is due to the unique architecture of the houses – each with high and strong surrounding walls and massive wooden gates.

During the Ottoman rule it was exempt from the ruining taxes. This allowed its residents to dedicate themselves to craftsmanship and trade and, so, to live comfortably. As constant plunders were typical for that period, most of the two-storey houses had hiding places, barred windows and no terraces.

7. Kotel

Kotel is known for the numerous personalities of the Bulgarian National Revival that are somehow connected to the town, such as politicians Alexander Bogoridi and Stefan Bogoridi, enlighteners Sophronius of Vratsa and Petar Beron, public figure Gavril Krastevich, revolutionary Georgi Rakovski, as well as World War II prime minister Dobri Bozhilov. It has a well-known music school and a large talented Romani population who can be found playing in restaurants and orchestras all over Bulgaria. Because of its situation in the mountains Kotel is also a popular healthy resort for the cure of diseases such as TB. Kotel has been a center for carpet making and there is a museum devoted to the craft.

8. Oreshak village

Oreshak is a village, situated in the middle part of the Balkan Mountains in Troyan Municipality, Lovech Province, Bulgaria. There is a famous ethnographic complex very close to the Troyan Monastery — one of the biggest monasteries in Bulgaria.

Oreshak is a village, situated in the middle part of the Balkan Mountains in Troyan Municipality, Lovech Province, Bulgaria. There is a famous ethnographic complex very close to the Troyan Monastery — one of the biggest monasteries in Bulgaria.

9 Melnik

In the sunniest side of the Pirin Mountain, among the exquisite draperies of bizarre sandstone pyramids sheltered Melnik – the smallest town not only in Bulgaria, but in the whole world, with only 280 inhabitants. Perched one above the other houses with tall white chimneys, cupolas peek behind which dozens of ancient churches, enchant travelers with its timeless beauty

10. Mandritsa village

Mandritsa is a village in the Eastern Rhodopes, Ivailovgrad Municipality, Haskovo Province. The village is located on the right bank of the River Byala Reka, 19 km South of Ivaylovgrad and 2 km West of the River Luda Reka, on the Bulgarian-Greek border.

The village was founded in 1636 by three brothers Albanian Eastern Orthodox dairyman (Mandritsa – mandra (dairy), hence the name of the village.

Mandritsa is the only Albanian village in Bulgaria, where even today native people speak this unique archaic Albanian language.