The Elena Balkan is located in Central Bulgaria. This is a small part of the Balkan Mountains (Stara Planina), which covers only the environs of the mountain town of Elena. The closest major city is Veliko Tarnovo. If you have not visited this place yet, it is good to know about it in case you want to spend your next vacation outside the popular tourist destinations of Europe.
1. Unique natural beauty
Although covering a relatively small territory, the Elena Balkan enjoys a growing popularity. This is the result of its natural beauty and wonderful wild landscapes.
Thick deciduous and coniferous forests cover almost entirely this part of the Balkan Mountains. This attracts a lot of people from across the country and from other parts of Europe to go camping in this area.
There is a number of eco-paths in the area that allow you to visit the most beautiful places in the Elena Balkan, without leaving the safe routes.
2. Excellent place for eco-tourism
The Elena Balkan is a very good choice for eco-tourism enthusiasts. Here are numerous small villages where you could spend a few days of relaxation into the wild.
One of the most popular places is the village of Miykovtsi, where eco-tourism is growing more and more.
There are a few guest houses in typical Old Bulgarian style, where you can use, however, all the modern facilities.
3. The Magic of the Christovski Waterfall
In the deep forests of the Elena Balkan is situated one of the most beautiful Bulgarian waterfalls – the Christovski Waterfall.
It is located on the river Miykovska and is one of the most important natural sites in this part of Bulgaria. You could easily reach the waterfall through a wonderful shady forest path.
4. Rich fauna
Bulgaria is definitely the country with the richest fauna in Southern Europe, and the Elena Balkan is among the richest and most diverse in this respect.
Here you will find species of animals from all across Europe, such as deer, badgers, foxes and wolves.
In the thick forests of this part of the Balkan Mountains you could accidentally meet even brown bears.
5. Real food
There are few places in the world where you can feel the real taste of meat, fruits and vegetables. Local residents use almost entirely local products, which very often come from their own gardens.
The most recommended, of course, is to try grilled meat served with the typical Shopska Salad and garnished with traditional Bulgarian Lutenitsa.
If you add some freshly baked homemade bread, the experience will be out of this world.
6. Freshness and coolness in the height of summer
If summer heat is something you really don’t like, here you can find some pleasant coolness.
When temperatures in most of Europe reach their maximum in July and August, thermometers show 26 – 27 degrees in the shade in this mountain area.
It is warm enough to feel the taste of summer, but at the same time, it is also cool enough so that you can walk for hours outside, without feeling uncomfortable from the heat.
7. No stress
If you feel stressed and frustrated with too much work and everyday problems, in the Elena Balkan you have the real opportunity to relax and find your inner balance.
The contact with wildlife and the lack of big cities are a good base to reconnect with yourself. This will restore the feeling of inner harmony and peace.
8. Traces of Roman times
In the Elena Balkan you could find traces of ancient Roman fortresses and roads.
On the one hand, they are a bit distanced from it all in the mountain forests, but on the other hand, this is why they have remained untouched over the centuries. Most of them date back to the 4th – 6th century.
9. The monastery “St. Nikolay Chudotvorets”
Besides uncountable natural beauties, here you could also see and touch some truly majestic wonders created by man.
The monastery “St. Nikolay Chudotvorets” (“St. Nicholas the Wonderworker”), also known as the “Kapinovski Monastery”, is one of them.
It was founded in the 13th century and was destroyed only a century later. In the 16th century, it was rebuilt and became one of the main centers of Bulgarian revival and literature.
10. You will not spend too much
Most tourist destinations and resorts are associated with very large expenses. Hotel rooms and food are too expensive, not to mention most of the services.
In addition, all tourist destinations offer banal attractions. The Elena Balkan is different.
Here, almost all kinds of entertainment are free, and it depends entirely on you to find a way to entertain yourself.
For the most part, tourists walk around nature, visit as much of the beautiful and exciting places as they can, and the only cost is the one you do to buy some fuel if the place is not accessible on foot.
If we have already awakened your curiosity, here are some additional things to know.
This is gonna give you a clearer idea of what to expect while you are here, and will probably help you to avoid some small inconveniences.
The Elena Balkan is located in immediate proximity to Veliko Tarnovo, also called “The Old Capital”.
It is more convenient to use the airport of Varna because the road from the Black Sea coast is shorter than the road from Sofia.
From the city of Varna to the Elena Balkan it takes a maximum of 3.5 – 4 hours drive.
Internet accessibility and coverage of mobile operators
If you leave the settlement you are staying in and take the roads to the Balkan Mountains, you will easily lose the coverage of your mobile phone.
The coverage will probably appears from time to time when you climb to a higher place but it is gonna disappear again only a few steps away.
Prepare with water and food
If you go out for a walk in the wilderness, don’t forget to bring with you some water and food.
Keep in mind that this is not a walk around the city and you will certainly not come across a supermarket.
Nights are cool
Nights in the Elena Balkan could be cool even in the height of summer. If you are more sensitive to cold, you for sure have to prepare some light jacket to put on after the sun goes down.