Located on the northern slopes of the Balkan mountain range (better known here as Stara Planina, which means Old Mountain in Bulgarian), Gabrovo is a relatively small city with a population of about 58,950 inhabitants.
It is a very well developed tourist and cultural center, which offers a large selection of places and landmarks to see.
While Gabrovo is the main center of attraction in the area and is well-known for its cultural, architectural and historical monuments, you will also find several small towns and villages in the vicinity that have preserved the way of life and culture of the Bulgarian people over the centuries.
The most famous of them are the towns of Dryanovo and Tryavna as well as the scenic mountain village of Bozhentsi.
The entire province of Gabrovo is extremely beautiful and picturesque, so the best way to get to know the area is to rent a car.
Keep in mind that the towns and villages in the province are small, which often means not very good public transport connections.
Gabrovo and the surrounding countryside are especially attractive during the summer season. This is a great place to escape the hot summer days.
Although in summer the temperatures during the day reach up to about 86°F (30°C), the temperature at night is very pleasant and refreshing, reaching about 64°F (17 – 18°C).
1. The Open Air Ethnographic Museum “Etar” (City of Gabrovo)
Located 8 km from the city center of Gabrovo, Etar is one of the most recommended places to visit in Bulgaria.
Created in the 70s of the 20th century, this is the oldest open-air museum of its kind in the country and offers the opportunity to experience the traditional appearance of the towns and villages of Bulgaria from the 18th and 19th centuries.
2. Uzana Geo Center of Bulgaria (Gabrovo Province)
The Uzana area (officially called Vatro pole or Вътро поле in Bulgarian) is considered the geographical center of Bulgaria and is one of the landmarks in the area.
The mild mountain landscape is a wonderful mosaic of coniferous and deciduous forests and mountain pastures.
The place is located about 12.5 miles (20 km) southwest of the city center of Gabrovo.
This is a great choice if you are looking for a place to escape the heat on the hottest summer days.
3. Dechkova House Regional History Museum (City of Gabrovo)
The popular Dechkova house is undoubtedly one of the most recommended places to visit while in Gabrovo.
Built in 1835, today the Revival-style building houses the regional history museum.
Here you can see a permanent exhibition dedicated to Gabrovo’s way of life and culture during the 18th and 19th centuries.
4. Sokolski Monastery (Gabrovo Province)
Built in 1833, the Sokolski Monastery “Assumption of Virgin Mary” is located just 7.5 miles (12 km) south of Gabrovo, amidst the mountain forests in the region of the open-air museum “Etar”.
The monastery was inaugurated on August 15, 1834.
Today, the Orthodox temple serves as a functioning nunnery and cultural monument.
In the yard of the monastery there is a fountain, which was constructed in 1865 by the famous master Kolyo Ficheto.
5. Bozhentsi Village (Gabrovo Province)
Located less than 9.5 miles (fifteen kilometers) east of the center of Gabrovo, amidst the beautiful green landscape of the Balkan Mountains, the village of Bozhentsi is considered one of the most beautiful villages in the Balkans.
It was declared an architectural and historical reserve in 1964, and most of the houses are known for their beautiful Revival architectural style from the 18th century.
6. Museum of Satire and Humour (City of Gabrovo)
Founded in 1972, the Museum of Satire and Humor is an unusual place to visit.
Located in the central part of Gabrovo, the museum is one of the funniest city landmarks.
Here you will find entertaining exhibitions dedicated to caricatures, paintings, sculptures, photos and many others.
7. Bulgarka Nature Park (Gabrovo Province)
Bulgarka Nature Park covers an area of 21,772.2 hectares in the southern part of Gabrovo Province.
Covered with dense mixed deciduous and coniferous forests, the park is a place of unique natural beauty.
Here you will find quiet and shady hiking trails that lead to lovely waterfalls, crystal clear mountain streams and cool caves.
8. The Old School Museum of Tryavna (Gabrovo Province)
Constructed between 1836 and 1839, the building of the Old School Museum of Tryavna is one of the most remarkable in the city.
Today it houses various museum collections and exhibits.
The Old School itself was established here in 1839. It is the first secular school in Bulgaria.
This building also houses the Tryavna School of Carving and Painting.
9. Saint Archangel Michael Church in Tryavna (Gabrovo Province)
The Church of St. Archangel Michael is considered one of the oldest in Bulgaria.
It is a real masterpiece, and according to historians, it was probably constructed in the 12th century by the Assenevtsi brothers.
Although the period of construction cannot be 100% accurately confirmed, what is known for sure is that the church was set on fire and partially destroyed in the late 18th century, and then it was restored to its present shape in 1819.
10. Bacho Kiro Cave (Gabrovo Province)
Bacho Kiro Cave is located in the middle of the way between Dryanovo and Gabrovo, closer to the town of Dryanovo.
It was first discovered in 1937, and it is especially tempting to visit during the hot summer days, considering that it maintains a constant refreshing temperature of 56°F (13°C).
In prehistoric times, it was home to primitive people, and one of the most impressive finds here is a skeleton of a 3 meters tall bear.
11. The Church of St. Nicholas in Dryanovo (Gabrovo Province)
The Church of St. Nicholas in Dryanovo was built in 1851 by master Kolyo Ficheto and is one of the landmarks in the area.
The 19th century Orthodox temple is well-known for its exceptional interior, fine church murals and icons, many of which were created by the greatest Bulgarian painters.
12. The Bridge on Dryanovska River (Gabrovo Province)
The beautiful mountain town of Dryanovo is located only 13 miles (21 km) from the city center of Gabrovo and should be an important part of your travel bouquet list.
The town is famous for its numerous architectural landmarks, especially from the 18th and 19th centuries, and one of them is the Bridge over the Dryanovska River.
Built in 1861, the bridge is the work of the great Bulgarian master Kolyo Ficheto, whose buildings and bridges today attract numerous tourists.
13. Dryanovo Monastery (Gabrovo Province)
Built in the 13th century, Dryanovo Monastery is located about 10.5 miles (around 17 kilometers) from the city center of Gabrovo and should be one of the first places to visit while in the area (so it is a good idea to have a car).
The monastery was built in a narrow and secluded forested valley, between the mild-shaped ridges of the Balkan Mountains.
14. Ikonomova House-Museum (Gabrovo Province)
The Ikonomova house-museum is one of the most important landmarks in the town of Dryanovo.
It is one of many beautiful structures (buildings and bridges) constructed by Kolyo Ficheto in the country.
Nowadays, the old Revival house serves as the seat of the Dryanovo Art Gallery.
The building was completed in 1856 and was initially intended to serve as a house of the priest Vasil Ikonomov.
15. The Medieval Clock Tower in Tryavna (Gabrovo Province)
Built in 1814, the Clock Tower of Tryavna is one of the symbols of the city.
With its Revival architecture, the building fits perfectly into the surrounding landscape of the downtown of Tryavna.
The total height of the tower is 69 ft (21 meters), which is quite impressive for the early 19th century.