Founded in the Thracian era, but officially attested in the 12th century, the picturesque town of Tryavna offers numerous historical stories, unique craft schools and museums. Discover this beautiful town and read more to see why you should visit Tryavna, Bulgaria.
Tryavna is a small, beautiful city, with friendly people and cats. I fell in love with their cute cats, and I wanted to take one home. But I am away so much from home, that it would be impossible to take care of a cat. For those who wonder, my dog is more of my mom’s dog, than mine.
The day I spent in Tryavna was part of the 4-day road trip in Bulgaria in September, and it was the 3rd town visited. Before arriving in Tryavna, I visited the funny town of Gabrovo, and in the evening, we arrived in Tryavna. I spend the night at Hotel Compliment, on the crafts street.
How to get to Tryavna, Bulgaria?
As I said before, I recommend driving, if you want to get the most of this picturesque place. If you are in a group, then the costs will split and it will be worth it.
However, direct buses from Sofia to Tryavna are an option. I checked busradar.com and it takes just under 4 hours and around 10 Euros to get to Tryavna, Bulgaria. Of course, you can get a bus from Sofia to Veliko Tarnovo, if you want to visit that first.
If you are coming from Bucharest, Romania, you can take a bus to Veliko Tarnovo.
Once you arrive in Veliko, you can take a bus or a train to Tryavna. For buses, check the schedule here for reference, but I think it is best to buy your tickets from Veliko Tarnovo because the buses between the two locations are local buses and might change their schedule.
Evening in Tryavna, Bulgaria
We arrived around 6 pm in Tryavna. For dinner, Restaurant Kalincheva House is a nice place. The house is a beautiful representation of the Revival period, built by Tryavna masters, and each room will fascinate you.
They serve traditional Bulgarian dishes, which doesn’t include a lot of vegan options, but there are some vegetarian options.
I was speechless when the waiter offered a plate of fruit for dinner. I asked if they can give me some fries, and he said ok, but that they only had frozen fries. I was disappointed, especially since they were announced in advanced about this specific request.
As I said before, in Eastern Europe it can be a bit difficult to eat a vegan diet, although we do have a few weeks before the main Orthodox holidays when people eat vegan. Even in Bucharest, it’s a bit hard.
It’s called fasting. During religious fasting, it’s really easy to find a vegan menu at many restaurants (it’s called “post”), but outside of that, they act as everyone eats meat all day long. I can’t explain it. Hopefully, the vegan idea will arrive in these places and more people will be compelled to visit the area.
One day in Tryavna, Bulgaria. What to do and visit in Tryavna
I woke up at 8 am and looked out the window. The was fog masking the nearby hills, creating a gloomy atmosphere out on the street. A light rain had started and the street was empty and full of puddles.
After breakfast, we met with our guide and start exploring the stories of this place. And the first stop was the Daskalov house.
Museum of Woodcarving and Ethnographic Arts (Daskalov House)
I consider this house to be one of the most important attractions in Tryavna, Bulgaria. It’s pretty obvious it is one of the most remarkable Bulgarian architecture monuments of the National Revival period.
The town is famous for its woodcarving masters and icon painter masters, and this is a museum for them. Inside you will find an impressive display of wood-carved statues, cupboards, images.
Daskalov, the owner of the house was not happy with his house, because it had no gold. He wanted to have the most beautiful house. The area isn’t rich in gold resources, but it always had plenty of wood.
A famous story of this museum is the story of the woodcarving master and his apprentice, who were both asked to decorate the house. In order to decide who was the best woodcarving master, each was assigned to decorate one room.
On the ceiling of their rooms, without knowing what the other one was doing, they both carved the sun and flowers. One carved the May sun and the other carved the July sun. Supposedly, this was the first art competition in Bulgarian history.
The museum offers leaf painting and wood carving workshops for organized groups and individuals, but only with a reservation.
Tryavna’s Old School Museum
The old school in Tryavna is one of the first secular schools in Bulgaria.
The interior yard is beautiful, and the rooms of the school now host exhibitions of donated paintings of Dimitar Kazakov and his brother Nikola Kazakov, old clocks, a clockwork of the tower, a documentary exhibition which traces back the history of education in Tryavna and a reconstruction of a classroom.
The donation of paintings and plastics of the artist with a world-known reputation, Dimitar Kazakov, Neron and his brother Nikola Kazakov. The other exhibitions consist of old clocks, among which a clock with a reversed movement of hands, a clockwork of a tower, gravitational clock, and a documentary exhibition, tracing the history of the educational work in Tryavna.
Asian and African Art Museum
The Asian and African art museum from Tryavna is the only one of its kind in the Balkan area and it consists of donations of the Bulgarian sculptor Zlatko Paunov. To be honest, it is unexpected and full of interesting items, although it is not a big museum. Inside, they have 2 jewellery items carved from human bones.
The museum has over 380 exhibits from Nepal, Tibet, China, India and some African countries, dating from ІІ- ХХ century, mostly of religious use. Statues of the most worshipped Asian deities can be seen there.
Tryavna’s old church
Tryavna’s old church, known as St. Archangel Michael Church, was built in the XII century but set on fire in 1798. The restoration was done by the locals, and the best masters of the village worked to restore it with wonderful wood decorations and icons. After all, this is the main craft in Tryavna, Bulgaria.
The decorations of the new temple were made by the woodcarvers and iconographers of the family of Vitan. They decorated it with magnificent carvings and icons.
Tryavna iconography school museum
The Tryavna iconography school museum is impressive and has a large collection of icons saved from different churches and monasteries. The exhibition tracks the development of the oldest Revival iconography school in Bulgaria – the Tryavna school. The museum has 160 original icons and tools that belonged to icon-painters from Tryavna
In one small room, they have an icon-painter workshop, with all the materials they use to create an icon.
Museum Architectural Reserve “Bozhentsi”
Bozhentsi is said to be one of the most beautiful architectural reserves in Bulgaria. Locals sometimes hike from Tryavna to Bozhentsi, just to enjoy nature and for some fresh air. The hike takes around 2h.
This small village has several museums and festivals happening and it is also a good afternoon trip from Gabrovo.
Visit Bozhentsi if you want to learn more about village life, and its history. The village also offers reproductions of traditional Bulgarian festivals such as Gergyovden, Christmas, Lazarovden. Accommodation can be offered in authentic 19th-century houses.
Other beautiful spots in Tryavna, Bulgaria
- Slaveykov’s House. The poet Petko Slaveykov (1827 – 1895) and his wife Irina raised all their children there. A special exhibition of documents tells about the artistic careers of Petko and his son, poet Pencho Slaveykov.
- Crafts street. Stroll on this street and enjoy the shops and the village’s architecture
- Tryavna’s old bridge. The bridge is a landmark of the village and connects the old square with the crafts street.
- The Clock Tower. The old clock tower is in the central square of Tryavna. Its old clock mechanism can be found inside the old school museum.
- The old town square.
- Raykov’s House. This was the house where Pencho Raykov – the first professor of chemistry in Bulgaria, was born.
- Mountain trails. There are marked tourist trails to the two peaks in the Tryavna Region: Golyam Krastets (2034 m) and Barzovets (897 m). Other marked trails can be found in Balgarka Nature Park which stretches over parts of Tryavna and Gabrovo.
Where to eat in Tryavna?
Brashlyan Hotel for lunch or dinner
Brashlyan Hotel is an old hotel, built on a hill which oversees the entire town. The view is lovely, and if the weather allows it, you can enjoy a wonderful meal out on the terrace. Make sure to taste the Tryavna bread.
I was happy with their vegetarian and vegan options. Not as many as I would love, but you can have some side dishes and rice to fill you up. And they have real potatoes. Because I tend to order fries when the options are limited and these ones were yummy.
Restaurant Kalincheva House
The house itself is stunning, and the wooded decorations and furniture will catch your eye. They serve authentic Bulgarian dishes with little vegan options. Hopefully, they will know not to offer fruit next time asks for something vegan.
Where to stay in Tryavna?
Family Hotel “Compliment”
Hotel Compliment is located 1 minute away from the Woodcarving museum, right on the crafts street in Tryavna. The hotel is very modern, with good WIFI connection and friendly staff. I would stay here again.
Hotel Kalina Palace
Kalina Palace is the only 4-star hotel in Tryavna and it has a capacity of over 300 rooms. It offers one of the best views over Tryavna and you can even see Buzludzha, the abandoned Soviet Monument of the Bulgarian Communist Party.
This hotel is prefered by business clients, and it is an option for conferences and team-buildings for companies from all over Europe.
Tryavna was such an unexpected discovery and I do recommend you visit Tryavna, Bulgaria and explore all that it has to offer. Besides all the history stories, you will discover a peaceful place, where nature lovers will feel at home and have a chance to connect with nature. I would love to go back and spend a few days exploring the nature trails and more of its stories.