Interesting towns and villages in Bulgaria

Part 3: Getting lost in the mountains 

Written by Sara Coll Lopez, edited by Mila Boshnakova, photos by Sara Coll Lopez and Scott Green

Bulgaria is one of the oldest countries in Europe. As such, it is rich in history and culture, and surrounded by that air of mysticism that often goes with all things ancient. Surprisingly, despite that, there are many little-known places that should surely be part of some “top 10 must visit” lists on the internet.

Well, that’s what we’ll try to do with this article today: bring to you a few of those little-known places that deserve to be visited. 


In the hills of the Balkan Mountains, 15km from the town of Gabrovo, there is a small hidden village from the 16th century. Bojentsi is comprised of stunning, well-preserved houses in the Bulgarian revival architectural style, that make you feel like you’re in a fairy tale. 

According to legend, the village was founded by Bozhana, a noblewoman who fled the Ottoman conquest of Veliko Turnovo (the capital at that time) to seek refuge in the mountains. From then on, the village thrived and became an important trade point.

Even though the village prospered, as time passed, people started to move to bigger cities so now there are only a few residents left.  Nonetheless, in 1964, Bojentsi was declared an architectural reserve and became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In order to protect the beauty and architectural tradition of the village, residents are only allowed to build houses following the same architectural style as the rest of the buildings.

If you end up visiting Bojentsi, we recommend checking out the Architectural Reserve Museum to learn more about the village, as well as spend the night in one of their guest houses for an authentic experience. 


If you ever decide to get close to the Rhodope Mountains, this village might interest you. At a height of no less than 1,093 meters and after a difficult and narrow road, you will find the small village of Leshten. 

And you guessed it - this location provides the village with a breathtaking landscape, regardless of the time of year. We recommend you take a stroll around the cobbled streets and enjoy the sights of the wooden and stone houses. These same streets have captivated the attention of numerous filmmakers and have been used in their movies and music videos.

If you continue through the narrow mountain road, you will find the neighboring towns of Kovachevitsa and Gorno Dryanovo. Together with Leshten, they are believed to be ancient settlements from as far as the Iron Age.

Last but not least, a small curiosity. If you’re exploring Leshten, you might find something that stands out from the scenery. What’s that you ask? It’s a house made of clay and straw which looks as if taken directly from the Flintstones!  There is no specific reason why whoever built this house did it like that, but there it is. A perfect example of the mysteries and surprises that await those who dare to explore the interesting lands of Bulgaria.

Shiroka Laka

Now let’s move a bit further east on the map and we’ll end up at our next location: Shiroka Laka. 

This village is right in the middle of the Rhodope Mountains, in the Smolyan municipality. It is also close to Pamporovo Ski Resort, so you might want to add it to your travel itinerary. Once you are in Shiroka Laka, you will feel the fresh mountain air, magnificent views, and a calming atmosphere.

One of the main attractions is the fountain that is located in the middle of the village. This fountain has pure, drinkable water and depicts one of the traditions of the region: bagpiping. The fountain was created to honor Bulgarian folklore and the Kaba gaida, which is a traditional type of bagpipe.

For this very reason, the town also owns a musical school, dedicated to the preservation of this part of their tradition.

If you’re wondering what time of year to visit, you should keep in mind that in March, the town celebrates a very special tradition. Have you ever heard of kukeri? It’s an old Bulgarian tradition that consists of putting on furs, hairy costumes adorned with bells and dancing to chase the bad spirits away. 

Well, Shiroka Laka has its own special kukeri called Pesponedelnik. So, if you ever visit around that time of the year, be prepared or you can get a good scare!

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