English Springer Spaniel - Dog-Friendly Walk - Hisarya Bulgaria

Explore Dog-Friendly Bulgaria and Balkan Mountains: Unleash the Adventure 

Last Updated on 28/03/2024 by Claire Coney

Dog-Friendly Bulgaria and the Balkan Mountains
Exploring Dog-Friendly Bulgaria and the Balkan Mountains.

Why not try exploring dog-friendly Bulgaria and the Balkan Mountains? It’s a paradise for dog lovers and nature enthusiasts. I toured this beautiful region for four weeks in September 2023 with my husband, Austin. We took our dogs, Abigail and Charlie, and they loved every minute of it. We explored Bulgaria’s diverse landscapes, rolling hills and forests, rugged peaks, and valleys. I learned about the rich history and culture of the region, from the ancient Thracians and Romans to the medieval tsars and monasteries. Austin and I met friendly locals who welcomed us and our dogs with open arms. Here are some of the best dog-friendly experiences we had and some of the things you should know if you plan to travel with dogs in Bulgaria. 

Hisarya: Dog-Friendly Roman Spa Town 

Austin and I stayed in Hisarya while we explored the central region of Bulgaria with our dogs. We rented a cosy dog-friendly apartment that was located near the park. 

Hisarya Dog-Friendly Parks 

Me and my dogs Hisarya Park Dog-Friendly Bulgaria
I loved strolling in the dog-friendly Parks of Hisarya.

Hisarya is a dog-friendly destination. It has many parks and gardens where you can walk your furry friend and enjoy the mild climate and the greenery. Some of the most popular parks are Lily of the Valley and Orpheus Dol, which offer scenic views and a relaxing atmosphere. Abigail and Charlie loved their daily walks in the park. They enjoyed the green spaces and the fresh air. Austin and I liked to have our morning coffee at the café in the central park, where we watched the people and the birds. The parks are one of my favourite parts of dog-friendly Bulgaria!

Roman Walls  

Austin and I were captivated by the ancient ruins and fortifications that surrounded the town. We walked around the walls with Abigail and Charlie. Hisarya also has a well-preserved rampart wall that is 2,327 meters long and up to 11 meters high. It is the best-preserved Roman wall in Europe. 

The White Cross Dog-Friendly Hike 

Dog-friendly - White Cross walk Hisarya Bulgaria
Abigail and Charlie on the White Cross Hiking trail near Hisarya.

We also hiked the mountain to the White Cross above the Momina Banya district. Abigail and Charlie enjoyed running along the steep, rocky trail to the summit. The route starts at the Uspenine Bogordichno Church. You can follow the yellow signs from there. We wore walking boots and took a backpack with water and lunch. At the summit, we sat in the shelter and admired the panorama. 

Spas and Hot Springs: Treat Yourself 

After our activities, Austin and I pampered ourselves with some spa treatments. I had a facial and a new hairstyle, while Austin had a relaxing massage. We sampled some of the mineral waters that are famous for their healing properties. Hisarya is renowned for its mineral springs and Roman ruins. The town was once a Roman spa resort called Diocletianopolis, named after the emperor who visited it in 293 AD. Hisarya has 22 hot water springs that range from 44 to 55 degrees Celsius and have various healing properties. Hisarya is a popular destination for tourists who want to relax, enjoy the mild climate, and explore the town’s ancient history. 

Plovdiv: The Cultural Capital of Bulgaria – dog-friendly things to do 

Dog-Friendly Bulgaria - Plovdiv
Abigail in Plovdiv

Plovdiv is a cultural hub and one of the oldest cities in Europe and the world. Its history dates back to the 6th millennium BC, when the first settlements were established on the hills around the Maritsa River. Since then, Plovdiv has witnessed the rise and fall of many civilizations, such as the Thracians, Macedonians, Romans, Byzantines, Bulgarians, Ottomans, and more. Each one has left its mark on the city’s architecture, culture, and heritage. You can learn more about Plovdiv’s history by visiting its museums, monuments, and archaeological sites. If you are travelling with your dog in Bulgaria, you will be happy to know that Plovdiv is also a dog-friendly city. Here are some of the best things you can do with your furry friend in Plovdiv: 

Plovdiv Old Town and Roman Amphitheatre

Our first destination was the old town. I loved exploring the narrow, cobbled streets, which are full of ancient monuments, colourful houses, and cosy cafes. Abigail and Charlie also enjoyed the walks along the winding alleys and the green spaces. Austin and I had a wonderful time visiting the Roman Theatre. It’s one of the best-preserved amphitheatres in the world. We admired the panoramic view of the city from the hilltop. Then we had a delicious coffee break at a nearby terrace. 

Stroll Along Plovdiv’s Main Pedestrian Street 

Dog in Plovdiv Bulgaria
Charlie in the main shopping street of Plovdiv

The new town of Plovdiv offers a different vibe, with modern shops, restaurants, street art, and parks. Austin and I had a fabulous time exploring the main pedestrian street of Plovdiv. It is one of the longest in Europe and connects the city centre with the Old Town. You can walk with your dog and enjoy the lively atmosphere, as well as see some of the city’s landmarks, such as the Roman Stadium, the Dzhumaya Mosque, and the Ancient Theatre. We whiled away the time watching street performers. I also browsed in some bookshops before we had lunch in one of the many cafes. 

Relax in Plovdiv’s Dog-Friendly Parks

Plovdiv has many green spaces where you can relax and play with your dog. Some of the best parks are Tsar Simeon’s Garden, Bunardzhik Hill, Youth Hill, and Lauta Park. You can find fountains, benches, playgrounds, and even a dog park in Lauta Park. Abigail and Charlie liked the parks best of all. 

Try Tasting the Local Bulgarian Cuisine 

Plovdiv has a variety of restaurants and cafes that offer delicious Bulgarian food and drinks. You can find some dog-friendly places where you can enjoy a meal or a coffee with your furry friend. Some of them are Pavaj, Smokini, Cat & Mouse, and Monkey House. 

Join a Dog-Friendly Wine Tasting Tour in Bulgaria

Plovdiv is famous for its wine production. Try joining a dog-friendly wine-tasting tour to sample some of the best wines in Bulgaria. You can find some wineries where you can bring your dog along, such as Villa Yustina, Dragomir Winery Estate, and Bessa Valley Winery. 

Dog-friendly Sofia: The Capital City Of Bulgaria

A day out with my dogs in Sofia.
A day out with my dogs in Sofia.

Sofia is a beautiful city that harmoniously combines history and nature. Austin and I started our day at the National Palace of Culture. We admired the impressive architecture and colourful fountains. Then we took some pictures of Abigail and Charlie, who seemed to enjoy the scenery as much as we did. 

Dog-Friendly Bulgaria - Sofia
National Palace of Culture

Sofia is the capital city of Bulgaria and dates back 7,000 years. Sofia’s long history pops up throughout the city. You can see excavations around the city, exposing the Roman ruins over which the city was built. 

Sofia is also a city with a green heart. It boasts many parks, gardens, and nature reserves where you can relax and enjoy the fresh air. If you are travelling with your dog, you will be happy to know that Sofia is a dog-friendly destination, with many activities and attractions that welcome your furry friend. 

St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral 

Sofia with a dog.
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

Next, Austin and I hopped on a trolley bus with our dogs. Abigail and Charlie were well-behaved during the short journey. Soon we arrived at the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, one of the most iconic landmarks in Sofia. The cathedral is stunning both inside and outside, and we were amazed by its domes. This beautiful neo-Byzantine church can accommodate up to 10,000 people. You can admire its impressive architecture and mosaics from the outside or peek inside to see its rich collection of icons and relics. Dogs are not allowed inside the cathedral, but they can join you on a walk around its grounds. 

After exploring the cathedral, we walked to a nearby restaurant that had a pleasant garden where we could sit with our dogs. We enjoyed a delicious meal of traditional Bulgarian dishes. 

Sofia’s Dog-Friendly Parks 

For some fun and relaxation with your dog, you can head to one of Sofia’s many parks and gardens. The most popular one is Borisova Gradina, a green space that features fountains, statues, playgrounds, and sports facilities. You can stroll along its paths, picnic on its lawns, or play with your dog in its designated off-leash areas. Another option is Yuzhen Park, a smaller, charming park that offers scenic views of Vitosha Mountain. You can enjoy its flower beds, benches, and dog park, where your pup can socialize with other dogs. Abigail and Charlie liked the parks and had a marvellous time making new furry friends. 

Dog-Friendly Hiking on Vitosha Mountain 

Try hiking on Vitosha MountainIf you are feeling venturesome, you can also take your dog on a hiking expedition on Vitosha Mountain, which is only 10 kilometres away from Sofia. Vitosha Mountain is a natural reserve that covers an area of 270 square kilometres and has many trails for different difficulty levels. You can admire its diverse flora and fauna, as well as its stunning natural attractions such as waterfalls, caves, and lakes. The most famous one is the Seven Rila Lakes, a group of glacial lakes forming graceful cascades on the mountain slopes. 

Dogs in Sofia
Abigail and Charlie – University of Plovdiv

Austin and I took the trolley bus back to the National Palace of Culture, where our van was parked. We had a lovely day out in Sofia with our dogs. Sofia is a city that has something for everyone, especially for dog lovers. You can experience its rich history and culture, as well as its green heart and natural beauty. You can also find many dog-friendly hotels, restaurants, and shops that will make your stay more comfortable and enjoyable. Sofia is a destination that you and your dog will love to explore together. 

When travelling with your dog in Bulgaria by car, its ideal to arrive at cities, towns and tourist attractions early to avoid the crowds. You are also more likely to find a parking space before 9.00am.

The Fido Trail

The Freedom Monument: A Symbol of Liberation 

Freedom Monument - Dog-friendly Bulgaria - Walk
The Freedom Monument

One of my favourite dog-friendly destinations was the Freedom Monument, a majestic tribute to the Bulgaria struggle for independence from the Ottoman Empire. Austin drove us through the picturesque Troyan Mountain Pass, which connects the northern and southern parts of the Balkan Mountains. We reached the foot of Mount Goraltepe, parked our van, and got ready for a hike. Abigail and Charlie were excited about the adventure. They wagged their tails as we put on their leashes and started walking up the mountain trail. 

The Freedom Monument was at the top of the mountain. It overlooks the Central Balkans National Park, a protected area that spans five provinces and hosts diverse ecosystems and wildlife. The monument was a spectacular sight. It was made of stone and bronze, with a roaring lion and a motto stating, “Freedom or Death”. We learned more about its history and significance from a plaque nearby. We also marvelled at the outstanding view of the park. Then I took some photos before heading back to our van. I was happy to have experienced a piece of Bulgaria’s history and culture with my furry friends.  

Dog-Friendly Hiking in Bulgaria: The Central Balkan National Park 

Dog-Friendly Bulgaria - Hiking in the Balkan Mountains
Charlie in The Balkan Mountains

If you are looking for adventurous dog-friendly things to do in Bulgaria, you might want to consider hiking in the Central Balkan National Park. This park is in the heart of the Balkan Mountains and covers an area of 716.69 km². It has a variety of landscapes, from lowland forests to alpine meadows, and is home to many rare plants and animals, such as the snow vole, the marbled polecat, Bechstein’s bat, the wildcat, the chamois, the imperial eagle, and the white-backed woodpecker. The park was also recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site and a Biosphere Reserve. The park also includes nine nature reserves that protect some of the most pristine ecosystems in Europe. 

The Central Balkan National Park has many hiking trails. You can explore with your furry friend, as long as you keep them on a leash and respect the wildlife and the environment. I suggest that you take your walking boots and a backpack with water and snacks when hiking in the mountains with your dog. The most popular trails are: 

  • The Botev Peak Trail leads to the highest point in the Balkan Mountains at 2376m. This trail is challenging and requires good physical condition and equipment. It takes about 8 hours to complete one way. 
  • The Kozya Stena Trail passes through the Kozya Stena Nature Reserve and offers stunning views of the rocky cliffs and the valley below. This trail is moderate and takes about 4 hours to complete one way. 
  • The Steneto Trail follows the Steneto River and crosses several bridges and waterfalls. This trail is easy and takes about 3 hours to complete one way. 


Dog-Friendly Bulgaria - Karlovo
A stroll around Karlovo with our dogs

Karlovo is a historic city in Bulgaria, famous for its rose production and cultural traditions. It is the birthplace of Vassil Levski, a national hero who fought for Bulgarian independence. Karlovo offers many fun and dog-friendly things to do. You can visit the Buhalov Han Center for Crafts and Cultural Traditions, where you can learn how to make rose cosmetics, jam, and yoghurt, or explore the old town with its charming architecture and museums. Karlovo is a lovely destination for travellers who want to experience the authentic Bulgarian way of life. 

I enjoyed walking around the old town with Abigail and Charlie, admiring the old buildings, and the statue of Vasil Levski was awesome. Austin and I visited the arts and crafts centre, which had a lovely courtyard and museum. We had tea and cake in a local café that had a beautiful inner courtyard. Karlovo was a pleasant town, as was Austin, and I returned several times. 

Suchurm Waterfall: A Delightful Dog-Friendly Walk 

Suchurm Waterfall Bulgaria
Suchurm Waterfall

Suchurm Waterfall is a delightful destination for dog lovers who enjoy hiking and history. It was one of my favourite walks, and Abigail and Charlie loved it too. The waterfall is located north of the town of Karlovo. The hike to the waterfall starts from the town park, which has plenty of shade and grass for your furry friends. You will follow the river upstream, passing by the old hydroelectric plant that powered the town in the past. The waterfall is spectacular, with water plunging over the rocks and forming a green pool below. The waterfall is also a habitat for many birds and plants, so you can admire the biodiversity along the way. I found the hike to be easy and scenic. Your dogs will have a blast exploring the water and the woods. 

Starosel: Thracian Cult Centre and Winery 

Thracian tombs in Bulgaria
Thracian tombs

Starosel and Thracian cult centres are fascinating places to visit if you are interested in history and ancient civilizations. They are also dog-friendly, so you can bring your furry friends along and enjoy the scenery and the fresh air. The Thracian cult centre is a complex of temples and tombs dating back to the 5th century BC, where rituals and ceremonies were performed by the Thracian people. You can explore the underground chambers and admire the stone carvings and paintings. The Starosel tomb is one of the oldest and largest Thracian tombs in Bulgaria, with a unique architectural design and rich decoration. You can enter the tomb through a long corridor and see the burial chamber with a domed ceiling and a stone sarcophagus. 

Dogs are not allowed inside the tombs, so Austin and I took turns holding Abigail and Charlie outside while the other went in. We enjoyed walking around the tomb with our dogs and loved the stunning views from the top of the hill. 

If you are looking for more dog-friendly activities in the area, you can also visit the nearby wine tour, where you can taste some of the local wines and learn about their production. Dogs are welcome in the vineyards and the tasting rooms, if they are well-behaved and on a leash. 


Strelcha Park - Dog-Friendly Bulgaria
Charlie in Strelcha park

Austin and I enjoyed a wonderful morning in Strelcha with our dogs, Abigail and Charlie. We took them for a walk around the charming town and the green park by the river. We admired the historical monuments and learned more about the local culture. Then we refreshed ourselves with some delicious homemade lemonade at a cosy café. The scenery was breathtaking, with rolling hills and majestic mountains in the background. 

Strelcha is a small dog-friendly town in Bulgaria, located south of the Sredna Gora mountain. It is a popular spa resort, thanks to its mineral water springs, mild climate, and rich history. It is also known for its rose oil production and its Thracian heritage. Here are some dog-friendly things to do in Strelcha you might like to try: 

  • Explore the Strelcha Fortress, a medieval fortification that dates back to the 9th century. You can see the remains of the walls and towers and learn about the region’s history. Dogs are welcome to join you on this adventure. 
  • Enjoy a picnic in the park or a café, surrounded by the town’s natural beauty. You can taste some local delicacies, such as fresh lemonade, cheese, bread, and honey. Dogs can relax and play in the grass or in the shade. 
  • Enjoy the Rose Festival, an annual event that celebrates the rose oil industry and the local culture. The festival includes rose picking, folk dances, music, crafts, and exhibitions. 
  • Relax in one of the hotels or sanatoriums that offer balneological treatments with mineral water springs. The water is beneficial for various diseases and has a temperature of 38–40 °C. 

Ethno Village Etar Bulgaria: Dog-Friendly Museum.

Ethno Village - Dog-Friendly Bulgaria
I enjoyed a day out with my dogs at Ethno Village Etar

If you love dogs and culture, Ethno Village Etar is the perfect place for you. We had a wonderful time with Abigail and Charlie, who were welcome to join us in this museum. Ethno Village Etar is an open-air museum that shows how the Bulgarian people lived and worked in the 19th century. It is located near Gabrovo, in the beautiful Bulgarka Nature Park. We were fascinated by the authentic houses, watermills, and workshops where we met the artisans who make traditional crafts and products. We also tried some delicious Bulgarian cuisine in the restaurant and bought fresh cakes from the bakery. Ethno Village Etar is also a national park and a cultural monument, where you can appreciate the natural scenery and the historical heritage of Gabrovo and the region during the Bulgarian National Revival period. 

Shipka Town and Monument: A Tribute to Bulgarian Heroes 

Dog at the Shipka Monument Bulgaria
Charlie on the steps to the Shipka monument.

Shipka was the final destination of our trip in Bulgaria, a historic town that witnessed a decisive battle in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878. The town is known for its impressive monument that commemorates the Bulgarian volunteers who defended Shipka Pass against the Ottoman army. The monument is a majestic 31m high stone tower that crowns a hill. We ascended 894 steps to reach the tower and admired the stunning views of the Balkan Mountains. We also saw Shipka Church, a splendid golden-domed edifice that houses the remains of some of the fallen heroes. 

Enjoy Dog-Friendly Bulgaria and the Balkan Mountains

The Balkan Mountain - Dog-Friendly Bulgaria
Views of the Balkan mountains

Bulgaria and the Balkan Mountains were beautiful destinations for us and our dogs. We had a wonderful time exploring the natural beauty, historical sites, and cultural diversity of this country. We also met many friendly and hospitable people who loved dogs and made us feel welcome. If you are looking for a dog-friendly adventure in Europe, I highly recommend Bulgaria and the Balkan Mountains. You won’t regret it! 

Further Reading About Dog-Friendly Bulgaria

Travelling with Your Dog in Bulgaria: The Ultimate Guide

The Best Dog-Friendly Black Sea Coast Attractions in Bulgaria 

How to Make Travel to Europe With Your Dog Easy!

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