It was about a year or so ago that I heard about Vrana park being opened for visitors. I knew it used to be the summer residence of the Royal family until World War II, but hadn’t really managed to drop by and take a closer look. In the heat of this summer, this looked like a great escape for a day in the weekend and – the park turned out to be a great place to visit! It is still fairly little known so – I’m sharing more info on how to reach it and what to do.
How to reach Vrana Park
The park is in the outskirts of Sofia, so if you have a car – get onto Tsarigradsko shosse toward Plovdiv. After you pass Praktiker on your left, look out for brown signs to Vrana. Alternatively, take the ring road direction Plovdiv and just after the slip road to Plovdiv (if you come from direction Pernik), look for signs to Vrana.
If using the public transport, take bus 505 from Orlov most, it departs at 9.25, 10.25 and so on, until 15.25 and stops right in front of the park.
Note: the park opens only on weekends, 10-16h. But, you can visit it on working days as well, with an advance notice.
What to see once there
Vrana park is best explored with one of the guided tours included with your ticket. They start every sharp hour and have a duration of about 40 minutes (tours in English also available, just call the park beforehand to request such a tour, phones at www.parkvrana.com).
The tour takes you through the major attractions – mostly plant species, rare or unique for Bulgaria, attractive ponds, beautiful plant arrangements.
You can also see the Royal villa and palace, but from the outside, since they are currently being restored. They are expected to be open soon – the restoration takes a long time since most of the Royal furniture and decorations had been thrown or broken and it takes long to recover them as close to their original appearance as possible.
The tour also takes you to the horse-keeping premise and a premise used by the previous owner of the property. You can learn curious facts about how the property was purchased by the Royal family at the end of the 19th century and how the entire park and Royal residence developed over the years, until World War II, when the palace was taken over by the communist party.
The park can also be enjoyed on your own after the tour. It’s a shady and beautiful place and perfect for a peaceful stroll with your kids or friends. Have in mind, though, that inside the park there’s no drinking water and cafes (but there are a couple just outside), so bring your own food/water.
What else to see in the vicinity
- If you continue along the ring road, direction Kazichene, on your left you can find Kazichene Hydro park. It’s a very ’emotional’ place, no matter if you decide to try wake boarding or just watch the wake boarders (especially beginners like me doing funny starting jumps 🙂 while sitting in the shady cafes in the park.
- You can also proceed to Pancharevo lake, direction Samokov, rent a pedal boat and enjoy a tour around the lake. Near the lake there are many picnic spots as well as an open mineral pool.
- Take the ring road direction Pernik and turn left onto Kambanite (the Bells) – a park with tens of bells, each of them sent as a present from countries around the world. Also a nice place for picnic and outdoor activities.
Hope this post will tempt you to visit the less known by tourists Vrana park, you won’t regret it! If you need any further info or directions – drop me a comment.