During early summer, people flock to the well manicured, blooming lavender fields of France or discover the wild lavender patches in Croatia. But did you know that Bulgaria is the world’s largest exporter of lavender?
The Balkan country is king at producing lavender-based cosmetics, such as perfumes. Naturally, you might want to see these lavender fields in Bulgaria yourself. Here’s where to go.
What’s the Best Time to See Blooming Lavender Fields in Bulgaria?
As generally with lavender, summer time is best for a visit. The first lavender flowers in Bulgaria start to show mid June. The later you come, however, the better chances you have of them being in full bloom. When I visited during the last days of June, only half of the lavender blossoms were open. That being said, don’t arrive later than July 20 as lavender will have been harvested by that time. That’s when the lavender festivals are held, such as in Karlovo.
[su_note note_color=”#d2d2d2″ radius=”0″]The weather in June and July sees warm temperatures between 26°C and 12°C (79°F-54°F). Early June has the most precipitation throughout the year; the later you visit, the less likely rainfall is.[/su_note]
Where Can I Find Lavender Fields in Bulgaria?
During our roadtrip through Bulgaria, we stumbled upon a few lavender fields just before and after the village of Gabarevo. The lavender bushes weren’t particularly high but placed in rows leading towards the impressive mountains in the background. There were quite a few weeds grown between the plants, like with the lavender fields close to the villages of Manolovo and Tarnicheni.
An even better spot – as it had sunflower fields right next to lavender – were between Shipka and Buzludzha mountain (near the Buzludzha monument), just where you drive up. Here, the Bulgarian lavender is much taller and was in full bloom. Similar lavender fields are nearby village Tazha.
For full on Bulgarian lavender production, try the regions of Shumen and Dobrich. Here, there are plenty more lavender patches to be photographed. More locations include: Yambol, Straldzha, Pazardzhik, Tulenovo and the Bulgarian Rose Valley. The latter lies south of the Balkan Mountains and east of the lower Sredna Gora chain.
[su_note note_color=”#d2d2d2″ radius=”0″]Note that you might encounter security guarding the precious Bulgarian lavender fields. Ask them if it’s ok to take pictures before heading into the field.[/su_note]
Why Are There so Many Lavender Fields in Bulgaria?
Over the past years Bulgaria has grown to be the world’s largest lavender oil producer. In fact,
Bulgaria heavily produced and exports rose and lavender oil, flowers being highly priced here. Such lavender essential oil usesfor Bulgarian lavender include perfumes, lotions, paints and varnishes, soaps and shampoos. You can also get honey bees took from lavender flowers.
When and Where Is the Lavender Festival in Bulgaria?
Similar to the rose festival in Kazanlak, Karlovo celebrates the lavender festival at the end of June. Over two days, there will be street processions, concerts and performances with traditional song and dance.
How to Get to the Valley of Roses
While getting around Bulgaria without a car is entirely possible, you might want to consider renting a car to reach the various lavender fields far and wide.
This allows you flexibility of skipping Bulgarian lavender fields that aren’t in full bloom or stopping at unexpected ones. If you don’t have a car, you can try hitchhiking. It’s rather safe to hitchhike in Bulgaria. Just know that it’s not very likely that you will have a seat belt.
Alternatively, you can take a local bus or train to the villages of Kazanlak and Karlovo from Sofia or Plovdiv. As a drive out here from either city takes up to three hours, it’s better to stay overnight.
Bulgarian holiday rentals and bed n breakfasts are quite affordable, such as the traditional Hotel Teres for around $35 per night. Prices for modern place, like Square View, start around $40 per night.
Should You Drive All the Way for Bulgarian Lavender Fields?
I haven’t been to any lavender fields in France yet, but the ones I saw in Bulgaria didn’t seem to compare with the perfectly manicured endless rows of purple. Maybe it’s photoshop. Maybe it’s just a different planting technique. Whatever the case, I still loved my visit to the fields as part of an overall trip through Bulgaria. I wouldn’t drive out JUST to see them. The festival, however, I’d totally wanna visit.
Do you have any plans on hitting up Bulgaria’s lavender fields yourself?
More tips for Bulgaria travel