The 13 top tourist places to visit in Silistra, Bulgaria

Silistra is a beautiful city on the river bank of the lower Danube. It is a port city that is the administrative center of the Silistra Province, Bulgaria. I’ve been several times to the Silistra region. Let me share with you the best things to do there and the most interesting sites to visit.

Before my first visit in Silistra, I had only associated it with the Danube River. But since then I’ve known that this is a city with a very ancient history, which has preserved significant remains from the time of Thracians, Romans, Byzantines, Slavs and Bulgarians.

Danube River near Silistra

Table of contents

Short history of Silistra
How to get to Silistra
Where to stay
What to taste
What to see in Silistra and nearby
Final words

Short history of Silistra

The city was initially found by the Thracians. In 106 AD it was captured by the Roman Empire and named Durostorum. At the time of Emperor Trajan, one of the elite Roman military units – XI Claudius Legion – was stationed on the territory of today’s city. 63 years later, Emperor Marcus Aurelius declared Durostorum a self-governing Roman city – municipium.

After the second half of the 7th century, the city became part of the Bulgarian state created by Asparukh in 680 AD, and began to be called Dorostol and Druster. In the following years and centuries, Dorostol / Druster was captured by Byzantium many times and returned back to Bulgaria.

In 1388, the city was conquered by the Ottoman Turks and soon after it became the capital of Silistra Eyalet.

In 1878, following the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878, Silistra was included in Bulgaria.

In May 1913, after the Second Balkan War, Silistra was ceded to Romania.

In 1940, Silistra was returned to Bulgaria.

How to get to Silistra

The city of Silistra is located 457 kilometers northeast of Sofia, 120 kilometers northeast of Ruse and 140 kilometers northwest of Varna. You can get there by car, or by bus from Sofia and from Ruse.

In addition you can get to Silistra by the ferry line Silistra – Calarasi. The Romanian city of Calarasi resides on the other coast of the Danube River.

Useful information

Check out here great car rental deals on the Rentalcars.com portal.

See below information on bus timetables and prices:

Where to stay

Let me propose several accommodation options in Silistra.

Family Hotel Silistra** – it is a nice hotel located in the centre of the town; price per night 40 EUR, Booking.com rating 7.4.

The Vienna Hotel**, which is relatively new, luxurious, and with very good services, is located in a walking distance from the city center; price per night 35 EUR, Booking.com rating 7.6.

The 5 star Drustar Hotel is the most luxury one in the region. It is located in the Danube Park at the coast of the river; price per night 115 EUR, Booking.com rating 9.1.

If you’d like to experience a real Bulgarian hospitality, home comfort, delicious food and captivating calm, I recommend the Bulgara House in the village of Vetren, located in 22 kilometers west of Silistra. It is closed to the Srebarna Reserve. The room prices start at 30 EUR.

What to taste

The Danube River is exceptionally rich in fish, and in every town along Danube you can enjoy delicious fresh fish delicacies. Do not miss to do it in Silistra as well. I have personal impressions of the fish dishes of the restaurant at Druster Hotel. All I tried was very tasty.

What to see in Silistra and nearby

The most of the top sites of Silistra are located in the center of the city and you can easy explore them by foot. For your convenience I put location links for all of the mentioned places.

Silistra - Durostorum fortress and the Danube
Silistra – Durostorum fortress and the Danube

Silistra fortress Durostorum

The ancient Durostorum fortress is one of the most ancient fortresses on the territory of Bulgaria. Remains of the fortress can be seen in the central part of Silistra and in the River Garden on the bank of the Danube. An attractive model of the fortress is exhibited in the city’s historical museum.

Silistra fortress location on the Google map.

Silistra - Durostorum fortress
Silistra – Durostorum fortress

Archeological museum

In the Archeological museum you can see valuable exhibits from the Thracian, Roman and Old Bulgarian times. The biggest impression I was made in the museum was a statue of a Roman woman, completely preserved – from head to toe.

Archeological museum location on the Google map.

Ethnographic Museum

The museum was opened in the second half of 20th century, but its old house was built in the middle of the 19th century and used to house the Turkish police. The exhibition consists of artifacts from the life and culture of the people of the Dobrudzha region and Silistra in particular from the middle of the 19th century to the beginning of the 20th century.

Location on the Google map.

Silistra: Medzhidi Tabia fortress
Silistra: Medzhidi Tabia fortress

Medzhidi Tabia fortress

This is another fortress in Silistra. It is located on the hill with the TV tower, in the southern part of Silistra. This is a fortress built in 1840 and used as a fortification during the Crimean War and the Russo-Turkish War. Various weapons from the time of those wars – the second half of the 19th century – are exhibited in the fortress.

Medzhidi Tabia fortress location on the Google map.

Danube River garden

The River garden of Silistra is a beautiful place on the River bank with lots of greenery, statues, fountains and benches to relax.

Location on the Google map.

The Danube River garden in Silistra
The Danube River garden in Silistra

The old oak tree

In the Danube River garden of Silistra you can walk around an over 100-year-old oak tree. It was planted in 1910 when the Silistra park was reformed. The tree represented Bulgaria in the contest “European Tree of the Year – 2016”. A year earlier it won the Tree with Roots national contest with 900 votes out of 3,600.

Art Gallery

The Art gallery in Silistra is housed in the building of the former Pedagogical School, built in 1892. You can see there a lot of paintings, graphics, sculptures and others, made by very great Bulgarian artists.

Location on the Google map.

Roman tomb of Silistra

The Roman tomb in Silistra dates from the middle of the 4th century AD. It is known for its rich mural decoration, which is considered to be done by an Egyptian or Syrian artist. What makes the Silistren tomb unique is the fact that all its walls and ceiling are entirely painted, comparing with other tombs.

Unfortunately, the tomb is not open to the public, but you can ask in the Archeological museum for more information on how to get there.

Roman tomb location on the Google map.

The Roman villa

The Roman villa dates back to the 2nd century and it is believed that a wealthy aristocratic family lived in the villa.

Location on the Google map.

Church of St. Peter and Paul

The orthodox temple “St. St. Apostles Peter and Paul” in Silistra was built after the Crimean War by masters from the Dryanovska architectural school. The murals were done by the Bulgarian artist Prof. Kozhuharov.

Location on the Google map.

The Airplane in the Airplane district

A real Tu-134 passenger plane has been standing in Silistra on the banks of the Danube for more than 30 years. For a long period of time the machine was a learning base for the children of the city, but over a period of more than 10 years the plane was greatly neglected. In the recent years, it has been pleasantly renovated and turned into a modern educational center.

Location on the Google map.

The next places below are not within the city, but they are quite interesting and are located in a very short distance from Silistra.

Srebarna Reserve

The Srebarna Reserve includes the natural lake with the same name and its surroundings. It is a breeding ground for pelicans, cormorants, sandpipers and more than 200 species of birds. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Biosphere Reserve. There is also a Natural Science museum near the lake which is a part of the Resevre.

The Srebarna Reserve is located to the village of Srebarna which is 19 kilometers west of Silistra. There are well visible signs to the Reserve Srebarna in the village of Srebarna. Have a look at the route from Silistra to Srebarna on the Google map here.

Srebarna Reserve near Silistra
Srebarna Reserve near Silistra

The ancient Thracian sanctuary Badzhaliata near Strelkovo

Badzhaliata is a Thracian rock sanctuary, discovered more than 20 years ago, which is believed to have been used over a long period of time, from the early Iron Age to Late Antiquity. The lands there in ancient times were inhabited by the Thracian tribe Geti, who worshiped the god Zalmoxis and believed in the immortality of the soul and the afterlife. Therefore, the sanctuary is believed to be dedicated to him.

The name of the sanctuary comes from the Turkish word bazha – chimney. On the ceiling of the large gallery of the sanctuary there are several openings – chimneys.

 Thracian rock sanctuary Badzhaliatia near the village of Strelkovo
Thracian rock sanctuary Badzhaliatia near the village of Strelkovo

The Badzhalia rock sanctuary is located very closed to the village of Strelkovo, about 32 kilometers south of Silistra. Have a look at the Google map for the route. To get there by car, you should pass through the entire village of Strelkovo and exit it via an asphalt road. After the asphalt, a stable gravel dirt road continues. After 10 minutes of walking on this dirt road and you will be there.

After exploring the sanctuary, you can climb to the top of it. BUT, be be careful! On the top of it there are the openings of the holes – the chimneys.

Final words

During my several visits to the Silistra region I always have a great time and amazing impressions and I will definitely keep investigating the tourist sites of the area. You can spend a couple of days exploring there, even more. One thing you should consider, if you are there in the summer, though, and it is a large number of strongly biting mosquitoes near the Danube River, especially in the evening. Take measures against them and enjoy your stay!

Day trips from Sofia.
See here!

If you want to visit some of the most beautiful places in Bulgaria via organized daily tours, have a look here for several options from the biggest Bulgarian provider for day tours from Sofia.

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