Along the majestic Danube River, right across the vast plains leading to Romanian Bucharest, is Ruse. This is one of Bulgaria’s most beautiful cities. Many jokingly refer to it as a piece that crumbled off Vienna and came all the way down the Danube. As with many places in Bulgaria, a legend is attached to its name. In case of Ruse, its name is said to derive from the female founder ‘Rusa’, meaning blond hair. Another good reason could be that the city was named after the Cherven fortress nearby, meaning ‘red’ through the word ‘rous’. Ruse is a nice city – very elegant with its long boulevards, green city parks and stylish cafes. I have been to Ruse several times and it remains one of my favourite cities. Especially on a summer day, when the streets are crowded and a cool breeze comes from the Danube.
The city is perfectly easy to navigate on foot, as Ruse has a large pedestrian zone. Furthermore, the center is surrounded by an inner ring road bordering the center. Wherever you walk, you will always find your way back to the main square. Bulgaria has absolutely beautiful parks, with century old trees and sunny terraces to enjoy a drink. Ruse has one especially beautiful park called ‘Mladezhki’. It leads to the promenade along the Danube. You could make a nice walk from the central square’s Monument of Liberty northeast towards the park, past the famous Flower Vase. Then, ascend a stairway to the Danube boulevard, past the National Transport Museum. Walk left and at the end of the boulevard back upwards into the city. Stay on the street along the river and end up at Hotel Riga, that has a lovely terrace in summer for food and drinks.
Ruse has many hotels, especially on the inner ring road and near the central train station. The newer ones are often of good quality, there are many large older ones as well. As these often host weddings and parties, this might interrupt your sleep. If you fancy a party, you might be welcome to join though! Even though Ruse is far from Sofia, 300 kilometres, it is only 80 from Bucharest. From Sofia and other Bulgarian cities, there are plenty of train and bus connections. Train and bus connections to Bucharest are available as well. The train is rather slow for this short distance, so taking a bus is recommended. Ruse has some interesting musesums of which the Museum of Natural History is a highlight. More about Ruse’s museums can be read on the city’s Wikipedia page. Around Ruse are quite a lot of places to visit so it makes sense to stay at least a couple of days. Some places definitely worth a visit are Rusenski Lom national park, the rock-hewn churches of Ivanovo and Basarbovo Monastery.