One of our last articles for a trip outside the city under the hills was 5 wineries that you shouldn’t miss in the area. This is a great idea if you are with a spouse or a group of friends, but with young children it can be a less fun experience. For all parents this week we have selected some places that we think are more suitable for family trips near Plovdiv. They have the opportunity for children's entertainment, and this automatically means a little free time for adults.
Pliocene Park Dorkovo
Dorkovo is a pretty Rhodopean village shortly after the popular resort of Batak - Tsigov Chark. The area is extremely suitable for picnics and walks, and what we’ll offer the kids is a visit to the Pliocene Park, which is located a few minutes outside the village. The museum is built on the largest paleontological site, presenting Pliocene finds in the area of Elin well. More than 600 bones have been found on an area of 15 sq. m, making it the most important in the Balkans and the second most important exhibition in Europe. It marks the beginning of the Pliocene geological epoch in Eastern Europe.
The large accumulation of bones is thought to have to do with natural disaster which had destroyed a whole herd of Auvergne mastodons off the banks of an ancient river. Scientists later reported that nine archigroups of mammals lived in the area. The locality was declared a natural landmark on January 31, 1990.
The paleontological locality near Dorkovo is unique not only with its large number of finds from the Auvergne mastodon (Anancus arvernensis), but also with their great diversity. There are remains of both adult and young animals, as well as small mastodons with deciduous teeth.
The museum itself is small, but all the children are extremely impressed by the life-size figure of the mastodon, as well as the exposed tusks. The curators also give an interesting ten-minute talk, which takes us even further into the Pliocene era.
The price of the ticket includes a visit to the Tsepina Fortress, about which we have already told you in a separate article.
Food and dance factory
This is a place created especially for families with children and this is evident in every detail. It is organized in the form of an All-inclusive stay, during which, in addition to the traditional food, there is entertainment from morning to evening, suitable for the little ones. You start in the morning with the preparation of pancakes and waffles, followed by a walk in nature, horseback riding, beach, workshops and more activities until the evening. Your descendants won’t be bored for a second and can find many new friends, which means that you will be able to relax from the city noise and immerse yourself in silence with a book in hand. There are different packages and offers. They have a variety of children's facilities - salt room, yoga wall, large LEGO corner, boats, outdoor pool and much more.
The village of storks
The village of Belozem is the Bulgarian representative in the European network of stork villages. This is an award given to villages in Europe by the German European Natural Heritage Foundation (Euronatur), which take special and constant care to protect white storks there. Since 2005, every year in May in Belozem, where is one of the largest populations of white storks in Bulgaria, the White Stork Festival in Belozem is held. Unfortunately, this year it was postponed due to the global pandemic, but nothing prevents you from taking a walk there over the weekend. It is located 2 km from the highway and about 35 km from Plovdiv.
Years ago, there was a huge tree here with over 30 stork nests, and it is claimed that it could be seen even from the Plovdiv hills. Today the tree is gone, but the school building alone has more than 20 nests. In total, there are more than 40 in the village, and a wooden observation tower with a lot of information has been built opposite the school. A small collection dedicated to the bird and other villages in the network can be found in the community center.
Near Plovdiv there are several bases where young children can train horseback riding or just take a small walk, mounted on the backs of their favorite animals. Perhaps the largest among them is a Trakiec, about which we also have a separate article. There is also a children’s playground outside, and in summer it is definitely worth visiting the pool and spacious garden. They are a place where you can read a book in the gazebo, have a family picnic, play with your children or just enjoy nature. The restaurant is a good option for eating if you are not prepared with sandwiches from home.
If you have already been in the area, visit Frigopan in Tsaratsovo, where you can also enjoy a pleasant walk or indulge in a real ride with a qualified coach. The complex also offers the organization of children's birthdays, a photo shoot with horses or just a little alternative of the suffocating embrace of the city during the nice summer months.
Another option is a place that is a little different in feel. Ezdul Horse Base is located near Hisarya and the idea is to experience the pleasure of feeling the wind, the smell of grass and the strong connection between human and nature. You can also arrange a hike in the area in the company of a professional coach.
The village with the dinosaurs
And after we took you virtually to the habitats of mastodons and storks, why not end our tour with the sham world in Novo Selo. "Bulgarian Hollywood", as it is jokingly called, is located only 23 km from Plovdiv. If you don’t have the opportunity to reach Los Angeles, then Novo Selo provides you with a wonderful opportunity. The center for entertainment and cultural activities offers space for younger family members at one of its ends. Some of the things you can see there are exhibits of dinosaurs, monkeys, a medieval castle, a statue of the Thracian god Heros, a family of Neanderthals, knights, a rocket, military cannons from the First and Second World Wars and others. Don't expect anything spectacular, but again it is something different from the city parks where we spend the whole week.