I’m obsessed with Buzludzha. Obsessed. I’ve been three times, but I know a fourth trip isn’t too far around the corner. And it is such a cool place that every time I go, my fiance gets excited to go with me (which is not the case, for say, the opera). Who knew an abandoned Communist UFO in the Bulgarian Mountains would be such a fun date?
Why do I love it so much? It’s the perfect place for the modern traveler. It’s an important artifact from history, but its abandoned state makes visiting seem transgressive and exciting. Its remoteness means that it is never crowded. Its unique architecture makes it seem both otherworldly and yet anchored to a forgotten chapter of the past. In other words, Buzludzha is my everything.
History of Buzludzha Monument
Buzludzah was officially known as the House of the Bulgarian Communist Party. Built on the top of Buzludzha peak, its location was carefully selected:
The Buzludzha Memorial House was opened in August 1981, commemorating a location with great significance in Bulgarian history. Three key historic events are linked to this mountain peak: the 1868 death of Hadzhi Dimitâr, a WWII-era battle between fascists and partisan forces, and most significantly, the foundation of the Bulgarian Social Democratic Workers Party in 1891.
When the Communist party fell in 1989, the building was abandoned. Since then, it has become the darling of Red Tourists and Urban Explorers alike.
How to Visit Buzludzha
Once you get to Buzludzha (I’ll cover how to get here in the next section), there are a few things you want to make sure to do. Most people start with visiting the actual building. If you’re on your own, I’d set aside one hour to explore and photograph up here. It’s usually not crowded (I’ve never seen more than 5-10 other people at the complex while I’ve been there).
Take your time and walk all the way around the building. The views are spectacular, especially if you’re lucky enough to be there at sunset. There’s tons of great street art to appreciate as well, with some of my favorite murals anywhere in the world.
You are not going to be able to break into the building. More on that in the FAQ.
To get from the main building to the torch statue, you’ll want to drive. It’s not marked on Google Maps (or if it is I couldn’t find it last time) but it’s easy enough to find if you know what you’re looking for. I’ve marked both on this map:
Save this post and you can go back to the map and open the torch statue marker in your Google Maps in case you can’t find it while you’re there. If you don’t have a Bulgarian sim card or an international plan, then download the area of Google Maps to your phone before you leave.
You can also see on the map that neither part of the monument is located at the point where Google Maps lists it as, and it has it under the name “Monument of Hadzhi Dimitar.” If you type “Buzludzha” into Google Maps, it will still get you here, but it will take you to that other location instead of to the building or to the torch statue.
Of course, if you’re on a guided tour then you don’t have to worry about this, but for road trippers, keep this info in mind.
How to Get to Buzludzha
While I’ve heard rumors of people trying to visit Buzludzha on public transportation, this would be a nightmare in practice. There are really only two practical options for visiting, and I’ve done both.
The easiest way is to go on a guided tour. You can find guided Communist monument tours leaving from Sofia, Plovdiv, and Veliko Tarnovo. For my first trip, this is what I did. It was great because we got a ton of great historical information and details that added something to the trip, and we got to see many more monuments in a single day than we would have been able to on our own.
The second option, which I’ve done twice, is to rent a car and drive. The roads in Bulgaria, especially on the main highways, are pretty good. The drive through the mountains is beautiful, and it is easy to find places to stop for gas along the way. If you’re looking for a great Balkan road trip experience, Bulgaria is a good place to start.
Buzludzha is also located near one of the main highways from Sofia to Burgas, so if you’re going to be exploring some of Bulgaria’s beaches and Sofia on the same trip, its a natural place to visit along the way.
To get from Sofia to Buzludza by car, you’ll want to take Route 6 which goes through Central Balkan National Park. This drive is gorgeous, and the park is listed as a Tentative UNESCO World Heritage Site. The drive takes about three hours if you go direct, but of course expect it to take longer if you stop for lunch, gas, or to visit another place along the way.
Alternatively you can go on an organized Communist Monuments tour from Sofia that includes hotel pickup and the Museum of Socialist art.
To get from Plovdiv to Buzludzha by car takes about two hours. Your main roads will be a combination of A1 and Route 5, or you can take a combination of Route 64 and Route 6. I can’t find a guided tour on GetYourGuide that leaves from Plovdiv but I believe those who stay at Hostel Mostel can book a tour through them.
From Veliko Tarnovo
If you rent a car, the drive from Veliko Tarnovo to Buzludzha is fairly easy. It’s only a little over an hour and a half each way. For this, you want to take Route 5. As for Plovdiv, I can’t find a guided tour on GetYourGuide from Veliko Tarnovo but I believe those who stay at Hostel Mostel can book a tour through them.
When is the Best Time to Visit?
If you’re planning your trip to Bulgaria around wanting to see Buzludzha, here’s what you need to know about seeing the monument throughout the year.
Buzludzha In Spring
Spring is a fabulous time to visit Bulgaria! The average temperatures here in spring are in the mid-forties to sixty degrees Fahrenheit (6-15 degrees Celcius). The weather gets warm around the beginning of March, and flowers are out by early April. While the weather can alternate between warm and cold throughout March (thanks to Baba Marta), rainy days are few. So pack layers and a rain slicker just in case, but be prepared to have a great time in Bulgaria during spring.
My first trip to Buzludzha was in early May of 2017. Because you’re up in the mountains, there’s always a chance the monument will be shrouded in a thick fog. We couldn’t even see it in front of us! It was also incredibly windy. While I was sad we couldn’t see it, the fog made everything feel extra spooky.
You just can’t know if it is going to be foggy, even when nearby towns are bright and sunny. So while there’s a very good chance that in spring it will be a bright and sunny day, if you show up and it’s foggy appreciate the extra cool factor.
Buzludzha In Summer
Summertime is the most popular season for tourists to come to Bulgaria. Most head to the Bulgarian Riviera, while others come to explore the cities. The average temperatures here in the summer are in the mid-sixties to mid-seventies Fahrenheit (nineteen to twenty-one degrees Celcius). Though there are days when it gets much hotter.
I haven’t been to Buzludzha in summer, but Allison has. You can tell from her jacket that even though it was summer, it still gets cool when you’re that high in the mountains. And again, she hit it on a day when it was covered with fog. You just can’t control it, so make the most of whatever version of Buzludzha you get!
Buzludzha In Autumn
Bulgaria is autumn is just gorgeous. For my visit, we took a road trip through the mountains and got to see the beautiful changing foliage. This is the only time I got to see the monument at sunset, which was just spectacular.
The temperatures in Bulgaria during the fall are pretty mild. September and October are still warm-ish, with the average temperatures hovering in the low sixties to low fifties as the season progresses (seventeen degrees to eleven degrees Celcius). However, by November its properly cold with an average temperature in the low forties Fahrenheit (five degrees Celcius).
Buzludzha In Winter
Not many people visit Buzludzha in winter, but it’s a pretty cool sight! We lucked out and there was no fog, and the roads were pretty good considering it was still snowy at the top. We were very happy that we were driving a rental car with four-wheel drive. If you’re coming up to the mountains in winter, make sure you have a car that can handle it.
Average temperatures in winter in Bulgaria stay just around the freezing mark, with some days feeling colder and the occasional day feeling much warmer. Up on the mountain, though, it will feel colder than in the cities, so don’t skimp on layers, gloves, hats, etc.
If you drive here on your own in winter, make sure you stick to the main roads. We took a wrong turn at one point and our car nearly got stuck on some ice on a small road.
First, dress in layers. You will be colder up on the mountain. It’s better to have too many layers and take some off than not enough and be cold.
Second, prepare for it to be windy. Ladies, only you know your preferred way to deal with your hair in the wind.
Third, have cash. While service stations will take credit cards, any roadside restaurant you stop at most likely will not. You also will need to pay to use the bathrooms in some service stations if you aren’t a customer (though this isn’t enforced all of the time). For more about Bulgarian money, check out our Balkan currency guide.
Fourth, wear comfortable shoes. You want a pair with thick soles and good grip. The stairs here can be slippery and the area underneath the dome is covered in rubble.
Finally, if you’re not going on a tour you need to prepare for the road. This means having your maps downloaded in case of cell phone data failure, knowing who will navigate, and carefully thinking through your snack strategy. For more about traveling in the Balkans by car (including for just a day) check out our Balkan road trip guide.
Things to Do Nearby
There are some other cool sites in the area. Save time to see a few of these if you aren’t going on an organized tour. A tour will include more than just Buzludzha, so your independent road trip should too!
Shipka Memorial Church
So close to Buzludzha that you can see it across the valley, you really must give yourself enough time to stop at this beautiful Russian Orthodox Church. It’s just a thirty-minute drive. Have a few leva in cash for parking, and make sure to see the museum basement.
Arch of Freedom
If you’re coming from Sofia, make sure to stop by the Arch of Freedom in Beklemento Pass on Garaltepe Mount. The views from the top are worth it alone, but the impressive arch monument is another great social realist monument in Bulgaria.
Defenders of Stara Zagora Memorial Complex
An hour from Buzludzha, the Defenders of Stara Zagora Memorial (Memorial “Samarsko Zname) is a super interesting social realist monument that was erected in 1877 to memorialize the fight for liberation from the Turks and the men who defended the city.
Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak
A thirty-minute drive from Buzludzha is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak.
Where to Stay
Most visitors to Buzludzha will come as a day trip from Sofia, Plovdiv, or Veliko Tarnovo. If you’re planning a trip around Bulgaria and don’t know where to stay, we’ve picked a few of our favorite hotels and guesthouses for each of these cities for each budget category.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Go Inside Buzludzha?
But I heard people can still break into Buzludzha?
Why Can’t You Go Inside Buzludzha?
After being abandoned for thirty years, the monument isn’t safe to go into. When we were there in 2017, the way to get in was to shimmy down a pile of rubble. I skipped it, but my fiance went inside. It was awesome. But he could have broken his leg.
The monument is finally getting the recognition that it needs to be saved, and there are people working hard to save it. The Buzludzha Project Foundation is frantically working to get the monument restored before it falls into complete ruin.
Through their hard work, the monument was named as one of the Seven Most Endangered Heritage Sites in Europe. The goal is one day for the interior to be restored and the monument to be open to the public. You can see their restoration plans here.
Today there are guards in place to keep people from breaking in. They are there 24/7.
But I Read a Blog Post from 2019 About People Going Inside?
Those posts are old. They’ve been updated this year, but the writers took those trips before the change in the middle of 2018. It’s likely they just don’t know about the guards.
Are You Mad People Can’t Go Inside?
No. The site needs to be preserved, and it was getting to be so dangerous that someone would eventually have died. When the restoration is done and people can tour the complex, the wait will have been worth it.
Bulgaria Travel Resources
If this will be your first trip to Bulgaria, check out our post on how to plan a trip to Bulgaria.
Depending on which part of the country you will be visiting, you may be interested in different city guides.
If you’re going to be visiting Sofia, check out our post on how to avoid taxi scams. Bulgarian Taxis are inexpensive and a great way to get around the city, but there are a few unscrupulous drivers and we want you to know how to spot them.
More Photos of Buzludzha
After three trips out to Buzludzha, I find that it’s a place I want to go back to over and over again. Which means I have about one billion photos (way too many for one article), and I really can’t choose my favorites. So here are all the photos I love that didn’t fit into this post. Enjoy!
Finally, Don’t Forget Travel Insurance!
If you’re the kind of traveler interest in Urban Exploration, abandoned places, and getting high up in the mountains, then you better have a current travel insurance policy. The country is a very safe place to travel, but abandoned places come with risks. You want to know that your medical bills will be covered if you fall, step on glass, or hurt yourself.
For travel insurance, I use World Nomads. I’ve been a happy customer of theirs for almost three years, and I’ve never had an issue when making a claim. I’m happy to refer them to anyone I meet.
Pin this Guide for How to Visit Buzludzha for Your Trip
Stephanie has been living in and traveling around the Balkans for the past three years. She’s written for National Geographic Online, appeared on CNN Arabic and in the New York Times, and ridden more Balkan buses than is good for a person.