Bulgaria - Ancient Times, Monasteries & Nature

Classical journey through the history of Bulgaria. Millennia and centuries will pass in front of your eyes while exploring museum-villages, ancient monasteries, tombs and sanctuaries in Rila, Pirin, Rodopi and Balkan mountains. There is no better way to experience Bulgaria, there is no more delightful way to taste the local cuisine, to experience local habits, nature and way of living.

NOTE: This tour is also available “on budget”; see more details at the Dates, Prices & Remarks tab
 

Itinerary

Day 1. Arrival at Sofia Airport. Transfer to the hotel. Time at leisure (time permitting) and overnight.
Sofia is the second oldest city in Europe, founded 7,000 years ago by the Thracian tribe Serdi. Later, Sofia was the capital of the Roman province of Inner Dacia in 29 A.D. Through the ages, the city played role as an important trading center in the Byzantine and Bulgarian Empires. Under Ottoman rule, Sofia was the center of Rumelia province. Sofia became the capital of restored Bulgaria in 1879, with a population of only 20,000. Today many streets, buildings, parks, and even whole neighbourhoods preserve the architectural style from the turn of the century.
Day 2. Sightseeing Sofia. Visit to Rila Monastery. Transfer to Bansko for sightseeing and overnight. The day starts with sightseeing on foot of the city of Sofia comprising visits to some of the most interesting sites in the town incl. St. Alexander Nevsky Patriarchal Cathedral, St Sofia Church, Sofia's oldest building - St George Rotunda (from the 3rd C), the ruins of the ancient city of Serdika (dating from the 5th-6thC) etc. In the afternoon we head southwards to Rila Monastery (the biggest monastery and probably the most famous monument in the country), situated in the Rila Mountains. Behind the 20-metre high walls lie impressive monastery buildings, a church and a chapel with valuable murals. We end up in Bansko at the foots of Pirin Mountains where we stay overnight. Here we have a short sightseeing tour walking along the cobbled streets among ancient houses, some of them turned into traditional “mehana” (tavern).
Day 3. Today we cross the Rodopi Mountains with stops in Shiroka Luka and Bachkovo Monastery on the way to Plovdiv.
After breakfast we drive westwards to Shiroka Luka for short sightseeing tour. Numerous houses preserving the typical Rodopean architecture, speech, songs and customs of local people have given the village the status of an architectural, ethnographic and folklore reserve. Further on we continue northwards to the town of Plovdiv. En route we will stop by Bachkovo Monastery (the second largest in Bulgaria) and Assen’s Fortress. We reach the town of Plovdiv in the afternoon, where short time at leisure will be spent before dinner.
Day 4. Sightseeing Plovdiv. Transfer to Starosel (Thracian Tomb) and the museum town of Koprivshitsa. Return to Plovdiv and overnight.
Situated in the Thrace plain in Central Bulgaria Plovdiv is the second largest city in Bulgaria. It is also one of the oldest on the Balkan Peninsula - it was the capital of Ancient Thrace and a big trade centre in the Middle Ages. In the historic quarter of the city, you will see beautifully decorated period houses, the ancient fortress-wall, the Roman forum and stadium and magnificent churches. Nerby the village Starosel is located one of the major centers of Thracian culture with tens of tombs in the surrounding area, where many rulers and soldiers have been buried. We will visit a temple; build in 5C BC
The next stop is Koprivshtitsa. It is one of the few thoroughly preserved architectural urbanized ensembles of the Revival Period. The greatest wealth of Koprivshtitsa are its Revival Period houses, part of which were turned into museums, which will be visited today.
Day 5. Transfer to the Black Sea coast – visit to Nessebar and drive northwards to Varna for sightseeing and overnight.
Nessebar is one of the oldest towns in Europe, being also the successor of the ancient Thracian settlement called Mesambria founded in the Second century AD. Through the centuries it has been occupied by Greeks, Romans, Byzantines and Turks. Many churches, old houses and rich history are the reasons why it has been added to the UNESCO Heritage List more than 20 years ago. In the afternoon the trip continues northwards along the Black Sea Coast to Varna, where a short sightseeing tour will be carried out before dinner (incl. visit to the archaeological museum and the Cathedral of the Holy Mother).
Day 6. Visit to Aladhza Monastery. Drive to Madara and further to Arbanassi and Veliko Tyrnovo for overnight.
In the morning we transfer to Aladzha Monastery. This is the most famous among the numerous rock monasteries that existed on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast in the 13-14C. The next stop is The Madara Rider - a unique relief of a horseman, carved on the rocks of the Shumen Plateau, which is recently under the auspices of UNESCO. The scientists suggest that the relief portrays khan Tervel as a victor. Later on we continue towards the old capital of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom – Veliko Tyrnovo. Just before the city we will stop for sightseeing in Arbanassi. It is famous for its massive houses that resemble minor fortresses on the outside, with high, solid walls and heavy gates and secret hiding-places, but which are spacious and comfortable, richly decorated and furnished on the inside.
Day 7. Sightseeing Veliko Tyrnovo. Transfer to Etyra open-air museum and in the afternoon – to Sofia for gala dinner and overnight.
Veliko Turnovo was the capital of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom (13th C). During this period Bulgaria was the largest and the most powerful state in Southeastern Europe. Remains of the medieval fortifications, churches and the palace still stand on Tsarevets Hill (the King's Hill). This elevation in the eastern part of the town is proclaimed an archeological reserve. Further to the south we visit Etyra - an open-air Ethnographic Heritage Museum near the town of Gabrovo, with houses from the Bulgarian National Revival period and workshops for ceramics, copper and other handicrafts. 
Day 8. Transfer to the airport for departure.

Dates, Prices & Remarks

Dates, Prices & Remarks

EXTENSIONS
Yes, summer holidays at the Black Sea
Do not miss a unique chance to prolong your stay in Bulgaria with one week more at anincredibly low price! We can offer a great variety of accommodations - from home stays (no meals) to 2, 3 and 4-star hotels (BB or HB) in the most famous summer resorts along the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast, namely Sunny Beach, Sozopol, Nessebar, Golden Sands etc. Please contact us for more details.

Accommodation: 3-star hotels, en-suite double rooms on halfboard, except for Day 1 and Day 8 when dinner is not served. During the days good restaurants will be suggested for lunch en-route.

Best period: April-October (everyday departures)

Price: 1 pers. - 1750 Euro; 2-3 pers. - 1176 Euro/pers.; 4-7 pers. - 907 Euro/pers.; 8-12 pers. - 800 Euro/pers.

Single room supplement: 90 Euro

The price includes: entrance fees, transfers from/to Sofia airport and private transportation with convenient car or Minivan throughout the tour; English-speaking guide (for 2-3 people the guide is also a driver); accommodation and boarding as mentioned; detailed map of Bulgaria, VAT and all local taxes. 

The price does not include: tips, other meals, alcohol drinks and personal expenses

This tour is also available “on budget” under the following circumstances:
- 1-3 paying persons in the car or 4-7 per bus 
- private car with English-speaking driver (aware of directions but not a guide though so be prepared and use your own guide books)
- accommodation included everywhere for guests and the driver on bed & breakfast basis in en-suite rooms in 3-star hotels or guesthouses
- guests pay on spot for themselves for other meals, entrance fees, parking fees and fuel for the car

Please contact us if you plan to travel on budget and we will come up with a fair quotation and a program that will fully cover your interests.