Bulgaria off the beaten paths
7 days/6 nights
Sofia – Rila Monastery – Melnik – Garmen – Dobarsko – Bansko – Rhodopes train trip – Kostandovo – Plovdiv – Valley of Roses – Taja – Koprivshtitsa – Sofia
Day 1Sofia (D)
Arrival in Sofia. Transfer from the airport and accommodation in 3* hotel in the city center. Welcome dinner and overnight.
Day 2Sofia – Rila Monastery – Melnik – Garmen (B, D)
After breakfast – departure to Rila Monastery (X c.)- the biggest Bulgarian spiritual center since the Middle Ages till nowadays, included in UNESCO World Heritage List. It’s located in a picturesque mountain area. The Rila Monastery has rich collection of icons and wall-paintings. Its museum keeps a real treasure: a wooden cross of just 81 cm height, carved with 104 religious scenes and 650 figures.
We continue south, very close to the border with Greece to visit Melnik – the smallest town in Bulgaria, famous with its sand cliffs surrounding the whole area. It is also one of the most popular wine growing regions in Bulgaria. Melnik wine was Winston Churchill’s favorite – it is even claimed that he had 500 liters of this wine delivered to him annually!
Wine tasting in Villa Melnik winery.
Accommodation, dinner and overnight in Garmen Hills complex – a private cottage houses nested in the woods between Pirin and Rhodopes mountains.
Day 3Garmen – Dobarsko – Bansko (B, L)
Home-made breakfast in the complex.
Departure towards Bansko – the most famous resort in Pirin mountain. Before Bansko we will visit local rural house in Dolno Draglishe village. The host will be at our disposal for a cooking class and explaining some of the old traditions and rituals in this part of the country. Our lunch will be cooked by our own hands.
Next is a visit to Dobarsko village and St. Teodor church with its unique wall paintings.
Accommodation and overnight in Bansko.
Day 4Bansko – Rhodopes train trip – Kostandovo – Plovdiv (B, D)
After breakfast – sightseeing tour of Bansko with visit St Trinity church and the beautifully decorated house of master Velyan.
Our journey continues with one hour train trip trough Rhodopes mountain. The train is moving on narrow (70 cm) railway lines and it is the only Narrow-gauge on the Balkans nowadays. We will pass through places offering spectacular view upon the surrounding nature.
In the afternoon we will visit the unique carpet factory producing giant carpets of more than 100 m2. The clients of this small family-run factory are world celebrities as Queen Elizabeth II, Mick Jagger, along with castles and huge properties’ owners from North America and Europe.
In the late afternoon we will reach Plovdiv, the “City of the seven hills’’. Plovdiv is the oldest city in Europe still existing today. It was called Philippopolis in the IV century B.C. in honor of King Philip II of Macedonia. Today Plovdiv is a cultural center of Bulgaria and selected as European Capital of Culture for 2019.
Accommodation, dinner and overnight in Plovdiv.
Day 5Plovdiv – Valley of Roses – Taja – Koprivshtitsa (B, D)
After breakfast – sightseeing tour of the Old Plovdiv with visit the Ethnographical museum, the St. Constantine and Elena Church, the Antique Theatre and the Roman Stadium.
Our journey continues with exploring the beautiful Rose valley. Visit of Tarnichene Rose oil distillery – a high quality Bulgarian essential oils producer, operating since 1909
Next is visit of Taja village and the Sasha’s Secret Garden – a private botanical garden with more than 500 species of flowers, plants and trees. The host will prepare some delicious home-made snacks – cake, coffee, tea, natural fruit juice also some Bulgarian yoghurt from the region.
In the afternoon we will reach Koprivshtitsa – a small town situated in a picturesque valley among the mountains. Town with special spirit now turned into a museum where you can feel the unique atmosphere of the Revival Period in Bulgaria. Beautiful 19th century houses, outstanding ethnographic treasures can be seen together with significant historical monuments.
Accommodation and overnight in traditional house now turned into a hotel.
Day 6Koprivshtitsa – Sofia (B)
After breakfast – departure to Sofia. Panoramic tour around Sofia and visit to the most fascinating places of interest: the Alexander Nevski cathedral, the St. Sofia basilica which had given the name of the city, the Underground museum below St. Sofia basilica, the antique Roman Forum dated III-IV-th century (the time of the Emperor Constantine the Great), the quadrangle of tolerance with the temples of the major religions in Bulgaria: the Christian Orthodox, the Catholic, the Muslim and the Jewish, the square with the Royal palace, the boulevard to King Liberator, the Parliament, the National Theatre, and the historical and cultural centre of the capital.
In the afternoon – visit of the Boyana church – a medieval Bulgarian Orthodox church situated in the Boyana district, near Sofia. The monument is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The church is one of the most completely and perfectly preserved monuments of east European medieval art. The frescoes in the church, painted in 1259, make it one of the most important collections of medieval paintings.
Accommodation and overnight in a 4* hotel in Sofia.
Optional: Dinner in a typical Bulgarian folk style restaurant: excellent cuisine, great selection of wines and folklore show.
Day 7Sofia (B)
After breakfast – free time for city’s own exploration.
Transfer to the airport and flight back home.