Cultural Tour “The best of Bulgaria”
10 days/9 nights
Sofia – Veliko Tarnovo – Arbanassi – Shumen – Varna – Balchik – Nessebar – Sozopol – Ropotamo – Burgas – Kazanlak – Skobelevo – Plovdiv – Backovo Monastery – Rila Monastery – Sofia
Tour dates in 2019:
- 10 May – 19 May
- 21 Jun – 30 Jun
- 23 Aug – 01 Sept
This exclusive programme presents the best of nature and heritage of Bulgaria. You will feel the ancient towns – like Nessebar and Plovdiv, the ancient Thracian culture and the mysterious Madara Horseman, the wild nature of Ropotamo reserve, the Valley of Roses and so you’ll reach the excellent beaches at the Black Sea coast. Of course, you’ll start from Sofia – an 8500 years old town, called “My Rome” by Emperor Konstantin the Great 17 centuries ago!
- Fully escorted tour with a professional guide, who can be also a driver
- Limited group tour with up to 10 passengers
- Round trip tour of entire Bulgaria, including all must-to-see places and objects in the country
- Accommodation in first class, tourist class and typical hotels
- Traditional meals in authentic restaurants
Most important objects and attractions in this itinerary:
- Bulgaria’s capital city Sofia – one of the oldest cities in Europe
- UNESCO listed Boyana church – its magnificent mural paintings had initiated the beginning of the European Renaissance
- UNESCO listed Madara horseman rock formation – a mystical spot with one of the strongest energy zones in the country
- The first Bulgarian capital Pliska
- The oldest processed gold in the world in Varna archeological museum
- UNESCO listed old town of Nessebar – one of the oldest settlements on the Black sea coast with beautiful ancient churches
- The historic hill of Tsarevets with the royal castle in the old Bulgarian capital Veliko Tarnovo
- Replica of the UNESCO listed Thracian Tomb in Kazanlak
- Old town of Plovdiv – 19th century houses and Roman ruins, including a Roman Theatre, also in use today
- Bachkovo monastery with the miraculous icon of Virgin Mary
- UNESCO listed Rila monastery – the biggest Bulgarian spiritual centre
Day 1Sofia (D)
Arrival in Sofia. Transfer from the airport and accommodation at a 4* hotel in the city-centre. Welcome dinner and overnight at the hotel.
Day 2Sofia & surroundings – UNESCO listed Boyana Church (B)
After breakfast – panoramic tour around the Bulgarian capital – an 8500 – year old city called “My Rome” by emperor Constantine The Great. Visit the most fascinating places of interest: the forum of Ancient Serdica (the old name of the city) with the newest archeological discoveries from Roman time, which are exhibited next to the Bulgarian presidency.
Next is the St. Nedelya square, where 4 worship buildings of the main religions in Bulgaria are located next to each other. These are the Orthodox Church St. Nedelya, the Catholic church, the Synagogue and the Mosque. They form a quadrangle, symbolizing the peace between different religions in Bulgaria.
Our tour continues with the “Alexander I” square where the Royal Palace and the National Theatre are located, “Tzar Osvoboditel” boulevard, the Parliament, the Church of ”St. Sofia” (the name means wisdom), which had given the name of the city, the Sofia University and the “Alexander Nevski” Cathedral (the biggest Orthodox church on the Balkan peninsula).
Next we will visit the most remarkable site on the outskirts of Sofia, in the foot of Vitosha Mounatin. This is 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 and initiating the beginning of the European Renaissance.
In the afternoon – free time to explore Sofia on your own. Walk along through the pedestrian Vitosha Art Boulevard. This is the place in Sofia, where you can feel the spirit and live of the city. There are a lot of boutiques, shops, cozy cafes and restaurants.
Optional: Dinner at a typical Bulgarian folk style restaurant: excellent cuisine, great selection of wines and folklore show.
Overnight in Sofia.
Day 3Sofia – Arbanassi – Veliko Tarnovo (B, D)
Departure for the village of Arbanassi. The village is famous for its ancient, richly decorated churches and magnificent architecture. It used to be a residence of the Bulgarian kings.
Departure for the old capital of Bulgaria – Veliko Tarnovo. Visit to the historical hill Tsarevets with the Fortress, the Patriarchal church and the Emperor Baldwin’s Tower. You will walk along the old Trade Street – “Samovodska charshia”.
Accommodation, dinner and overnight in Veliko Tarnovo.
Day 4Veliko Tarnovo – Shumen – Varna (B)
After breakfast – departure for the region of Shumen town. Visit of the architecture reserve where we can marvel at the 25 m high, stone, bas-relief – The Madara Horseman, which is under the protection of UNESCO. This mystical place is one of the strongest energy zones in Bulgaria.
Departure for the first capital of Bulgaria – Pliska (VII-IX century). Visit to the Archeological reserve complex and the Great Basilica – a real masterpiece of mediaeval architecture. It was the biggest Christian orthodox temple in Southeast Europe in IX century.
Set off for Varna – the sea capital of Bulgaria and the biggest port on the Bulgarian Black sea cost. On the way – a visit to the nature phenomenon “The Stone Forest” – a magical place with many stone figures, dated tens of thousands years back in time.
Arrival in Varna in the afternoon. Accommodation and overnight at the hotel.
Day 5Varna – Balchik – Varna (B)
After breakfast – a panoramic tour around the sea capital of Bulgaria – Varna, with a visit to the Archeological museum, where the oldest processed gold in the world is exhibited.
Departure for Balchik, also called “The White Town”. Visit the summer residence of the Romanian Queen Maria, a palace, located on the sea shore.
Overnight in Varna.
Day 6Varna – Nessebar – Sozopol – Ropotamo – Burgas (B, L)
After breakfast – departure for Nessebar, an ancient town, located on a small peninsula. With its churches – more than 40, dated from different eras, and some of them considered being the most conserved buildings from the Middle Ages on the Balkans, Nessebar is listed in the UNESCO world heritage list. We will enjoy the pleasant atmosphere created by the authentic architecture, the romantic narrow streets with painters, etc. Lunch at a local restaurant overlooking the sea.
We will proceed to the ancient town of Sozopol, founded by Greek colonists. The relics of St. John the Baptist were recently found here.
Boat trip along Ropotamo river.
Set off for Burgas – the biggest city at the Southern Black sea coast.
Accommodation and overnight in Burgas.
Day 7Burgas – Kazanlak – Plovdiv (B, D)
Breakfast. Set off to Kazanlak – the capital of the Rose valley and Thracian Kings.
Visit the Historical Museum, which houses a collection of bronze and gold treasures, as well as the replica of the Thracian Kazanlak Tomb, dating back to the 4th century B.C. It is listed in the world natural and historical heritage of UNESCO.
Next is a visit of authentic rose oil distillery – a producer of Bulgarian Rose oil since 1909. 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 and is selected as the European Capital of Culture for 2019.
Accommodation, dinner and overnight in Plovdiv.
Day 8Plovdiv – Bachkovo monastery – Plovdiv (B)
After breakfast – walking tour through the Old Town of Plovdiv, impressive with the house-museums from the Revival period like the Ethnographical museum, the Ancient Theater, the Fortress walls, the oldest church in the city – “St. St. Constantine and Helena”, etc. We will see the Muslim temple Dzhoumaya Mosque and the Roman Stadium on the main street of Plovdiv.
Next is a visit to Bachkovo Monastery. Founded in the 11-th century by two Georgian brothers, this is the second largest Bulgarian Monastery after the Rila Monastery. There are extremely valuable frescos of biblical subjects from the 16th century in the old monastic dining room. The Icon of Virgin Mary, the patron Saint of the monastery, is considered as miraculous.
Return to Plovdiv in the afternoon. Free time at leisure. Overnight.
Optional: Dinner with wine tasting in the boutique wine-cellar “Todoroff”, near the village of Brestovica, where red wine of high quality is produced.
Day 9Plovdiv – Rila Monastery – Sofia (B, L)
Breakfast. Departure for the Rila Monastery (X c.) – the biggest Bulgarian spiritual center since the Middle Ages, included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. It’s located in a picturesque mountain area. The Monastery has rich collection of icons and wall-paintings. Its museum keeps a real treasure: a wooden cross, just 81 cm height, carved with 104 religious scenes and 650 figures.
Visit of the monastery and lunch at the nearby restaurant, famous for its dishes from mountain trout.
Return to Sofia. Accommodation and overnight.
Day 10Sofia (B)
Breakfast. Transfer to the airport according the flight details and flight back home.
Hotels in the program (or similar):
- Sofia – Sofia Place 3*
- Veliko Tarnovo – Familiy Hotel Silvestar 3*
- Varna – Hotel Divesta 3*
- Burgas – Hotel Aqua 3*
- Plovdiv – Park Hotel Plovdiv 3*
Tour prices include:
- Accommodation for 9 nights at 3* hotels
- 14 meals – 9 breakfasts, 3 dinners and 2 lunches
- Throughout transportation by a comfortable car, van or mini bus. for groups up to 6 passengers, the guide is also a driver
- Parking fees and road taxes
- All entrance fees for the museums, sites and churches
- Professional English speaking guide for touring days and English-speaking assistant for airport transfers
- Detailed map of Bulgaria
- Porterage in the hotels
Tour prices don’t include:
- Other meals than mentioned
- Flight tickets to Bulgaria
- Half board (dinner) supplement – 14 EUR per person per day
- Dinner with folklore show in Sofia – 35 EUR per person
- Wine tasting in wine-cellar “Todoroff” – 15 EUR per person