Archeological Heritage of Bulgaria and
12 days / 11 nights tour
Sofia – Starosel – Hissarya – Skobelevo – Pavel Banya – Kazanlak – Plovdiv – Stara Zagora – Plovdiv – Perperikon – Bachkovo Monastery – Plovdiv – Rila Monastery – Sandanski – Melnik – Serres – Kavala – Litochoro – Dion – Paralia –Pieria – Vergina – Pella – Thessaloniki
• The National Historical Museum and Boyana church – included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
• Visit some original tombs in the Valley of the Thracian Kings
• Plovdiv – the most ancient city in Europe, still existing today.
• Neolithic Dwellings Museum in Stara Zagora (Neolithic houses from the VI millennium BC).
• Perperikon – a megalithic sanctuary of 8000 years, located in the mountains of Orpheus. At this place is predicted to Alexander the Great that will conquer the world
• Rila monastery – the biggest Bulgarian spiritual center, included in the UNESCO World Heritage List
• Archeological complex Dion, named after Zeus, located at the foot of Olympus
• The Museum of Vergina with the tomb of Philip II of Macedonia
• UNESCO listed St. Demetrius Church in Thessaloniki
Day 1Sofia (D)
Arrival at Sofia airport and transfer to the hotel. Accommodation, dinner and overnight.
Day 2Sofia (B, L, D)
After breakfast a panoramic tour around the Bulgarian capital which has more than 8000 years history. The city was a residence of the Emperor Constantine the Great who often said: ‘Sofia is my Rome’. Visit St. George Rotunda – the oldest preserved building in Sofia, the St. Alexander Nevski Cathedral, the St. Sofia Church which had given the name of the city. There are tombs of a Roman necropolis under St. Sofia church where is situated an underground Museum these days.
Our Sofia outskirts tour continues with a visit of the National Historical Museum and Boyana Church (one of the most completely and perfectly preserved monuments of the East European Medieval art).
Dinner at a traditional Bulgarian restaurant with a folklore program.
Day 3Sofia – Starosel – Hissarya – “Damascena”, Skobelevo – Pavel Banya (B, L, D)
After breakfast departure to Starosel where was situated a Thracian settlement with powerful tribal chiefs and wealthy local aristocracy. Visit a Thracian tomb–heroon from the V c. BC with a sunken rock bath for production and storage of wine.
Set off to Hissarya a town founded thousands of years ago because of its mineral springs. Visit the Archeological Museum which holds exhibits from the V millennium BC to the XIV c. A.D. We will see the ancient amphitheatre and the ruins of the Roman town Diocletianopolis.
Next, we will go to Skobelevo village located in the Rose Valley. Visit the Ethnographical Complex “Damascene” with its traditional Bulgarian rose-oil distillery.
Accommodation, dinner and overnight in the nearby located Pavel Banya SPA resort.
Day 4Pavel Banya – Kazanlak (Valley of the Thracian Kings) – Plovdiv (B, L, D)
After breakfast – set off to the Valley of the Thracian Kings. According to the assumptions, there are more than 1500 Thracian tombs in the area. A visit to the replica of the Kazanlak Tomb (IV-III c. BC). It is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List because of its Early Hellenistic frescoes. Entry into several original tombs (V-IV c. BC) – each one with its specific construction.
Departure to Plovdiv – contemporary version of Troy and the most ancient city in Europe, still existing today. It was chosen as the European Capital of Culture for 2019.
We will visit its picturesque Old Town with the 19th-century houses and Roman ruins. We will walk around the Roman Theater (in use today) and the House of Hindliyan with its beautiful wall-paintings.
Accommodation, dinner and overnight in Plovdiv.
Day 5Plovdiv – Stara Zagora – Plovdiv (B, L, D)
Breakfast and departure to Stara Zagora – the town-successor of the ancient Vereya. There is a remarkable material heritage from the New Stone Age to the XV c. A.D. Visit to the Neolithic Dwellings Museum (with houses from the VI millennium BC); the antique forum complex of the Roman town Augusta Trayana; the Museum of the Religions (a mosque built around the foundations of a medieval Christian Church, and an ancient sanctuary).
Visit the Historical Museum of Stara Zagora – the first cultural Insitute in the world whose ancient artefacts are investigated with innovative scanning technology for detecting unknown details on and below their surface. The new technology is being used by an international team under the project INSIDDE. The results will be presented in the biggest online cultural network – Europeana – and applied in the museums across Europe.
Return to Plovdiv, dinner and overnight.
Optional: Dinner and wine tasting in “Todoroff” boutique winery located nearby Plovdiv. This cellar produces small consignments of high-quality wine, made from the typical Bulgarian grape sort “Mavrud”.
Day 6Plovdiv – Perperikon – Bachkovo Monastery – Plovdiv (B, L, D)
After breakfast – departure to the Mountain of Orpheus. Visit Perperikon – a big megalithic sanctuary dating back to the Stone Age. It is considered that the Thracian sanctuary of Dionysus was in this place.
Afternoon departure to Bachkovo Monastery – the second biggest monastery in Bulgaria. It preserves unique frescoes in the refectory of the XVII century and a wonder-making icon of Virgin Mary.
Return to Plovdiv, dinner and overnight.
Day 7Plovdiv – Rila Monastery – Sandanski (B, L, D)
Breakfast. Departure to Rila Monastery (X C.) – the biggest Bulgarian spiritual centre since the Middle Ages included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. It is located in a picturesque mountain area. The Rila Monastery has a 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.
Set off to Sandanski – the warmest city in Bulgaria and a world-famous balneological centre suitable for people with respiratory and other diseases. Thanks to its mild climate and warm mineral waters, Sandanski was settled since ancient times. This was the birthplace of the Thracian rebel across the Roman Empire – Spartacus.
Accommodation, dinner and overnight in Sandanski.
Day 8Sandanski – Melnik – Serres – Kavala (B, L, D)
After breakfast – set off to Melnik – the smallest Bulgarian town, located only 20 km far away from the Bulgarian – Greek border. It is the town of the sand pyramids, the authentic Bulgarian white houses and the wineries which traditionally are scattered throughout.
After sightseeing in Melnik, we will continue to Greece.
Arrival to Kavala in the afternoon – one of the most beautiful cities in Greece with its beaches and located amphitheatrically on the shores of the Kavala Gulf. The town impresses with its huge aqueduct, built after the orders of Suleiman the Magnificent, the beautiful houses painted in bright colours in the Old Town, and the Kavala Fortress.
Accommodation, dinner and overnight in Kavala.
Day 9Kavala – Dion – Paralia Katerini (B, L, D)
After breakfast – departure to the Mount Olympus – the home of the Olympic Gods.
Visit the Archeological complex Dion at the foot of the mountain. It is believed that the ancient town got its name from the Temple of Zeus, whose alternative name was Dion.
Departure to Paralia – a tourist seaside village in the Region of Pieria.
Accommodation, dinner and overnight in Paralia Katerini.
Day 10Paralia Katerini – Vergina –Pella – Thessaloniki (B, L, D)
Breakfast. Departure to Vergina where the first Capital of Ancient Macedonia was located. We will visit the Museum of Vergina built around a complex of ancient tombs of the Macedonian Kings. One of them is considered to be the tomb of Philip II of Macedonia.
Next is a visit to the Museum in Pella – the birthplace of Philip II and Alexander III. During the reign of Alexander the Great, the capital Pella is ’the most beautiful among the Macedonian cities’, according to Ksenfont.
In the afternoon – set off to Thessaloniki – the second-largest and the most important city in Greece known for its rich history and beautiful landscapes.
Accommodation, dinner and overnight in Thessaloniki.
Day 11Thessaloniki (B, L, D)
After breakfast – a city tour of Thessaloniki. Visit Saint Demetrius Church (VII c.) – one of the most important Byzantine monuments there. The church preserves the relics of St. Demetrius – the patron Saint of the city. Because of its impressive mosaics the church is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. We will see the Arch of Galerius, the St. George Rotunda, the White Tower. Visit the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki.
Dinner at a traditional Greek restaurant with live Greek music.
Day 12Departure from Thessaloniki (B)
Breakfast. Free time until the departure. Transfer to the airport for flight back home.
Hotels in the program (or similar)
- Anel 5*, Sofia – 2 overnights
- Sevtopolis 4*, Pavel Banya – 1 overnight
- Ramada Trimontium 4*, Plovdiv – 3 overnights
- Interhotel Sandanski 4*, Sandanski – 1 overnight
- Lucy 5*, Kavala – 1 overnight
- Mediterranean Palace 5*, Paralia Katerini – 1 overnight
- Capsis 4*, Thessaloniki – 2 overnights