Culture & Wildlife Experience –
BULGARIA & ROMANIA
15 days/14 nights
Perfectly fit for small groups in searching for a connection with Mother Nature. In this two weeks tour, you can experience not only the beauty of nature but also to connect with the animals and combine it with cultural experience, that those two pearls of the Danube River have to offer
• Visit the Ruins of ancient Serdica. A city referred to as “My Rome” by emperor Constantine the Great
• Visit of Bulgaria’s biggest spiritual center. The UNESCO listed Rila Monastery
• Explore the picturesque villages and magnificent nature of the Rhodopi mountains
• Visit Plovdiv – the European capital of culture of 2019
• See how rose oil, one of the trademarks of Bulgaria, is being produced in the capital of the Rose Valley
• Crossing of the picturesque Transfagarasan Road where you will marvel at the beauty of the Carpathian mountains
• Bear watching near Brasov
• Take a tour through Romania’s capital Bucharest also known at the Little Paris
Day 1Sofia (D)
Arrival to Sofia. Transfer from the airport and accommodation at centrally located hotel in Sofia.
Panoramic tour around Sofia and visit to the most fascinating places of interest: the Alexander Nevski Cathedral, the St. Sofia church which had given the name of the city, 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.
Enjoy a traditional dinner in a folklore restaurant.
Overnight in Sofia.
Day 2Sofia – Rila monastery – Wine tasting – Bansko (B, L)
After breakfast – take off to the Rila monastery. Founded in 10th c., it is the biggest Bulgarian medieval spiritual centre with rich collection of icons, wall-paintings, old-printed books – some 15 000 volumes.
Guided tour around the monastery. The monastery is an UNESCO – monument and it is situated in the highest mountain on the Balkans – Rila Mountain, with its top peak “Moussala” at 2925 m.
Have a delicious lunch with famous trout from the region.
Enjoy wine tasting in a local winery to taste delicious local wines.
Then we continue towards Bansko – one of the fastest developing winter resorts in the Balkans.
Accommodation and overnight.
Day 3Bansko – Trigrad – Bansko (B, L)
In this day we head off to Rhodopes mountain through to reach Trigrad, located in the beautiful Trigrad gorge, where is also famous for been inhabited in the higher points with bears. Visit the beautiful Devil’s throat cave – through which Trigradska River flows underground for some 700 m and forms 18 waterfalls. The cave and the gorge are natural sites.
Return back to Bansko for an overnight.
Day 4Bansko – Belitza – Kostandovo carpet factory – Plovdiv (B)
On this day we head down from the mountain and will visit Belitza village where you can see the park for readaptaion for dancing bears – it is a big area, where the bears are living and taking care after.
Continue towards a 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, chosen as European Capital of Culture for 2019.
Accommodation and overnight in Plovdiv.
Day 5Plovdiv – Bachkovo monastery (B, D)
After breakfast – visit of the Old Plovdiv, built in IV century before Christ from the King Philip of Macedonia. Visit to the old part of the town with the Hindlyan house-museum, the St. Constantine and Elena Church, the Antique Theatre and the Roman Stadium.
Next is visit of Bachkovo Monastery. Founded in 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 16-th century in the monastery. The Icon of Virgin Mary, the patron saint of the monastery, is considered as miraculous.
Dinner with wine tasting of Bulgarian wines in a boutique wine-cellar “Todoroff”, located near Plovdiv (suppl. for degustation).
Return to Plovdiv and overnight.
Day 6Plovdiv – Kazanlak – Rose distillery – Etara – Veliko Tarnovo (B, D)
Set off to Kazanlak – the capital of the Rose valley and Thracian Kings. You will visit the replica of Thracian Kazanlak Tomb, dating back to the 4th C. B.C. It is listed in the world natural and historical heritage of UNESCO.
Departure to Skobelevo village where we will visit the Ethnographical Complex “Damascene”, which works also as a family run rose oil distillery from more than 20 years. The hosts will show how the famous Bulgarian rose oil (used in the perfumery) is produced and you will have the chance to taste some of the other production from rose – honey, jam, liquor.
Departure towards Etara – a unique open air museum, reproducing the way of life of the Bulgarians in the 19th c. It is a great attraction for tourists, one of the most visited places in the country.
After that continue towards Veliko Tarnovo – the capital of the Second Bulgarian kingdom.
Accommodation, dinner and overnight.
Day 7Veliko Tarnovo – Srebarna – Silistra (B)
Start off the day early with sightseeing of the historical hill Tsarevets with the Fortress, the Patriarchal church, the Royal Palace and the Emperor Bolduin’s tower. Panoramic tour of the town, stroll along the old Trade Street – “Samovodska charshia”.
After that continue towards Srebarna Natural Reserve – over 600 ha., it is the breeding ground of almost 100 species of birds, many of which are rare or endangered. Some 80 other bird species migrate and seek refuge there every winter. Among the most interesting bird species are the Dalmatian pelican, great egret, night heron, purple heron, glossy ibis and white spoonbill.
Continue towards Silistra – a port town on the Danube River, with ancient history and many remains from the Roman and later period, with unique painted tomb, remains of the roman town Durostorum on across the river.
Accommodation and overnight in Silistra.
Day 8Silistra – Ivanovo rock churches – Ruse – Bucharest (B, D)
After breakfast – panoramic tour around Silistra – a port town on the Danube River, with ancient history and many remains from the Roman and later period, with unique painted tomb, remains of the roman town Durostorum on across the river.
Departure to the Rusenski Lom River valley. Visit Rock Churches of Ivanovo (XII-XIV c) – an UNESCO site, famous for its unique frescoes.
Set off to Ruse – the first Bulgarian city with European appearance, also called the “little Vienna”. The city is also the main Bulgarian port, located on the bank of Danube River.
Meeting with the Romanian guide in Ruse. From here you will cross together the Danube and will drive to Bucharest. City tour with the visit of Bucharest`s main touristic attractions: The Press House, the Kiseleff Boulevard, the Arch of Triumph, the Victoria Square, the Spring Palace, the Cotroceni Palace, the Palace of Parliament and of course the old streets like the Lipscani Street.
Accommodation in Bucharest.
Day 9Bucharest – Curtea de Arges – Transfagarasan – Sibiu (B, D)
After breakfast, we will drive to Transylvania.
We can make a stop at Curtea de Arges (which was the first capital of the Principality of Wallachia) to visit the XVI century orthodox Monastery, a real shelter for our history, being the necropolis of the royal family. From Wallachia we will cross the Transfagarasan Road into Transylvania.
In the period Juy – September we can drive on the Transfagarasan Road – the highest altitude pass road. You will discover the beauty of the glacial Balea Lake (2034 m), Vidraru dam lake. The Transfagarasan mountain road is one of the most spectacular roads in the world. Located in Romania, it runs through Fagaras mountains and it represents a challenge for every driver because of its sharp hairp in turns. Built between 1970 and 1974 by the military forces, the Transfagarasan has more tunnels and viaducts then any other road in Romania.
Accommodation in Sibiu. Dinner in Rasinari (a village near Sibiu) at a local family at home.
Day 10Sibiu – Biertan – Sighisoara (B)
After breakfast, we will make the city tour of Sibiu (the European Cultural Capital 2007 and European Region of Gastronomy in 2019) in order to discover the secrets of this magnificent medieval city. We will visit the main cultural objectives like: The Evangelical Church, the Liar’s Bridge, The Small Square with “the eyes of the city”, The Big Square.
Biertan is one of the most important Saxon villages with fortified churches in Transylvania, having been on the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites since 1993. Visit the Biertan fortified church which was the see of the Lutheran Evangelical Bishop in Transylvania between 1572 and 1867 and has one of the largest Saxon populations in the region.
Sighisoara, the only inhabited citadel in the South-Eastern Europe, part of the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage. In a tour of the magnificent, still inhabited, citadel we visit the main cultural objectives: The Clock Tower; the birth house of Vlad the Impaler; the Stag House. We will climb the 177 steps of the Covered Staircase, until we arrive at the Church on the Hill. Accommodation in Sighisoara.
Day 11Sighisoara – Bicaz Gorge – Agapia Monastery – Iasi (B)
On our way to Iasi, we will have the chance to drive through Bicaz Gorge, which serves as a passageway between the Romanian provinces of Moldova and Transylvania), one of the natural rarities in Europe. We will pass also the Red lake – It is a naturally barricaded lake formed 160 years ago as a result of a rockslide following a strong earthquake.
It probably got the name „Red” because of its ferric oxide content which has conserved the remains of the pine-trees that still stand out of the lake. We will visit Agapia, the biggest Monastery in Romania (over 500 nuns), where we will visit also the church with a unique inside painting, made by Nicolae Grigorescu. Accommodation in Iasi.
Day 12Iasi – Brasov (B)
After breakfast, check out. We will drive towards Brasov.
Accommodation in Brasov.
Day 13Bear Watching in the Carpathians: Brasov – Piatra Craiului (B, L)
The Carpathian Mountains may not be as high as famous as the Alps or as old as Russia’s Urals, but are probably some of Europe’s most spectacular and wild mountain groups and are home to Europe’s largest large carnivores. Join us for a day filled with exciting tracks, breathtaking views and small, isolated settlements, where it seems like time has stood still for the last couple of centuries.
We will depart in the morning from Braşov and drive to the mountains, just outside of Zărneşti. Here we will visit the Bear Sanctuary Liberty, one of the most interesting wildlife conservation projects: almost one hundred brown bears have been brought from old zoos and illegal animal parks, and have found a much better life here.
From here we will drive to the Piatra Craiului Mountains and prepare for a 5-hour hike to one of Romania’s most beautiful scenery: lively coloured meadows, migrating sheep herds and isolated mountain villages will enchant us all day long.
At noon we will enjoy a delicious picnic with traditional homemade sausages and cheese.
In the evening we will return to Braşov.
Day 14Brasov – Bran – Sinaia – Bucuresti (B, D)
In Brasov we will have a city tour of the middle-aged city inside the Carpathian Arch, visiting the main touristic features: The Council Hall, the Black Church, the 14th century St. Saint Nicholas Church, the Schei quarter, The Rope Street (the narrowest street in Romania). We will depart to Bran village, where the world-famous Dracula Castle is located. The castle was built in 1377 to safeguard the trading route between Transylvania and Wallachia, enlarged and restored a few times to become a royal residence in the 1920s under Queen Marie of Romania.
Nowadays, Bran Castle is the most visited castle in Romania and is known, all over the world, as Dracula`s Castle. The Royal Family`s favourite city (Sinaia) will be our next target. The gateway to wild nature is possible here, a mountain resort known also as „The Pearl of the Carpathians “. This place impresses everyone by the beauty of its landscapes, guarding a treasure of the Romanian history: The Peles Castle, used as a summer residence for the royal family, this monument represents a symbol of elegance and nobility.
Accommodation in Bucharest.
Day 15Departure (B)
Breakfast. According to your flight schedule you will be transferred to the Airport Otopeni.