BULGARIA'S HISTORICAL TREASURE CHEST UNLOCKED
10 days / 9 nights
Route: Sofia, Rila Monastery, Bansko, Plovdiv, Stara Zagora, Nessebar, Varna, Balchik, Shumen, Pliska, Veliki Preslav, Sborianovo, Veliko Tarnovo, Arbanassi, Troyan Monastery, Sofia
Price from: request
Bulgaria is a country with a long, tumultuous and fascinating history. The land that gave birth to the legendary Orpheus and Spartacus has been invaded, conquered and settled by Greeks, Scythians, Romans, Byzantines and Turks, all of whom left their indelible marks on the landscape. Bulgaria’s medieval ‘Golden Age’, when the Bulgar Khans ruled over one of the largest empires in Europe, was bright but brief, while 500 years of subsequent Turkish domination isolated the country from the rest of Europe. More recently, Bulgaria spent four decades as a totalitarian Soviet satellite and in the last years of the 20th century began opening up as one of the newest members of the EU. It’s no wonder, then, that Bulgarians are so passionate about preserving their rich history and culture, which has survived so often against the odds. We invite you to open Bulgaria’s history treasures chest and explore its secrets that have been in the shadows for so long!
DAY 1 / WELCOME TO SOFIA!
Our guide will meet you at the Sofia Airport upon your arrival, escort you to the hotel and assist you with the check in. The rest of the day will be dedicated to Sofia – the capital of Bulgaria! The guided sightseeing tour will take you to the imposing St. Alexander Nevski cathedral - the seat of the Patriarchy of Bulgaria, the St. Sofia church after which the city was named back in the 14th century, the ancient ruins of the Roman fortress “Serdika” and the Martyr Saint George Rotunda, the National Theatre, the old Bath House, the Banya Bashi Mosque - a remnant of the Ottoman rule of Bulgaria that lasted nearly five centuries. In the afternoon we will take a short trip to the foot of the picturesque Vitosha Mountain where we will visit the National Museum of History and the UNESCO classified Boyana Church with its fascinating murals dating back to the 13th century. Later that evening we will enjoy a welcome dinner in our hotel.
Overnight in Sofia. (D)
DAY 2 / THE RILA MONASTERY & BANSKO
The highlight this morning will be the Rila Monastery - a true architectural masterpiece of its time, fascinating with its distinguished works of art. After a scenic trip through the majestic Rila Mountain we will reach the town of Bansko picturesquely nested at the foot of the Pirin Mountain. We will take some time to stroll down the curving cobbled streets of the preserved Old quarter of town and peek at the craft workshops and little art galleries.
Overnight in Bansko. (B, L, D)
DAY 3 / THE VILLAFE OF DOBARSKO, AVRAMOVI KOLIBI STATION, PLOVDIV
Today we will take the narrow- gauge line for a scenic trip in the spectacular ravine between the Rila and the Rhodope mountains up to the highest train station on the Balkan Peninsula, Avramovi Kolibi (1267m). The afternoon we will spend in Plovdiv - a city with rich cultural and artistic heritage. Our guided tour will take us to the Old Quarter of Plovdiv famous for its spectacular Roman Theatre, the multitude of tiny art shops, the cosy old-time cafés and the authentic Revival period houses.
Overnight in Plovdiv. (B, L, D)
DAY 4 / THE THRACIAN SANCTUARY NEAR THE VILLAGE OF TATUL, THE ANCIENT CITY OF PERPIRIKON, STARA ZAGORA
We will start the day with a trip to the ancient city of Perperikon situated near the town of Kardzhali in South Bulgaria. Perched on a high plateau in the Eastern part of the Rhodope Mountain the extraordinary archaeological complex provides information regarding several eras and civilizations since according to the historians it served as a stone sanctuary of Dionysus, a god that both Thracians and Greeks revered. Next on our agenda for today is the Thracian sanctuary near the village of Tatul , one of the most imposing megalithic monuments discovered on the territory of Bulgaria. The complex comprises of two sarcophagi, a rectangular bed for the main altar, and a three-meter-deep well and dates back to the end of the 5th century BC. We will spend the night in “the city of the lime trees and poets” Stara Zagora where we will visit the remains of the Antique Roman Forum of Augusta Trayana and the well-preserved Roman Amphitheatre that hosts summertime concerts.
Overnight in Stara Zagora. (B, L, D)
DAY 5 / ZHERAVNA, THE OLD TOWN OF NESSEBAR
Today we will travel east towards the heart of the East Balkan Mountain to explore the town of Zheravna, an intriguing architectural reserve that enchants with its authentic atmosphere and consists of preserved Revival period houses. Here we will visit the town’s Ethnographic museum and try the delicious local specialties for lunch. Our last stop for today will be the charming peninsula of the Old Town of Nesebar which has existed as an important maritime centre for more than 9000 years and it is today a cultural monument enclosed in the UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
Overnight in Nesebar. (B, L, D)
DAY 5 / VARNA, THE ALADZHA ROCK MONASTERY, BALCHIK, SHUMEN
Our highlight this morning is the city of Varna, the most important Bulgarian port on the Black sea as well as a significant cultural and economical centre in North-East Bulgaria; hence it is dubbed “the Sea capital of the country”. Here we will visit the preserved remains of an ancient Roman thermal bath. Next stop today will be the stunning Aladzha Rock Monastery carved into a sheet rock at 40m height. Following the beautiful coastal road up north we will reach the town of Balchik. Today a low-key holiday spot that feels like a world away from the bigger and more popular coastal resorts, Balchik enchants with its simplicity and cosiness. The main attraction here is the seafront Summer Palace of Queen Marie with its lovely Botanical Gardens, which was completed in 1926 by King Ferdinand of Romania for his English wife, Queen Marie (Balchik was then part of Romania). Tonight we will stay in Shumen famous for its imposing Tombul Mosque - the biggest temple of its kind in Bulgaria and second in size on the Balkan Peninsula.
Overnight in Shumen. (B, L, D)
DAY 7 / VELIKI PRESLAV, PLISKA, SVESTARI, VELIKO TARNOVO
We will start the day with a short trip up north from Shumen to the town of Pliska, the first capital of the Bulgarian state, where Christianity was adopted in 865. Next we will head towards the country’s second capital Veliki Preslav preserved within the borders of a Historical and Archaeological reserve of national importance. We will not miss visiting the Archaeological Reserve Sborianovo near the town of Sveshtari, where we will explore the Thracian tomb from the 3rd century BC as a beautiful example of the fundamental structural principles of the Thracian cult buildings. The tomb is a remarkable reminder of the culture of the Getes, Thracian people who, according to the ancient geographers, were in contact with the Hellenistic and Hyperborean civilisations. In the late afternoon we will arrive in Veliko Tarnovo, the Midieval capital of Bulgaria (1185 – 1396) where we will spend the night.
Overnight in Veliko Tanovo. (B, L, D)
DAY 8 / VELIKO TARNOVO, ARBANASSI
Our day will start with a guided sightseeing tour which will take us to the significant landmarks of Veliko Tarnovo starting from the picturesque Tsarevets Fortress where we will learn about the bravery and pride in the history of the glorious Medieval capital. Next we will visit the nearby village of Arbanassi which used to be an important merchant and cultural centre during the Bulgarian Revival Period. In the afternoon, we will have a couple of hours to unwind, relax and explore Veliko Tarnovo on our own; take a stroll down the preserved market street “Samovodska Charshia” with its authentic workshops and romantic old-time coffee houses.
Overnight in Veliko Tarnovo. (B, L, D)
DAY 9 / VELIKO TARNOVO, THE TROYAN MONASTERY, SOFIA
Today we will visit first the Trojan Monastery founded in the late 16th century and home of one of the holiest icons in Bulgarian Orthodoxy - the Three-Handed Virgin. It boosts intricate woodcarvings, splendid frescoes and exquisite architecture. Our afternoon we will spend at the foot of the Vitosha Mountain at the outskirts of Sofia where we will visit the National History Museum and the UNESCO classified Boyana Church with its stunning 13th - century frescoes.
Overnight in Sofia. (B, L, D)
DAY 10 / TOUR ENDS IN SOFIA
Today after breakfast we say “Goodbye” with the promise to keep the beautiful memories we created together.(B)
If you like the suggested program, ideas, services and this is really your kind of holiday please send us your request for further details! We will be happy to answer any questions you may have and give you our professional advice. Thank you!
WHAT IS INCLUDED:
- 10 days / 9 overnights
- 9 breakfasts (B), 8 Lunches (L), 9 dinners (D)
- 9 nights 4 - star hotel accommodation on a twin-share or double basis
- Guided sightseeing tours of all visited cities and sights
- Escorted services of an experienced guide in the requested language for the whole tour
- Group Size: T/A
- Transport: Modern air-conditioned coach
- The Bulgarian capital Sofia - a city of ancient historical heritage and modern-day landmarks
- The Rila Monastery - an architectural masterpiece of its time that played a significant role in the Bulgarian history
- A stunning scenic trip on the single narrow - gauge line on the Balkan peninsula
- The charming Old Quarter of the city of Plovdiv with its spectacular Roman amphitheatre
- The unique Thracian Cult Complex at Perperikon
- The archaic Thracian sanctuary near the village of Tatul
- The ancient maritime centre Nesebar perched on a tiny peninsula in the Black sea
- The Bulgarian Black Sea capital - Varna
- The Aladzha Rock monastery
- The romantic coastal town of Balchik
- The former Bulgarian capitals Veliki Preslav, Pliska and Veliko Turnovo
- The wrapped in legends Troyan Monastery