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BU1 Beautiful Bulgaria TOUR

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TOUR HIGHLIGHTS:

The Old Quarter of ancient Plovdiv; Famous Valley of the Roses; Breathtaking views from Tsarevets Citadel; Unsurpassed frescoes of Rila Monastery; Sofia: City tour

  • DATES & PRICES
  • FULL ITINERARY
  • MAP & HOTELS
  • TRIP INFORMATION

Dates & Prices

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Prices are in US Dollars (USD), before taxes (if applicable) - All pricing reflects per-person Land Only expenses, however, we can book flights from virtually every city. Please call us for an air quote.


Start DateEnd DatePriceMore Info
Fri 02 Oct 2015Fri 09 Oct 2015 $2250
Fri 13 May 2016Fri 20 May 2016 $2250
Fri 29 Jul 2016Fri 05 Aug 2016 $2250
Fri 30 Sep 2016Fri 07 Oct 2016 $2250

Optional Single Supplement: $460 (number of singles limited).


Tour Overview


With a turbulent history that stretches back to the 7th century, a diverse topography of great beauty and an ever-welcoming people who are still in the process of trying to adapt to a capitalist framework, Bulgaria is a land of intriguing contrasts that proves a highly rewarding tour destination. We travel across the Plain of Thrace to meander through the Old Quarter, visit the Roman amphitheatre and see typical 19th century Bulgarian architecture in the streets of Plovdiv and take to the countryside through the world-famous Valley of the Roses, where a mind-boggling 70 per cent of the world’s rose extract is produced. Thracian tombs, domed churches, fortress walls and Czar castles are just a few of the ancient sites that we’ll be exploring en route to the highly revered, 1000-year-old Rila Monastery, wherein we find stunning frescos, and then it's on to the capital, Sophia, to finish our tour in style.

Regions visited: Central And Eastern Europe
Countries visited: Bulgaria


Full Itinerary

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Day 1 Arrive in Sofia
Arrive in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria.

Overnight in Sofia.

Meal plan: dinner

Day 2 Sofia: City Tour
Today we have a sightseeing WALKING tour of Sofia. The motto of the city is "Sofia Grows but Never Ages"; founded over 7,000 years ago, Sofia today is an exciting meeting place of history and the present. Traces of the lives of Thracians and Romans, Proto-Bulgarians and Slavs can be seen here. More than 250 historic, archaeological and architectural monuments have been preserved in Sofia, the center of the country’s political and cultural life.

We'll see some of the most famous landmarks: The magnificent St Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, one of the most spectacular buildings in Sofia. In addition to the splendor of the building itself, the cathedral is also remarkable for its icons and murals, painted by the time's foremost artists. Its crypt contains the most valuable collection of Bulgarian icons.

St Sofia's Church (5C) is the second oldest, but most significant building, which gave the city its name. Specialists highly value this remarkable archaeological monument, witness of Serdica's golden age during the 6th century.

The large archaeological complex of Roman and medieval ruins, dominated by St George Rotunda (4C) is the oldest building in Sofia. Repeatedly destroyed and rebuilt, the St George Rotunda has been restored to its original 5th century appearance when it was used as a Christian church.

The remainder of the afternoon is at your leisure.

Overnight in Sofia.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 3 Sofia - Plovdiv
Today we travel to the ancient city of Plovdiv, situated in the Plain of Thrace. Plovdiv was formerly known as Pulpudeva until Philip II of Macedon's weary horse collapsed under him here at the edge of the Thracian plain in AD 342. Since that was surely an omen, he built Philippolis on the site in the horse's honour. Later the Romans renamed it Trimontium -- the City on Three Hills. For five centuries, under Turkish rule when it was known as Philibe, it suffered much devastation. Today it is a city of great charm, with legacies of a hectic past.

Plovdiv has a lovely "stariyat grad," or old town, with Turkish influences and a charming character. Our tour includes the Old Quarter, the Ethnographical Museum, and the Roman Amphitheatre. Within Trimontium, the historic heart of Plovdiv, typical 19th century Bulgarian homes line the streets.

Overnight in Plovdiv.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 4 Plovdiv - Valley of the Roses - Veliko Turnovo
This morning we depart Plovdiv for the world famous Valley of the Roses.

In this valley, 70 percent of the world's "attar", or extract from roses, is produced. Nimble- fingered women and girls do most of the picking, while donkeys are used to carry the petals away.

In the town of Kazanlak we visit the Thracian Tomb (fourth and third centuries BC). The Thracians are regarded as the original Bulgarians, a people closely linked with the ancient Greeks. Before our climb over the Shipka Pass we will visit the Shipka Memorial Church. The golden Domes of this Russian-style church rise out of the hillside. After crossing the spectacular Shipka with its majestic vistas and momentous history we visit the open-air Ethnographical Museum of Etura, a recreation of a typical 19th century village.

After a tour of the museum we continue on to Veliko Turnovo, once the capital of Bulgaria (1185-1396) and still showing the remains of its past glory -- fortress walls and palaces perched among the steep cliffs of the Yantra Gorge. Clinging to the crags that rise above the River Yantra, this capital of the second Bulgarian Kingdom of the Middle Ages is one of the country's most picturesque sites. It rises on three main hills: fortified Tsarevets; Trapezitsa, where boyars lived; and Sveta Gora, then the centre of a scholarly monastery, now a university site.

Overnight in Veliko Turnovo.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 5 Veliko Turnovo: Town Tour
Today we have a tour of this town laced with history. We will admire the breathtaking views of this picturesque region during our tour of the Tsarevets Citadel (Castle of the Czar). This commanding position was first fortified in the 6th century and had become the royal centre of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom by the end of the 12th century. A short drive away is the hilltop village of Arbanassi, first settled by Albanian immigrants in the 15th century. We will have the opportunity to visit several of the houses in the region dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries.

Balance of the day at leisure.

Overnight in Veliko Turnovo.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 6 Veliko Turnovo - Sofia
Today we travel to Sofia via the beautiful Danube Plain. En-route we will cross over the Troyan Pass and visit the nearby Troyan Monastery, Bulgaria's third largest. After a lunch break we will continue on the well-preserved 'museum-town' of Koprivshtitsa. It was here that the revolt against the Ottoman occupation began in 1876. A visit here gives us an insight as to how Bulgarians lived a century ago. Our WALK throughout the enchanting town will bring us to many unique houses with wooden columns, painted facades, richly decorated interiors, and lovely gardens.

Overnight in Sofia.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 7 Sofia - Rila Monastery - Sofia
This morning we depart for the 10th century Rila Monastery, 121 km (75 miles) south of Sofia at the end of a winding road through high rock walls with formations like giant animals waiting to pounce. This most-revered of all Bulgarian monasteries lies nestled in a soft, green wood. Mountains rise all around it; below it the Rilska River races over a stony bed.

In the 9th century, twenty-year old Ivan Rilski (John of Rila) fled to this peaceful place seeking escape from the sordidness of the world. Finding a cave in the woods above this present monastery site, he took up the hermit life. Here he fed the animals and the birds and prayed in the stillness to God. In time, like-minded men joined him and they built the first monastery here about a 2.4 km (1.5 mile) from the present site, where, today, you will find his tomb, the little Church of St. Luke, and the cave he inhabited. In the past, pilgrims were not deemed sinless enough to enter the monastery.

The Rila Monastery is one of Europe's largest monasteries, located in some of Bulgaria's most beautiful terrain. Sightseeing of the monastery features the unsurpassed frescoes of the Church of the Blessed Virgin. Monks still practice within this five-domed treasure. Also contained within the exquisite fortress-like walls of the monastery is the Historical Museum featuring a collection of objects connected with the monastery's thousand-year history. After lunch we will return to Sofia.

Overnight in Sofia.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 8 Departure
Departure from Sofia.

PRIJATNO PATUVANE!!

Meal plan: breakfast

Tour Map

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*The red tour trail on the map does not represent the actual travel path.


Hotel List


The following is a list of sample hotels at some locations included on this tour. The hotels shown here are meant to provide a general sense of the standard of hotel we usually aim for; they are not necessarily confirmed for your chosen departure.


Best Western City Hotel

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Sofia
Country: Bulgaria

As part of the Best Western brand, City Hotel in Sofia features: full buffet breakfast, data ports for Internet connection
... hair dryers, iron and ironing boards, coffee/tea makers (upon request), complimentary toiletries available in all rooms and upon request. Our hotel rooms have individually controllable air-conditioning. They are equipped with telephone (in both room and bathroom), colour TV set (international satellite TV channels, as well as Pay-TV are available), hairdryer, music system, in-room electronic safe, a stocked mini-bar, magnetic card lock.

Read More.

Novotel Plovdiv

Rating: 5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation
Location: Plovdiv
Country: Bulgaria

Novotel hotel offers 321 rooms with:
luxurious bathroom with a separate toilet; air conditioning; Mini bar; Colour TV with satellite
... direct dial phone; possibility for internet connection; 24 hour room service. Hotel offers: indoor swimming-pool; jacuzzi; solarium; bowling hall; pool hall; fitness-room.

Read More.


Trip Information

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Inclusions

Breakfast and dinner (hotels & local restaurants) daily. All transport, sightseeing and entrance fees for sites noted as 'visited' in the detailed itinerary. Gratuities for local guides, drivers, restaurant staff, porters. Airport transfers for land & air customers arriving / departing on tour dates.

Exclusions

Tour Leader gratuities, lunches, drinks, personal items (phone, laundry, etc), international air taxes (if applicable), excursions referenced as 'optional'. Airport transfers for Land Only customers. Our post-reservation trip notes offer further guidance on optional meal costs and shopping.

Seasonality and Weather

This tour is offered in spring, summer and fall the most popular of which is are spring and fall when temperatures are relatively mild and crowds thinner. Showers quite possible in spring and fall, somewhat less so in summer though can occur any time. Summers can be humid though long daylight hours maximize exploration.

Transport and Travel Conditions

Land transport throughout by private air-conditioned motor coach, 24-36 seats depending on ultimate group size (see 'group size'). Though we will have a couple of full bus days there are plenty of stops of interest. Though we do not rate this tour "strenuous", it is a busy programme with numerous city / town walking tours featuring uneven surfaces, inclines and / or stairs. You must be able to spend several hours on your feet per day, walking at a leisurely pace. There may not be porters available in all locations. We also make use of public transit in some cities in order to maximize sightseeing where vehicles are impractical (most people quite enjoy this insight into daily life).

Accommodation

Well-located, air- conditioned, mid-range hotels (3 star) throughout. Many are smaller properties (3-4 story) that may not have elevators. All hotels have en suite toilet and bath, though most have shower only. Porter service is sometimes available; you MUST be independent with your luggage. Single rooms are limited and likely smaller than twins.

Staff and Support

Tour Leader, driver, local step-on guides in various locales.

Group Size

10-21 (plus Tour Leader)