Bulgaria: April 21 - May 02, 2019
Sofia (2 nights) - Rila Monastery and narrow gauge train - Plovdiv (2 nights) - Veliko Turnovo (1 night) - Mechka (1 night) - Osmar (1 night) - Tyulenovo (2 nights) - Varna (1 night) - Sofia (1 night)
Day 1, April 21, Saturday
Welcome to Bulgaria! For those who arrive early there will be a welcome pack with maps and a list of restaurants and places to see and explore on your own. In the afternoon we will meet for a welcome/orientation walk in town, followed by a welcome dinner.
Day 2, April 22, Sunday
Breakfast, followed by a walking tour in Sofia: St Alexander Nevsky cathedral, St Sofia church, former royal palace and yellow bricks road, mosque, old central marketplace, synagogue, and a short tram ride. Back to the hotel. Free time to explore the city or rest in the afternoon. Come to our office for a home cooked meal!
Day 3, April 23, Monday
An early breakfast, and then off to Rila Monastery before all crowds have arrived. Rila Monastery is our first UNESCO World Heritage site that we will see on this trip. In about two hours we will visit the church, the museum, the old kitchen, and will have spare time to wander around. We will have our lunch in a nearby village, with retired ladies who will cook and show us old mummers masks. In the afternoon we are off to Pirin mountain, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the town of Velingrad. We will have a chance to ride the last functioning narrow gauge train in Bulgaria. We will arrive in Plovdiv, the second largest city in Bulgaria, and 2019 Culture Capital of Europe, in the afternoon. Some time to rest, and welcome walk and dinner.
Day 4, April 24, Tuesday
Breakfast, a tour of Plovdiv, including the newly opened Klianti museum, the Roman amphitheater, the Small Roman Basilica and a Roman house with mosaics. Free time in the afternoon.
Day 5, April 25, Wednesday
After breakfast we depart to the Balkan mountains, stopping at Buzludja monument on the way. Buzludja is the most spectacular communist monument in the world, perched on a windy mountain peak. Underneath is the largest beech forest in Europe, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. We will have a picnic lunch on the mountain. We will arrive in Veliko Turnovo in the afternoon. Free time to rest. An afternoon walk up the steep streets of town, followed by a dinner and a sound and light show over the old medieval fortress.
Day 6, April 26, Thursday
After breakfast we will continue north, to the town of Svishtov. We will charter a ferry boat to cross the mighty Danube river to Zimnicea in Romania, returning to Bulgaria via the historic Danube bridge near Ruse. We will have a walk and lunch in the center of Ruse, before continuing to the small village of Mechka, where we will check in at the delightful Seven Generations winery and hotel. Some time to rest, followed by a wine tasting, and dinner.
Day 7, April 27, Friday
After breakfast, we continue driving east. Our first stop will be the medieval Ivanovo rockhewn churches, a UNESCO site. We will stop at the Sveshtari Thracian Tomb, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Sveshtari is rarely on the tourist trail, because it’s far away, but it’s the most spectacular Thracian tomb. Then we will visit Demir Baba Teke - the holiest Shia Muslim shrine in the country, dedicated to a sixteenth century Sufi saint. We will have lunch in the home of a local Turkish family, before continuing to the village of Osmar. Some free time, followed by a walk in the village before dinner, and a visit to the village kazan, or rakia (brandy) distillery.
Day 8, April 28, Saturday
After breakfast we will depart to the Black Sea coast, stopping at the 1300-years Monument, perched high above Shumen, and the Madara Rider UNESCO site. We will have lunch at the Black Sea coast. We will stay overnight in the village of Tyulenovo, at one of the last parts of the Black Sea coast that have remained wild. Free time in the afternoon, followed by dinner.
Day 9, April 29, Sunday
After breakfast we will head to nearby Shabla, the easternmost point of Bulgaria. We will see the oldest lighthouse in the Balkans, have a walk in the colorful fishing village, have home-cooked lunch with the local fishermen who will tell us about their craft - and then we will send them off to fish or catch snails. If the weather is good we can watch them free dive for snails. We will also have a look at Bulgaria’s nascent oil industry and some ancient Roman ruins. Free time in the afternoon. Dinner in nearby Mangalia, Romania.
Day 10, April 30, Monday
After a late breakfast we are off to Varna. On the way we will visit the former Palace and Botanical Garden of the Romanian Queen Maria in Balchik, and have lunch there. Then we are off to Varna. Check in at our super comfortable central hotel. A short walk in town, including the Roman baths, once the second largest in Europe.
Day 11, May 01, Tuesday
A morning flight to Sofia. Before we head to our hotel, we will visit Boyana Church, a UNESCO-listed medieval Bulgarian church, and take lunch in the vicinity of the church, in the hills above the city, with a gorgeous view of Sofia. Free time in the afternoon, and farewell dinner.
Day 12, May 02, Wednesday
After breakfast depart home, or where the heart takes you next.
- Accommodation in carefully selected hotels.
- All meals according to programme (13 breakfasts, 8 lunches, 9 dinners).
- Transportation with an air-conditioned minibus and Bulgaria’s best bus driver.
- Airport transfers on first and last day.
- Guide throughout the tour.
- Domestic flight from Varna to Sofia using Bulgaria Air.
- Mineral water on the bus and during activities.
- Sound and light show in Veliko Turnovo.
- A welcome package including a booklet, maps, postcards, etc.
- The use of a wifi hotspot while on the bus.
Price does not include:
- Personal medical/travel insurance.
- Tips for driver and guide.
- Any other additional personal costs: laundry, phone calls, etc.
€3347 per person, €420 single supplement.
The cost is per person sharing double or twin room.
We accept payment by bank wire, credit card and cash (in our office in Sofia, Bulgaria!).
- Tour of Sofia.
- Visit to Rila Monastery.
- Lunch with old Bulgarian grannies, showing us the craft of mummer masks making.
- Muslim wedding or some similar very colourful and wild activity.
- Narrow gauge train ride through the mountains.
- Tour of Plovdiv.
- Visit to Buzludzha, the most spectacular communist monument in the world.
- Tour of Veliko Turnovo.
- Sound and light show at Veliko Turnovo.
- Visit to Bulgaria’s most spectacular Thracian tomb.
- Visit to a Shia shrine.
- Visit to a rakia distillery.
- Visit the Madara Horserider, Europe’s largest medieval stone carving.
- Enter the Balkan’s oldest lighthouse.
- Lunch with Bulgaria’s few remaining fishermen.
- Tour of Varna.
- Visit to the Boyana church, boasting Bulgaria’s prettiest medieval frescoes.
- Six out of the ten UNESCO World Heritage sites in Bulgaria.