Dancing Bulgaria: the 2020 Koprivshtitsa Folk Festival
Sofia (2 nights) – Dupnitsa – Melnik – Rozhen (1 night) – Pirin – Leshten – Kovachevitsa (1 night) – Velingrad – Plovdiv (2 night) – Sliven – Zheravna (2 nights) – Kotel – Yambol region – Elena – Veliko Tarnovo (2 nights) – Kazanlak – Kalofer – Koprivshtitsa (3 nights) – Starosel – Sofia (1 night)
Available tour dates: July 26 -August 9, 2020 (free 6 spots)
Day 1, Sunday
Arrival to Sofia
Welcome to Bulgaria! Today we have no organized group activities. Meet and greet at Sofia airport and transfer to our centrally located hotel.
Overnight in Sofia.
Day 2, Monday
We will start our Bulgarian journey with an orientation meeting, which will be followed by a short drive to a nearby village. We will enjoy the hospitality of the local people, their homemade food and singing from the Shopluka capital region. Drive back to our hotel in Sofia for the night.
Overnight in Sofia. Dinner.
Day 3, Tuesday
Sofia – Dupnitsa – Melnik
After breakfast we will have a short walking tour of Sofia, followed by a visit to the National Ethnographic museum. In the late afternoon we will drive south to Melnik region. En route we will stop in Dupnitsa and visit the Roma neighborhood. After a short walk, we will have a light lunch in the home of our hosts, followed by a belly dancing workshop. In the late afternoon we will arrive in Melnik – a small and picturesque town, with preserved medieval Bulgarian churches and Ottoman architecture, hidden among the eroded sandy hills of Pirin mountain. We will visit the House oh Kordopulov and explore the underground tunnels used as halls to store wine for centuries. Accommodation in a local bed & breakfast, where will have a hearty dinner cooked by our hosts.
Overnight in Melnik. Breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 4, Wednesday
Rozhen – Pirin – Leshten – Kovachevitsa
In the morning we will visit Rozhen monastery and explore some of its numerous murals, depicting scenes from the lives of Jesus, Virgin Mary and hundreds of other saints. We will drive along the beautiful vineyards and visit a family-owned winery for a tour of the facilities and a wine-tasting. When the spirits are high, we will stop in one forgotten village where life has stopped years ago. Let’s join the local ladies in their everyday work, listen to their songs and share their food. We will check in and have some rest before exploring the beautiful stone architecture villages of Leshten and Kovachevitsa.
Overnight in Kovachevitsa. Breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 5, Thursday
Kovachevitsa – Velingrad – Plovdiv
Today we will change our comfortable vehicle for the last operating narrow gauge train in Bulgaria. We will ride along beautiful mountains and talk to the people on the train. We will get off the train at Velingrad station from where we will jump back on our vehicle to Plovdiv. Plovdiv was the European Capital of Culture for 2019, and has rich millennial history and interesting cultural events. En route we will stop at the Kostandovo carpet factory where local women weave beauty. In the afternoon we will have an orientation walk in Plovdiv, showing you some of the hot spots of the city.
Overnight in Plovdiv. Breakfast.
Day 6, Friday
Today we will enjoy the charms of Bulgaria’s second largest city. We will wander along the cobbled streets of the old town and visit some of the most exquisite merchant houses from the nineteenth century. We cannot miss: the Regional Ethnographic museum where traditional crafts from the area are exhibited; and the Roman theater and stadium, both from the second centuries AD. The afternoon will be at your leisure. We will have a privately organized cultural event tonight.
Overnight in Plovdiv. Breakfast, dinner.
Day 7, Saturday
Plovdiv – Sliven – Zheravna
After breakfast we will depart east, driving across the Thracian lowlands, among vineyards and agricultural fields, to our first goal of the day – the town of Sliven. Sliven is known as the center of a small minority, migrating between Bulgaria and Greece – the Karakchani, one of the last nomads of Europe. We can get acquainted with the Karakachani’s traditions which evolved around their pastoral and nomadic lifestyle. Our tour will continue with a short drive to the village of Zheravna, where we will stay for two nights. Zheravna is an architectural reserve with houses from the eighteenth to – nineteenth centuries. In the late afternoon we will have a short walking tour and visit a local lady who weaves kilims – one of the most traditional crafts here.
Overnight in Zheravna. Breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 8, Sunday
Zheravna and Yambol
Our first visit of the day will be the only carpet museum in Bulgaria, situated in the nearby town of Kotel. Weaving has had its deep roots in the region. Local women, using horizontal looms, have mastered the art of making colorful kilims with different patterns - kite, star, watermelon, crescent, etc. Then we will drive south to the region of Yambol, where we will be guests at the local chitalishte, or community center, an institution with almost 200 years of history. We will listen to the singing of the local ensemble and then share a meal together. In the afternoon we will head back to Zheravna for some rest.
Overnight in Zheravna. Breakfast, lunch.
Day 9, Monday
Zheravna – Elena – Veliko Tarnovo
Today we will drive along the picturesque roads of the Balkan mountains. We will first stop at a boutique family winery where we will have a wine tasting. Then we head to Elena where we will enjoy a folklore performance and visit the preserved old quarter of the town. Drive to Veilko Tarnovo for our night.
Overnight in Veliko Tarnovo. Breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 10, Tuesday
Veliko Tarnovo is the Medieval capital of Bulgaria. We will explore the streets of the Old town and visit local artisans and craftsmen who excelled in their own crafts – pottery making, jewelry, icon-painting, wood-carving, weaving. We will finish around noon and you will have the afternoon on your own. Later this day we will have a special culinary class with our hosts.
Overnight in Veliko Tarnovo. Breakfast.
Day 11, Wednesday
Veliko Tarnovo – Shipka Pass – Kazanlak – Kalofer – Koprivshtitsa
After breakfast we will depart to Koprivshtita via the Shipka pass. We can also briefly stop at the nearby Buzludzha peak where you can admire the brutalist architecture of one of the most megalomaniac projects of the Bulgarian communist regime. On our way down the Balkan mountains we will visit a Thracian tomb in the Kazanlak valley. We will also stop to visit the atelier of a luthier: Kazanlak is known for its string musical instruments production. In the afternoon we will continue to Koprivshtitsa, with a stop on the way in Kalofer, at the home of a local lady who makes Brussels type lace with a local touch. In the late afternoon we will arrive in Koprivshtitsa. Orientation walk in Koprivsjtitsa, followed by a dinner.
Overnight in Koprivshtitsa. Breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 12, Thursday
Koprivshtitsa Folklore Festival
Today is the big day: the Koprivshtitsa Festival opens! Together we will attend the opening ceremony, and get you photo passes for the whole event. You are on your own for the rest of the day: explore the several stages in the foothills of the mountain and town, sing, dance, enjoy the celebration of authentic Bulgarian folklore. We will have an organized dinner tonight.
Overnight in Koprivshtitsa. Breakfast, dinner.
Day 13, Friday
Saturday: Koprivshtitsa Folklore Festival
After breakfast you are free to explore the music stages and check what’s behind those stages as well, chat to the performers and enjoy this spectacular event. Tonight we also have an organized dinner.
Overnight in Koprivshtitsa. Breakfast, dinner.
Day 14, Saturday
Koprivshtitsa – Sofia
The Festival is over today in the morning. We will then drive back to Sofia. En route we will visit the Thracian cult complex at Starosel (fourth-third centuries BC) which is one of the biggest of its kind in Bulgaria. We will stop for lunch and a wine tasting at the nearby Starosel winery. We will drive westbound to Sofia, where we will have our farewell dinner together.
Overnight in Sofia. Breakfast, dinner.
Day 15, Sunday
Tour is over after breakfast. Or you can join us on a journey to some of our neighbouring Balkan countries, as an extension to our Bulgarian tour. We hope you enjoyed our time together and that you will be our dear guest again!
- Accommodation in selected small hotels and guesthouses in Sofia, Melnik, Kovachevitsa, Plovdiv, Zheravna, Veliko Turnovo and Koprivshtitsa;
- Professional English-speaking tour guide (including meals and accommodation);
- Transport by a comfortable minibus (including all road tax, parking fees, fuel, meals and accommodation for the driver);
- All events and activities on the tour: folk dinner in a village just outside Sofia; visit to a Roma community; lunch with local women in a village in Pirin mountains; visit to the carpet factory in Kostandovo; music evening in Plovdiv; meeting with the Karakachani people in Sliven; visit to a traditional weaver in Zheravna; folk lunch with local women in a village in Yambol region; Folk performance in Elena; culinary class in Veliko Tarnovo; visit to a luthier’s atelier in Kazanlak; visit to a lace-maker atelier in Kalofer;
- Tickets for the Koprivshtitsa festival, including photo passes for non-professional cameras;
- Tickets for all museums and historical sites according to the itinerary;
- Three wine-tastings;
- Tickets for the narrow-gauge train;
- All meals according to the program – all breakfasts, 6 lunches, 10 dinners (including water, bread, a glass of local wine / beer / soft drink, tips for the waiters);
- Welcome packs with maps, brochures, etc.
- Bottled water on the bus.
Cost does not include:
- International flights;
- Personal expenses such as laundry, minibar, phone calls, and others;
- Travel and medical insurance;
- Meals not included in the itinerary;
- Professional camera permit for the Koprivshtitsa Folklore Festival – amount to be notified;
- Traditional tips for the lead guide and driver.
USD 2960 per person, sharing double or twin. Single room supplement is USD 640 per person, in a group of 14 people.
USD 3080 per person, sharing double or twin. Single room supplement is USD 640 per person, in a group of 12.