Grand Tour of Bulgaria 2016
10 days/9 nights
Guaranteed Small Groups with only 3 departures
3-12 June, 24 June- 3 July,
or Aug 26 – Sep 4, 2016
Let us introduce you on this escorted tour to important historical and nature sites in Bulgaria with several of them listed on the UNESCO World Heritage list. We will take you to ancient towns like Nessebar and Plovdiv, to remnants of the ancient Thracian culture and the mysterious Madara Horseman, with the wild nature of Ropotamo reserve, the famous Valley of Roses and to the beaches of the Black Sea coast.
We will also visit the famed Rila Monastery, the remnants of the Medieval palace in Veliko Turnovo, ancient Nessebar on the Black Sea coast, the Stone Forest, Thracian tombs, the Rose fields of Bulgaria and the beautiful Boiana church near Sofia.
There are 9 of the 24 wonders of Bulgaria included in this itinerary:
Madara Horceman (UNESCO site), Rila Monastery (UNESCO heritage site) , The historic hill of Tsarevets in Veliko Tarnovo, Nessebar (UNESCO ), The Thracian tombs in Kazanlak (UNESCO site), The Stone Forest, The Old Plovdiv (UNESCO heritage site), Bachkovo Monastery.
Day 1 Welcome to Sofia.
Arrival to Sofia. Transfer from the airport and accommodation in a 4* hotel in the center of the city. Dinner and overnight. (D)
Day 2 The Capitals of Bulgaria
Panoramic tour around the Bulgarian capital a 8500 old city called “My Rome” by Emperor Constantine The Great. Visit to the most fascinating places of interest: the forum of Ancient Serdica (the old name of the city) with the newest archeological discoveries from Roman time which are exhibited next to the Bulgarian presidency.
On to St. Nedelya sqare, where 4 temples from different religions are located next to each other: The Catholic church, The Ortodox church, The Synagogue and The Mosque are forming quadrangle, which symbolize the peace between different religions in Bulgaria.
Our tour continues with the Alexander I square where the Royal Palace and the National Theatre are located; Tzar Osvoboditel boulevard, the Parliament, the Church of St. Sofia (the name means wisdom), which had given the name of the city, the Sofia University and the Alexander Nevski cathedral (the biggest Orthodox temple on the Balkan peninsula).
Next we will visit the most remarkable object in the outskirts of Sofia, in the foot of Vitosha Mounatin. This is Boyana Church – a medieval Bulgarian Orthodox church situated in the Boyana district, near Sofia. The monument is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The church is one of the most completely and perfectly preserved monuments of east European medieval art. The frescoes in the church, painted in 1259, make it one of the most important collections of medieval paintings and initiating the beginning of the European Renaissance.
In the afternoon – free time to explore Sofia by your own. Walk along through the pedestrian Vitosha Art Boulevard. This is the place in Sofia, where you can feel the spirit and live of the city. There are a lot of boutiques, shops, cozy cafes and restaurants. Optional: Dinner at a typical Bulgarian folk style restaurant: excellent cuisine, great selection of wines and folklore show. Overnight in Sofia. (B)
Day 3 – Sofia – Arbanassi – Veliko Tarnovo and the Hill of the Kings
Departure to the village of Arbanassi. The village is famous for its ancient, richly decorated churches and magnificent architecture. It used to be a residence of the Bulgarian kings.
Departure to the old capital of Bulgaria – Veliko Tarnovo. Visit to the historical hill Tsarevets with the Fortress, the Wax museum, the Patriarchal church and the Emperor Baldwin’s Tower. You will walk along the old Trade Street – “Samovodska charshia”.
Accommodation, dinner and overnight in Veliko Tarnovo. B.D.
Day 4 – Veliko Tarnovo – Shumen – Varna
After breakfast – departure for the region of Shumen town. Visit the UNESCO World Heritage monument, the 25 m high bas-relief of Madara Horseman, carved high in the rock. This mystical place is one of the strongest energy zones in Bulgaria with healthy and psychology effects over the people who have been there.
Departure for the first capital of Bulgaria – Pliska (VII-IX century). Visit of the Archeological reserve complex and the Great Basilica – is real masterpiece of mediaeval architecture. It was the biggest Christian orthodox temple in Southeast Europe in the 9th century.
Continue to Varna – the sea capital of Bulgaria and the biggest port on the Bulgarian Black sea cost. On the way – visit to the nature phenomenon “The Stone Forest” – a magical place with many stone columns in desert like surroundings dating tens of thousands years back in time. Arrival in Varna in the afternoon. Accommodation and overnight at the hotel. B.
Day 5 – Varna – Balchik – Varna
After breakfast take a panoramic tour around Varna, the sea capital of Bulgaria including a visit to the Archeological museum, where the oldest processed gold in the world is exhibited. Departure to Balchik, also called “The White Town”. Visit the summer residence of the Romanian Queen Maria, granddaughter of Queen Victoria of England and a follower of the Bahai fate. See the palace, located on the sea shore and the beautiful sunken gardens dedicated to several world religions with a small mosque, Roman bath and Florencial marble throne. Return to Varna. Overnight in Varna. B
Day 6 – Varna – Nessebar – Sozopol – Ropotamo – Burgas
After breakfast – departure for Nessebar, a small town from the Middle Ages located on a small peninsula. Most of its moving 40 small churches are listed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list date back to the Middle Ages on the Balkans. Walk around the old houses, the romantic alleys and enjoy the breeze of the see surrounding the small place. Lunch at a local restaurant with sea views. After lunch we will proceed to the ancient town of Sozopol, an other ancient Black Sea town founded by Greek colonists. The relics of St. John the Baptist were recently found here. Stop at the Ropotamo Natue Reserve and take a leisurely cruises Boat trip along Ropotamo river down towards the sea to see wild animals, unique rock figures, rare plants . Set off to Burgas – the biggest city at the Southern Black sea coast. Accommodation and overnight in Burgas. B.L.
Day 7: Burgas – Kazanlak – The Valley of the Roses and the Thracian kings – Plovdiv
After breakfast the tour continues with visit of the town of Kazanlak, the capital of the Rose valley and Thracian kings. Visit to the historical museum, which houses the unique gold and bronze treasures including the golden mask of king Teres, recently discovered in the Valley of the Thracian Kings and the replica of the Thracian Tomb. Next is visit of authentic rose oil distillery – a producer of Bulgarian Rose oil since 1909. In the late afternoon we will reach Plovdiv, the “City of the seven hills’’. Plovdiv is the oldest city in Europe, still existing today. It was called Philippopolis in the IV century B.C. in honor of King Philip II of Macedonia. Today Plovdiv is a cultural center and is selected as European Capital of Culture for 2019. Accommodation, dinner and overnight in Plovdiv. B.D.
Day 8 – Plovdiv – Bachkovo monastery – Plovdiv
After breakfast – Walking tour of the Old Town of Plovdiv, impressive with the houses-museums of the Revival period like the Ethnographical museum; the Ancient Theater, the Fortress walls, the oldest church in the city – “St. St. Constantine and Helena”, etc. We will see the Muslim temple Dzhoumaya Mosque and the Roman Stadium on the main street of Plovdiv.
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 16th century in the old monastic dining room. The Icon of Virgin Mary, the patron Saint of the monastery, is considered as miraculous. Return to Plovdiv in the afternoon. Free time at leisure. Overnight. B.
Optional: Dinner with wine tasting in the boutique wine-cellar “Todoroff”, near the village of Brestovica, where a red wine of high quality is produced.
Day 9 – Plovdiv – Rila Monastery – Sofia
Breakfast. Departure to Rila Monastery built in the 10th century. It is the most important Bulgarian spiritual center and is included in UNESCO World Heritage List. It’s located in a picturesque mountain area. The Monastery has rich collection of icons and wall-paintings. Its museum keeps a real treasure: a wooden cross of just 81 cm height, carved with 104 religious scenes and 650 figures. Visit of the monastery and lunch at the nearby restaurant, famous for its dishes from mountain trout.
Return to Sofia. Accommodation and overnight. B. L.
After breakfast, transfer to the airport and flight back home. (B)
2016 Prices for guaranteed departures based on minimum 2 passengers traveling together:
in Euros ($ rates varies depending on the date exchange rates)
|Double/Twin Share||Single Supplement|
*$ rate varies depending the exchange
Tour prices include:
- Accommodation for 11 nights in best available hotels 4* and 3*
- 14 meals- 9 breakfast, 3 dinners, and 2 lunches
- A/C vehicle with driver during the whole trip.
- Parking fees and road taxes.
- All entrance fees for the museums, sites and churches.
- Professional English speaking guide throughout.
- Detailed map of Bulgaria
- Porterage in the hotels.
Tour prices do not include:
- Meals other than stated.
- Airplane tickets to Bulgaria
- Gratuities of any kind
- Half board dinner supplement: 14 EUR per person per meal.
- Folklore dinner with shoe in Sofia: 38 EUR per person (supplement)
- Wine tasting in wine-cellar “Todoroff” 16 EUR per person .
Hotels in the program (or similar):
• Sofia – Ramada Sofia 4*
• Veliko Tarnovo – Grand Hotel Yantra 4*
• Varna – Interhotel Panorama 4*
• Burgas – Interhotel Bulgaria 4*
• Plovdiv – Ramada Plovdiv Trimontium 4*
Pre and Post tour accommodation