7 nights starting from
12th century capital Veliko Tarnovo
Charming village of Arbanassi
4th century BC Kazanlak Tomb
Plovdiv – 2019 European city of culture and one of Europe’s oldest cities
Bachkovo and Rila Monasteries
The capital, Sofia and medieval Boyana Church
Our image of Bulgaria as a grim Communist state could not be further from the reality as this superb new tour demonstrates. At the crossroads of Europe and the Orient, Bulgaria’s history has been influenced by many cultures, from Greek and Roman to Byzantine and Bulgar. From ancient sights to medieval treasures, gilded monasteries, excellent local wine, a rich folklore tradition and spectacular mountain scenery, as well as Communist-era legacies, Bulgaria has a wealth of interest for any visitor.
|14 - May - 2019||Limited Availability||Travel Info Please Call||booking-journey/#/start/BUL/14 May 2019/|
Departing: 14th May 2019 at 08:05
Returning: 21st May 2019 at 14:20
|16 - September - 2019||£ 999.00||Travel Info Book Now||booking-journey/#/start/BUL/16 September 2019/|
Departing: 16th September 2019 at 07:45
Returning: 23rd September 2019 at 13:45
Day 1: Fly from London Heathrow to Sofia
On arrival, transfer by coach to Veliko Tarnovo (approx. 220km) for check in for two-night stay. Dinner and overnight stay in Veliko Tarnovo.
Day 2: Morning tour of Veliko Tarnovo and afternoon Arbanassi
In the morning sightseeing tour of Veliko Tarnovo. The town became the capital, political, administrative, religious and cultural centre of the restored Bulgarian state in 1186 after Byzantine rule. It has been described as “God’s preserved town” and boasts fine architecture, a picturesque hillside setting and a wealth of historic sights, which a guided walking tour will pinpoint. Highlights include the impressive fortress at Tsarevets Hill, Asenevtsi
Monument, built in 1985 to mark the 800th anniversary of the founding of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom and the thriving Samovodskata Charshia
Bazaar in the historic Varusha district. This afternoon transfer to the delightful village of Arbanassi with traditional architecture from the 17th and 18th centuries. We will visit a traditional house, but the town’s big attraction is the Church of Nativity, whose austere exterior is contrasted with its fantastic interior depicting over 2000 Old and New Testament scenes covering the walls and barrel-vaulted ceiling.
Day 3: Veliko Tarnovo to Plovdiv via Kazanlak
Today we drive south to the Balkan Mountains and visit the unique “Etura” open air crafts museum showing the everyday town life of Gabrovo in the 18th and 19th century with water-powered craftsman’s workshops, public buildings, shops and a church. Just like in the old days craftsmen manufacture and sell their own work directly to customers. We continue south through the Balkan Mountains through the Shipka Pass (1150m), famous as the site of the Russo- Turkish war of 1877/8. A Memorial Monument to those who died in the battle was erected here in 1934 and we will also make a brief stop at the Shipka Memorial Church, with its gleaming golden dome, located just outside Kazanlak. Then further south to the Valley of the Thracian Kings, which has become one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations in Bulgaria with visitors flocking to see the Thracian tombs discovered in the area, particularly the UNESCO-listed Kazanlak tomb (4th century B.C). Murals in the tomb are the best preserved artistic masterpieces of Thracian art of the early Hellenistic period depicting the life of a buried Thracian noble and his wife – an exact replica is open to the public although the original tomb nearby is protected from public view. We visit the tomb and continue to Plovdiv for a three-night stay.
Day 4: Walking tour of Plovdiv
Plovdiv is Bulgaria’s second largest city, arguably its prettiest and Europe’s oldest continuously inhabited, dating back to 7,000BC. Its status has been recognised with its appointment as European City of Culture in 2019 (along with Matera in Italy, featured on our Puglia tour). The city’s historic quarter boasts beautifully decorated period houses, ancient fortress walls, a Roman forum, theatre and stadium, magnificent churches. During our walking tour we will also visit the Roman theatre, the Ethnographic Museum, and Hindliyan’s house, built in 1835-40 for a wealthy Armenian merchant. Free afternoon to continue your exploration of this lovely city independently.
Day 5: Bachkovo Monastery and winetasting in Brestovitsa
Today we visit the UNESCO-listed Bachkovo Monastery, founded in 1083 by a prominent Byzantine statesman and military commander, and one of the most important monuments of Christian architecture in the country. Although the monastery survived the first waves of Turkish invasion in Bulgarian lands, it was later looted and destroyed, but restored near the end of the 15th century. The cathedral church of the Virgin Mary (finished in 1604) is where the most valuable icon of Virgin Mary, dated from 1310 is kept. Our day will also include the nearby remarkable remains of King Ivan Assen’s fortress - a wise ruler of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom, as well as a 13th century church, decorated with authentic iconography. An afternoon winetasting in the nearby village of Brestovitsa will complete the day.
Day 6: Plovdiv to Sofia via the Rila Monastery
Today we head to the capital, Sofia with an en-route visit to Rila Monastery in the foothills of the Rila Mountains - Bulgaria’s largest and most beautiful monastery and one of the oldest in Europe, founded in the 10th century. The cloister is a spectacular UNESCO World Heritage site and the most visited tourist destination in Bulgaria. Behind its 20-metre-high walls which give it the appearance of a fortress, lie impressive monastic buildings, a church and a chapel with remarkable wall paintings. The monastery was destroyed and rebuilt several times over the centuries, with its current incarnation dating from the early 19th century. Continue to Sofia for two-night stay.
Day 7: Morning guided tour of Sofia with afternoon visit to Boyana Church
With a history that stretches over seven millennia, Sofia is one of the most ancient cities in Europe, but with continuous additions and amendments including the Soviet era that define its current appearance - “Ever growing never aging” is the capital’s motto of Bulgaria’s capital of some 1.3 million people. Sights include the Roman Serdika Fortifications (Sofia oldest preserved building), 4th century St. George’s Rotunda, famous for its original structure and unique frescoes, Alexander Nevski Cathedral, Ivan Vazov National Theatre, The National Assembly and Church of St. Sophia. It enjoys a vibrant outdoor life too, with open-air cafés, busy markets and attractive parks and gardens. We will head to the suburbs to see the (once again UNESCO-listed) 10th century Boyana church – one of the greatest and best-preserved examples of medieval art in Europe. Remainder of the day free to continue your exploration independently.
Free time in Sofia until transfer to Sofia airport for return flight to London Heathrow.
NB: Exact order of excursions may vary according to local conditions and tour manager's discretion.
Please note the maximum group size on this tour is 40 passengers.
Hotel Bolyarski, Veliko Tarnovo – 2 nights
The four-star Meridian Hotel Bolyarski is located in the heart of the old town of Veliko Tarnovo. Extensive facilities include two restaurants, one with panormaoc rooftop views, bar, fitness centre with indoor pool, jacuzzi, sauna and gym and very comfortable bedrooms with all modern facilities including free wifi.
Hotel Ramada Trimontium, Plovdiv – 3 nights
The four-star Meridian Ramada Hotel Trimontium is located in the heart of Plovdiv. Extensive facilities include restaurant, bar, fitness centre with indoor and outdoor pool, jacuzzi, sauna and gym and very comfortable bedrooms with all modern facilities including free wifi.
Central Park Hotel, Sofia – 2 nights
The four-star Rosslyn Central Park Hotel is located in the city centre of Sofia opposite the National Palace of Culture. Facilities at this modern, comfortable hotel include restaurant, bar and very comfortable bedrooms with all modern facilities including free wifi.
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