Bulgaria is an unsung country, in the south-east of Europe, a natural crossroad in the heart of the Balkans. Thracian, Greek, Roman, and Ottoman civilizations met there to leave behind a cultural heritage and astonishing architecture. Its unspoiled nature, a mild climate, and landscapes so varied and superb is the decor of your circuit. Discover a country dotted with mystery between seas and mountains.
Flight from your airport to Sofia.
Walking tour through the cultural city center to discover the most beautiful historic buildings of the capital, including: the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, the largest Cathedral on the Balkan Peninsula (visit), the Basilica of Saint Sophia (visit), the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Antique Market, the Royal Palace, the St. George Rotunda, the Parliament, the remains of the Forum and the former headquarters of the Bulgarian Communist Party. According to the time left, visit the National Museum of History. Accommodation in your hotel. Dinner at the hotel. Overnight.
Day 2Sofia - Koprivchtitza - Karlovo - Hissarya(290km/ 3H10)
After breakfast, departure to the city of Koprivshtitsa, through the Valley of Roses. A historic city, a true museum of Bulgarian architecture at the time of national awakening. Located at an altitude of nearly 1000 m in the middle of beautiful meadows and coniferous forests, this town attracts many tourists. Lunch. City tour and visit to a museum house. Continue to Karlovo, the birthplace of the Bulgarian liberation apostle Vasil Levski. The history of the city begins from the new Stone Age. During the Renaissance, handicrafts developed were the following: production of rose oil, wrought copper casing, copper household utensils, glassware, production of gunpowder, goldsmith, hardware store. Visit the Vasil Levski National Museum. Continue to the city of Hissarya. Accommodation in the hotel. Dinner and overnight.
Day 3Hissarya - Karlovo - Starosel - Kazanlak (160KM/2H30)
After breakfast, departure to Karlovo to visit a museum house with a craft demonstration manufacture and decoration of clay products, tea tasting with rose or lavender, rakia with herbs and rose-based products. Departure to Starosel for an appointment in a winery. The route of this visit begins in the heart of the vineyard, where the history of great wines takes root, then we discover the cellars that exhale their powerful aromas. The oenologist offers a commented wine tasting. Lunch. Continue to the complex of Thracian temples - Starossel. Discovered in 2000 and classified as an architectural and cultural monument on 4 June, 2001, the Thracian cult complex of Chetiniova Mogila is located 4 km from the village of Starossel. Dating from the end of the 5th century and the beginning of the 4th century B.C, it constitutes the largest archaeological ensemble of this type found to date in Bulgaria. Departure to Kazanlak. Accommodation. Dinner and overnight.
Day 4Kazanlak - Etara - Bozhentsi - Veliko Tarnovo (110KM/2H20)
Kazanlak is famous for its production of rose essential oil. Since its founding in the 15th century, this city has become the capital of the rose. After breakfast, we will visit the replica of the Thracian tomb, dating from the 4th century B.C. This tomb, very representative of the art of this period is that of a sovereign and contains beautiful frescoes. Continue to the Russian Church of Chipka. It was built in 1902 to commemorate the Russo-Turkish war that liberated Bulgarians from the Ottoman yoke. In the crypt of the Russian church, 17 marble sarcophagi contain the bones of the soldiers who died in battle in 1877. Departure to the unique open-air museum site Etara, which represents a small reconstituted
artisan village, typical for Bulgaria in eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Walk in the cobbled alleyways, the stone fountains and the old houses that recreate the spirit of the Bulgarian Renaissance. Visit the craftsmen's workshops with demonstrations of trades. Lunch. Continue to
Bozhentsi, a village and architectural reserve of the municipality of Gabrovo. It is renowned for its architecture and history of the well-preserved Bulgarian national revival, and is therefore, a well-
known tourist destination in the region. Continue to the beautiful city, with a prestigious past - Veliko Trnovo. After the first Bulgarian
Kingdom, it was the center of the rebellion against the Byzantines and became Bulgarian capital. The citadel of Tsarevets was razed by the Turks in the fourteenth century that ended the second Bulgarian Kingdom. Most of the monuments visible today have been rebuilt recently. Accommodation in the hotel. Dinner and overnight.
Day 5Veliko Tarnovo - Aarbanassi - Madara - Varna (235KM/3H20)
After breakfast, visit the Arbanassi village museum located in the heights of Veliko Trnovo, one of the jewels of the Bulgarian heritage attracting thousands of visitors with its ancient houses from the seventeenth century. Visit of a church. Continue and discover the site of the Madara rider, a monument inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Carved in the early eighth century on a rock at a height of 25 m, this sculpture represents a real size rider piercing a lion with his javelin. Madara was once a sacred site that sheltered the great sanctuary of the Protobulgares. A typical home-stay lunch with home-made dishes. Continue to Varna. Accommodation in the hotel. Dinner in town in a typical restaurant, accompanied by the local rakia aperitif.
Day 6Varna - Nessebar - Bourgas (175KM/3H10)
Varna is the largest and the oldest Bulgarian city on the Black Sea coast. In times of ancient Greece, it was called Odessos. Today, its heart reflects the architecture of the late 19th and early 20th century. After breakfast, visit the Aladja monastery, one of the most visited monasteries on the Black Sea coast. It is one of the few Bulgarian rock monasteries (4 in total) and has been in business for a very long time. Continue with a visit to the other sites in the city of Varna. Head to the largest Roman baths in the Balkans, the Greek Quarter, the Opera House, next to the central square and its daily market. Visit the Varna Cathedral. A tour in the archaeological museum, where you can admire the oldest gold treasure in the world. Back to the seaside and its beautiful maritime garden. Lunch in a restaurant overlooking the bay of Varna. Departure towards the South coast of the Black Sea. Arrival in Nessebar, a museum town, built on a rocky peninsula on the Black Sea coast nicknamed "the city of forty churches". Panoramic walking tour of the UNESCO-listed Old Town. Continue to Bourgas. Accommodation in a hotel. Dinner and overnight.
Day 7Bourgas - Yambol - Sliven (125 KM/1H40)
After breakfast, departure to visit the island of St. Anastasia, formerly known as Bolshevik Island. It is the only Bulgarian island on the Black Sea coast that is inhabited. Its name comes from the convent of St. Anastasia there, a convent abandoned since 1923 when the island was transformed into a prison. Lunch. Continue to the Yambol area to visit the ancient city of Kabile. Kabile was created at the end of the second millennium BC, near an important worship center on the hill Zaichi Vrah. In antiquity, the city was an important economic and cultural center of southern Thrace and the shore of Tundzha. Departure to the town of Sliven, with a visit to the medieval fortress Tuida, located on the hill Hissarlaka. Here, you can try some of the medieval clothes and practice Archery. Accommodation in the hotel. Dinner and overnight.
Day 8Sliven - Zheravna - Sliven (120KM/2H40)
After breakfast, visit the area by visiting the Sinité Kamani Nature Park or the blue rocks. Blue rocks are rock formations with fantastic shapes. They once served as havens for the Haiduk fighters, fighting the Ottomans. Access to the park by chairlift. Visit for enjoying the view of the valley of the Thracian kings. Departure to Zheravna. Lunch. Visit the house of Sava Filaretov and the house of Hadji Rusko, one of the richest and most influential inhabitants of Jervna. They owned more than 30,000 head of cattle. The outside is simple, probably because of the restrictions imposed on the Bulgarian population and the fear of attracting the attention of the Ottomans. On the other hand, the interior is sumptuous with a very complex woodcarving applied to the entire house. Return to Sliven to visit the only museum in Bulgaria entirely dedicated to textile production from ancient times to the present day. Demonstration of a loom for the manufacture of Jacquard patterns that allows a single worker to guide each of the hooks that raise the son of chains. Wine tasting and appetizers to finalize your stay in the Sliven region. Dinner and overnight.
Day 9Sliven - Plovdiv (180KM/2H00)
After breakfast, departure to the thousand-years-old town of Plovdiv. Located in the Thracian plain on the banks of the Maritsa and six hills. It is the second largest urban center by its population, its size and its place as a cultural, historical and tourist center. Plovdiv is also one of the oldest cities of inhabited Europe, anterior to Rome and Athens, and it has known various civilizations during its history. Famous for its architecture and its artistic atmosphere, it is designated as the European Capital of Culture for 2019. Lunch in town. Visit of Old Plovdiv called the architectural reserve of the 18th and 19th centuries, which arouses the admiration of all visitors. Orientation tour of the old town of Plovdiv and stroll through its maze of narrow streets with old houses. Accommodation at the hotel. Dinner and overnight.
Day 10Plovdiv - Perushtitca - Bansko (170KM/3H20)
After breakfast, departure to cross the Thracian valley. Initiation to Cyrillic writing in one of the first schools in Bulgaria. A quick visit to the history museum to learn more about the Ottoman period and the revolution led by the famous Vassil Levski. Continue to the city of Peshtera (the city of shoes). Visit of the Retro-museum to wander among the vehicles and objects of the communist era. Lunch. Continue by road through the Pirin Mountains to reach Bansko. Bansko's style is representative of
the rural landscape of the 18-19 century. Its unique fortified houses are witnesses of the independent character of its former inhabitants. The houses are built in stone and solid beams, have one or more secret hiding places, closed to the outside world by thick and iron doors and protected with loopholes in the walls. This small ski resort, picturesque and famous, has retained all its cachet. Accommodation in a hotel. Dinner and overnight.
Day 11Bansko - Rila monastery - Sofia (220KM/3H20)
After breakfast, visit the Velyanov house, opened to the public in 1977, a beautiful example of the architectural style called fortified house from the Bulgarian Renewal period (late VІІІe - early ХІХ century). Departure to the largest and most famous monastery of the Balkans, the monastery of Rila. It is the most visited tourist place in Bulgaria and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The monastery was founded by St. John of the Rila in 930, but its structure dates from 1335 under the regency of Khrelio, whose inner defensive tower still bears his name. St. John of Rila was canonized by the Orthodox Church. The monastery suffered looting and destruction under the Ottoman yoke but benefited from the protection of Russian kings. It was also the guardian of orthodoxy when Catholic and Protestant churches wanted to settle оn Bulgarian territory in the 19th century. Its arcades, columns, woodwork and paintings are of exceptional beauty. Visit the Church of the Dormition of the Virgin, which is considered to have the best-decorated frescoes in Bulgaria. Its carved
wooden iconostasis is unique. Discovery of this imposing and magical place, characteristic of the Bulgarian Renaissance. Lunch along the river Rila. Continue to Sofia. Accommodation in the hotel. End of the stay with a typical dinner accompanied by a program of folk music.