Sofia Airport transfer / 20 minutes driving time
Welcome to Sofia Airport. We will meet you at the airport and if your flight hasn’t arrived too late we’ll do a welcome walk in Sofia. We love Sofia and will show you its charm and most amazing spots with the best views and places in the city.
Overnight in Sofia. Hotel 3*, 4* or 5* depending on your choice.
Start our day with with a walk in the National History Museum where you’ll see many collections of artifacts from Bulgarian and Balkan history.
Visit one of Bulgaria’s historical symbols – The Boyana church “St. Nicolas and St. Panteleimon” which is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Walking tour of Sofia. You’ll feel the spirit of the city about which Constantine the Great was saying often – “Serdika is my Rome” and was wondering if he should turn it into a capital of his empire. Visit the remains of the ancient fortress Serdika, Aleksandăr Nevski Carthedral, Rotunda of St. George (II century), considered the oldest building in Sofia. There also the Sofia Synagogue – the largest synagogue in Southeastern Europe, one of two functioning in Bulgaria and the third-largest in Europe. Visit Banya Bashi mosque, built in 16th century is the only surviving mosque from Ottoman Empire standing in the centre of Sofia.
Visit Archaeological Museum.
Visit Basilica of St. Sophia. There are exhibited burial facilities from the eastern necropolis of the ancient town of Serdica and the remains of three earlier churches. The fourth church building was built at the end of the V century, the beginning of the VI century. The excavated graves and tombs are about 50 and are dated from III – V a.c. – stone sarcophagi, cemetery graves and masonry brick tombs – covered with flat-faced stone slabs and vaulted.
Depart to Wine & Spa Complex Starosel. Wine tour and tasting of 3 types of wines in the temple of wine – Starosel estate.
Start our day with Thracians’ attitude towards death, afterlife and burial rituals. We’ll explore the biggest Thracian kings’ estate which includes a mausoleum – “Chetinyova mogila” tomb – one of the biggest mounds in Bulgaria. The open facility is not a traditional tomb, but a temple-tomb. It dates from V-VI century BC and is believed to be the tomb of a Thracian ruler – Sitalkes.
Next, we are going to the heart of Bulgaria – Sredna Gora also called by the Thracians “The sacred silver forest”. There we’ll visit Zhaba mound – a unique Thracian cult complex which consists of Temple-mausoleum and a Sanctuary-temple. Zhaba mound was built and used by the “Besi” Thracian tribe which inhabited these lands between the 5th-4th century BC.
Our next stop is Strelcha town where our local guide will tell us many stories and facts in Historical Museum.
Continue to one of the biggest ancient Thracian megalithic estates – Skumsale and the rocky megalithic complex “Kulata”. We’ll walk on the steps of the ancient Thracians in order to reach the megalithic configuration of Thrones, gutters, sacrificial altars which were built to facilitate the Thracians’ esoteric rituals for worshiping the God of Sun and the Mother-Goddess, observation of the skies and pagan religious ceremonies and rituals. Video HERE
Late afternoon we will visit Hisaria town. Here we will see the Roman ruins of Diocletianopolis city – Antique Roman city, built in the 1st century AD when Thrace was conquered by the Roman Empire. It became the third biggest town in Thracia Province.
In terms of state of preservation and uniqueness of its fortification system, the Roman town of Diocletianopolis is among the top-ranked in Europe.
Continue to Plovdiv. Overnight in Plovdiv. Hotel 3*, 4* or 5* depending on your choice.
City tour of Plovdiv – the life story of 8 millenniums. Plovdiv is ancient and eternal. The first relics from village life are dated about 6000 years BC. This makes the city older than Athens, Rome, and Constantinopolе and makes the city as ancient as Troy and Mycenae.
Its history is interconnected with two Thracian tribes – the odrisi and the besi. They were inhibiting the banks of the river Maritsa and the Rhodope mountain. The Thracians were the first to build on the three hills of Plovdiv a village with fortress called Evmolpia (the name of a Thracian mystical hero, king, and musician). This was one of the first city centers in South-Eastern Europe. Its relics will be part of our tour today.
During the period of the Roman Empire, Plovdiv (at those times – Trimontium) was an important regional center. The city flourished with a large-scale construction of buildings, facilities and roads. Here is the Roman theatre of Philippopolis which is probably the most visited place in the city. The site was built at the end of 1st century AD and is one of the most well-preserved theatres from antiquity in Europe. There also the Roman stadium which is amongst the largest and most well- preserved buildings from the time of the Ancient Rome on the Balkan peninsula. The facility, approximately 240 m (790 ft) long and 50m wide, can seat up to 30000 spectators. Today, the northern curved part of the stadium is partially restored and is one of the most recognizable landmarks of the city!
After our exploration there we’ll continue our journey and go to Belintash, located in the Rhodope mountain its called also the white stone of knowledge. It was the sanctuary of the Thracian God – Sebasii, as well as an ancient map which is keeping the knowledge of the Universe. Video HERE
The third place which we’ll explore today is Archaeological Complex Perperikon – the mysterious and sacred city-sanctuary of Dionysus. It was established more than 8000 years ago and there were done two extremely important for human’s history prophecies – Alexander the Great understood that he’ll be able to conquer Asia and the world; and that the Romans will create a world-ruling empire. Video HERE
Next, we leave for Kardzhali. Accommodation and overnight in Arpezos *** Hotel or similar.
According to the Thracians after his death, the king-priest becomes an intermediary between men and gods. So, they have arranged their life on the principle: “What is above, so is below”.
In order to check the above statement, we’ll explore one of the oldest rock sanctuaries in Bulgaria – older than the pyramids in Egypt! That’s the place where physical and spiritual worlds connect. A place between the earth and the sky. Welcome to Tatul – Orpheus’s sanctuary. The complex comprises two sarcophagi, a rectangular bed for the main altar, and a three-metre-deep well. Video HERE
After our exploration there we’ll continue our journey and go to the richest private home-palace from the Roman era which was found on Bulgarian lands – Villa Armira which is an outstanding architectural monument 2000 years of age. This is the most beautifully decorated private house of the Roman era in Bulgarian lands. Founded by a rich Thracian aristocratic family this palace keeps mosaics with esoteric symbols and compositions about the creation of the Universe.
Departure to visit the Thracian megalithic cult complex – Kromlesa, which is dated back to the VII-VI century BC. It is the only monument of this kind in Bulgaria used for ancient religious rituals. Video HERE
Continue to Haskovo. Overnight in hotel “Europe” park hotel 4*
Our day will begin with the exploration of artifacts from the Thracian culture – armament, decorations, ceramics, plus 98 golden applications for horse harness (4500 – 4000 BC) which are one of the oldest golden treasures in the world. All of this is to be found in the museum of “Thracian Art in the Eastern Rhodopes” in Alexandrovo village which also is home to the replica of the original tomb of Alexandrov (4th century BC) with fine frescos of Thracian fighting and hunting scenes.
We depart for Stara Zagora which is one of the world’s oldest cities. During the centuries it has changed names many times and that has given Stara Zagora the nickname – the 9 names city. On our tour, we’ll learn what’s hiding behind each one of them while going back in history where we’ll find the Neolithic homes dated 5-6 thousand years BC – the most well preserved Neolithic homes in Europe!
This city was built on top of an old Roman village called Irinopolis. Many valuable mosaics, tombs, and antiques from the old ages have been found there. A part of the antique theatre is still well preserved. Todays Stara Zagora streets are still following the plans and routes of the ancient Romans roads and together we will discover their secrets.
In Stara Zagora we will see:
The Opera house – the biggest opera in Balkans
The massive remains of the ancient Roman city of Ulpia Augusta Traina.
A private Roman home where you can see a late antiquity mosaics.
“Neolithic villages” museum
Regional History Museum – Stara Zagora
After exploring Stara Zagora we head to Karanovo, where we will see the tomb. We will also see a “buried” Thracian chariot with four wheels and the large size of its wheels – 1.2 meters in diameter. The funeral was extremely rich, judging by the farewell gifts found at the beginning of the excavations. Two silver cups with images of the god of love Eros and unique glassware are among the most valuable objects found so far.
Departure to Yambol to visit the antique town of Kabile. The ancient city was established in the end of the 2nd millennium BC near a large cultural center at the height of Zaychi peak. During antiquity the town was an important economical and cultural center in South-east Thrace and Lower Tundzha. After it was conquered by the Romans, in the beginning of the 2nd century AD, Kabile was turned into one of the most important Roman camps in the Thracian province. Video HERE
Continue to Burgas. Overnight in Burgas. Hotel 3*, 4* or 5* depending on your choice.
Departure to village of Debelt and take part in the process of discovering the Roman Colony of Deultum. The name of the contemporary village of Debelt is a modification of the name of the antique town Deultum and the medieval Develt, the remains of which are located in the end of the village. The Roman Colony of Deultum was established here in the beginning of the 70s of the 1st century, during the ruling of emperor Tit Flavius Vespasian, by the veterans of the 8th Augustan Legion. This is the only colony of free Roman citizens on the present Bulgarian territory. Video HERE
After exploring the Archaeological Reserve of Deutum we head to old town of Sozopol (Apollonia) established in 610 BC by the Greeks. It became a thriving maritime centre and important middlemen in the trade between Greeks and Thracians. The traders from Apollonia acquired copper, honey, grain, and wood from the local Thracian settlements and exchanged it for wine, salt, and textiles from Miletus, Athens, and the Isle of Rhodes. Next we will travel to Pomorie (Anchialos in Greek). The ancient village of Anchialo dates back to the 6th century BC. Its strategic location near important roads and the salt lake in its outskirts were key factors for the development of salt production and the town’s prosperity.
Our last stop for today will be the charming peninsula of the Old Town of Nesebar which has existed as an important maritime centre for more than 9000 years and it is today a cultural monument enclosed in the UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Valuable monuments from all stages of its long existence are preserved here: remnants of fortress walls from Roman times and the Middle Ages, old Byzantine and Bulgarian churches, antique XVIII and XIX century houses.
Overnight in a hotel in Nessebar, 3*, 4* or 5* depending on your choice.
We are moving north where in present-day Varna are the archeological remains of the former public baths of the ancient city of Odessos. This Pontic colony was founded around 570 BC. from settlers from the Ionian city-state of Milet. In addition to the Greeks, Thracians, Asians, Romans, and settlers from many other ethnic groups used to live there.
Located in the southeastern part of the modern city of Varna, Roman Baths are the largest public antique building ever opened in Bulgaria. The relatively well-preserved walls outline an impressive structure with an area of over 7,000 square meters.
Visit the Varna Archaeological Museum that now holds over 100 000 various objects of the region’s past epochs.
Continue to Historical Park and spend rest of the day there. Here, you will have the opportunity to travel and experience the 10 000 years history of Bulgaria. This is possible thanks to Historical Park where the history form the past comes alive so that every visitor can experience it. You will see a fully restored Neolithic and Chalcolithic settlement. There is also the only fully restored Thracian palace in the world, as well as the marble Temple of the Mother Goddess – Cybele. Three unique Thracian tombs, early Medieval settlement, Bulgarian aul from VII century AD and Baba Vida medieval fortress.
You will admire Thracian art, treasures, and food prepared according to authentic Thracian recipes. Stories and legends will come alive to immerse us in a world of ritual, mysticism, and beauty.
Overnight in a hotel in Varna.
Today will start with the phenomenon “Beaten stones” – a mystery of a million years. The Bulgarian Stone Desert is located about 15-20 miles outside of the city of Varna and is one of the most beautiful and mysterious locations in Bulgaria. A stone forest or an experimental field of time?
We will explore this magical place to find the answer, then continue to our next stop – Devnya. There is an antique building dating from the time of Emperor Constantine I the Great – end of III – beginning of IV century. The building was a townhouse (villa urbana) and occupied the area of an entire neighborhood in the Roman city of Marcianopolis, which was one of the largest Roman cities in this part of the empire. Today it is turned into a museum that we will visit to see the preserved multicolored mosaic floors. Here are some of the finest examples of Roman mosaic art of that time found in Bulgaria.
Continue to Pliska which is Bulgaria’s first capital city established in the year 681 from Khan Asparuh. It was one of the largest and richest European cities – famous for its architecture. Nowadays we can visit the Eastern Gate which was the city’s main entrance. 1.5km away is the big Basilica. Many trails of big cut stones everywhere – signs of baths, water channels and water repositories that existed in the city so many years ago!
Afterward we depart for Madara area where we will observe the Madara rider (UNESCO World Heritage Site) – it is considered the oldest rock bass relief in Europe and is the triumphing ruler – a symbol of power and might of the First Bulgarian state. Video HERE
In the afternoon we take some time to visit Razgrad, a natural crossroad for important transport corridors between Central Europe, The Black Sea and Asia. Here we will explore The Abritus Archaeological Reserve which spreads out on a territory of 1000 decares and is aimed to preserve the remains of the Roman town of Abritus. Abritus was established at the end of the 1st century AD as a Roman military camp built on the ruins of an ancient Thracian settlement and grew to become one of the biggest urban centres in Moesia Inferior. Video HERE
Enriched from the great views we leave for Veliki Preslav where we visit the historical and architectural reserve which preserves parts of the medieval Bulgarian city – the Tzar’s residency, Golden Basilica, Southern Gate, Patriarchy and others.
Overnight in Shumen famous for its biggest historical monument in Bulgaria. There also imposing Tombul Mosque – the biggest temple of its kind in Bulgaria and second in size on the Balkan Peninsula.
Hotel Action 3* or similar.
Departure to Ivanovo village where high in sheer cliffs are chiseled out tens of monk caves, churches, and chapels. There used to live monks who decided to leave the worldly live and dedicate their lives to seclusion and prayers to the Lord. Nowadays the place is well known as the Ivanovo’s rock churches. Six of them are still kept showing amazing frescoes which were the reason for the inclusion of the site in the UNESCO World Heritage list. Video HERE
We depart for Тhe city of Kings as is known the medieval Bulgarian capital – Veliko Tarnovo which keeps the glory of the Bulgarian kingdom spread out on 3 seas in the 13th and 14th centuries. The city is still being considered cultural and respectable center of the Bulgarian fighting spirit and fame.
On the way to Veliko Tarnovo we’ll visit one of the biggest Roman towns in Bulgaria – Nicopolis ad Istrum. This Roman and an Early Byzantine town was founded by the Roman emperor Marcus Ulpius Traianus to honor his victories over the Dacians tribes in 101 and 106. The ruins are located at the village of Nikyup, 20 km north-west of Veliko Tarnovo.
Next is Transfiguration Monastery from 14th century nearby Veliko Tarnovo with astonishing panoramic view and the emblematic wheel of life with the 12 zodiac signs.
Veliko Tarnovo is unique for its architecture which was influenced by its rich history and interesting geographical terrain. We are being awaited by a walk and journey in time where we’ll see amazing architectural masterpieces as well as feel the spirit of the local traditions and the romanticism of the Bulgarian revival age. Craftsmen workshops, cobblestone roads, wonderful scenery, and rich history…
Overnight in / around Veliko Tarnovo the Complex “Arbanashki han” or similar.
We will start our day with conquest the king’s hill “Tsarevets” – a medieval capital, fortress, and palace.
We depart for Sokolski Monastery of the Assumption which is located in Sokolova Cave Area, 15 km southeast of Gabrovo and 4 km away from the Etar Architectural-Ethnographic Complex.
Next is the open-air museum at Etara, where skilled craftsmen will make us feel part of the Bulgarian folk traditions in metal working, leather crafting, potting, wood carving, wool spinning and working with other types of materials.
There’s a place in Bulgaria where the greatest Thracian tombs, the secrets of the rose picking, and the production of the world renown Bulgarian rose oil all meet! Kazanluk is known as the town of the Bulgarian Rose Damascene and the Capital of the Valley of the Thracian Kings.
On the way to Kazanlak we will visit Golyama Kosmatka – the tomb of Thracian ruler Seuthes III.
We will visit also the unique Kazanlak Thracian Tomb which is one of the most significant monuments of the Thracian culture in the Bulgarian lands, included in the list of the global cultural inheritance of UNESCO in 1979.
Visit the Historical Museum in the city which protects, examines and popularizes the entire historical heritage of the Kazanlak region, including all Thracian tombs from the Valley of the Thracian rulers. One of the most interesting halls in the museum is the New Treasury Hall, in which the newest golden, silver and bronze finds from the Thracian temple tombs in the region are exhibited.
There are also the only Rose Museum in the world which is telling the 350 years history of Bulgarian rose production
Overnight in/around the town of Kazanlak. Hotel Diamant 3* or 4* SPA hotel in Parev Banya.
Depart to Sofia.
We can spend some shopping time if we have it and then – transfer and departure from Sofia airport.