On this day you’ll feel Sofia with all your senses!
You’ll trace Bulgaria’s history with a walk in the National History Museum where you’ll see many collections of artifacts from Bulgarian and Balkan history. Also, we will visit the former residence of the Bulgarian Chief of State (President of People’s Republic of Bulgaria 1954-1989) which today is the National History Museum.
Afterward, we will visit one of Bulgaria’s historical symbols – The Boyana church “St. Nicolas and St. Panteleimon” which is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites and was built 11-13 century AD.
In the afternoon you will learn how the of Sofia was established, which are the main ages and cultures it has gone through, while walking on its streets and getting to know its greatest sites – The National Library, Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski; The National Assembly (The Parliament of the Republic), Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Russian Church “Sveti Nikolay Mirlikiiski”, Ivan Vazov National Theatre, St. George Rotunda (the oldest building in Sofia), The Presidency and the Ministry Council,The Eastern Gate of Roman Serdica and some other surprises.
Free time to explore and rest.
Overnight in Sofia. Hotel St.George Hotel 3* or similar.
Sofia – Rila Monastery – Razlog – Velingrad
An early breakfast and then off to Rila Monastery before all crowds have arrived.
High, high in the Rila mountain where the forest touches the sky and the prayers to God is most powerful is situated the Rila Monastery. This is the biggest monastery in Bulgaria and one of the country’s most visited sites. It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The monastery estate is well known for its unique architecture and 24-meter tall walls which are keeping the centuries-long history of the place! In about two hours we will explore his area.
Afterward, we can try some traditional cuisine in a local restaurant.
In the afternoon we are off to Pirin mountain, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There we’ll visit Razlog town from where we’ll get on an unusual train crawling through the mountains. The Rhodope narrow gauge and the railway is in the rankings for “Most interesting railway routes in Europe” published in the European Railway Guide. This line is also passing by the highest train station on the Balkan peninsula – Avramovo station, situated at 1267m above the sea level. We’ll embark on a magical journey through one of the most romantic and beautiful railway routes in Europe.
In the late afternoon, we will arrive in Velingrad, better known as the Balkans’ SPA capital, because of its numerous mineral springs. Some time to rest and enjoy the SPA.
Overnight in Velingrad. Hotel Velina 4* or similar.
Velingrad – Peshtera – Ravnogor – Plovdiv
We leave for Plovdiv – the cultural capital of Europe for 2019.
On our way there we’ll pass by Peshtera town which is keeping the history and spirit of many ages through its unique “Peristera” fortress. This was one of the first centers in Bulgaria which helped the Christian faith to spread throughout the country. The architecture plan of the fortress is unique because two of the towers were built as churches. This is the only fortress in Bulgaria from this kind.
We’ll find another interesting place in Peshtera and that is the “Communist vehicles’ Museum”. There we’ll see many retro cars from the communist era and lots of objects from those times like children’s toys, radios, tv’s, signs and so on.
Our next stop is the village of Ravnogor. There is situated the highest milk-producing factory in Bulgaria – 1330m above sea level. This place is in the Rhodope mountain and has the cleanest air in Europe. The Bulgarian yogurt is proclaimed to be the elixir of youth and here we will taste some of the most typical and unique Bulgarian milk products.
Afterward, we depart for Plovdiv which is just one hour drive from Ravnogor village. Welcome walk and free time.
Overnight in Plovdiv. Hotel Seven Hills 3* or similar
Plovdiv – Bachkovo – Asenovgrad – Plovdiv
The first half of this day will be dedicated to Plovdiv. You’ll feel and see this ancient city from all its corners and take a look at the most iconic attractions in the city. We’ll walk through the amazing old city of Plovdiv and enjoy the architecture of the buildings and the casual style of its citizens. Thracians, Hellenes, Romans, Byzantines, Turks – these are some of the cultures which left their remarkable sanctuaries, temples, fortifications, ancient theaters, stadiums, and unique revival houses in the city which nowadays is a real capital of the ethnic and religious tolerance.
Then, we will meet the colorful houses, rugs, pots and faces of the local masters. Let us present to you some of the artists and they will reveal the secrets and will demonstrate many traditional Bulgarian crafts.
The second half of the day is dedicated to history and wine. Asenovgrad town is located nearby Plovdiv and it’s better known as the Bulgarian Jerusalem. It is also called “the city of brides”. Its symbol is the medieval fortress named by the Bulgarian king Ivan-Asen II. This fortress still controls the passage through the Rhodope Mountain, leading us to the Bachkovo monastery – the second biggest in Bulgaria and the most impressive with its miraculous stories.
Once entered in this area, you’ll definitely hear about the famous Mavrud – man, hero or wine? – Many legends speak about one fabulous wine – the Asenovgrad’s Mavrud. We will visit Asen’s fortress, Bachkovo monastery and after that, we’ll go for a celebration with Mavrud wine in a local winery.
Back to Plovdiv. Relax and enjoy the Evening program in the city – coordinated with its cultural calendar.
Overnight in Plovdiv. Hotel Seven Hills 3* or similar.
Plovdiv – Tranichene – Kazanlak – Shipka – Buzludzha – Veliko Tarnovo
We depart for Kazanlak, a town situated 2 hours drive from Plovdiv. This is the geographical center of Bulgaria, also known as the “Valley of the roses and Thracian tzars”. The Kazanlak area is a mix of ancient culture, history, and traditions to which we’ll be able to get close.
On our way to Kazanlak, we’ll stop by the village of Tranichene where we’ll visit the “Enio Bonchev” rose oil distillery – the oldest working rose distillery in Bulgaria, established in 1909. There are preserved the old original copper boilers and coolers as well as the oldest technology for rose oil production.
We will also get to see the new generation of rose oil, rose water and lavender oil producing machines. We will try out some of the original products made of Bulgarian roses.
There, nearby the town is waiting for us the Kazanlak Thracian tomb which is part of the UNESCO World Heritage sites and will teach us more about the life and death of the Thracian tzars.
For lunch, we can enjoy some typical Bulgarian cuisine in a local restaurant.
In the afternoon we leave for Veliko Tarnovo. On our way there we’ll pass through the Balkan mountains and will stop at Buzludzha monument which is one of the most spectacular communist monuments in the world, perched on a windy mountain peak. Underneath is the largest beech forest in Europe, another UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Nearby the Buzludzha monument there are other objects which are part of a huge memorial related to the Bulgarian liberation from 5 centuries period of Turkish rule. Numerous Russian soldiers and Bulgarian volunteers have given their lives in the hardest and decisive battle for the Bulgarian liberation.
Shortstops for pictures nearby the monument of Liberty.
We arrive in Veliko Tarnovo. Free time to rest and dinner.
Overnight in Veliko Tarnovo. Hotel Alegro 3* or similar.
Veliko Tarnovo – Elena – Lovech
We will start our day with a tour of Veliko Tarnovo. The medieval Bulgarian capital keeps the glory of Bulgarian kingdom spread out on 3 seas in the 13th and 14th centuries. The city of Kings as it is well known nowadays is still spiritual, cultural and respectable center of the past Bulgarian fighting fame. We will conquest the king’s hill “Tsarevets” – medieval capital, fortress, and palace. Afterward, we will visit Transfiguration Monastery from 14th century nearby Veliko Tarnovo with astonishing panoramic view and the emblematic wheel of life.
In the afternoon we leave for Elena town which is situated in the beautiful valley of Elena river. The town is about 38km from Veliko Tarnovo and is famous for its local specialty which is with a protected geographical origin – the Elena ham. There we’ll enjoy some Ham tasting and will learn about the secrets in the making of this delicacy.
We leave for Lovech city. Welcome, walk in the old town, followed by a dinner.
Overnight in Lovech in Park Hotel Stratesh 3* or similar.
Lovech – Sofia
After breakfast, we depart for Sofia airport.