4 UNESCO sites and museum villages of Arbanassi, Bansko, Old Plovdiv, Kazanlak, Melnik.
8-day cultural tour "Country Roads of Bulgaria" reveals the beauty and tranquility of Bulgaria's countryside. You will realize the creativity of Bulgarian Renaissance and understand why local people still live in the museum towns.
8-day Cultural Tour Country Roads of Bulgaria
8-day/7-night cultural tour, which will show the beauty and tranquility of Bulgaria's countryside. You will feel the creativity of Bulgarian Renaissance and understand why local people still live in the museum towns.
Day 1: Sofia
Multiple arrivals to Sofia. We will meet you at the airport and assist for a transfer to your downtown hotel. Brief presentation of Sofia en route to your hotel. Check in and time at leisure.
T, Accommodation in Sofia in a 4* hotel Thracia Best Western, or similar, for 2 nights.
Day 2: Sofia (80 km)
Morning walking city tour. Visit the 4th c. St. George Rotunda - a fine monument of Roman architecture, the St. Sophia Christian basilica (4-6th c AD). St Sophia gave the city its name. Enjoy impressive interior, exquisite murals, icons and colorful mosaics of the golden-domed Alexander Nevsky Memorial Cathedral. Also visit the Spanish-Moresque style Synagogue, and the memorial commemorating the "Saving of the Bulgarian Jews." The synagogue, the church Sveta Nedelya and the only surviving active mosque in town, are all facing each other. Thus speaking of religious tolerance of Bulgarians throughout the centuries.
8-day Cultural Tour Country Roads of Bulgaria
In the afternoon follows the Mountain Vitosha tour. Firstly, visit the 13th century Boyana Church, UNESCO World Heritage Site. The National History Museum is also included. It houses an excellent collection of Bulgarian artifacts.
In the evening: Bulgarian Welcome dinner
B, D, Accommodation in Sofia.
Day 3: SOFIA – Rila monastery – MELNIK (240 km)
Following breakfast, we will pick you up and drive to Rila Monastery. It is the largest in the Balkans and included in the UNESCO List of World Cultural Heritage. The monastery will captivate you with its unrivaled architecture and murals. Enjoy a tour of the monastery. Visit the five-domed Birth of the Blessed Virgin Church and the original monastery kitchens(19th c.).
Proceed to the museum town of Melnik. Scenically located at the foothills of sandstone pyramids, this smallest town in Bulgaria is famous for its ancient architecture and red wine. During a walking sightseeing tour you will visit one of the old houses. It is a masterpiece of early 17th c. local architecture.
B, Accommodation in a 3* hotel in Melnik.
Day 4: MELNIK – Rozhen - Bansko – PLOVDIV (260 km)
After breakfast, drive to the neighbouring Rozhen monastery. Admire the beautiful views over the sandstone hills around. Visit the Church of the Nativity where walls abound in biblical scenes and images, painted in the 18th c. Proceed to Bansko museum town. This quiet small town with 17th c. old architecture is situated at the foot of the Pirin Mountain National Park. (in the List of World Natural Heritage). Everything is special in Bansko – traditional costumes, the local folklore singing and dancing, wonderful cuisine and the people. We'll stroll through the cobblestone streets and visit the Holy Trinity Church. It was built in the 19th century and known for its interior wood carvings and murals. Finally, we reach Plovdiv, one of the oldest cities in Europe. Enjoy an evening at leisure.
B, D, Accommodation in a 3* hotel in Plovdiv.
Day 5: PLOVDIV (80 km)
First, a morning sightseeing tour of Plovdiv. Visit the Roman Theatre/ 2nd c. A.D./and the St. Constantine and Helena Church. Stroll the narrow cobbled streets and admire the peaceful atmosphere of the Old town. Lunch in the garden of the traditional restaurant Paldin, built from the Roman fortified wall in Old Town. After lunch, we will visit workshops of local artisans to learn about Bulgarian crafts, especially pottery.
Day 6: PLOVDIV -Koprivshtica -Kazanlak -Shipka pass– Etara -VELIKO TARNOVO (300 km)
Following breakfast, drive north to visit the village Koprivshtitsa. This museum village is known for its international folklore festival, held once every five years in August (August 06-08, 2010). Continue drive through the Valley of the Roses, across the Balkan Range to Kazanlak. Sightseeing tour in Kazanlak includes: the Thracian Tomb (replica), the Tyulbe (small Islamic mausoleum, 15th century), Museum of the Rose and Rose Oil. The Kazanlak Tomb is a Thracian Tomb from the late 4th - early 3rd century B.C. and is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The funeral objects and frescoes depicting hunting scenes suggest that a Thracian king was probably buried here. The frescoes are the finest masterpiece of Thracian art.
8-day Cultural Tour Country Roads of Bulgaria, Day 6
Next, a pleasant quick stop in Shipka. This historic site commemorates the battles during Russo-Turkish War (1877-1878) for the liberation of Bulgaria from the Ottoman domination. There is a monument on the top and a wonderful panorama of the Central Balkan Range. Continue on to Etara to visit the Ethnographic open-air Village Museum. Everything surrounding the visitor brings them back to the period of Bulgarian Revival. Even today the craftsmen work in numerous small workshops.And they use the same instruments and techniques, as in old times.
You can talk to the craftsman and watch them work Drive onward to Veliko Tarnovo, the capital city of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom (12-14th c.).
B, L Overnight in Veliko Tarnovo, Gurko Hotel, 3* family run hotel.
Day 7: VELIKO TARNOVO (50 km)
After breakfast you will enjoy the sightseeing tour of Veliko Tarnovo. Visit the fortress on Tsarevets Hill and see the ruins of the royal and the patriarchal palaces. Here, the Baldwin's Tower still rises. Enjoy walking downtown in Samovodene market place. Brought back to life by artists and craftsmen,in Samovodene,they create and sell exquisite items in their small workshops. In the afternoon enjoy an excursion to the medieval museum village of Arbanassi. This museum village is rich in churches, monasteries and old Bulgarian houses(XVII c.AD).
B, Overnight in Veliko Tarnovo, Gurko Hotel, 3* family run hotel.
8 day: VELIKO TARNOVO – Ivanovo Rock Churches – Ruse – BUCHAREST/ SOFIA (200/400 km)
Following breakfast, drive to Ruse. En route visit Ivanovo Rock Churches (12th-14th century A.D.) UNESCO Site Located 18 km south to Ruse, they were part of a mediaeval monastery of St. Archangel Michael. High in the rocks, 40-50 m above the ground, natural caves were transformed into churches in the 12th century. The best preserved murals are in the Church of the Holy Mother (14 c). The original frescoes were made by artists from the Tarnovo School of painting. Certainly, they impress with the elegant figures and original colours, proof of exceptional artistic skills. Walking sightseeing tour of Ruse follows, then drive back to Sofia (or proceed to Bucharest), where tour ends.