Highlights Romania Bulgaria tour includes visits to 7 UNESCO World Cultural Heritage sites: Bucovina painted monasteries, Sighisoara, Biertan Fortified Church, Sibiu historic centre and also Boyana Church, Rila monastery and the Thracian Tomb.
- Starting Day: Monday through Saturday in summer (16 May - 19 September 2022)
- Starting Day: Tuesday to Saturday in winter (20 September - 15 May 2022 )
Day 1 of Higlights Romania Bulgaria Tour
At first, Welcome to Bucharest and start the Highlights of Romania and Bulgaria Tour. Your tour guide will meet you at the Coanda International Airport. Transfer to your downtown Bucharest Hotel. Check-in and time at leisure. In the evening, enjoy a Traditional Romanian Welcome Dinner and Folklore Show.
T D Accommodation in Bucharest at Hotel Capitol 4* or similar.
Day 2: Bucharest City Tour – Sinaia/Peles Castle – Brasov (220 km)
After a hot & cold buffet breakfast at hotel, enjoy a city tour of Bucharest, known as “The Little Paris of the East”. Today you will drive on the grand avenues such as Magheru, Kiseleff and Victory Avenue. Stop in the Revolution Square to learn about the December 1989 Romanian Revolution. The visit of the Palace of the Parliament (the second largest building in the world) will put you in direct contact with Romania’s last years of Communist power. Lunch on your own, then leave Bucharest on the way north to Sinaia. We will visit the summer residence of the Romanian royal family, the Peles Castle (if Day 2 is not a Monday, in which case we’ll see the castle from outside). At the end of the day we will reach Brasov.
B Accommodation in Brasov at Curtea Brasoveana 4* or Bella Musica 3*.
Day 3: Brasov, the city from the Middle Ages and Citadels of the Barsa Land (80 km)
First, start your city tour (3 hours walking time). We will see the most important cultural sites of the city from the middle Ages: the town hall square (inside visitation too), the Black Church (inside visitation too), the Weaver Bastion (inside visitation too), the White and Black Tower, etc. After the city tour - lunch break. In the afternoon we will drive to Bran (Törzburg) where we will visit the so called Dracula Castle. Afterwards we will visit the Peasant's Citadel in Rasnov (Rosenau). At the end of the day - dinner in Poiana Brasov in a traditional local restaurant, once - a shepherd house. After dinner we drive back to Brasov.
B D Accommodation in Brasov at Curtea Brasoveana 4* or Bella Musica 3*.
Day 4: Brasov – Bicaz Gorge - Agapia – Suceava ( 380 km) >Highlights of Romania and Bulgaria Tour
Today we leave Transylvania behind and we drive along the Red Lake (Lacul Rosu) and afterwards along the Bicaz Gorge, an impressive natural phenomenon with hundreds of meters of limestone-walls, towards Piatra Neamt. We visit the Agapia monastery, with 500 nuns and novices. It is one of the largest monasteries in Europe. Then we drive to Suceava for a 2-night stay.
B D Accommodation in Suceava at Hotel Sonnenhof 4*(2 nights stay)
Day 5: The Moldavian Monasteries (180 km)
Again, enjoy a hot buffet breakfast at hotel. Start the day with a visit to the black pottery workshop in Marginea. They use a technique called “oxygen reduction”; the same technique is found in Mexico only! Bucovina monasteries are gems of medieval Moldavian architecture and artistry. Each of them has a predominant colour. Start with Sucevita Monastery, which is the largest of all. It looks more like a mighty fortress than a monastery. The Ladder of John of Sinai is considered one of the best of the frescoes of Sucevita, rarely present in medieval Romanian art. At noon enjoy a traditional Bucovina lunch in the picturesque village of Sucevita.
Highlights Romania Bulgaria > Tour Moldovita monastery
Next is Moldovita. Get explanation of the outer frescoes. Moldovita Monastery is where the UNESCO Golden Apple Award awarded to the painted churches back in 1975 is kept. On the south facade of Moldovita is The Siege of Constantinople belonging to the 24 episodes of the Hymn to the Holy Virgin. Last but not least, we’ll see Voronet, the most famous monastery of all, known as the Sistine Chapel of the East.Voronet features one the best Last Judgment fresco in this part of the World. Receive a complete explanation of the fresco. In the evening enjoy an egg painting demonstration and a home hosted dinner in the village of Vama. Drive back to Suceava.
B L D Accommodation in Suceava at Hotel Sonnenhof 4*.
Day 6: Suceava - Gura Humorului – Bistrita – Sighisoara( 360 km)
Hot and cold buffet breakfast at hotel. Depart to Bistrita over the picturesque Borgo Pass of the Eastern Carpathians with a stop at Castle Dracula Hotel. This is where Bram Stoker placed the “residence” of his imaginary character: Count Dracula. You then pass through Bistrita heading south to Targu Mures, one of the important Central Transylvanian mid-size cities and known for its wonderful architecture. View the Vauban citadel then visit the early 1900s Art Nouveau Palace of Culture in the centre.
B Accommodation in the Upper Town of Sighisoara at Hotel Cavaler 4* or similar
Day 7: Sighisoara - Biertan – Sibiu (120 km)>Highlights of Romania and Bulgaria Tour
First, take a hot&cold buffet breakfast at hotel.Proceed with a city tour of Sighisoara. This is the only still inhabited mediaeval citadel in Europe. It was developed by the German settlers as of late 12th C. It stands on a network of tunnels and catacombs and, according to one version of the myth; this is where the Pied Piper brought the children of Hamelin after their ungrateful parents refused to pay him his due. Walking tour includes the two squares of the Citadel (Upper Town), the Scholars’ Staircase, the Ducklings’ Square, the Tinsmiths’ Tower, the House with Antler, the Tower with Clock (climb up for a great view), the Torture Chamber and the Weapon Museum. Sighisoara is the place where the famous Vlad the Impaler Dracula was born in 1431. The Birthplace is today a restaurant and one of the main tourist attractions.
Highlights Romania Bulgaria Tour> Biertan
Afterwards, we drive to the nearby fortified church of Biertan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We visit the former Seat of the Lutheran Bishops between 1516 and 1867. Before noon time, arrival in Sibiu: the Transylvanian Saxons main city, still surrounded by defensive walls. Take a leisurely walking tour of Sibiu.
Highlights Romania Bulgaria Tour >Sibiu
Surely, Sibiu is the chief city of the Transylvanian Saxons. First, take a leisurely walking city tour. Visit the old defensive walls and the remaining towers, each belonging to a certain guild. One of the landmarks of Sibiu is the Bruckenthal Museum assembled by baron Bruckenthal, governor of Transylvania at the beginning of the 19th century. The Evangelical Cathedral was completed in 1520, but inside, there is an exquisite fresco of the Crucifixion, dating from 1445. View the Passage of Stairs linking the Upper town to the Lower town, the 1859 Liar's Bridge and the Byzantine style Orthodox Cathedral. It is a replica of St. Sophia in Constantinople. The tour will end with a visit to the original Pharmacy Museum. Dinner is in one of the best local restaurants to taste traditional Romanian dishes.
B D Accommodation in Sibiu at Hotel Continental Forum 4* or similar.
Day 8: Sibiu - Cozia - Pitesti - Bucuresti – Sofia (210 km+flight Bucharest-Sofia)
Following breakfast, we drive along the Olt River gorge towards southern Romania. First, stop for a visit of the Cozia monastery, a beautiful 14th century Eastern Orthodox monastery. Then we continue back to Bucharest. Drop-off transfer to Bucharest airport to catch a PM connecting flight to Sofia. Your Bulgarian guide will meet you at the airport and assist for a transfer to your downtown hotel.
B,T, Overnight in Sofia at hotel Rosslyn Thracia 4*, ideally located in the historic center, 2 min walk from the pedestrian area( 2 nights).
Day 9: Sofia ( 50 km)
In the morning we will enjoy a city sightseeing of Sofia, a city with 7000-year long history. (approximately two and half hours leisurely walking tour). Sofia highlights include the National History Museum, displaying the gold and silver Thracian treasures, and the Boyana Church, listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Boyana church one of Bulgaria's most significant historical treasures dating back to the 13th century. Other points of interest during the tour will be the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, the Rotunda of St George, the St Nicholas Russian Church and the Banya Bashi Mosque as well as a view of the Great Synagogue. In the evening enjoy a Bulgarian Welcome Dinner.
B D Accommodation in Sofia.
Day 10: Sofia - Koprivshtica – Plovdiv ( 220 km) Highlights Romania Bulgaria Tour
Following breakfast at hotel, take off for Plovdiv. En route we will stop over for a visit of Koprivshtica. This is a museum town of Bulgarian National Revival architecture, a town where the past seems to come alive. Situated at an altitude of some 3,000 feet above sea level amid lovely meadows and pine forests, the town has long had a magnetic appeal for tourists. Our walking tour includes visits to the beautiful old Bulgarian-style houses of Lyutov, Debelyanov and Kableshkov. They will fascinate you not only with their original architecture but also with their interior 19-century decoration and furnishing. Every single house here, certainly, is part and parcel of Bulgaria's history. It is a miracle that Koprivshtica itself was spared destruction and survives in its original appearance.
Highlights of Romania and Bulgaria Tour > Plovdiv
Later, we travel to Plovdiv, the main city of the Thracian Valley. Plovdiv's location astride Maritsa river indicates the strategic significance of the city. It is one of the oldest and most colourful towns in Bulgaria. No one can tell exactly when the foundation stone was laid here, although it must have been over 5000 years ago. Old Plovdiv on Trimontium hill is the centre of Bulgarian national revival architecture and is full of charm and artistic character.
Hotel check in, followed by time at leisure. Plovdiv was European Capital of Culture in 2019. Local creative industries have been mushrooming since and attract more and more people, who look for new art travel experience. Enjoy your dining experience in one of Plovdiv's best gourmet restaurants in the Old Town.
B, D, Accommodation in Plovdiv at the hotel Expo/Dafi 3* or similar.
Day 11: Plovdiv – Valley of the Roses – Veliko Tarnovo ( 220 km)
After breakfast, take a leisurely walking tour including a visit to the Old Town. See the 2000yrs old Roman Theatre and Ethnographic museum. Walk along the narrow cobbled streets and admire the silence and tranquility of this historic town. Visit workshops of local artisans to learn about traditional Bulgarian crafts. Leave Plovdiv and drive north to Kazanlak, the main city of the famous Rose Valley.
Day 11: Kazanlak and the Thracian Treasures
Bulgarian Rose valley has been a centre of rose oil production and export for centuries. (Blooming season: Mid May -Mid June). We visit the Rose museum to find out why Bulgarian rose oil is an essential ingredient of top-quality perfumes. Recently, the Rose Valley has become known also as the Valley of the Thracian Kings. The Thracians were the earliest recorded population in the eastern half of the Balkan Peninsula, in what is today Bulgaria. It was at the end of the Late Bronze Age that the Greek authors, Homer in particular, called the territories north of Greece by the name of Thrace. The Thracians had an exceptionally original culture and amazing civilization.The region around Kazanlak is dotted with dozens of Thracian burial mounds. We visit the Thracian beehive tomb in Kazanlak, a unique monument of the Thracian Culture and UNESCO World Heritage site.
Day 11: Crossing the Balkan Range
We cross the Balkan Range at the Shipka Pass and visit the gold-domed Shipka Memorial Church. The view from the top of the pass over the Thracian Plain is really spectacular. We proceed with a visit of the open-air Etara Ethnographic Museum. The 18th – 19th century crafts and lifestyle will come to life in front of you as you visit this famous open-air museum. Next stop is Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria’s old capital city. Picturesquely situated on the three hills circled by the Yantra River, Veliko Tarnovo still preserves the typical 19th century architecture with its houses perched one above the other along the sloping hills. Past glory with fortress walls and palaces creates an amazing background for a joyful contemporary life of this University town, full of young people. Evening at leisure.
B Accommodation in Veliko Tarnovo at hotel Gurko 3*, ranked # 1 by Trip Advisor.
Day 12: Veliko Tarnovo – Troyan – Sofia ( 280 km)>Highlights of Romania and Bulgaria Tour
Start with a hot and cold buffet breakfast at hotel. Take a morning walking a tour of this town, full of history. The capital of Mediaeval Bulgaria, Veliko Tarnovo, is one of the most picturesque historical settlements. Located on the hills above the meandering river Yantra, this city, once a glorious medieval capital (1186 – 1393), is now attracting thousands of romantic travelers with its irresistible atmosphere. Mixing the legends of the past with bursting joy of hundreds of young students – this is Veliko Tarnovo today. It is the second most important University City after Sofia. Start exploring the city with the Tsarevets Royal hill. Our guide can tell you more than any of the thick books will. Then go to the Samovodska market place, with its narrow cobbled streets, where every stone tells a story.
Day 12: Afternoon in Arbanassi museum village
The neighbouring Arbanassi museum village is a genuine gallery of art. Apart from a gorgeous view over the city of Veliko Tarnovo, there are two musts here: the 15th century Church of the Nativity, repainted in the 17th century, and the house of Konstantsaliev’s- a fortress-like stone building, excellent examples of the 18th century architecture at its height. Travel back to Sofia via the beautiful Danube Plain. Stop over in Troyan and Oreshak, famous for its Folk Arts and Crafts Exhibition. Here you will meet local ceramicists and see them work. The region became famous in the 19th century with the local ceramic production. Most of the souvenir pottery on sale throughout Bulgaria is made here, in Troyan. Time permitting, visit the nearby Troyan Monastery, Bulgaria's third largest.
B Accommodation in Sofia at hotel Rosslyn Thracia 4*, or similar ( 2 nights).
Day 13: Rila Monastery site Excursion ( 230 km)
After breakfast, we travel to the famous Rila Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is located some 70 miles to the south of Sofia, in the heart of the Rila Mountain. Founded in the 10th century, it has been the biggest spiritual and cultural centre in Bulgaria for hundreds of years. The visitor’s first sight of Rila Monastery huge towering walls gives the impression of a fortress. However, a step through the archway produces a wonderful surprise.
Day 13: Rila Monastery UNESCO site
The Monastery’s unrivaled architecture and murals will captivate you. The monastery is the largest in the Balkans and included in the List of World Cultural Heritage. Our tour includes a visit to the Monastery Church, adorned by the foremost 19-century masters of the Samokov, Bansko and Debar schools of painting and woodcarving. We visit the Monastery Museum featuring a rich collections of precious artifacts from the monastery’s thousand-year history. Actually, monks still live and practice here. We drive back to Sofia. The balance of the day is at leisure. Last dinner is on own.
B Accommodation in Sofia.
Day 14: Sofia – Departure> Highlights of Romania and Bulgaria Tour
Breakfast at hotel. (Boxed breakfast will be provided for the early departures). Last multiple transfers to Sofia International Airport for your return flights.
Highlights of Romania and Bulgaria tour Recommended period: April – October, valid for minimum 2 persons per booking. Prices are quoted in USD.
Supplements: Accommodation in Plovdiv (1 night) during the periods of the Trade Fair: September 26 – October 01,2022 :
- Per person in single room – 35. US$
- Per person in double room – 48. US$
Note: Tour is available with upgraded hotels. Please ask for a custom quote.
3 thoughts on “Highlights of Romania and Bulgaria Tour”
From Disappointment to Delight in the Balkans
A good friend and I decided to visit Romania and Bulgaria this fall (September 21 to October 4), 2014. We found a very interesting trip with Travcoa, a higher-end company with whom we had previously traveled. While we do not prefer group tours, this was to be a small group and we decided that it covered the area we wanted to visit. We signed up. Everything was set. We had placed a deposit on the trip and secured the air. Our air was non-refundable but we did not even give it a thought since we were with Travcoa, which was a name we had come to trust.
Imagine our consternation when, just days before the final payment was due, Travcoa notified us that our trip had been canceled. We were flying into Bucharest for our original tour. We did not want to lose money on the air and we still wanted to visit this area. Therefore, I did what I had done before and got on the internet and searched out companies offering tours to Romania and Bulgaria. To the companies that responded, offering tours to the places the Travcoa tour visited, I sent a brief prospectus based on the original tour so they could devise a tour for us.
Three companies responded to this information. I tweaked their offerings, especially adding the qualifier of five-star or best available accommodations.
One company, Brill Travel (brilltravel.com), in Sofia, Bulgaria, came through with what seemed to be the best match for what we wanted. Not only that, with hotels as good as and often better that the original luxury tour, they wanted a little over half as much for the tour—from $6,245 (with air add-on intra tour and pervious traveler discount) pp from Travcoa to approximately $3,400 (€2,730) pp with Brill. This was a tour for just the two of us.
The hotels turned out to be better than advertised. The included meals were good and the guides were outstanding. Ion was our guide-driver in Romania. He was thirty-something, energetic and extremely knowledgeable. Katja Melamed was our guide in Bulgaria where we had a separate driver. She had master and doctorate degrees and was in the Medieval Department of the National Institute of Archeology, working at the National History Museum. Both loved their countries and expressed this fact. They both were very willing to adapt to our needs to assure that we had a good experience. Ion was a photographer. He pointed out excellent spots for photos. Katja provided us with in-depth historical insights into the places we visited. She even ended our tour by personally guiding us through the Bulgarian National History Museum in Sofia. Our last day, the owner of the agency, Irska, took us to the airport so that she could make sure that the two weeks had been good for us. It was an outstanding experience. I would recommend this trip to anyone who is interested in the Balkans. The areas we visited were beautiful. The history was there at every turn. We had knowledgeable guides. We had a wonderful experience for just the two of us rather than as a part of a group.
What a delightful two weeks! I have had similar experiences before with Exotissimo (EXO Travel) in Vietnam, Malaysia Travel in Malaysia and Oasis Tours for Myanmar, Cambodia and cruising into Vietnam. I have always taken the one precaution of transacting all payments with a credit card. So far, the internet has provided me with many memorable travel experiences even when a so-called “well established” company let me down.
Paul Otto Schneebeck, C.M.
Saint Louis, MO USA
Thank you, again.
Iskra Ilkova of Brill Travel is an absolute professional. A veteran of the Travel Industry, there would not be much about the Balkans and tourism in the Balkan countries that she does not know. She specialises in tours of Romania, Bulgaria and Macedonia and has excellent networks and loyal as well as expert tour guides in all the countries she operates in and who she can access.
My wife and I had a fantastic holiday in Romania and Bulgaria. It was organised like clock-work and went off without any drama or fuss. We wanted the best hotels and we were provided with the best. Our guides Ion in Romania and Tsveto in Bulgaria were high class. There were no games played, no scrounging around, no short-cuts and overall, I simply wish that all tour operators are of the quality of Brill (and Iskra). Our progress was monitored and there was a genuine desire to see that we enjoyed our holiday and carried back great memories.
If you are considering visiting Bulgaria and Romania (North Macedonia, too), I strongly suggest that you leave it to Iskra to suggest a tour programme tailor-made for you after indicating the number of days you can spend. We liked the 14 day tour and covered a lot of ground. To conclude, Brill is a top quality, trustworthy, expert and highly professional outfit who can be trusted to provide a brilliant holiday in these wonderful, unspoilt (by over-tourism!) countries.
We are not merely grateful but in awe of Iskra, for our wonderfully conceived and flawlessly executed holiday.