Venture into the heart of this ancient land and discover a rewarding array of monuments, monasteries and museums nestled in historic villages and towns
Bansko - 1 night
Plovdiv - 2 nights
Burgas - 2 nights
Kmetovtsi - 1 night
Sofia - 2 nights
A world away from the busy Black Sea leisure area we have been pleasantly surprised by a rewarding array of monuments, monasteries, museums and landscapes offering good value outside the ‘Euro zone’. Bordering five countries, Bulgaria has a diverse landscape ranging from the snow-covered Rila Mountains in the southwest to the river valleys and hills of the Danubian plain in the north. Many ancient civilisations have left their mark in history, most notably the Thracians, Greeks, Romans, Slavs and Bulgars.
The town of Plovdiv, European Capital of Culture in 2019, has remains preserved from antiquity, a fine example being Bulgaria’s largest surviving Roman construction, the Roman theatre in the old town, built in the 2nd century AD but only discovered 40 years ago due to a landslide. Bachkovo Monastery was founded in 1083 by a Georgian Byzantine military commander, and until the 14th century, Georgian traditions were preserved. To the northwest of the Rila Mountains, lies Rila Monastery with a remarkable interior displaying painted murals and woodcarvings.
Cultural & Countryside Tour
Jules Verne Sightseeing
5 UNESCO Heritage Sites
Local Expert Guide
Group Size: 6 - 25
Day 1 Fly from London Heathrow to Sofia and travel south to visit Rila Monastery. Continue to Bansko at the feet of the Pirin Mountain. Spend the night at the 5-star Kempinski Hotel Grand Arena (May 4-star Hotel Bulgaria).
Day 2 Visit the church in the ancient village of Dobarsko, continue to the neighbouring village Gorno Draglishte for lunch at a local family home. Travel on the narrow gauge ‘Rhodope Railway’, known as the Alpine railway in the Balkans. Continue to Plovdiv, the second largest city in Bulgaria, for two nights at the 4-star Landmark Hotel. (B, L)
Day 3 Walking tour of the old town including a visit to the Roman theatre and Ethnographic Museum. Afternoon visit to Bachkovo Monastery, known for the beauty of its construction and wall paintings. (B, D)
Day 4 Depart for Stara Zagora, for a visit to the Roman Villa mosaics, Neolithic dwellings and the local museum. Continue to Burgas for two nights at the 5-star Grand Hotel Primoretz. (B)
Day 5 Travel to Nessebar for a walking tour of its old town on a peninsula, a UNESCO World Heritage site, visit to the archaeological museum. (B)
Day 6 Drive through the Rose Valley for a visit to a rose oil distillery followed by Kazanlak and a visit to the UNESCO listed Thracian Tomb, proceed over the Shipka mountain pass. Visit to the open-air museum at Etara before arriving in Kmetovtsi for overnight at the 3-star Fenerite Hotel. (B)
Day 7 Drive to the old Bulgarian capital Veliko Tarnovo. Walk the Tsarevets Hill for a breathtaking view and visit to the fortress. At Arbanassi village, visit the Nativity Church. Church psalms. Proceed to Sofia for two nights at the 4-star Arena di Serdica Hotel. (B)*
Day 8 Visit to National History Museum, Boyana Church, St. George’s Rotunda, Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, St. Sophia, one of the oldest churches in Europe still in use, the covered market and the mosque. (B)
Day 9 Return flight. (B)
This is a busy itinerary with many visits on foot including some uneven surfaces and inclines.
This luxurious 5-star hotel is situated at the foot of the Pirin Mountains, close to the gondola station. Restaurants, bar, gym, pools, sauna, spa and WiFi (free). 157 air-conditioned rooms with private facilities, hairdryer, safe, mini-bar, tea/coffee making facilities and satellite TV.
A traditional 4-star hotel in the centre of Bansko. Restaurant, bar, pool, sauna and WiFi (free). 28 rooms with hairdryer, safe and satellite TV.
A stylish 4-star hotel in the park of the Rowing Channel in Plovdiv. Restaurant, bar, gym, pool, sauna and WiFi (free). 52 air-conditioned rooms with private facilities, hairdryer, safe, mini-bar, tea/coffee making facilities and satellite TV.
A small traditional 3-star hotel in a restaured building from the 19th century in the heart of Kmetovtsi village. Restaurant, bar, sauna, WiFi (free) and 22 rooms with private facilities with mini-bar and satellite TV.
A contemporary, charming 5-star hotel, two minutes' walk from the beach. Restaurants, bar, gym, pools, spa, sauna and WiFi (free). 109 air-conditoned rooms with private facilities, hairdryer, safe, mini-bar and satellite TV.
This stylish 4-star hotel in the heart of Sofia combines modern facilities with historical heritage. An ancient amphitheatre dating from the end of the 3rd-century is within the hotel. Restaurants, bar, gym, sauna and WiFi (free). 63 air-conditioned rooms with private facilities, hairdryer, safe, mini-bar, tea/coffee making facilities and satellite TV.
Stay at the thermal resort Kyustendil, one of the greenest and cleanest cities in Bulgaria at the foot of the Osogovo mountain. The Romans, fascinated by the healing thermal waters and mild climate called it the town of springs.
Day 1 Transfer from Sofia to Kyustendil for three nights at the 4-star Strimon Garden Spa Hotel. One spa treatment is included per person during the stay.
Day 2 Day at leisure. (B)
Day 3 Day at leisure. (B)
Day 4 Return flight. (B)
A comfortable 4-star hotel in the centre of Kyustendil. Restaurant, bar, gym, pool, sauna, spa and WiFi (free). 70 air-conditioned rooms with private facilities, hairdryer, safe, mini-bar and satellite TV.
per person in a twin/double room
British Airways from Heathrow
Supplements per person
Single supplement £295
British Airways Club Europe from £245
Extension - Kyustendil
3 nights £255
Single supplement £55
Extra nights – Sofia
Arena di Serdica Hotel
(per night) £70
Single supplement £50
Arrival transfer with group included
Departure transfer add £20
Air travel and taxes, transfers, 8 nights' accommodation, breakfast daily, 1 lunch and 1 dinner, itinerary as described, services of guides and local representatives. If our specially negotiated airfares are unavailable at the time of booking, a supplement may apply.
Travel insurance, optional excursions, tipping, any government taxes or compulsory charges introduced after publication.
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