Arrival in Sofia and meeting with your English speaking guide. Walking tour in the historical centre of the Bulgarian capital, including a visit to the medieval church of St Sofia, St Alexander Nevsky’s Cathedral and its cript housing the richest museum of icons in the country. Dinner and overnight.
Morning departure for the Rila Monastery – the largest and the most beautiful one in the country and a UNESCO site since 1983. The monastery was founded in the 10th century by the hermit Ivan Rilski who later became patron saint of Bulgaria. On the outside it has a fortress-like appearance, but as soon as the visitor goes inside he’s captured by the stunning beauty of its interior decoration. Arcades and colonnades, mural paintings and icons form one harmonious whole. The monastery museum houses a remarkable collection of cult objects. You’ll visit the church and the museum, and have lunch afterwards in the neighbourhood. Return to Sofia.(Optional: Concert of folk songs arranged by Bulgarian composers and performed by the folk ensemble “Cosmic Voices from Bulgaria”). Dinner and overnight
Drive to the museum town of Koprivshtitsa located 1050 metres above sea level. This little town comes as a delightful surprise, with brightly coloured characteristic houses in a typical style, decorated by mural paintings both outside and inside. You’ll have a walking tour and you’ll visit some of the old houses. Lunch. In the afternoon you’ll continue to the Valley of the Roses and reach the town of Kazanlak – “the rose capital”. Visit to the replica of the UNESCO protected Thracian tomb, whose frescos are considered a masterpiece of ancient art, dating from the 4th century BC. Afterwards you’ll visit the Shipka Memorial Church. After a scenic drive through the Shipka mountain pass you’ll arrive in Veliko Tarnovo – the old Bulgarian capital. Dinner and overnight.
The programme will start with a visit to the ruins of the royal fortress on the Tsarevets hill and the medieval church of Saints Peter and Paul. Lunch in the museum village of Arbanassi. Then you’ll enjoy the extraordinary mural decoration of the Nativity Church (16th-17th centuries). Afterwards you’ll visit the house of Konstantsaliyata representing the typical 17th century style. In the late afternoon you’ll return to Veliko Tarnovo and you’ll take a walk in the artisans’ street. (Optional: Sound and Light show in the evening). Dinner and overnight.
Drive towards the Danube. Visit to the rock-cut monasteries of Ivanovo, included in the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites, where you’ll see mural paintings dating from 13th-14th centuries. Lunch in a typical restaurant. Visit to the archaeological museum in Ruse and boat trip on the Danube. Dinner and overnight in Ruse.
Early morning departure to Bucarest – the capital of Romania. Sightseeing tour of Bucarest, a city where historical monuments from past epochs coexist with modern architecture. Lunch in Bucarest. Free time in the afternoon. Return to Ruse, dinner and overnight.
Drive to the city of Pleven – a wine-producing and grain-growing centre. Visit to the Panorama – a memorial complex where you’ll see a huge 360° painting of the battle of Pleven which took place during the Russo-Turkish war of 1877-1878. Return to Sofia, dinner and ovenight.
Visit to the Boyana Church whose mural paintings dating from the 13th century are a masterpiece of religious art. The church is part of the UNESCO World Heritage. Visit to the National History Museum. Departure for the airport.