Day 1 (Saturday):
Transfer Sofia Airport – hotel in Sofia Arrival at Sofia Airport and transfer to a hotel in Sofia. There are no pre-arranged activities, so there will be free time to relax and see some sights. Dinner and overnight stay in Sofia.
Day 2 (Sunday): Sofia – Veliko Tarnovo
Sightseeing tour of Sofia, one of the most ancient cities in Europe founded 7 000 years ago. Main attractions are the Alexander Nevski Memorial Cathedral with the Crypt housing a unique collection of icons Parliament Square, the National Theatre, the Church of St Sophia, St George’s Rotunda (the oldest building preserved in Sofia), and the remains of the ancient city of Serdica. You will also find a thriving and diverse street life, including open-air cafes and busy markets. Sofia also offers many lovely parks and gardens to relax in.Transfer to the northeast to Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria’s mediaeval capital. Dinner and overnight stay in Veliko Tarnovo or Arbanassi.
Day 3 (Monday): Veliko Tarnovo
Sightseeing tour of Bulgaria’s medieval capital, picturesquely located on four hills above the Yantra River. Visit to the Tsarevets Royal Hill and fortress. The hill is crowned by the Patriarchal Church of the Ascension. Visit to the Church of SS Peter and Paul. In the afternoon, we will drive to the nearby museum village of Arbanassi for a visit to the unique Church of the Nativity (16th-17th c) and the Konstantsaliev House. Dinner and overnight stay in Veliko Tarnovo or Arbanassi.
Day 4 (Tuesday): Veliko Tarnovo – Kazanlak – Plovdiv
After breakfast, departure for Plovdiv. On the way to Plovdiv, we will visit several interesting sites. Our first stop is Etara, an open-air ethnographic complex showing the everyday life of local people centuries ago. After Etara, we will continue to the south through the spectacular Shipka Pass and arrive in the town of Kazanlak, the centre of the Valley of the Roses located at the heart of the Thracian Plain. Here we will visit the Museum of the Rose, the Museum of History, and the famous 4th-century BC Thracian tomb which is included in UNESCO’S World Heritage List. Arrival in Plovdiv. Dinner and overnight stay in Plovdiv.
Day 5 (Wednesday): Plovdiv – Bachkovo Monastery
Sightseeing tour of Plovdiv. Plovdiv is one of the oldest cities in Europe on a par with Troy and Mycenae. It was founded about 8 000 years ago. Plovdiv was the capital of Ancient Thrace and a big trade centre in the Middle Ages. The city’s historic quarter boasts beautifully decorated period houses, ancient fortress walls, a Roman forum and stadium, magnificent churches. We will also visit the Roman theatre, the Ethnographic Museum, and the Church of SS Constantine and Helena. In the afternoon, we will drive to Bachkovo Monastery, one of the oldest monasteries in Bulgaria scenically located on the banks of the Asenitsa River. The monastery is known for its unique architecture and amazing wall paintings and icons. Return to Plovdiv. Dinner and overnight stay in Plovdiv.
Day 6 (Thursday): Plovdiv – Borovets – Rila Monastery – Sofia
Drive to Rila Monastery, the biggest and most important symbol of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. Founded in the 10th century and rebuilt in the 13th and 14th centuries, this monastery is one of the oldest in Europe. It was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1983. Behind its 20-metre-high walls lie impressive monastic buildings, a church and a chapel with remarkable wall paintings. On the way we will have a short stop at the mountain resort of Borovets. Dinner and overnight stay in Sofia.
Day 7 (Friday): Sofia
Visit to the Boyana Church located in the Sofia suburb of the same name at the foothills of Mount Vitosha. The church is world-famous for its wall paintings, which date back to 1259. The most remarkable achievement of Bulgarian mediaeval painting, they are also a precious contribution to European art. The Boyana Church is also one of the best preserved and interesting buildings from mediaeval times in Bulgaria. It is included in UNESCO’s World Heritage List. In the afternoon there is some free time for leisure or shopping. Dinner and overnight stay in Sofia.
Day 8 (Saturday): Departure
After breakfast, transfer to Sofia airport for a departure flight.