Bulgaria is an unspoiled pearl in the Balkan mountains of Eastern Europe. Blessed with a lush countryside and nature, with world’s most exquisite roses Bulgaria has 8 000 years of history. With breathtaking and majestic Thracian, Byzantium, Roman, Jewish, Ottoman and Slav culture blended with European and Asian influence Bulgaria is Europe’s most ancient civilization. Bulgaria is lying across the border between Europe and Asia. It is the melting pot of people and cultures; it is the cross-point where the cultural layers of north, east, south and west meet. The Balkan landscape ranges from the vast plains of the Danube River to the rugged Balkans and Rhodope Mountain, the mythical homeland of legendary Orpheus.
During this trip we’ll visit the Valley of Roses which is home of the exquisite and rare Bulgarian rose oil, also known as “attar of roses”, a well renowned world centre for rose oil production and the source of many of the world’s finest perfumes. We’ll talk about roses and nature as a resource for healing, creativity, balance, peace and beauty. We’ll visit small towns of well preserved nature, variety of landscape, fauna and flora. We’ll have excursions through narrow cobblestone streets of old towns examining the harmony of architecture and landscape. During our journey we’ll trace the abundant historical and cultural heritage of Bulgaria.
Tour Itinerary: Route: Sofia (2 nights) - Plovdiv (2 nights) - Veliko Tarnovo (2 nights) – Sofia (1 night)
Day 1: Arrive at Sofia International Airport. You will be met by your local guide. Transfer to your hotel to check-in for two nights. Time to unpack and rest. Welcome dinner at the hotel. Includes: (D).
Day 2: Breakfast at the hotel. We’ll start our program with a full day exploring in the Bulgarian capital. We’ll visit the National History Museum where magnificent world-famous Thracian treasures of ancient gold are on display and the Boyana Church, a remarkable UNESCO World Heritage Site, a genuine masterpiece of 13th century painting. On our walking tour in downtown area we’ll see some of the most famous historical, architectural and cultural landmarks of the city: Alexander Nevski Memorial church, a masterpiece of 20th century architecture; the remains of Roman Ulpia Serdica Fortification /3rd – 5th century/; St. George’s Rotunda /4th century/, famous for its original structure and unique frescoes. We’ll have some free time in town in the afternoon. Lunch will be enjoyed at a restaurant in town. Dinner is on your own to explore local fare in downtown area of Sofia. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 3: Breakfast in the hotel. Transfer Day: Sofia – Plovdiv. En route we’ll visit the Rila Monastery in the majestic Rila Mountains. The monastery is an original national museum with a century-old history that dates back to the 10th century. The present building was built in mid-19th century (1816–1848). Located in the gorgeous mountain scenery of the mountains, it is considered the highest achievement of Bulgarian monumental architecture of the National Revival period. On our route for the day we’ll also make a short stop at the Borovets ski resort in the Rila Mountains. Lunch will be enjoyed in a restaurant in the mountains. Dinner is on your own to explore local restaurants in vicinity of your hotel in downtown area of Plovdiv. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 4: Breakfast in the hotel. Plovdiv: full day exploring in this ancient city, which has astonishing historical and cultural heritage and an amazing Old Town, applying for UNESCO List of World Cultural Heritage. On our guided city tour will visit the Roman stadium and fabulous Theatre built during the time of Emperor Trajan in the 2nd century; will walk in the Old Town to see the charming Ethnographic Museum and many of its National Revival style houses of the 18th-19th century. We’ll also see the museum gallery of a famous Bulgarian painter and the 15th century mosque, one of the oldest of the continent. We’ll have free time in the afternoon to explore in town on your own. Lunch is on your at some of the nice restaurants in the Old Town. Dinner will be enjoyed at a restaurant in town. Includes: (B), (D).
Day 5: Transfer Day: Plovdiv – Veliko Tarnovo. En route: enjoy picturesque drive through the famous Valley of Roses to visit the nice town of Kazanlak situated in the area. The Valley of Roses is situated between the Balkan and Sredna Gora mountains and is the home of the exquisite Bulgarian rose oil, also known as “attar of roses”. This area is Bulgaria’s most important centre of rose oil production, which is the main source for many of world’s finest perfumes.
The oil-yielding rose, ‘Rosa Damascena’ was brought to Bulgaria from India via Persia, Syria and Turkey. In the 19th century ‘Rosa Damascena’ became the greatest wealth of the Kazanlak region. Today ‘Rosa Damascena’ is a symbol of Bulgaria. Rose picking lasts for about a month: from about mid May till about mid June, however this depends on actual weather conditions. Rose picking is done early in the morning, from 5 a.m. till not later than 9-10 a.m. May and June are the most majestic months in the Valley of Roses, as the rose fields are blossoming and the entire valley is enveloped with their fragrance. In the first weekend of June the traditional Rose Festival takes place.
We’ll depart hotel early in the morning so that we can arrive in time to take part in the rose picking process in the rose fields. After that we’ll visit a private rose distillery to attend the rose distilling process and to learn about traditions of rose oil production in Bulgaria and its modern developments and perspectives. If our visit to Kazanlak falls on the actual days of the Rose Festival, we’ll have the chance to attend the traditional Carnival procession in the streets of Kazanlak which usually takes place on Sunday at noon time. This area became also popular as Valley of Thracian Kings because of the numerous breathtaking archaeological finds dating back to the golden times of the Thracian city of Seuthopolis. We’ll learn about Thracian history and culture during our guided visits to the History Museum in town and to the replica site of the world-famous 4th century BC Thracian cupola tomb, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Later in the afternoon we’ll continue our picturesque drive through historical Shipka Pass in the Balkan Range Mountains. We’ll also visit the ethnographical and architectural reserve of Etara, which is a beautiful museum-village with a variety of artisan workshops. It is a unique open-air museum of traditional architecture and ethnography, reflecting the atmosphere of a typical Bulgarian town of the 18th -19th centuries. Lunch will be enjoyed at a national style restaurant in Kazanlak. Dinner is on your own to explore local fare in the vicinity of your hotel in downtown area of Veliko Tarnovo. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 6: Breakfast at the hotel. Full day to explore in Veliko Tarnovo, capital city of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom (12th – 14th centuries) and in the historical village of Arbanassi. We’ll see the medieval Fortress of Tsarevets Hill where the Royal Palace and the Patriarch Church were once located; the Museum of the National Revival, where the First Constitution of modern Bulgaria was adopted in 1979, a year after the Liberation from Ottoman domination in 1878; the beautifully decorated Nativity Church, dating back to 16th -17th centuries. We’ll take a walk through the narrow cobblestone streets of the Old Town, leading into small, sunny squares, where we may be tempted to enter some of its many artisan shops. We’ll have some free time in the afternoon to explore on our own. Independent lunch on your own to explore nice restaurants in Arbanassi village. Dinner will be enjoyed at a restaurant in town. Includes: (B), (D).
Day 7: Breakfast in the hotel. Transfer Day: Veliko Tarnovo – Sofia. En route, we’ll make a short detour to visit the delightful museum-town of Tryavna, located in the region of the Central Balkan Mountains, and which is famous for its woodworking traditions and beautiful National Revival style houses of the 19th century. Afternoon arrive Sofia and settle in at your hotel in downtown area. Independent lunch on your own to explore nice restaurants in Tryavna. Farewell dinner will be enjoyed at a restaurant in town. Includes: (B), (D).
Day 8: Breakfast in the hotel. Free time in town for last minute personal activities. Transfer to Sofia Airport for departure flight. End of Program. Includes: (B).
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Europe Bulgaria Local Culture Cultural Journey