The Bulgarian people developed the Cyrillic alphabet, which subsequently spread to many other Slav nations. You might be surprised to learn that the Renaissance appeared in the Bulgarian lands before Giotto and Leonardo da Vinci were born. In addition to its glorious history and despite its modest geographical size Bulgaria possesses the most diverse natural beauty of which others can only dream: the highest mountains in the Balkans, fertile valleys, relaxing beaches and the sea. If you are capable of seeing the biggest in the smallest, then this tour is created for you!
- Accommodation: 3-star hotels, en-suite double rooms on bed and breakfast (you guide will advise you on good restaurants, a substantial lunch/dinner is 7-12 Euro).
- Best travel period: mid June - September
- Group size: Min. 2 persons.
Day 1: Sofia Airport – Sofia city (30 mins, 20km). Meeting and accommodation in a hotel in the centre of Sofia.
Day 2: Sofia – Rila Monastery – Bansko (3.5 hours, 250 km). Sofia is carefully polishing its image to support its candidacy for European capital of culture. Its ancient history can be truly appreciated amongst the monumentalist Stalinist buildings, futuristic shopping malls and chic night clubs. During our walking tour around the city we will capture the heartbeat of the city and we will explore the most important tourist sites.
We shall continue our tour with a transfer to the colossus of Bulgarian ecclesiastical architecture – Rila Monastery (10th Century, UNESCO). Since its foundation to the present day Rila monastery has played a key role in the conservation of the Bulgarian identity, spirit and Orthodox culture. We will take a close look at the exhibits in its museum. This will be followed by a short walking tour of the century beech forests of the Rila Monastery Natural Park. Overnight accommodation in Bansko, a resort town in the foothills of Pirin mountains (UNESCO).
Day 3: Bansko. The Alpine part of the Pirin mountains possesses stunning natural beauty. Probably the most beautiful part of the mountain is the Banderishki circle. Carved out of its granite foundations there are 16 deep blue glacial lakes and a marvellous panorama revealing a sea of splendid peaks belonging to the Pirin, Rila and Rhodope mountain ranges. We shall take a walk around the lakes while we fill the free space in the digital memory of our camera with fantastic scenery. On our way back we shall encounter the oldest tree in Bulgaria - the Baikushev Pine (1300 years old). The afternoon is set aside for a relaxing walk around the sites of the Renaissance town of Bansko.
Day 4: Bansko – Dolen – Devin (2.5 hours, 200 km). We make our way towards the Rhodope mountains – the home of Orpheus. We will stop to explore the architectural and historical reserve in the village of Dolen, and we will be immediately captivated by its cobbled streets and the idyllic scenery of the 70 old-fashioned buildings constructed from wood and stone. In the afternoon we arrive at the spa town of Devin. Accommodation for two nights and a short trek along an eco-trail following the path of the beautiful gorge of the river Devin.
Day 5: Devin – Trigrad – Yagodina – Devin (1 hour, 60km). A day for getting to know the natural beauty of the Western Rhodope mountains. Transfer to the Trigrad gorge. The sheer 200 metre cliff faces stand only a few metres away from each other leaving only a small ribbon of sky above us. This is home to the Devil’s Throat – a huge cave system through which Orpheus passed on his way to the Realm of Dead Souls. A legend…, which soon comes to life in our minds when we pass through the narrow entrance of the cave. This is followed by a 3-hour trek (12km) to the village of Trigrad and the Yagodin cave. On the way we pass through tall spruce forests, lush meadows, small hand-cultivated village pastures and wondrous rock formations. We will admire the richly coloured decorations of the underground universe of the Yagodin Cave.
Day 6: Devin—Gela – Shiroka Laka – Kosovo – Bachkovo – Plovdiv (3 hours, 180 km). We set out for the village of Gela and descend on foot through the richly scented herb-filled meadows to the village of Shiroka Laka. It is an easy trek and allows us to admire to the full the works of the greatest architect of all - nature. A tour of the architectural and ethnographic complex at Shiroka Laka – with its rich collection of Renaissance buildings. The village is also famous for its folk song traditions. We shall lunch at Kosovo and try out the delicious Rhodope specialities, followed by a visit to the second largest monastery in Bulgaria - Bachkovo. We shall leave the cultural tour of Plovdiv for tomorrow. Today we shall taste the bohemian atmosphere of the Old Town. Museums, galleries, studios, workshops, antique shops, small coquettish coffee shops offering fine coffee and unforgettable views. Each step here leads to new temptations for all sensations. Overnight accommodation in Plovdiv.
Day 7: Plovdiv – Koprivshtitsa – Sofia (3.5 hours, 240 km). The classical tourist tour of the town is a perfect illustration of the rich history of the town. It includes the ethnographic museum in an 18th century house, the extremely well conserved Ancient Theatre (2nd Century), Djumaya Djamiya from the era of the Ottoman rule and the oldest church in the town, "St. St. Konstantin and Elena”. We continue our journey to Koprivshtitsa. This was the starting point for the heroic April Uprising, which was violently crushed but fulfilled its function as catalyst to the liberation of Bulgaria from Ottoman domination. We will visit 6 Renaissance museum houses built in the 19th century, to see what life was like for the revolutionaries, merchants and representatives of the various crafts guilds who lived during that glorious time. Possibility for shopping in Sofia and overnight accommodation.
Day 8: Sofia Airport – Sofia city (30 mins, 20km). Breakfast and transfer to Sofia Airport.
- Price depends on the group size:
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Europe Bulgaria Local Culture Cultural Journey Hiking & Trekking
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