CULTURAL LANDSCAPES 2017

Highlights

15-days, 14-nights tour, during which you will visit many off the beaten track places and see the real Bulgarian lifestyle.

  • Koprivshtica
  • Troyan Pass
  • Tryavna
  • Varna
  • Nesebar
  • Kazanlak
  • Melnik

Itinerary - CULTURAL LANDSCAPES: 2017

15-days, 14-nights tour

Day 1: SOFIA AIRPORT – SOFIA HOTEL

Welcome to Sofia. Our guide will meet you at the airport and escort for a transfer to your downtown hotel.

T, Overnight in Sofia.

Day 2: SOFIA – Boyana church UNESCO site (50 km)

In the morning drive to Boyana and visit the UNESCO site Boyana church(13 c), the highlight of your day. Proceed with a walking tour downtown and see St. George Rotunda, Alexander Nevski Memorial Church, St.Nedelya Square and St. Nedelya Church, St. Petka of the Saddlers, the Synagogue, the Central Baths, the Mosque, the underpass outside the President's Office, Alexander Battenberg Square, the National Theatre, the former Royal Palace, the Russian Church, St. Sophia Church and the Monument to the Unknown Soldier. 
In the evening enjoy a Bulgarian welcome dinner.

B, D, Overnight in Sofia.

Day 3: SOFIA  - Koprivshtica - Beklemeto Pass – Troyan – BALKANEC (220 km)

After breakfast leave for Koprivshtica - museum town of Bulgarian National Revival architecture. Situated at an altitude of some 3,000 feet above sea level amid lovely meadows and pine forests, the town has long had a magnetic appeal for tourists. Tour of the town (mainly on foot) includes visit to the beautiful old Bulgarian-style houses of Lyutov, Debeljanov, and Kableshkov, which will fascinate you not only with their original architecture but also with their interior 19-century decoration and furnishing. Every single house here is part and parcel of Bulgaria’s history. It was here that the first shot of the April Uprising against Ottoman rule rang out in 1876. Although drenched in blood, the uprising resounded in all of Europe. It is a miracle that Koprivshtica itself was spared destruction and survives in its original appearance. Cross the Balkan range at Troyan-Karnare (Beklemeto) Pass and enjoy some breathtaking views over the Thracian Valley.

B, Overnight in a guest house in Balkanec, a small village near Troyan.

Day 4: BALKANEC - Troyan   - Gabrovo – TRYAVNA ( 120 km)

Following breakfast, en route to Tryavna, visit Troyan monastery, the third largest in Bulgaria. The neighbouring village of Oreshak is famous for its Folk Arts and Crafts Exhibition. Here you can meet local ceramicists and see them work. The region became famous in the 19th century with the local ceramic production. Most of the souvenir pottery on sale throughout Bulgaria is made here, in Troyan. 
You will drive through the town of Gabrovo. The leatherwork and textiles, produced here in the 18th century, earned the town the sobriquet of the “Manchester of Bulgaria”. Now the town is famous for the numerous jokes about its citizens and the annual Festival of Humor and Satire, held here every May. The world-famous modern artist Christo was born in Gabrovo on June 13, 1935. 
Proceed to Tryavna, driving uphill in a beautiful beech and oak forests. Tryavna still preserves the spirit and talent of the 17th century artists in the field of woodcarving and icon painting.

B, Overnight in a family-run guest house in Tryavna.

Day 5: TRYAVNA and surroundings

Discover Tryavna on foot. A visit to Daskalov’s House (1804), museum of woodcarving is a must. You may find the local icon museum interesting, too. Most of the famous 17-18th century icon-painting artists were born in Tryavna.
Surrounding mountain slopes offer wonderful walking opportunities.

B, Overnight in a family-run guest house in Tryavna.

Day 6: TRYAVNA ––Etara -  VELIKO TARNOVO (100 km)

Drive to Etara open-air ethnographic museum, sheltered in the folds of the Balkan Mountains. Everything surrounding the visitor brings him/her back to the period of Bulgarian Revival (18-19 c) with numerous workshops where even today the craftsmen work, using the same instruments and techniques. Their mission is to preserve traditional folk arts and crafts. You will see several hydro-powered workshops for cutting timber, fulling cloth, and making braid, wine flagons and other typical Bulgarian products.
Proceed to Veliko Tarnovo. Veliko Tarnovo was Bulgaria’s Mediaeval capital city. Picturesquely situated on the three hills circled by the Yantra River, Veliko Tarnovo still preserves the typical 19th century architecture. 
Spend the afternoon at leisure for individual discoveries.

B, Overnight in a guest-house in Veliko Tarnovo.

Day 7: VELIKO TARNOVO – Arbanassi - VELIKO TARNOVO ( 30 km)

Veliko Tarnovo, is one of the most picturesque historical settlements. Located on the hills above the meandering river Yantra, this city, once a glorious mediaeval capital (1186 – 1393), is now attracting thousands of romantic travellers with its irresistible atmosphere. Mixing the legends of the past  with bursting joy of hundreds of young students – this is Veliko Tarnovo today, the second most important University City after Sofia. Following breakfast, enjoy a half-day city tour, including visits to the Tzarevets Royal Hill, Samovodska market place (charshiya). Drive uphill to visit Arbanassi museum village, rich in churches, monasteries and old Bulgarian houses (17 c.) decorated with unique paintings and wood carvings.

B, Overnight in a guest-house in Veliko Tarnovo.

Day 8: VELIKO TARNOVO – Madara – Preslav – VARNA ( 250 km)

En route to Varna stop in Madara and visit the Madara Horseman – on the UNESCO Cultural Heritage List. 
Drive to Preslav, once a glorious mediaeval Bulgarian capital (9-10th c A.D.) now – a quiet provincial village. In the Treasury of the historical museum in Preslav you will see the richest collection of mediaeval seals. You will reach Varna in the late afternoon. Varna is the largest Bulgarian Black-sea port and summer capital of Bulgaria. 
Enjoy a leisurely walk along the sea-side promenade at sunset. 

B, Overnight in Varna area.

Day 9: VARNA – NESSEBAR ( 100 km)

After breakfast you will discover the ancient sites of Varna and the Museum of History, displaying the oldest man-made gold (45000-42000 B.C.) Tour proceeds to the museum town of Nesebar, picturesquely situated on a small rocky peninsula. Stop for an overnight in a town, which is another UNESCO’s World Cultural Heritage site. Different civilizations have left their marks jealously guarded today on the tiny peninsula.

B, Overnight in Nesebar

Day 10: NESSEBAR – Pomorie - the Rose Valley – KAZANLAK (230 km)

After breakfast, depart to Pomorie for a short “eco-break”. Visit the Pomorie Lake eco-visitors centre for  enjoying the bio-diversity of the wild life. Proceed to Kazanlak, the main city of the Rose Valley. Roses are in full bloom from mid-May to mid-June. The region around Kazanlak is dotted with dozens of Thracian burial mounds. The region is also known as the Valley of the Thracian Kings. The Thracians had an extremely original culture and created an amazing civilization.  Here, in summer 2004 Prof. Kitov and a team of fellow archaeologists unearthed an ancient gold funeral mask that they say is as important a discovery as the treasures of Agamemnon and Tutankhamen. This extremely precious discovery is displayed in the local museum. Visit the Thracian beehive tomb (replica) in Kazanlak, a unique monument of the Thracian Culture, included in UNESCO 's List of World Cultural Heritage. 

B,D, Overnight in Kazanlak.

Day 11: KAZANLAK – PLOVDIV ( 120 km)

Following breakfast, drive south to the Thracian Valley and Plovdiv. The irresistible charm of this city goes into your blood slowly. Here the Hills meet the Valley and the River... and so the Legends were born. Eumolpus, a mythical Thracian Hero, became its founder. In the 4 c. B.C. the city becomes Philip of Macedon’s pride and was named after him - Philippopolis. The Roman Empire declares the city Capital of Thrace under the name Trimonzium - and so the city changed many names over so many years. Plovdiv is the second largest city in Bulgaria and one of the oldest in Europe. No one can tell exactly when the foundation stone was laid here, although it must have been over 5000 years ago. Afternoon at leisure.

B, Overnight in Plovdiv.

Day 12: PLOVDIV

Morning sightseeing tour of Plovdiv, including the Old City, visit the Roman Theatre / 2nd c. A.D./ and the Ethnographic museum. Stroll the narrow cobbled streets and admire the peaceful atmosphere of the Old town. In the afternoon drive to visit Bachkovo monastery. The ossuary contains some murals of great value. The building itself was built in the 11th c A.D. and painted during the 11th -12th centuries. In the Refectory you can see the murals of the Last Judgment, painted in the 11th c., which is the oldest non-canonical painting in Bulgaria.

B, Overnight in Plovdiv.

Day 13: PLOVDIV –Velingrad – Yundola – Bansko – SANDANSKI/MELNIK (260 km)

Drive through the Western Rhodope Mountains, via Velingrad to Bansko museum town. Stopover in a small village located on the southern slopes of the Rila mountains for a home-hosted lunch with “banitza” and local specialties. Proceed to Bansko. This quiet small town with 17th c. old architecture is situated at the foot of the Pirin mountain National Park, included in the List of World Natural Heritage. Enjoy a walking sightseeing tour of Bansko. Proceed to the museum town of Melnik and enjoy a wine-tasting session in a local winery with the famous Melnik red wine. Scenically located at the foothills of sandstone pyramids, this smallest town in Bulgaria is famous for its ancient architecture and red wine. Walking sightseeing tour, visit one of the old houses, masterpiece of early 17th c. local architecture. 
Overnight in Melnik  / or in Sandanski
Melnik – Sandanski – 20 km (1/2 hrs.).
Note:    Accommodation option : 4-* SPA hotel Sandanski /supplement for the overnight applies/

B, L, Overnight in Sandanski.

Day 14: SANDANSKI/MELNIK– Rila monastery – SOFIA (230 km)

After breakfast, drive to Sofia, en route visiting the famous Rila monastery. Tour the largest monastery in the Balkans. With its unrivalled architecture and murals, you’ll understand why this marvel is included in the List of World Cultural Heritage.

B, Overnight in Sofia.

Day 15: SOFIA – departure

We will see you off to the airport, where tour ends.