1 Day – Sofia
Meet and greet by your guide at Sofia airport, transfer to the hotel. Panoramic city tour including National Archaeological Museum, National Theatre, Russian Church St. Nikola, Parliament Square, Alexander Nevski Memorial Cathedral with the most valuable collection of Bulgarian Icons (13-19th c), St. Sofia Church (6th c), St. George Rotunda (4th c), National Palace of Culture.
Overnight in Sofia (D)
2 Day – Sofia – Boyana church – Dragalevski Monastery
Sightseeing tour of the Bulgarian capital Sofia, one of Europe’s oldest cities. See the churches of St. Nedelya and St. Petka of the Saddlers, the rotunda St. George, the Russian church St. Nicolas the Wondermaker, the Alexander Nevski Cathedral and the precious icon exhibition in the Crypt of the Cathedral. In the afternoon drive to the foot hills of the Vitosha Mountains to visit the Boyana Church (UNESCO World Cultural Heritage, valuable murals from the 10th-11th and 13th century) and Dragalevski monastery. Dinner in local restaurant in Sofia.
Overnight in Sofia (B, L, D)
3 Day – Rila Monastery – Melnik – Rozhen Monastery – Sandanski
After breakfast departure to the 10th century AD Rila Monastery, the biggest and most spectacular in Bulgaria, one of Europe’s oldest and included in UNESCO’s World Cultural Heritage List. Continue to Melnik – the smallest town in Bulgaria, known for the good wine and picturesque sandstone pyramids. Take a walk and enjoy lovely houses perched on the slopes of steep sandstone rocks. See the ethnographic house of Kordopulov dating back to the 17th century and sample the delicious local wine in the house’s cellar. Continue to the nearby Rozhen Monastery where you will find magnificent murals from 16th, 17th and 18th century and impressive wood carving work. Overnight in Melnik or Sandanski (B, L, D)
4 Day – Sandanski – Bansko – Plovdiv – Bachkovo Monastery
Departure to Plovdiv. En route visit Bansko museum town including a visit to the “Holy Trinity” church. Continue to Plovdiv – an ancient crossroads between East and West and Bulgaria’s second largest city. Visit the Old Quarter with its Ethnographic museum, 2nd c. AD Roman Amphitheatre and 4th century AD St. St. Constantine and Helena church, Lamartine’s house and Jumaya Mosque. Leave the city in the afternoon and drive through the gorges of the Rhodope Mountains to visit the country’s second largest Bachkovo Monastery. Explore the treasures of the monastery with wondrous 17th century frescoes in the church and the refectory. See the Ossuary-the only building of its type preserved on the peninsula.
Overnight in Plovdiv (B, L, D).
5 Day – Plovdiv – Kazanluk – Shipka – Sokolski Monastery – Dryanovo Monastery – Kilifarevo Monastery – Veliko Turnovo
Follow the route to the town of Kazanluk known as the capital of the Valley of the Roses. Trace the Thracian culture by visiting the Thracian Tomb in Kazanluk (4th century BC, UNESCO World Cultural Heritage) and the newly discovered tomb “Golyama Kosmatka”. See the golden domes of Shipka Monastery and continue to the Assumption Sokolski monastery with the famous stone fountain constructed by the master Kolyu Ficheto. Continue through the gorges of the Balkan Range and explore two major cultural centres from the Revival period – “St Archangel Michail” Dryanovo Monastery and the Kilifarevo Monastery.
Overnight in Veliko Turnovo (B, L, D).
6 Day – Veliko Turnovo – Preobrazhenski Monastery – Lyaskovski Monastery – Arbanssi
Sightseeing tour of Veliko Turnovo – the medieval capital of Bulgaria, situated amphitheatrically on 4 hills – Tsarevets, Trapezitsa, Momina Krepost and Sveta Gora, the ridges of which were indeed the deeply inclined steep banks of the Yantra river meanders. The old capital welcomes its visitors with impressive views – the Medieval fortress of Tsarevets and numerous churches and monasteries on the nearby hills. Visit the fortress and see the modern frescoes in the church, feel the spirit of traditions in the old church “St. Peter & Paul”. Take a walk along Samovodene market with its original workshops from the National Revival. Visit the Preobrazhesnki Monastery known for its valuable murals and wood carving work dating back to the 19th century. Continue to the Petropavlovski /Lyaskovski Monastery/ – one of the best preserved monasteries from that time, perches over the high and inaccessible rocks of the Arbanassi plateau. Follow the route to the old museum town Arbanassi – a monument architecture from the 17th-18th century. Visit the Nativity Church (16-17th c. AD) with amazing frescoes showing scenes from the New and Old Testament and the ethnographic house of Konstantsaliev.
Overnight in Veliko Turnovo (B, L, D).
7 Day – Veliko Turnovo – Troyan Monastery – Glozhene Monastery – Sofia
After breakfast the tour will take you to the Troyan Monastery – the third largest Bulgarian monastery the home of one of the holiest icons in Bulgarian Orthodoxy, the Three-Handed Virgin. Continue to the Glozhene Monastery – used many times by Vasil Levski during his secret missions. Continue to Sofia. Farewell dinner in a National restaurant with folklore program in Sofia. Overnight in Sofia (B, L, D).
8 Day – After breakfast transfer to Sofia Airport (B)