Authentic Bulgaria

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  • Overview
  • Itinerary
  • Dates
  • Shearings

  • Discover capital Sofia
  • Enjoy a Bulgarian folklore evening
  • See the historic sites of Veliko Tarnovo & Arbanassi
  • Discover Plovdiv – European Capital of Culture in 2019
  • Take a train journey through the Rhodopes Mountains
  • Taste the wines of the Struma River Valley

Step back in time, as our interesting new tour takes you to the heart of Bulgaria, from capital Sofia to the traditional village of Leshten, seeing historic sights and enjoying traditional food, wine and folkore along the way.

Starting and ending in Sofia, we take a circular tour with our knowledgeable guide, also staying in Veliko Tarnovo, Plovdiv, Leshten and Sandanski. As well as fascinating insight into each place from our guide, we'll also visit wonderful attractions including the Rila Monastery and a train ride through the Rhodopes Mountains.


Hotel Rosslyn Thracia (primary)

Situated in a quiet area of Sofia, the Rosslyn Thracia Hotel is ideally located close to beautiful and historic cultural sites. In hotel enjoy fantastic food and buffet breakfast in the on-site restaurant and then unwind in the lobby bar and terrace. All rooms have safe, dressing gown and wi-fi available.


Sofia city tour (Included)

We take a guided tour of Sofia, a unique city with a mix of communist architecture and beautiful Orthodox churches. We visit Boyana church, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to the importance of the many frescoes inside. The church is said therefore to be one of the best places to see examples of medieval Eastern art, dating to almost 1000 years ago in the world. After time at leisure to explore, tonight we'll enjoy dinner in a typical Bulgarian restaurant with a folklore show to enjoy. 

Arbanassi and Veliko Tarnovo (Included)

We travel to the pretty little village of Arbanassi, which is famous for its churches. Make sure to take a look inside the Nativity Church, the inside of which is covered in wall-to-wall frescoes, depicting scenes from the Bible. It's then just a short journey onto the mountain city of Veliko Tarnovo. The place has a rich history, being the former capital of the Bulgarian Empire and one of its greatest sights is the Tsarevets, the ancient castle from the times of its heyday.

Etara, Kazanlak and Tarnicheni (Included)

This excursion explores a region that was key to Bulgaria gaining its independence during the 18th century. We begin with a trip to the open air museum of Etara. The museum exhibits what life would have been like in this region during the Bulgarian National Revival of the 18th century and is a fascinating insight into the rich history of the Gabrovo area. Its then on to the city of Kazanlak where we'll have a guided city tour of this historic city known for its Thracian Tomb which dates back almost 2500 years. We then head into the mountains travelling through the Shipka Pass to the Shipka Monument which commemorates one of the most important battles of the Bulgarian Independence movement. The views from here across the surrounding countryside are magnificent. Our final stop today is in the village of Tarnicheni to one of the last rose distilleries, which used to be ubiquitous in the region, here we'll see how rose oil and water is made.

Plovdiv and Rhodopes Mountains (Included)

We begin today with a guided city tour of Plovdiv. The city is the second largest in Bulgaria and is the oldest continuously inhabited city in Europe, with an 8000 year history. This history is evident in some of the cities sights from different cultures, including the Roman Arena, the Ottoman Mosque and the Bulgarian Revival architecture of some of its central buildings. We then step aboard a train into the Rhodopes Mountains. The views as we ascend into the mountains will be spectacular, with lush green valleys, colossal canyons and pretty lakes. When we disembark we'll visit a carpet factory, to see how the woollen rugs and carpets that the region is famous for are made.

Harsovo wine tasting and Melnik (Included)

We travel to the village of Harsovo and the nearby vineyard of Villa Melnik for a wine tasting. You'll have a chance to sample some of the award-winning varieties as we spend some time here learning the history of the vineyard and the wine-producing heritage of the region. We then continue to Melnik a historic city, that is now the smallest in Bulgaria. It offers a striking view, with huge clifftops looming over the ancient centre.

Rila Monastery (Included)

We travel to the monastery at Rila, whose history dates back to the 10th century. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of Bulgaria's most important cultural and historical sites. Here you can see some of the finest frescoes and the architectural wonders of this beautiful monument. While here we'll enjoy lunch in a local restaurant, before making our way onward to Sofia.

  • Bulgaria
  • Sandanski
  • Leshten
  • Plovdiv
  • Veliko Tarnovo
  • Sofia
  • Europe
Tour Types
  • 50 plus
  • Cultural
  • City
  • Foodie
  • Rail
  • Seniors

Day 1: UK to Sofia
Fly to Sofia, where you will be met and transferred to the Hotel Rosslyn Thracia (or similar) for our two night stay.

Day 2: Sofia
After breakfast this morning, we will venture out to discover the vibrant Bulgarian capital city on our included tour. Our guide will tell us about the city’s history as we pass places of interest, including the Amphitheatre of Serdica and the Boiana Church, which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In St Nedelya Square, we will see where four different places of worship are located next to each other in a square, symbolizing the peace between different religions in the country. In the afternoon, there will be time at leisure to explore, before our dinner this evening, in a typical Bulgarian restaurant, with folklore show. (Breakfast, Dinner)

Day 3: Sofia to Veliko Tarnovo
We leave Sofia and head to the village of Arbanassi, famous for its ancient, richly decorated churches and magnificent architecture, formerly a residence of the Bulgarian Kings. We will have a local lunch here, before continuing to Bulgaria’s old capital - Veliko Tarnovo. We’ll see the historical hill Tsarevets and medieval fortress, the Patriarchal church and the Emperor Baldwin’s Tower. Later there will be chance to enjoy a stroll along the old Trade Street, before we settle in for our overnight stay at the Grand Hotel Yantra (or similar). (Breakfast, Lunch)

Day 4: Veliko Tarnovo to Plovdiv
Our first stop today will be in Etara, where we visit a unique open-air museum, reproducing the way of life of the local people in the 19th century. Then we continue to Kazanlak, located in the Valley of the Roses and the home of the Thracian Kings. On our way we pass the Stoletov Peak and see the Shipka monument, a memorial to those who died for the Liberation of Bulgaria during the Battles of Shipka Pass. In Kazanlak, we take a city tour, seeing the replica of Thracian Kazanlak Tomb, before we go on to Tarnicheni village and visit a family-run rose oil distillery. Later this afternoon we will reach Plovdiv, the oldest city in Europe, known as  the ‘City of the Seven Hills’. Plovdiv is a cultural centre of Bulgaria and is European Capital of Culture for 2019. Tonight we stay at the Ramada Plovdiv (or similar). (Breakfast, Dinner)

Day 5: Plovdiv to Leshten
After breakfast we’ll take a walking tour of the Old Town of Plovdiv, learning more about some of the key landmarks, including the fortress walls, the oldest church in the city and the Roman Stadium. Next we head to the Rhodopes Mountain to visit the unique carpet factory, producing giant carpets -this small family run factory has produced goods for world-famous customers. A lovely train ride through the mountains follows, before we continue to the scenic villages of Kovachevitsa and Leshten. Tonight we will stay in one of the charming local Leshten houses, where you can enjoy the unique atmosphere in this architectural reserve area. (Breakfast, Dinner)

Day 6: Leshten to Sandanski
Enjoy your morning in the calmness of Leshten village, before we travel through the picturesque southern parts of the Pirin Mountain to reach the Struma River valley, one of the most famous wine-growing regions in Bulgaria. After a local wine tasting, we continue to Melnik for a lunch stop, then arrive in the spa resort of Sandanski , where we stay tonight at the Interhotel (or similar). Relax and enjoy the hotel’s leisure facilities or why not venture out to see the city’s park and pedestrianised streets. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 7: Sandanski to Sofia
After breakfast we travel to visit the impressive Rila Monastery, Bulgaria’s largest spiritual centre, which is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Located in a picturesque mountain area, the Rila Monastery has a rich collection of icons and wall-paintings and the museum has a wooden cross of just 81 cm height, carved with 104 religious scenes and 650 figures. After lunch at a local restaurant, we make our way back to Sofia for our final overnight stay. (Breakfast, Lunch)

Day 8: Sofia to UK
After breakfast, you will be transferred to Sofia airport for the return flight home. (Breakfast)

You will have the option to book your own flights independently with the operator.

Dates Price Single Availability

Touring with Shearings

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tour details

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