Discover Bulgaria's historical monuments
and mountain scenery with experts
Rowena Loverance or John Osborne.
Begin in Sofia, visiting the National
Historical Museum and its prehistoric
Thracian treasures. Continue to Veliko
Tarnovo, with its stunningly situated
citadel, and the Roman theatre at
Plovdiv. Further stops include the
Thracian tomb at Kazanlak, and Rila
and Bachkovo monasteries.
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Fly from London (regional connections available)
to Sofia with British Airways. Transfer to the
hotel and take a short orientation walk. After
a welcome dinner in a local restaurant, stay 2
nights at Arena di Serdica Hotel (or similar). (D)
This morning, take a walking tour of Sofia. Visit
the impressive Alexander Nevski Memorial
Cathedral, built to commemorate the Russian
soldiers who fought and died in Bulgaria’s war of
independence in 1877-78, and the churches of
St Sophia and St George, both dating from the
late Roman and early Byzantine period. Pass the
former royal palace, now the National Art Gallery
and Ethnographic Museum. In the afternoon,
visit the National Historical Museum, recently
re-located to the former president’s palatial
residence on the slopes of Mount Vitosha to
the south of the city. The museum contains
the celebrated Thracian treasures – beautiful
silver and gold vessels from prehistoric Bulgaria,
contemporary with classical Greece. (B)
Drive north-east over the Balkan mountain
range to Troyan monastery. One of the country’s
most renowned, it has fine timbered courtyards
and a beautiful frescoed church. In the
afternoon, continue to Veliko Tarnovo, the 13thand
14th-century capital of Bulgaria, where
there will be time for a walk through the old
streets. Stay 2 nights at Meridian Hotel Bolyarski
(or similar). (B)
In the morning walk up to the Tsarevets, the
old royal citadel, with impressive fortifications
overlooking the gorge of the River Yantra on
three sides, and to the restored patriarchate at
the summit. Continue to Arbanasi village, where
the highlights are the Church of the Nativity,
with its complete set of 17th-century frescoes,
perhaps the finest set in any church in Bulgaria;
and the Konstantsalieva House, a ‘museum
house’, formerly the home of one of the village’s
wealthy merchants. In the afternoon, return to
Veliko Tarnovo to visit the restored medieval
Church of St Peter and St Paul. (B)
Drive south into the Balkan range to the
dramatic summit of the Shipka Pass, the
site of a crucial battle in Bulgaria’s war of
independence. At the foot of the mountain,
pass the Shipka Memorial Church, built in
colourful Russian style in memory of those
who died in the struggle. Proceed to nearby
Kazanluk to see the Thracian tomb with its fine
Hellenistic frescoes, and visit the Archaeological
Museum, where some spectacular, recently
excavated finds from nearby Thracian royal
tombs are displayed. Afternoon drive to Plovdiv,
Bulgaria’s second city, for 2 nights at Ramada
Plovdiv Trimontium Hotel (or similar) in the
pedestrianised city centre. (B)
Walking tour through the picturesque cobbled
streets of old Plovdiv. See the remains of the Byzantine city walls and well-preserved
timbered town houses dating from the end
of the Ottoman period. Visit the Church of
St Constantine and St Helena, beautifully
refashioned in the 19th century; the restored
Roman theatre, impressively situated
overlooking the main city centre; and one of
the elegant ‘museum houses’. In the afternoon,
drive a short distance into the Rhodope
mountains to the 11th-century Bachkovo
monastery, an attractive ensemble of buildings,
where the refectory and the ossuary will
be specially opened to show the wonderful
medieval frescoes. Optional evening visit to a
local winery for wine tasting and dinner. (B)
Drive to Koprivshtitsa, a conservation village
situated among the wooded hills of the Sredna
Gora, where the April Uprising of 1876 began.
Explore the traditional streets on foot and
visit one or two of the numerous 19th-century
wooden museum houses. In the afternoon
return to Sofia and stay 2 nights at Arena di
Serdica Hotel (or similar). (B)
Full-day visit to Rila, which is beautifully
situated in a forested mountain valley to the
south of Sofia. Founded in the 10th century,
this monastery has a wonderful church and an
imposing, arched courtyard with fine wooden
galleries and balconies. Farewell dinner in a
local restaurant accompanied by a lively folklore
display and traditional music. (B, D)
Morning visit to the tiny, medieval church at
Boyana, on the southern outskirts of Sofia. It has a series of frescoes dating from 1259. Transfer to
the airport for a flight back to London. (B)
As per itinerary – B: Breakfast,
L: Lunch, D: Dinner, N: No meals.
A collection of expert-accompanied tours focusing
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This tour is fully escorted
throughout by a lecturer who has specialist
knowledge of the destination and its culture, as
well as an experienced local guide.
Based in 3- and 4-star
This tour involves some long walks
over uneven ground and therefore requires a
good level of fitness.
Rowena Loverance is a
Byzantine art historian,
specialising in sculpture,
mosaics and icons. She
worked for more than 20
years at the British Museum
and is a visiting research
fellow at King’s College, London.
John Osborne is a graduate
in Classics from Cambridge
University and has taught
at Marlborough College
and in the Middle East. He
has developed a particular
interest in the history and
culture of south-east Europe, especially
the architecture of the region, and has led
many tours to this area. He taught himself
Bulgarian and is writing a history of Bulgaria.
Arena di Serdica is a boutique hotel located in the heart of Sofia, right next to the main cultural and historical places of interest. The distance from the hotel to Sofia International Airport is 10 km. This hotel has 64 spacious and elegantly furnished rooms, a lobby bar and a roof top restaurant. The ruins of a Roman amphitheatre dating back to the 3rd century AD are also exposed in the grounds of the...
The unique architecture of The Rachev Hotel Bolyarski's 15 floors offers clients comfortable rooms and views over the river and the Veliko Turnovo Hills. Clients can take advantage of the hotel's two restaurants, panoramic lobby bar, piano bar and indoor swimming...
Built in 1956, the 4-star Ramada Plovdiv Trimontium is ideally located just walking distance from the city centre and historic sites nearby. The Plovdiv Roman theatre, also known as the Plovdiv Amphitheatre, is also within walking distance, and an ideal in which to experience ancient Bulgarian entertainment.
Facilities: 158 rooms; 3 restaurants; 2 bars; swimming pool; fitness centre and sauna; Wi-Fi.
Room amenities: Air conditioning; minibar; hairdryer; television.
Please note, the hotel swimming pool will be closed until mid-September...
A graduate in Classics from Cambridge University, John taught at Marlborough College and also in the Middle East. He has developed a particular interest in the history and culture of south-east Europe, especially the architecture of the region, and has led many tours to this area in recent years.
Rowena Loverance is a Byzantine art historian, specialising in sculpture, mosaics and icons. She worked for more than 20 years at the British Museum and is a visiting research fellow at King’s College, London. She wrote a book on Christian art as well as the illustrated Byzantium.
Regional air connections are available from within the UK. Please contact your travel consultant for current prices from your nearest city.
We can also arrange flights from overseas, simply give us a call to find out more.
If you choose to take the tour without flights arranged through Cox & Kings, please contact one of our travel consultants prior to booking the flights to ensure that you are aware of the tour timings and all the implications of not booking through us. We strongly advise you not to book flights independently of Cox & Kings if significant charges would apply in case of cancellation.
Flight details may be subject to change prior to departure.
Fly to Varna and stay at the Azalia Hotel &
Spa / Astera Hotel & Spa for 3 nights. Varna is
an atmospheric city on the Black Sea Coast.
It is home to the largest and most impressive
museum in Bulgaria and the most extensive
archaeological ruins in the country. Includes
This tour can be booked / reserved online by clicking on one of the coloured links below.
BUL2017: 8 Nights