Discover Bulgaria's history and scenery with experts Rowena Loverance or John Osborne. Begin in Sofia, visiting the National Historical Museum and its prehistoric Thracian treasures. Continue to the citadel of Veliko Tarnovo, Plovdiv Roman theatre 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 13th- and 14th-century capital of Bulgaria, where there will be time for a walk through the old streets. Stay 2 nights at Meridian Hotel Bolyarskí (or similar). (B, L, D)
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, L)
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, D)
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. Evening visit to a local winery for wine tasting and dinner. (B, L, D)
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, L)
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, L, 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 expertaccompanied tours focusing on creativity in its many forms. No prior knowledge of the subject matter is required. All tours can be viewed at CoxandKings.co.uk
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 accommodation. Please visit this tour on our website to see details of the hotels included.
This tour involves some long walks over uneven ground and therefore requires a good level of fitness.
Please note that the exclusive and individual nature of private visits means that they are subject to confirmation nearer the time of departure. Also churches, private houses and other buildings often have fluid opening times. If any visits have to be re-arranged, please be assured that we will seek alternatives of equal interest.
Rowena Loverance is a
Byzantine art historian who
has worked at the British
Museum and is a visiting
research fellow at King’s
John Osborne has taught
at Marlborough College
and in the Middle East. He
taught himself Bulgarian
and is writing a history of
can be taken privately on a date that suits
you, for which guideline prices are shown.
Alternatively, it can be tailored to your exact
requirements. Please call 020 3411 2135 or email Info@CoxandKings.co.uk.
This tour can be booked / reserved online by clicking on one of the coloured links below.
BUL2018: 8 Nights