Experience two little-known gems of the Balkans, Bulgaria and Macedonia, on this exciting 11-day cultural journey. Savour the Byzantine, Roman and Russian legacy of Sofia, then sample Bulgarian highlights such as Rila Monastery, a national and religious icon, and Veliko Tarnovo, the country’s medieval capital. Continue on to Macedonia, tour the ancient city of Ohrid, known as the slavic Jerusalem, wander Skopje’s scenic streets, and much more. This small group tour to Eastern Europe visits 4 UNESCO World Heritage Sites of outstanding universal value to mankind.
|Tour Duration||:||11 days|
|Min. Tour Size||:||02 persons|
|Max. Tour Size||:||08 persons|
|Tour Price (From)||:||US$ 2695|
|Includes international air|
Day 01: Arrive Sofia (BULGARIA)
Upon arrival, we are welcomed at the Sofia airport in Bulgaria’s capital city and transferred to our hotel. Check in time starts from 1500 hrs.
Overnight: Coop Hotel, Sofia (3 nights)
Day 02: Sofia
Today we enjoy an afternoon tour of stunning Sofia, a highlight of world heritage tours to Europe. Among the most impressive sites are the Alexander Nevski Cathedral, with its gold domed cubes dominating the city, St. Sophia church, for which the city is named, and the Monument of Tsar Liberator overlooking the building of the National Assembly. We also visit the Rotunda of St. George, which is the best preserved Byzantine building in Sofia, the Russian church St. Nikolas, Banya Bashi Mosque, the ruins of ancient Roman Serdica and the Parliament buildings. (B)
Day 03: Sofia/Rila/Sofia (Drive)
This morning we visit the Boyana Church*. The frescoes at this World Heritage Site date back to the 13th century and have outstanding artistic value. We head to the Rila Mountains, the highest mountains in the Balkans, and visit Rila Monastery*, a national icon for Bulgarians and a monument of the highest architectural and historic interest. Founded in the middle of the 10th century by St. Ivan of Rila, it played a key role in preserving Bulgarian culture and language over the centuries. We visit the monastery church with its amazing frescoes painted by the most well-known Bulgarian artists from the 19th century, as well as the monastery museum, which houses a rich collection of artifacts connected to the history of the monastery and the spread of Christianity in Bulgaria. (B, L)
Day 04: Sofia/Arbanassi/Veliko Tarnovo (Drive)
We proceed to Veliko Tarnovo, the medieval capital of Bulgaria. On the way, we visit the town of Koprivshtitsa, a remarkable historic reserve from the Bulgarian National Revival period which was the centre of the April Uprising in 1876. The town features a large number of architectural monuments from the period, most of which have been restored to their original glory. We will visit some of the famous museum-houses and continue to the village of Arbanassi, another jewel of Bulgarian Revival architecture. Here we visit the Church of Nativity with its outstanding murals. We arrive in Veliko Tarnovo for our overnight stay.
Overnight: Bolyarski Hotel, Veliko Tarnovo (1 night) (B, L)
Day 05: Veliko Tarnovo/Kazanlak/Plovdiv (Drive)
After breakfast, enjoy a sightseeing tour of Veliko Tarnovo – the medieval capital of Bulgaria. We visit the Tsarevets fortress where the Bulgarian kings once lived and walk along the oldest merchant street in town, called Samovodska Charshia. We then depart for the Etara open-air museum, which artfully explores Bulgarian customs, culture and craftsmanship. Drive to nearby Sokolski monastery, with its sky-blue church and frescoes of bright pure tones which diverge from traditional subjects. Cross the Balkan Mountains through the historical Shipka pass, which played a key role in the Russo-Turkish Liberation war for Bulgaria, before arriving in Kazanlak, the capital city in The Valley of Roses and The Valley of The Thracian Kings. We then visit the replica of the Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak*, the oldest discovered in the area, and the Kulata Ethnographic complex. We reach Plovdiv for our overnight stay.
Overnight: Ramada Trimonzium Hotel, Plovdiv (1 night) (B)
Day 06: Plovdiv/Bansko (Drive)
An exciting day ahead as we enjoy a comprehensive city tour of Plovdiv, Bulgaria’s second largest city after Sofia, designated the European capital of culture for 2019. With foundations dating back to the time of Troy and Mycenae, Plovdiv has well-preserved ruins from the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman periods. We explore the new part of the town, including the Roman Forum, Odeon and Stadium, before venturing into the old part of Plovdiv. Here we experience the House of Klianti, Plovdiv’s newest attraction, which proves a real architectural gem with its ceilings of golden threads and painted glass windows. We also visit an old pharmacy and learn about the old way of preparing and storing medicines. We then head to the ancient Roman theatre, dating to the 2nd century; Bachkovo Monastery, the second largest in Bulgaria and one of the oldest Eastern Orthodox monasteries in Europe; and the Cathedral Church of the Virgin Mary (dating from 1604), the place where a valuable icon of the Virgin Mary Eleusa from 1310 is kept (brought from Georgia). We then head to Bansko for our overnight stay.
Overnight: Ivan Rilski Hotel, Bansko (1 night) (B, D)
Day 07: Bansko/Tikvesh (MACEDONIA)/Bitola (Drive)
Today’s journey takes us to Macedonia. We drive through scenic greenery and quaint villages to reach Kavadarci, a city famous for its production of grapes and wines. We will visit one of the largest wineries in South Eastern Europe, Tikves in the town of Kavadarci, and enjoy a wine tasting followed by lunch. We then proceed to the second largest city of Macedonia, Bitola. Walking through the longest pedestrian street in the country, we will get to experience the local culture and stunning architecture, featuring ancient mosques, churches, a clock tower and a trade center from the 15th century.
Overnight: Millenium Palace Hotel, Bitola (1 night) (B, L)
Day 08: Bitola/Sveti Naum/Ohrid (Drive)
We visit the Ethnic Museum in the area, which has the richest private collection of folk costumes and other items in Macedonia. We then stop in Brajchino, a village located in Pelister National Park, to visit a local home for tea and homemade cookies. Next journey across Galichica National Park, featuring panoramic views of both Ohrid and Prespa Lakes. We drive along Ohrid Lake to the St. Naum monastery complex for a visit before continuing to Ohrid.
Overnight: Millenium Palace Hotel, Ohrid (1 night) (B, D)
Day 09: Ohrid/Skopje (Drive)
Today we tour the ancient city of Ohrid*, also called the Slavic Jerusalem. Picturesquely situated along the shores of Lake Ohrid, the city is undoubtedly Macedonia’s most beautiful and attractive. Ohrid boasts over 2500 years of history, notable architecture and 365 churches. We will visit some of the most important highlights, such as St. John Kaleo Church, the Roman Theatre, St. Sophia Church, Plaoshnik and more, before driving to Skopje in the afternoon.
Overnight: Ibis Hotel, Skopje (2 nights) (B)
Day 10: Skopje/Cave Vrelo/Skopje (Drive)
We enjoy some morning sightseeing in Skopje and see some of the major highlights of the town: the old clock, which reminds of the earthquake in 1963, Mother Teresa's Memorial House, the Stone Bridge, the church of St. Dimitrija, Daut Pasha Bath, the church of St. Spas, Mustafa Pasha Mosque and the fortress called Kale, the symbol of the city. In the afternoon, we visit Matka Lake and enjoy a boat trip to the entrance of cave Vrelo, one of the deepest underwater caves in Europe. (B)
Day 11: Depart Skopje
Check out time is by 1100 hrs. Free time to explore the city, before our transfer to the airport after our incredible journey of the cultural and natural heritage of Bulgaria and Macedonia. Or continue our adventure with one of Bestway’s other exciting small group journeys around the world. (B)
B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner
English Speaking Departures (Please contact us for information on French, German, Italian and Spanish speaking departures).
Every Monday, Thursday & Friday
|Departure(s)||Per Person on Twin Sharing||Single Room Supplement|
|2019||US$ 2695 CA$ 3639||US$ 295 CA$ 399|
|2020||US$ 2965 CA$ 4003||US$ 325 CA$ 439|
Estimated International Airfare
(International airfare is NOT included in this tour)
This tour operates on a minimum of 02 and a maximum of 08 participants
If you would like to have a tour on dates other than the above ones or with a customised itinerary, please contact us and we will be happy to work out an exclusive program for you.
You may e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-604-264-7378. Residents of U.S.A./Canada may call us toll free at 1-800-663-0844.
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