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Bulgaria And Romania Revealed

Romania & Bulgaria

From

2890 

Duration

17 days

Languages Support

English

Tour Description

Take the journey of a lifetime and experience true immersion in the history and splendor of southeastern Europe. Begin your tour in the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, and continue to the gorgeous village of Koprivshtitsa. At Starosel, visit the recently-discovered Thracian Royal Mausoleum. Arrive in Plovdiv, a beautiful artistic haven, and Kazanlak, where you’ll tour the celebrated Thracian Tomb.

The beautiful peninsula of Nessebar awaits. You’ll find picturesque cobblestone streets and lovely little restaurants overlooking the sea here. In Varna, explore its collection of ancient gold. Explore Tsarevets Fortress in Veliko Tarnovo, a mecca for traditional Bulgarian crafts.

Drive into the wild Transylvanian landscape to Poienari Fortress for photos of Vlad the Impaler’s actual castle. At Sibiu, tour the most fortified of all Saxon cities. Explore the Corvin Castle, Alba Iulia’s fortress, and the astounding salt mines at Turda, then cross the Carpathians toward Maramures and its wooden churches; visit a traditional market, and absorb the old-world atmosphere.

In Bucovina, visit the painted monasteries, then learn about the ancient arts of egg-painting and black pottery. Drive through the breathtaking Bicaz Gorges to Sighisoara, the only inhabited citadel in Europe. Visit the home of a family of Gypsies — a rare opportunity. In rural Viscri, meet traditional craftspeople. Finally, tour Bran Castle and the extravagant Peles Castle.

If you’re looking for different tour options in Bulgaria and Romania or have specific preferences, feel free to explore our alternative Bulgaria & Romania tours or reach out to us for a personalized experience tailored just for you!

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Tour Inquiry Form

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Included / Excluded

  • The possibility of having your itinerary customised at no extra charge
  • Great flexibility regarding changes to the daily itinerary even after the start of the tour
  • A private, licensed English speaking guide/driver, available throughout the tour
  • All guide's expenses (meals, accommodation, etc.)
  • Private transportation in air conditioned car
  • All car expenses, such as gasoline, parking and road tolls
  • Complimentary wireless internet access in the car, so that you can stay in touch with your loved ones even while traveling
  • Entrance fees as per the itinerary, with guided visits. If you wish to add any sight on the go, the guide will always be available with information during the visit
  • Accommodation as per the hotel list on the itinerary page (we can also offer a different selection of hotels, based on your preference)
  • Breakfast every day
  • One dinner with folklore show in Plovdiv, Bulgaria
  • Three home cooked dinners
  • Airport transfers
  • Airfare to and from Romania or Bulgaria
  • Meals or beverages, other than the included ones
  • Credit card fees (3.25%). We offer you the possibility of paying by domestic bank transfer (for the U.S.A., Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom)
  • Photo fees (some sights require the payment of a fee for allowing you to take pictures - they are mostly inexpensive, around 2 or 3 euro/sight)
  • Gratuities for your guide (entirely up to your discretion)

Tour Itinerary

Arrive in Sofia, meet your guide, and settle into the centrally - located Hotel Niky, the perfect starting point for experiencing the fresh, renewed culture of the city.

In the afternoon, enjoy a guided walk along Sofia’s yellow-paved streets, visiting the spectacular domed Aleksandar Nevski Cathedral, the Parliament, the Presidency, and the 4th-century St. George’s Rotunda.

*Please note that if you experience a delayed arrival in Sofia for any reason, the city tour can be broken into two parts: the afternoon of your arrival day and the following morning.

Overnight in Sofia, Hotel Niky*** (centrally located)

Today, take a day trip from Sofia to Rila Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Founded by Bulgaria’s 10th-century patron saint, it is considered one of the country’s holiest sites. This architectural masterpiece played an essential role in Bulgarian cultural preservation throughout the Middle Ages and well into the 19th century when exquisite restoration work produced frescoes and icons by prominent masters.

In the afternoon, continue your day with a visit to the breathtaking Boyana Church (also a UNESCO World Heritage Site), located on Sofia’s outskirts. Built over more than six centuries, the church is famous for its well-preserved, realistic Byzantine-style frescoes.

Return to Sofia Old Town in the afternoon, and spend the rest of the day at leisure.

Overnight in Sofia, Hotel Niky*** (centrally located)

Bid farewell to Sofia and head east to the picturesque town of Plovdiv. The first stop along the way: the quaint little town of Koprivshitsa. Narrow cobblestoned streets wind through the village famous for architecture dating to the 19th-century Bulgarian National Revival period. Join your guide on a stroll; 400 of Bulgaria’s most well-preserved traditional houses are all within range.

Continue through the beautiful countryside to Starosel, your first encounter with the Thracians of antiquity. Visit the largest Thracian Royal Mausoleum complex ever found in Bulgaria, dating back to the 6th century B.C. Discovered only recently, its expansive range covers six underground temples. You are free to explore the Chetinyova Mogila temple, the only one currently open to the public.

Arrive in Plovdiv later that afternoon.

Overnight in Plovdiv, Hotel Evmolpia*** (located in the Old Town)

Explore Plovdiv, one of the oldest cities in Europe. Originally a Thracian settlement, Plovdiv later evolved into a key Greek and Roman stronghold. It features a vibrant artistic, bohemian atmosphere with prominent artists, galleries, and cozy bistros. During your guided walk, visit the ancient Roman theater of Philippopolis and the Ethnographical Museum, located in one of the oldest houses in Plovdiv and one of the best museums of its kind in Bulgaria.

In the afternoon, explore the surrounding area: an hour’s drive to the south brings you to Asenova fortress, perched on a vertiginous rocky ridge in the Rhodopi Mountains. Initially a Thracian settlement, it was employed strategically during the Middle Ages to guard the road from Plovdiv to the Aegean Sea.

Further south, visit Bachkovo Monastery, a unique amalgamation of Byzantine, Georgian, and Bulgarian architecture. The church keeps several Orthodox frescoes known for the miraculous healing icon of the Virgin Mary, which attracts thousands of pilgrims each year.

Overnight in Plovdiv, Hotel Evmolpia*** (located in the Old Town)

Today, take off for the Black Sea coast. On the way, stop at Kazanlak in the Valley of Roses to visit the Thracian Tomb (UNESCO World Heritage Site). Please note: you will visit the replica, as visits to the original are rarely possible. Discovered in 1944, the tomb dates from the Hellenistic period and was part of a large Thracian necropolis featuring extensive murals, Bulgaria’s only completely-preserved Hellenistic masterpieces.

Nessebar’s old town (UNESCO World Heritage Site) is more than 3000 years old. Only a narrow strip of land connects this jewel to the mainland. Nessebar contains beautiful old churches and houses along with an active fishing settlement. Its narrow cobblestoned streets and lovely little restaurants overlook the sea, and the smell of the saltwater is constantly in the air.

Overnight in Nessebar, Hotel „Saint John Baptist“ Nesebar****  (located in the Old Town)

Morning brings a drive to Varna. As you arrive in Bulgaria’s summer capital, pass by the historic train station – the first in the country to provide the essential commercial link between Europe and Istanbul. Enjoy a short stop at the port to enjoy the delightful view. Along the beautiful Sea Garden, pass by the Maritime Museum, the old Greek neighborhood, and the Roman baths’ ruins. Tour the Archeological Museum to witness Varna’s ancient Gold, the world’s oldest and most priceless gold treasure.

In the afternoon, continue to Veliko Tarnovo, the medieval capital of Bulgaria. Along the way, take a short detour to another monument from UNESCO’s World Heritage list: the Madara Horseman, an important symbol of the Bulgarian state. Dating to 710 A.D., this massive relief cut into high vertical rock depicts a horse and rider, possibly representing a military victory or Thracian god.

Upon arrival in Veliko Tarnovo, your guide will take you on a short orientation stroll, and then you will have the rest of the day at leisure.

Overnight in Veliko Tarnovo, Hotel Yantra**** (located in the Old Town)

In the morning, discover Veliko Tarnovo. Take a stroll in the Old Town, where you will find charming handcraft shops and discover icon painting, woodcarving, weaving, coppersmithing, and silversmithing.

Next, discover Tsarevets, a fortification and church high on a majestic hill, seat of kings and the Bulgarian patriarch during the Second Bulgarian Kingdom. View the fortress walls and watchtowers, the Patriarch’s church, and Baldwin Tower.

Later, take a short drive to the village of Arbanassi, a small architectural gem of the 17th and 18th centuries. The village enjoyed the favor of an Ottoman sultan and became the residence of rich and powerful merchants. You will visit Konstantzalieva house and learn about the everyday life of a wealthy 17th-century family and the Nativity church, built when the Ottoman rule restricted religious architecture.

In the afternoon, begin driving north, bound for the Romanian border and Bucharest. Enjoy a city tour of the Romanian capital upon arrival.

With a population of just over 2 million, Bucharest is the largest city between Berlin and Athens. Nicknamed “the little Paris” after World War I, Bucharest today is a city of immense contrasts. Traces of bohemian times can still be found, especially in the French residential architecture and surviving churches scattered throughout the capital.

Overnight in Bucharest, Hotel Capitol**** (centrally located)

The medieval Transylvanian city of Sibiu is your destination today. Along the way, stop at the Curtea de Arges Cathedral, an architectural tour de force featuring cupolas that seem to lean, twist and float into the sky. Built in the early 1500s, it the resting place of the Romanian royal family and one of the most spectacular churches in all of Romania.

Head north to take photos of the ruins of Poienari Fortress, home and castle of Vlad the Impaler. Legend has it that he built it by enslaving nobility arrested under charges of treason. Few survived to see the castle completed; the almost total inaccessibility of the location prevented their rescue.

Continue your journey along the breathtaking Transfagarasan road. Dubbed “the best road in the world” by the BBC Top Gear team, the Transfagarasan crosses the Carpathians at an altitude over 2000 meters (6000 ft).

Arrive in Sibiu in the afternoon, and check into your hotel. Your guide will take you on a walking tour of the medieval old town, the most developed of all seven Saxon cities. As a crucial trading post, Sibiu was often attacked and had no less than seven concentric walls around the city.

*Please note the Transfagarasan road is open only between June and September. If your tour takes place outside this period, you will travel on the road going along the Olt river valley

Overnight in Sibiu, Hotel Art**** (located in the Old Town)

Today, stray off the beaten track and head further into Transylvania, traveling west toward the Hunedoara region.

Explore the fabulous Hunyad Castle, built in Gothic style in the 15th century by a prominent Transylvanian nobleman and Hungary Regent. According to legend, Vlad the Impaler, or Dracula, spent a few years here as a prisoner after being overthrown in 1462.

Continue to the Densus Church, built atop a Roman Temple, believed to be the oldest church in Romania.

In the afternoon, drive to Alba Iulia, capital of Transylvania between 1541 and 1690. Transylvania’s union with the rest of the country was proclaimed here on December 1, 1918 (Romania’s National Holiday). The town’s most impressive highlight is its Vauban – style fortress, beautifully restored in recent years.

Overnight in Alba Iulia, Vila Preciosa*** (located next to the Citadel)

Today, drive toward Maramures, where local traditions and culture have changed almost imperceptibly over time. On the way, stop in the small town of Turda to visit the salt mines. Salina Turda, one of the oldest in the area, features soaring, cavernous chambers with fabulous acoustics, underground lakes, and giant, illuminated machinery.

Your next stop is the city of Cluj Napoca, one of Transylvania’s major urban centers. It boasts one of the best universities in Romania, hence the youthful, lively atmosphere in the streets. Join your guide for a stroll in the central area of Cluj.

Afterward, head north to view the famous wooden architecture and carved gates of Maramures, surrounded by vast forest and woodlands. Visit the 1766 church in Surdesti (UNESCO World Heritage Site), until recently the tallest wooden church in the world.

Overnight in the village of Breb, Pensiunea Lucia***, home cooked dinner included.

Spend a full day exploring Maramures, where you will learn about traditional culture and visit a plum brandy distillery along with a “vâltoare,” a man-made whirlpool still used by locals for washing their wool carpets.

Mingle with the locals and sample delicacies at a colorful local market before visiting Merry Cemetery in Sapanta. Since 1935, colorful wooden crosses painted in naïve style have encrusted this landmark. Hand-painted imagery and truthful epitaphs describing the deceased’s life convey a lighter view of death that may well trace its lineage back to the Dacians.

Next, stop at the tallest wooden structure in the world: the church at Peri. Recently built in the old style, it stands as testimony to local traditional craftsmanship’s extraordinary level.

Drive on to the nearby city of Sighetu Marmatiei and visit the Memorial to the Victims of Communism. Learn how the Communists, in the late 1940s, established a reign of terror over citizens punished for “thought crime.”

Overnight in the village of Breb, Pensiunea Lucia***, home cooked dinner included.

Take a northeasterly drive to Bucovina, famous for its painted monasteries. Along the way, discover the lovely monastic complex at Barsana. Stop for a visit to the workshop of the most famous woodcarver in Maramures. His gates, featuring intricate patterns, are the pride of the area. His art is well-known abroad, and examples of his work can be found as far away as the United States.

Next, stop at the Ieud wooden church (UNESCO World Heritage Site), the oldest of its kind in Romania.

In the afternoon, cross the eastern Carpathians and start your descent into Bucovina. Your first stop will be the village of Ciocanesti. The locals take great pride in their beautiful houses, heavily ornate with floral and geometric motifs.

Arrive in Gura Humorului in the late afternoon.

Overnight in Gura Humorului, Hotel Buchenland****

After breakfast, set out to discover Romania’s famous painted monasteries, each famous for a specific fresco and color.

Start the day by visiting the monasteries of Humor and Voronet. Humor is famous for its vivid frescoes, with red as the predominant color, while Voronet, the “Sistine of the East,” is known for its Last Judgement.

Stop off for a visit to a museum established by a world-renowned egg painting artist. Egg painting is one of the traditional art forms in Bucovina, and it is one of the most expressive mixtures of secular art with religious symbolism and tradition.

In the afternoon, visit the remaining two monasteries at Moldovita and Sucevita. At Moldovita, the predominant color is yellow, and the most famous fresco depicts the Siege of Constantinople. The monastery at Sucevita, dating to the 17th century, is the largest and boasts an impressive fortification system.

Return to Gura Humorului in the afternoon.

Overnight in Gura Humorului, Hotel Buchenland****

Today, head back to southern Transylvania by way of a spectacular route tracing through the Bicaz Gorges. The view is utterly breathtaking, and you will have the chance to do some souvenir shopping at local shops.

Take in the cultural riches of the Nicolae Popa Ethnographic Museum, where the naïve sculptor accumulated a vast legacy of Romanian folkloric art. You’ll also see original works by the sculptor.

Stop along the way for an intriguing experience in a Roma (Gypsy) village. Learn more about these fascinating, often misunderstood people by visiting the home of the Gabor family. It is very rare for Gypsies to open their homes to strangers, but you will be able to discover their culture, history, and traditional attire (you can even try it on!). Interesting conversations occur over a glass of homemade brandy as you get the answers to all of your questions about the Gypsies.

Upon your arrival in Sighisoara, your guide will take you on a short orientation walk.

Overnight in Sighisoara, Fronius Residence***** (located inside the Sighisoara citadel)

In Sighisoara, the upper town’s fortification system is still largely intact, making it one of the few inhabited citadels in Europe. Upon arrival, you will enjoy a guided walk through the Old Town (UNESCO World Heritage Site) and visit the History Museum inside the 800-year-old clock tower. From the top, enjoy a magnificent view of the Old Town and Arms Museum, then ascend the covered wooden staircase, built in the 1600s, to the Church on the Hill, a beautiful example of 14th-century Gothic architecture.

Continue to the Biertan fortified church (UNESCO World Heritage Site). The Saxons used this architecture style extensively in Transylvanian villages in the 13th and 15th centuries to protect themselves against invasions. These churches are known as “peasant fortified churches” because they were constructed and maintained by locals. The Biertan church was the last to be built according to this pattern in the early 16th century. For the next 200 years, it served as the Transylvanian Archbishop’s seat, thus becoming one of the most important churches in the region.

Before noon, depart for Viscri, a traditional Transylvanian village filled with colorful old houses — the perfect stop for travelers wishing to truly escape the beaten track and experience Transylvania’s incomparable rural charm.

Upon arrival in Viscri, explore the famous 12th-century Gothic fortified church in the village (UNESCO World Heritage Site). Then, during the afternoon, visit the village blacksmith, famous for his iron chandeliers.

Overnight in Viscri, Viscri 125 B&B****, home cooked dinner included

Depart Viscri, heading for Brasov. On way, visit one of the most famous sights in Romania, Bran Castle (also known as Dracula’s Castle).

In the afternoon, join your guide for a walk in Brasov’s Old Town. Discover the Black Church (the largest Gothic cathedral in southeastern Europe) and the Old Town square, surrounded by the beautiful houses of wealthy merchants of the past. Visit the ancient city walls, the bastions, and the first Romanian school, a site of national importance for all Romanians.

Spend the afternoon at leisure. You may choose to do some exploring on your own, or your guide can suggest additional sights.

Overnight in Brasov, Hotel Schuster*** (located in the Old Town)

Depart Brasov and strike out for the mountains of Transylvania, arriving in Sinaia. Visit Peles Castle, the astounding 19th-century residence of Carol I, Romania’s first king. The interior is exquisite, with Carrara marble, Murano chandeliers, Venetian mirrors, and exquisite walls carved in forty wood types.

Stop for a visit to the Sinaia monastery, the building around which the town later developed.

Arrival to Bucharest in the afternoon.

Overnight in Bucharest, Hotel Capitol**** (centrally located)

Today marks the end of your adventure in Bulgaria and Romania. You will be transferred to the airport for the flight home.

Tour Information

Duration

17 days

Languages Support

English

Highlights Of The Tour:

Discover 12 of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Bulgaria and Romania.
Explore the most famous medieval towns in the two countries: Plovdiv, Veliko Tarnovo and Nessebar in Bulgaria and then Sibiu, Sighisoara and Brasov in Romania.
Explore Maramures in northern Romania – the area where traditions and local culture have scarcely altered over the centuries.
Tour the stunning UNESCO painted monasteries of Bucovina and learn about their crucial role in the history of the Romanians.
Tour Romania’s most famous castles: Peles, Bran (a.k.a. Dracula’s Castle) and Corvin (Hunyadi).
Visit a family of Transylvanian Gypsies in their home, a great opportunity to learn more about their culture and lifestyle.
Enjoy centrally located 3 & 4 star hotels, perfect for exploring on own.

Total Distance Traveled:

3500 km / 2200 mi

Places Visited:

Sofia | Rila monastery | Koprivshtitsa | Plovdiv | Kazanlak | Nessebar | Varna | Veliko Tarnovo & Arbanassi | Bucharest | Sibiu | Hunyad, Peles and Bran Castles | Alba Iulia | Maramures (area of the wooden churches) | Bucovina (UNESCO painted monasteries) | Sighisoara | Viscri | Brasov

Tour Price:

  • Single traveler: from 6945 euro pp
  • 2 travelers: from 3770 euro pp
  • 3 travelers: from 2890 euro pp
  • 4 travelers: from 2920 euro pp
  • For a different number of travelers, please contact us

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