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Highlights of Bulgaria and Transylvania

Bulgaria & Transylvania

From

1435 

Duration

8 days

Languages Support

English

Tour Description

Begin your tour in the vibrant Bulgarian capital of Sofia. Visit the 11th-century Boyana Church before venturing into the mountains to the Eastern Orthodox Rila Monastery, built 1147 meters above sea level.

In Plovdiv, the site of an ancient Thracian settlement, you’ll tour the Old Town, Roman Stadium, and Antique Theater. In Kazanlak, a significant producer of precious Bulgarian rose oil, visit the celebrated 4th-century B.C. Thracian Tomb.

On the way to Veliko Tarnovo, traverse the breathtaking Shipka Pass. Visit the medieval Tsarevets Fortress, and explore Samovodene Street, a treasure trove of local Bulgarian crafts.

Next, tour the village of Arbanassi, filled with houses from the 17th and 18th centuries. Tour Konstantzalieva House and learn about the daily life of a wealthy 17th-century family.

Cross the Romanian border to Bucharest for a city tour, then visit the 14th-century Curtea de Arges monastery, haunted by tragic legends. At Poienari Fortress, take photos of Vlad the Impaler’s actual castle.

In Sibiu, tour the quintessential Saxon city, known for its extensive fortifications. In Sighisoara, a beautifully-preserved medieval citadel, enjoy the view from the 13th-century Clock Tower. Take a picturesque covered staircase to the Gothic Church on the Hill. Discover the ancient village life and long-forgotten crafts brought back to life in the exquisite Transylvanian village of Viscri.

Proceed to legendary Bran Castle, then visit Sinaia Monastery and Peles Castle, the extravagant 19th-century royal residence. Wind up your tour at the mysterious island monastery of Snagov.

If you’re looking for different tour options in 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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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 or minivan (depending on the number of travelers joining)
  • All car/minivan expenses, such as gasoline, parking and road tolls
  • Complimentary wireless internet access in the car/minivan, 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 home cooked dinner in the village of Viscri
  • 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 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, Bulgaria, and greet your guide; then regain your equilibrium at Hotel Niky, a cozy home base for your immersion in the buzzing, vibrant energy of this modern city.

In the afternoon, revel in a guided walk through Sofia’s streets, magnificently paved in yellow-painted brick. You’ll visit the stunning Aleksandar Nevski Cathedral, the Neo-Renaissance main building of the National Assembly, and the Early Christian 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, we will discover 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.

End the day in Plovdiv.

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

With your guide, wind your way through historic Plovdiv, 6000 years old and one of the most ancient cities in all of Europe. Named Eumolpias by the Thracians, Philippoupolis by the Greeks, and Trimontium (Three Hills) by the Romans, Plovdiv only received its modern name in the 11th century. It is now imbued with progressive, avant-garde culture and boasts a thriving artistic community. Stroll through the ancient Roman Theater and visit the Ethnographic Museum, housed in the 1847 Kuyumdzhioglu House; with its exquisitely curved roofline, it stands as a beautiful representation of the Baroque-inspired architecture of the time.

Afterward, move on to Kazanlak, situated at the foot of the Balkans amidst Bulgaria’s famous rose fields. Here, you’ll visit the extraordinary Thracian Tomb (UNESCO World Heritage Site). Please be aware that you will tour the replica, as visits to the original site are seldom allowed. The impressive Thracian necropolis, constructed during the Hellenistic era, displays superb murals, representing Bulgaria’s only completely-preserved Hellenistic works of art.

Next, journey on toward Veliko Tarnovo, the medieval Bulgarian capital. You’ll travel there via the high mountain views of the Shipka Pass and receive a fascinating description of local history and culture on the way. You’ll visit the onion-domed Russian Church in the village of Shipka and the historical marker at Shipka Peak—a sacred place for all Bulgarians, built in honor of their valorous ancestors.

Arrive in Veliko Tarnovo in the late afternoon.

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

Morning brings an intriguing tour of Veliko Tarnovo. Stroll through the Old Town and sift through the wares offered in the lovely handcraft shops. Learn about the living art, textile, and metalworking traditions.

Next, venture on to 12th-century Tsarevets, a high fortification and palace that served as Bulgaria’s strongest medieval fortresses. The imposing and highly strategic edifice historically functioned as a primary royal residence and religious patriarchs’ home. Investigate the three-meter-thick fortress walls and the towers, throne room, and site of the old drawbridge.

Later, take a short trip to the village of Arbanassi, a beautiful little town rich with examples of 17th- and 18th-century architecture. The town formerly benefitted from Ottoman support and became a center for the wealthy and privileged. Visit Konstantzalieva House, and become familiar with the quotidian life of an affluent 17th-century family. Tour the intriguing Nativity of Christ Church, built partially underground due to Ottoman restrictions.

In the afternoon, travel on to Bucharest. You’ll begin your discovery of the Romanian capital as soon as you arrive. Here, in Europe’s sixth-largest city and glimmering hub of industry, transportation, and the arts, you’ll find a lavish mix of architectural styles: neoclassical, Bauhaus, Art Deco, Communist-period, and ultramodern/contemporary. Let your guide fill you in on the story of Bucharest, as evidenced in its outer diversity. You’ll take part in a panoramic city tour, providing you with an exclusive view of the living culture and deep history of this remarkable city.

Overnight in Bucharest, Hotel Capitol**** (5 minutes walk from the Old Town)

This morning, you’ll depart on a journey into the wild depths of Transylvania. Bound for the gorgeous city of Sibiu on the breathtaking Transfagarasan Road, you’ll stop at Curtea de Arges monastery, a major architectural feat with trompe l’oeil cupolas, a soaring façade, and an interior to match. Constructed in the early 1500s, this Romanian Orthodox cathedral is filled with legends surrounding its creation: attempted human flight, deadly ultimatums, and the tragic death of a wife.

Next, drive to the breathtaking ruins of Poienari Castle (photo stop) home and nearly inaccessible fortress of Vlad the Impaler. Poenari perches on an impossibly high cliff face and is protected by ruined walls. Vlad reportedly used slave labor to restore it, first arresting aristocrats as traitors and then forcing them into hard labor. Their lives were utterly dispensable, and due to the perilous location and unmerciful circumstances, very few outlived its construction.

In the afternoon, you’ll arrive in exquisite Sibiu and get settled at your hotel. Enjoy a guided walking tour of the medieval Old Town, the most protected and secure of all Saxon settlements. As an important center for trade, Sibiu was frequently bombarded with attacks and remains encircled by a complex bastions and walls system.

*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)

From Sibiu, travel to the soaring church fortress of Biertan (UNESCO World Heritage Site). With its high, fortified walls and nine gate towers, Biertan—built by the villagers—allowed the townspeople to protect themselves without the necessity to bear arms during frequent Ottoman attacks.

The inhabited citadel of Sighisoara marks your next stop. Take a walk through the medieval Old Town (UNESCO World Heritage Site) with your guide and ascend the 13th-century clock tower and old covered staircase to the Hill’s Gothic Church. Sighisoara is also famous as Vlad the Impaler’s birthplace. The house of his birth now serves as one of the town’s restaurants.

The afternoon brings a trip to Viscri, a beautifully-preserved rural Transylvanian village. The town, hidden away for centuries, caught the attention of Charles, Prince of Wales, who bought an 18th-century house there and remains vocal about the preservation of Transylvanian culture and vast forested areas.

Discover the Viscri fortified church (UNESCO World Heritage Site) as you arrive, and then join your guide for a stroll in the village.

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

Before leaving Viscri in the morning, visit the workshop of the local blacksmith and learn more about his trade.

Then depart for the legendary Bran Castle (known to many as Dracula’s Castle). The castle’s fairy-tale architecture and fascinating history will leave you breathless: it was the home of kings and warlords in addition to good Queen Maria and Princess Ileana, ultimately exiled by the Communists. The exquisite castle was abandoned several times and even occupied by foresters and woodsmen during interim times of undetermined ownership.

Arrive in Brasov in the afternoon, rest of the day at leisure.

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

In the morning, enjoy a guided walk through the Old Town of Brasov, partially surrounded by seven-foot-thick Saxon walls. Explore the towering Black Church and the Old Town square, surrounded by red-roofed houses belonging to the elite of yesteryear.

Depart Brasov and traverse astonishing mountain scenery to reach Sinaia in the Carpathian Mountains. Visit Peles Castle, the 19th-century residence of Romania’s first king; no expense was spared in the formulation of the jaw-dropping interior, dripping with mirrors, crystal, and exotic wood. Nearby, make a stop to view the gorgeous Sinaia monastery, after which the town was named.

Next, proceed to Snagov Monastery, built on a stunning islet in Lake Snagov. Many believe this to be the final resting place of Dracula.

Arrive in Bucharest in the late afternoon.

Overnight in Bucharest, Hotel Capitol**** (5 minutes walk from the Old Town)

Departure. Transfer to the airport.

Tour Information

Duration

8 days

Languages Support

English

Highlights Of The Tour:

Discover 12 of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Bulgaria and Romania.
Explore the exquisite medieval towns of Plovdiv and Veliko Tarnovo in Bulgaria.
Explore the charming medieval towns of Brasov, Sighisoara and Sibiu.
Spend an afternoon in Viscri, one of the best preserved villages in Transylvania, and learn about some of the ancient crafts in the area.
Discover Romania’s most famous castles: Peles and Bran (a.k.a. Dracula’s Castle).
Enjoy centrally located 3 & 4 star hotels, perfect for exploring on own.

Total Distance Traveled:

1600 km / 990 mi

Places Visited:

Sofia | Rila monastery | Plovdiv | Kazanlak Thracian Tomb | Shipka Pass | Veliko Tarnovo | Bucharest | Curtea de Arges monastery | Poienari Ruins | Sibiu | Biertan & Viscri fortified churches | Sighisoara | Viscri | Bran & Peles Castles | Brasov | Sinaia monastery

Tour Price:

  • Single traveler: from 3540 euro pp
  • 2 travelers: from 1880 euro pp
  • 3 travelers: from 1435 euro pp
  • 4 travelers: from 1450 euro pp
  • For a different number of travelers, please contact us

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