Arriving at Sofia – airport. Transfer to your hotel. In the evening, you will enjoy a folklore dinner in a traditional restaurant. Overnight.
Day #2 Sofia - Rila monastery - Borovets
Breakfast. Visit to the Boyana Church - the frescoes of the church date back to the 13th century. They have high artistic value and are a vital contribution to the European art culture. The church was included in the UNESCO World Cultural and Natural heritage list in 1979. Continue to the Rila Monastery, founded in the 10th century. It is the largest and most famous Eastern Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria. The monastery complex houses a rich collection of icons, wallpaintings, old-printed books – some 15 000 volumes, etc. The monastery became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. You will take a guided tour of the monastery complex. You will see the gold-plated iconostasis in the main church, the monastery museum, famous for housing Rafail’s Cross, the tower of Hrelyu and the residential part of the complex that consists of chambers, four chapels, an abbot's room and a kitchen (noted for its uncommonly large vessels). In the afternoon your journey will take you to Borovets - one of the most famous ski resorts in the country. Free time at leisure. Dinner and overnight.
Day #3 Borovets - Bachkovo monastery - Plovdiv
After breakfast you will pay a visit to the Bachkovo Monastery – important monument of Christian architecture and one of the largest and oldest Eastern Orthodox monasteries in Europe. You will have the opportunity to see the Cathedral Church of the Virgin Mary (dating from 1604), home of the wonder-working icon of the Virgin Mary Eleusa from 1310. Later you will continue to Plovdiv – the second largest city in Bulgaria, famous for its ancient and diverse culture and millennial history. You will take an afternoon city tour of the Old Town of Plovdiv - you will see well-preserved houses of the National Revival Period /18-19 century/, the St. Constantine and Elena Church, the Roman Theatre and the Roman Stadium. Overnight.
Day #4 Plovdiv - Nessebar - Varna
Following breakfast you will head to the Southern Black Sea Coast and enjoy a sightseeing tour of the ancient town of Nessebar. The town is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Nessebar offers a unique atmosphere with its romantic narrow streets, the old architecture of its houses and more than 40 churches dating from the Roman Era. In the afternoon you will continue to Varna (Northern Black Sea). Arrival and overnight.
Day #5 Varna - Madara - Pliska - Thracian tomb of Sveshtari - Rousse
After breakfast you will take a guided sightseeing tour of the city including the Varna Archaeological Museum, exhibiting the Gold of Varna; The Dormition of the Theotokos Cathedral; the Sea Garden and many more interesting places. In the afternoon you will continue to the village of Madara. Visit to the Madara Rider - an early medieval large rock relief carved on the Madara Plateau near the village of Madara. The relief depicts a majestic horseman 23m. above ground level in an almost vertical 100-metre-high cliff. The monument dates back to circa 710 BC and has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1979. Continue to the first Bulgarian capital – Pliska and visit the ruins of the old town. Your tour also features a visit to the Sveshtari Thracian Tomb /a UNESCO site/. The tomb has a unique architectural decor, with polychrome half-human, half-plant caryatids and painted murals. Your last stop for the day will be the town of Rousse, located on the right bank of the Danube River. It is known for its 19th- and 20th-century Neo-Baroque and Neo-Rococo architecture. Overnight in Rousse.
Day #6 Rousse - Ivanovo - Arbanassi - Veliko Tarnovo
Following breakfast you will head to the Rock-hewn Churches of Ivanovo - a group of monolithic churches, chapels and monasteries hewn out of solid rock and completely different from other monastery complexes in Bulgaria, located near the village of Ivanovo, along the Russenski Lom River. Wall paintings and inscriptions that preceded the ones in the Boyana church denote the highly developed culture of medieval Bulgaria. The Rock-hewn Churches of Ivanovo were included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1979. Your journey continues to Veliko Tarnovo, famous as the historical capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire. Visit to the historical hill Tsarevets with the Fortress, the Patriarchal Church and the Emperor Bolduin’s Tower. Stroll along the Samovodska Charshiya Street in the Old Town. Afterwards, you will pay a visit to the ancient village of Arbanassi, known for its rich history and large number of historical monuments, such as 17th and 18th century churches and examples of Bulgarian National Revival architecture. Overnight.
Day #7 Veliko Tarnovo - Etara - Kazanlak
After breakfast you will travel to the Etara Architectural - Ethnographic Complex. It is a unique open-air museum which presents the Bulgarian customs, culture and craftsmanship. In the afternoon you will continue to Kazanlak - the capital of the world famous Bulgarian Rose Valley. You will pay a visit to the Rose Museum where you will be shown the original way Bulgarian Rose oil was produced. Also on the agenda is the Thracian Kazanlak Tomb dating back to the 4th century BC, under the protection of UNESCO as part of the World Heritage List. Dinner and overnight in Kazanlak.
Day #8 Kazanlak - Koprivshtitsa - Sofia
Breakfast. Depart back to Sofia. On the way, stop at the small town of Koprivshtitsa, still preserving the atmosphere of the National Revival Period. In the afternoon, enjoy a sightseeing tour of Sofia (a 7000 years old city!) – visit to the most interesting places in the capital: the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral; the St. Sofia Church, built in the 6th century; the former royal palace; the National Theatre and St. George Rotunda. Farewell dinner. Overnight.
Day #9 Sofia
Breakfast. Transfer to the airport and flight back home.