Day #1 - Sofia
Arrival at Sofia airport. Transfer to your hotel. Free time at leisure. Dinner and overnight.
Day #2 - Rila Monastery - Bansko
After breakfast you will depart to the Rila monastery – the largest and most beautiful Bulgarian monastery, picturesquely situated in the mountain sides of Rila. The monastery complex, regarded as one of the foremost masterpieces of Bulgarian National Revival architecture, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. You will visit the main church of the monastery, famous for its unique frescoes and its gold-plated iconostasis; the monastery museum, known for housing Rafail’s Cross and the residential part of the complex, that consists of chambers, four chapels, an abbot's room, a kitchen (noted for its uncommonly large vessels) and a library housing 250 manuscripts.
In the afternoon you will travel to Bansko - a popular mountain resort town with unique architecture. Dinner and overnight in Bansko.
Day #3 – Velingrad
After breakfast you will head to Velingrad. The town is situated in the Rhodope Mountains and is famous for its healing thermal springs. According to some legends Orpheus lived in these lands.There is also a myth, that these lands gave Spartacus inhuman power to fight the Romans. You will have the chance to take a walk in the spa resort and enjoy some spa procedures. Dinner and overnight.
Day #4 – Starosel – Brestovitsa – Bachkovo - Plovdiv
After breakfast your journey continues to the village of Starosel, mainly known for its abundance of ancient Thracian sites, with findings dating back as far as the 5-6 millennium BC. There you will visit the Chetinyova Mogila tumulus and the Horizont tumulus. You will have lunch with local specialties and wines at a traditional Bulgarian restaurant in Brestovitsa. In the afternoon you will travel to the Bachkovo monastery, known and appreciated for the unique combination of Byzantine, Georgian and Bulgarian culture, united by the common faith. There you will visit the Cathedral Church of the Virgin Mary, home of the wonder-working icon of the Virgin Mary Eleusa from 1310, the Saint Archangels Church painted by the famous Zahari Zograf, the museum of the monastery with its rich exhibition of church plate, icons and books. In the evening you will continue to Plovdiv, where you will overnight.
Day #5 – Plovdiv - Kazanlak
Breakfast. Morning sightseeing tour of Plovdiv, famous for its ancient diverse culture and millenial history. You will visit numerous preserved historical sites from different ages: the Roman theatre (early 2nd century BC), the Roman Stadium (late 2nd century BC), the St. Constantine and Helena Church, Tsar Simeon's Garden and The Singing Fountains. In the afternoon you will travel to the town of Kazanlak, famous as the capital of the Bulgarian Rose Valley. There you will have the opportunity to watch and take part in folklore dance performance. Dinner and overnight.
Day #6 – Kazanlak – Etara – Sokolsky monastery - Kmetovtsi
After breakfast you will take a sightseeing tour of Kazanlak. You will pay a visit to the Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak dating back to the 4th century BC. Its unique murals are Bulgaria's best preserved examples of Thracian art. The significance of the tomb is vital – it is a UNESCO site, included in the World Heritage List. Later you will proceed to the unique open-air museum of folklore crafts Etara. Narrow cobbled streets, stone fountains, old houses and a fabulous town clock tower create the atmosphere of bygone years. In Etara you will visit workshops of Bulgarian craftsmen – cutlers, wood-carvers, fur-dressers, confectioners. In the afternoon you will continue to the beautiful Sokolsky monastery. It is a small monastery with a nice garden and a unique stone fountain. There you will see an extraordinary icon, which represents the Virgin Mary and Christ, considered to be miraculous. In the evening you will go to the the village of Kmetovtsi, where you will overnight.
Day #7 - Bozhentsi - Dryanovo Monastery – Veliko Tarnovo - Arbanassi
After breakfast your journey continues to the village of Bozhentsi – an architectural reserve, included in the UNESCO World Heritage list. There you will visit the Prophet Elijah basilica, some typical Bulgarian National Revival houses and the Roman Bridge. Later you will visit the Dryanovo Monastery. It was founded in the 12th century, during the Second Bulgarian Empire, and is dedicated to Archangel Michael. Twice burnt down and pillaged during the Ottoman rule of Bulgaria, the monastery was restored at it present place in 1845. Your next stop is the town of Veliko Tarnovo, known as the capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire. The town is located on three historical hills along the shores of the Yantra River and still recreates the unique atmosphere of ancient times. There you will visit the ruins of the castle Tsarevets on the hill carrying the same name, which housed the royal and patriarchal palace. You will have the opportunity to watch the unique Sound and Light Show - an attraction, carried out in the evening that uses three lasers, variegated lights, authentic music and church bells to tell the story of the fall of Tarnovo to the Ottomans, as well as other key moments of the history of Bulgaria.You will proceed to the village of Arbanassi, famous for its well-preserved Renaissance houses and churches with remarkable architecture. Dinner and overnight.
Day #8 - Arbanassi - Troyan Monastery - Sofia
After breakfast you will travel to the Troyan Monastery - the third largest in Bulgaria. You will visit the main church, painted by the famous Zahari Zograph. There you will see one of the holiest icons in Bulgarian Orthodoxy, the Three- Handed Virgin. In the afternoon you will continue to Sofia, where you will overnight.
Day #9 - Sofia
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Breakfast. Morning sightseeing tour of Sofia. Visits to the National Museum of History with its famous gold Thracian treasures, the historical center of the city, the Byzantine Church of St. Sophia and the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, known as one of the symbols of Bulgaria. Transfer to the airport for your flight home.