Three Capitals of Bulgaria in One Week
This six-day round-trip to Bulgaria takes you through three of its most significant cultural centers – Sofia, Plovdiv and Veliko Tarnovo. You’ll sightsee in beautiful cities with centuries’ worth of history, all of which are or have been some form of capital. Sofia is the modern capital of Bulgaria and one of its top attractions.Read more
This six-day round-trip to Bulgaria takes you through three of its most significant cultural centers – Sofia, Plovdiv and Veliko Tarnovo. You’ll sightsee in beautiful cities with centuries’ worth of history, all of which are or have been some form of capital. Sofia is the modern capital of Bulgaria and one of its top attractions.
Plovdiv is the 2019 European Capital of Culture – a title that’s well-deserved, with its history dating back to the 6th millennium BC, and the countless cultural landmarks that tell its story from its founding up until modern times.
Veliko Tarnovo is the historic capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire, and the medieval stronghold of Tsarevets that was once home to Tsar Asen II still towers over the city. On our way, we’ll stop to explore Etara – the only functioning open-air Ethnographic complex in the Balkans, and the architectural reserve of Bozhentsi. We’ll also visit Prohodna cave, famous with its Eyes of God geological formation.
Join us on this wonderful trip of Bulgaria, to discover its historical and cultural secrets.
We begin the round-trip with a transfer from Sofia Airport to Plovdiv – one of the oldest European cities and second biggest in the country.
After getting settled into the hotel, you’ll get the afternoon to yourselves so you can relax after your flight. We’ll meet up for dinner at a traditional Bulgarian restaurant.
Overnight in Plovdiv.
We’ll start the day with a trip to Bachkovo Monastery, only half an hour away from Plovdiv.
The “Assumption of Holy Virgin” Bachkovo monastery is the second largest in Bulgaria. Bachkovo Monastery was founded all the way back in the 11th century. In the cathedral, there is an icon from 1311 known as the Miracle Working Icon of the Holy Virgin. It is believed that the icon has miraculous powers.
The area around the monastery has several traditional Bulgarian restaurants where we can sit down for lunch and get a taste of the local cuisine.
After we get back, we’ll go sightseeing in Plovdiv. We’ll start with a visit to the Old Town – a historical and architectural reserve known for its buildings in the style of the Bulgarian Revival Period, ancient Roman and Thracian ruins, various monuments and landmarks. We’ll visit its most famous and noteworthy landmarks, including the Balabanov and Hindliyan Houses, the Plovdiv Regional Ethnographic Museum, and, of course, the crown jewel of this city – the Ancient Roman Theatre.
After the Old Town, we’ll go down to the Main Shopping Street to see the ancient Roman Stadium and its uncovered northern part, which is open to visitors.
Next is Kapana (i.e. “the Trap”) – Plovdiv’s famed art corner, made up of a labyrinth of intertwining streets lined with modern art stores, stylish little cafes.
On the third day we’ll be traveling to the architectural-ethnographic complex of Etara. It is a fully functioning reproduction of Bulgarian traditional rural life in the past. It gives travellers and natives alike the chance to get in close touch with Bulgarian culture and folk craftsmanship. The complex features workshops for pottery, woodcarving, icon painting, furriery, cutlery, bakery, sweets shops, musical instruments and many more, all open and active and authentically representing the traditional crafting methods.
After exploring Etara, we’ll head to Bozhentsi. We can start with lunch at a traditional Bulgarian restaurant and try the local cuisine.
The village itself was founded in the 14th century by the influx of people moving from Veliko Tarnovo deeper into the mountains to escape the invading Ottomans. By the end of the 19th century, Bozhentsi had flourished and grown into an administrative, commercial, cultural and spiritual center. We’ll stop go on to explore the reserve, the museums and the workshops.
Only an hour’s drive away is the city of Veliko Tarnovo, former capital of Bulgaria and regional center. Located in Stara Planina mountain, built upon its steep slopes, with a beautiful river winding through the heart of the city, Veliko Tarnovo is a picturesque settlement with a rich history commemorated in the many historical and cultural landmarks strewn across its territory.
We’ll spend the night in Veliko Tarnovo and go sightseeing the next day.
Veliko Tarnovo is a picturesque settlement with a rich history commemorated in the many historical and cultural landmarks strewn across its territory.
Veliko Tarnovo’s most popular tourist attraction is the medieval stronghold of Tsarevets.
The Holy Forty Martyrs Church is a medieval church built during the reign of Tsar Ivan Asen II in the 1230’s. It has been restored, its collapsed parts rebuilt, and it is now open to the public.
In the Museum of the Bulgarian Revival and Constituent Assembly visitors can trace the development of Christian art from the end of the 14th century to the end of the 19th century in a collection of works by master wood-carvers.
The Samovodska Charshia is the old market in Veliko Tarnovo. In the early 19th century, when the town was rapidly developing emerged a market centre with numerous workshops, bakeries and cafes. Today, the workshops on this street preserve the spirit and the original atmosphere of the Revival Period.
We’ll go for a walk in the “Veliko Tarnovo – the spirit of the thousand-year old Bulgaria” miniature-park – the first and only park-museum in Bulgaria.
We can have lunch at one of Veliko Tarnovo’s traditional Bulgarian restaurants, after which we’ll set off towards Sofia.
On the way to Sofia, we’ll make a small detour to Prohodna Cave, famous for the Eyes of God natural phenomenon – two large openings in the ceiling of the cave, of nearly the same size and almond-shaped and strongly resembling human eyes. During certain parts of the day, sunlight streams through the openings in two large rays, and at night, one can look through them towards the night sky.
From there, we’ll continue our trip to our hotel in Sofia.
We’ll start the day with a trip to Rila Monastery – the biggest monastery in Bulgaria and one of the country’s most emblematic cultural landmarks. Rila Monastery is one of Bulgaria’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
In the afternoon, we’ll go on a sightseeing tour of Sofia’s top attractions.
The Saint Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is one of the largest Orthodox Christian cathedrals in the world and the second largest on the Balkan peninsula.
The Saint Sophia Basilica is a red-brick church is stands atop the foundations of a sacred temple built in Roman times. The city of Sofia is named after this basilica.
The Church of St. George, built by the Romans is in the 4th century, is an early Christian red brick rotunda that is considered the oldest building in Sofia.
The Church of St. Nicholas the Miracle-Worker is a beautiful golden-domed church designed in the Russian Revival Style. Visually, it is unlike any other Orthodox church in Bulgaria.
The Ivan Vazov National Theatre is an example of neoclassical architecture is so spectacular that you will want to carry the memory home with you.
Overnight in Sofia.
Departure from Sofia Airport.
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