he Essential Western Bulgaria - Rila Monastery, Boyana, Melnik, Bansko, Plovdiv, Kazanlak, Veliko Tarnovo, Troyan
Western Bulgaria offers you a full variety of cultural and historical sights to help you explore Bulgarian lands from Antiquity, Mid centuries and Revival period (18th-19th century). The tour is ideal if you wish to spend 2-3 days in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria and then spend the rest of your week on this loop trip to the country side. Compared to day tours from Sofia, this 4-Day Bulgaria trip
will give you more intimate contact with your guide and with local people, it will save you time spent sitting in a car for several return trips, and it will also save you money for more expensive Sofia hotels. In our tours we have included accommodation in our chosen family 2* or 3* hotels, where we have confidence in their quality of service. Whenever possible, you can upgrade to 4* and 5* hotels or opt for a more budget accommodation.
Day 1: The first thing we are going to visit in the morning is Boyana church just outside Sofia - an amazing example of 13th century art. After a 2 hour drive we will reach the most visited UNESCO site in Bulgaria - the Rila Monastery. Our visit there takes 2 hours, admiring beautiful frescoes and wonderful mountain landscapes. Then we go to try the local specialty fresh grilled trout. Another 1h40min drive will take us to Melnik, the smallest town in Bulgaria. We will visit a house and wine cellar before we check-in into our neat and cozy hotel. Day 2: In the morning after a nice breakfast we say good bye to our hosts and we head to Bansko for a quick walk around its old town, the house of Neofit Rilski (monk from the Monastery) and its charming cobblestone streets. From Bansko we start our 3 hour drive through Rodopi mountains, where you will have the opportunity to see the highest train station on the Balkans and learn about local Pomak people. We will spend the afternoon in Plovdiv and its old town, Roman Theater and Stadium where we will check-in into a beautiful family hotel right next to the old town. Overnight in Plovdiv.Day 3: From Plovdiv we head north to our Medieval capital of Veliko Tarnovo via the Valley of Thracian Kings, where we will stop for a visit to Goliama Kosmatka Seuthus 3rd Thracian Temple and Shipka Memorial Church. We will then cross the Balkan range via Shipka pass, a historical place during the Russian-Turkish liberation war (1877-1878). If we have time we can stop at Dryanovo Monastery for a quick walk around. In the early afternoon we will arrive in Veliko Tarnovo for "an assault" of the Tsarevets hill fortress. In the evening we can relax in our hotel with a great view over the monument of Assen Dynasty of Kings. Overnignt in Veliko Tarnovo.Day 4: We will start our day early with a drive to Arbanassi village for a visit of the the Nativity of Christ church with its beautiful frescoes from 1632 and one of the oldest preserved iconostasis from wood. The mural paintings include the life of St. John the Baptist, patron of the church, and the wheel of life with the 12 zodiac signs. Then we go back East (3 hour drive) with a short stop in Troyan Monastery (the 3rd largest monastery in Bulgaria) to Koprivshtitsa. It is our most preserved historic town-museum with houses from the 1800s where we will have lunch and a walk to 3 of the houses. The last 2-hour drive will bring us back to Sofia along the beautiful Balkan range (Stara planina).