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We invite you to call Sarah or Gwen at 1-800-762-4216 to request the full brochure. The brochure will include Important Traveler Information (and answers to most questions) and a Reservation Form. We can send the brochure through the Postal Service or as a PDF attachment. If you would like to receive a PDF, probably the best way to keep the message from going into a SPAM filter is to send a message to sarah@serioustraveler.com. If you are already on our mailing list, no need to complete the entire brochure request form.



April 20 - May 2, 2019 • 13 Days
$4990 based on double occupancy beginning
and ending in Sofia, Bulgaria
Transfers from airport to/from hotel included
Single supplement $640
Airfare Additional

Day by Day Itinerary

April 20 Arrive Sofia

Welcome to Bulgaria! Plan to arrive in Sofia by midday and transfer from the airport to our downtown hotel. Some time to rest, and an afternoon walk in Sofia, which will include the Synagogue, highlights of the National Archaeological museum (housed in the city’s largest and oldest Ottoman mosque), the catacombs under St. Sophia church, and the Alexander Nevsky cathedral. Dinner in a fine restaurant. Overnight in Sofia. (D)

*****Arena di Serdica Hotel

April 21 Sofia - Boyana Church
Sunday Sofia

After a late breakfast we drive to the outskirts of Sofia, the foothills of Vitosha mountain, to have a look at Boyana church, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, famous for its medieval frescoes. Then drive nearby to have a look at the National History Museum, housed inside the former communist-era government residence. Enjoy lunch in a village nearby. Back in Sofia take a vintage tram ride. This is an amazing way to see more of the city, including some of the suburbs. Remainder of the afternoon is at leisure - rest or explore the city, and dinner on your own in an interesting restaurant in town. Our guide can make recommendations. (B-L)

*****Arena di Serdica Hotel

April 22 Sofia - Plovdiv

We will get up early, in order to arrive earlier at Rila Monastery, and have the place to ourselves, before any other tourists arrive. Rila is Bulgaria’s largest monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and boasts a spectacular location deep in a mountain valley. We will look at the small monastery museum, the old kitchen, the tower, and the main church. Then we continue to Pirin Mountain, another UNESCO site, and will have our picnic lunch in the foothills of the mountain. Board a narrow gauge train from Velingrad to Varvara, and enjoy a local music band play for us on the train. Then we continue to Plovdiv. We check in at our hotel in the heart of the old town. Some time to rest, and dinner at a fine restaurant. Overnight in Plovdiv. (B-L-D)

*****Hebros Hotel

April 23 Plovdiv

After breakfast enjoy a tour of Plovdiv’s most interesting sights: the Klianti House Museum, the Roman Amphitheater, the recently excavated Small Roman Basilica, and the ruins of a Roman house, decorated with some fine mosaics. We will stroll along the main pedestrian street of town, and stop for lunch on your own at a good restaurant. Free time in the afternoon to rest or explore the city at leisure. (B)

*****Hebros Hotel

April 24 Plovdiv - Kazanlak
Wednesday Veliko Turnovo

We drive north, towards the town of Kazanlak, the heart of the Rose Valley. Drive along Bulgaria’s Primeval Beech Forests, our fourth UNESCO Site on this tour. Then we will stop at the Kazanlak Thracian tomb, our fifth UNESCO site. Have a look at a violin maker’s atelier, at the Russian church in Shipka, and have our picnic lunch atop mount Buzludja, which boasts one of the most impressive abandoned communist monuments in the world. Then we head across the Balkan mountains to Veliko Turnovo, Bulgaria’s medieval capital. Relax with some time to rest, and in the later afternoon do a tour of Turnovo, ending the evening with dinner in a fine local restaurant, and watching the light and sound show over the medieval citadel. Overnight in Veliko Turnovo, (B-L-D)

***Studio Hotel

April 25 Veliko Turnovo
Thursday Belene - Russe
Pirgovo - Mechka

Depart north, with a convoy of Trabants (the legendary East German vehicle, manufactured from 1957 to 1991, made of plastic, with a two-stroke engine!), to the island of Belene on the Danube river. The Trabants source from a local collector. Belene was the harshest Bulgarian communist-era concentration camp. Visit the camp grounds, our local guide being a former political prisoner, and have a look at the nearby modern-day prison. The island is connected to the mainland by a rusting old pontoon bridge. This is the poorest and eeriest part of Bulgaria.

Then we continue to the city of Russe, Bulgaria’s largest town on the Danube. Enjoy lunch and a walk in Russe, formerly a most prosperous city, trading with other towns along the Danube. In the afternoon we stop to have a look at the Ivanovo Rock-Hewn churches, our sixth UNESCO site on this tour, and at the nearby village of Pirgovo, where the ladies of the village will show us how to dye Easter eggs. Overnight in the village of Mechka. Mechka has a curious winery and hotel, built by a Bulgarian-American who escaped communism hiding inside a train’s loo. Once in America, he was been able to achieve the American dream and become a millionaire - before eventually returning to his homeland. Dinner and wine tasting at our hotel, with some of the finest Danube river views you can get! (B-D)

Seven Generations Hotel and Spa

April 26 Mechka
Friday Srebarna Lake
Aydemir - Osmar

After breakfast continue east, driving along the Danube River. Stop at the little known tekke, or shrine of Sabri Hussein, a seventeenth-century Naqshbandi holy man, born in Bukhara. Then we continue to Srebarna Lake, on the UNESCO site for its rare migrating birds. Stop at the village of Aydemir, to visit the local Lipovan, or Russian old-believer community, which escaped religious persecution in the Russian Empire. Enjoy lunch in a Lipovan home. Then we continue south, visiting the remarkable Sveshtari Thracian Tomb, our eighth UNESCO Site, before heading to the village of Osmar, where we stay overnight. Once upon a time Osmar prospered on its pelin, or vermouth wine. Now it’s one of the most quaint non-touristy villages in Bulgaria. Dinner at our hotel, and perhaps a look at the village kazan, or distillery - where they produce rakia! (B-L-D)

***Osmarski Kuhti Hotel

April 27 Osmar - Shumen
Saturday Black Sea Coast

After breakfast we head to the nearby town of Shumen, to see the gargantuan socialist-era monument dedicated to 1,300 years of Bulgaria. We may drive to the top, or you may hike the 1,300 steps up! Then we see the Madara rider, Europe’s only early medieval rock relief - and our ninth UNESCO World Heritage Site. Continue to the Black Sea coast. We will have our lunch at Shabla Lighthouse, the easternmost point of Bulgaria, and oldest lighthouse in the Balkan Peninsula, dating back to the 1850s Crimean War. The few remaining fishermen on that stormy coast will cook lunch for us. Learn about their dangerous, disappearing craft. Then we drive to the nearby Tyulenovo village, in the wildest part of the Bulgarian Black Sea. Check in at the fine Tyulenovo Hotel, overlooking a tiny fishing harbor, and have the afternoon to rest or walk along the scenic coast. Dinner at our hotel. After dinner we set off to the nearby town of Shabla to attend Easter Mass at the town’s church. Overnight in Tyulenovo. (B-L-D)

***Tyulenovo Hotel

April 28 Tyulenovo - Yaylata
Sunday Bulgarevo
Mangalia, Romania

After breakfast we head to the nearby Yaylata Nature Preserve, to have a walk trying to spot rare birds, rare flowers, prehistoric burial sites, the ruins of an old Roman trading fortress and winery. Then we continue to Bulgarevo village, to join a local Gagauz family - ethnic Turks who have converted to Christianity - in their Easter lunch. Free time after lunch to rest at our hotel or explore the coast. In the late afternoon we will head across the border to Romania, to the small town of Mangalia, to have a stroll along the seaside promenade, have a look at the sixteenth-century Ottoman mosque, and have a fine dinner. Then we return to our cozy hotel in Tyulenovo. (B-L-D)

***Tyulenovo Hotel

April 29 Tyulenovo - Cape Kaliakra
Monday Balchik - Varna

After breakfast we depart south, stopping at scenic Cape Kaliakra to have a look at the medieval fortress and caves (once inhabited) perched high atop the rocky shore. Then we continue to Balchik, to see the palace of Romanian Queen Mary and the Botanical Gardens that have one of the world’s largest cactus collections. Enjoy lunch in Balchik, before continuing to Varna. In Varna we will check in at the Euxinograd government residence and winery (pending permission). After some time to rest, we tour the residence grounds (normally closed to outside visitors) - including the Euxinograd royal palace and the ruins of a Roman fortress. Dinner at the residence restaurant with some of Bulgaria’s finest white wines and rakia! Overnight in Varna. (B-D)

Euxinograd Residence

April 30 Varna - Nessebar
Tuesday St. Anastasia Island

A morning at leisure to explore the residence park. Then we continue to Varna, stopping to see the fine Archaeological Museum, with the world’s oldest human-crafted gold. We continue south along the coast, crossing once again the Balkan mountains. On the way we stop and see an eighteenth-century German-made lemonade machine - which still works - and have lunch in a remote, picturesque village tucked in the mountains. Visit the old town of Nessebar for a walk, exploring the town’s old Byzantine churches. That will be our tenth and final UNESCO World Heritage site in Bulgaria! In the late afternoon we will charter a boat, if the weather allows, to the small rocky island of St. Anastasia. Enjoy dinner and stay overnight at the former monastery on the island, now refurbished into a small and cozy hotel. The only other people will be the cook, making food for us, and the two soldiers staffing the lighthouse. If the weather does not allow, we will stay overnight at the equally small and cozy St. Anastasia Hotel, located on the mainland, just south of Burgas, and facing the St Anastasia island. (B-L-D)

St. Anastasia Island Guesthouses
or St. Anastasia Hotel

May 1 St. Anastasia Island
Wednesday Burgas - Atanasovsko Lake
Akve Kalide - Yambol

In the morning we head to Burgas - by chartered boat if we stayed on the island, or by bus if we stayed at the shore hotel. Visit the salt lakes on the Atanasovsko Lake, and learn more about how salt has been made here since ancient times. Then we continue inland, stopping briefly at Akve Kalide, an ancient (Thracian, Roman, Byzantine, Bulgarian and Ottoman) spa town, having a look at the restored old Ottoman bathhouse. Enjoy a delightful lunch in the town of Yambol, at the old Ottoman covered market, where an opera singer will perform for us! In the afternoon we drive back to Sofia. Some time to rest at our hotel, and then a farewell dinner on the top floor of one of the highest buildings in Sofia. Overnight in Sofia. (B-L-D)

*****Arena di Serdica

May 2 Depart Sofia

End of tour after breakfast. A transfer to the airport is included for your flight back home, or where the heart calls you next. (B)

B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner


We invite you to call Sarah or Gwen at 1-800-762-4216 to request the full brochure. The brochure will include Important Traveler Information (and answers to most questions) and a Reservation Form. We can send the brochure through the Postal Service or as a PDF attachment. If you would like to receive a PDF, probably the best way to keep the message from going into a SPAM filter is to send a message to sarah@serioustraveler.com. If you are already on our mailing list, no need to complete the entire brochure request form.





© 2018 Travel Concepts International, Inc. CST 2005743-40

Travel Concepts International, Inc.
Cultural Tours to Better Understand the World and Its People

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Voicemail/Tollfree in U.S.A. 1-800-762-4216
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