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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

Preliminary Day by Day Itinerary

April 20         Arrive Sofia

We will arrive in Sofia, 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 the St Sophia church, and the Alexander Nevsky cathedral. Dinner in a fine restaurant. Overnight in Sofia. (D)

*****Arena di Serdica Hotel

April 21         Sofia
After a late breakfast we will 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 we will drive nearby to have a look at the National History Museum, housed inside the former communist-era government residence. We will take 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 will continue to Pirin Mountain, another UNESCO site, and will have our picnic lunch in the foothills of the mountain. We will take 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 we will have a tour of Plovdiv’s most interesting sights: the Klianti House Museum, the Roman Amphitheatre, 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 at a good restaurant. Free time in the afternoon to rest or explore the city on your own. (B)

*****Hebros Hotel


April 24         Plovdiv - Kazanlak
Wednesday  Veliko Turnovo  
We drive north, towards the town of Kazanlak, the heart of the Rose Valley. We will 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. We will 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. We will have 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 – Ruse
Pirgovo - Mechka
We will 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. Belene was the harshest Bulgarian communist-era concentration camp. We will visit the camp grounds, our 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 Ruse, Bulgaria’s largest town on the Danube. We will have lunch and a walk in Ruse, formerly a most prosperous city, trading with other towns along the Danube. In the afternoon we will 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. We will stay 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! Overnight in Mechka. (B-D)

Seven Generations Hotel and Spa

April 26         Mechka
Friday            Srebarna Lake
                        Avdemir - Osmar
After breakfast we will continue east, driving along the Danube River. We will 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. We will stop at the village of Aydemir, to visit the local Lipovan, or Russian old-believer community, which escaped religious persecution in the Russian Empire. We will have lunch in a Lipovan home. Then we continue south, stopping at the remarkable Sveshtari Thracian Tomb, our eight UNESCO Site, and head to the village of Osmar, where we will 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! Overnight in Osmar. (B-L-D)

***Osmarski Kushti Hotel

April 27         Osmar - Sumen
Saturday       Black Sea Coast
After breakfast we head to the nearby town of Shumen, to see the gargantuan socialist-era monument dedicated to 1300 Years Bulgaria. We may drive to the top, or hike the 1300 steps up! Then we will see the Madara rider, Europe’s only early medieval rock relief - and our ninth UNESCO World Heritage Site. Then we 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. We will learn about their dangerous, disappearing craft. Then we drive to the nearby Tyulenovo village, in the wildest part of the Bulgarian Black Sea. We check in at the fine Tyulenovo hotel, overlooking a tiny fishing harbour, and have an afternoon to rest or walk along the scenic coast. Dinner at our hotel. After dinner we will go 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
Sunday         Yaylata – Bulgarevo
                        Mangalia, Romania
After breakfast we will 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 cosy 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. We will take lunch in Balchik, before continuing to Varna. In Varna we will check in at the Euxinograde government residence and winery (pending permission). Some time to rest, and then a tour of the residence grounds (normally closed to outside visitors) - including the Euxinograde 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)

Euxinograde 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 will 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. We will stop at the old town of Nessebar for a walk, exploring the town’s old Byzantine churches. That will be our last, tenth 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. We will have 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 cosy St Anastasia Hotel, located on the mainland, just south of Burgas, and facing the St Anastasia island. Overnight in Burgas. (B-L-D)

St Anastasia Island Guesthouses
or St Anastasia Hotel

May 1 St. Anastasia Island - Burgas
Wednesday Atanasovsko – Akve Kalide
            Yambol - Sofia
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. We will 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. We will have 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. Transfers to the airport for your flights back, 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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