29 Nov BULGARIA’S NATURAL WONDERS
This interesting and exciting programme will give you some idea of the many possibilities Bulgaria has to offer. We use a very well established DMC in Bulgaria who also covers Macedonia and Serbia.
DAY 1 – SOFIA – ARRIVAL AND CITY TOUR
Arrival at Sofia Airport. Meet with the local guide and transfer to your centrally located hotel. Depending on your arrival time, a short city tour in the heart of the capital will be organised – visit of Alexander Nevski Cathedral and the latest excavations of ancient Serdika. Overnight in Sofia.
DAY 2 – SEVEN RILA LAKES AND TSARI MALI GRAD DAY TOUR
Morning transfer to Panichishte cable car station, where we will start our hiking tour to the wonderful Seven Rila Lakes. The glacier lakes of Rila are called “the pearls of the mountain” and although there are more than 200 lakes the cirque of the 7 lakes is by far the most famous and visited. Although the hike is at an altitude of more than 2000 meters above sea level, a general level of fitness and suitable shoes is all you need to enjoy this active day trip. A ride on the lift will take you high up to where the hike will begin. Steep initially and then gentler, the trail will take you to the Kidney Lake named after its very distinctive shape. It is the 5th highest of the seven lakes and from here you will descend past another four glacier pearls to close the hiking circle. Plenty of photo-opportunities will give you a chance to take part of this magic place home with you. You will have your local lunch at the mountain hut near the lift station. After another ride on the chair lift, a short transfer will take you to the fortress of Tsari Mali Grad. Situated in the foothills of the mountain this late antiquity fortress used to guard the roman road that passed through the valley below it. Today the fortification is restored and hosts an exhibition of artefacts found during the archaeological excavations. Apart from the glimpse into the past of the region the fortress walls offer an amazing panoramic view toward the south slopes of Vitosha – the home mountain of Sofia. Arrival in Sofia in the late afternoon. Overnight in Sofia.
DAY 3 – LEDENIKA CAVE AND VRATSA DAY TOUR
On that day we will drive to the north of Sofia (some 120 kilometres) for a visit to Vratsa Natural Park with typical rocks and the famous Ledenika Cave. The Natural Park gives wonderful opportunities for hiking. Here is located the most cave–rich area around the country – more than 500 caves and Karst precipices. On the park’s territory occurs one of the most beautiful Bulgarian caves – Ledenika. The cave will impress you with its great size, acoustics and unique cave formations. After the visit of Ledenika Cave we will drive back to the town of Vratsa for a sightseeing tour including a visit to the history museum, which houses the unique Rogozen Silver Thracian treasure. Drive back to Sofia in the afternoon. Overnight in Sofia.
DAY 4 – RILA MONASTERY – RAFTING AT STRUMA RIVER – MELNIK
Morning check-out and departure to the south of Sofia. After 130 kilometres drive (takes approximately 2 hours), we will reach Rila Monastery – the most exquisite example of Bulgarian orthodox architecture. The monastery is listed in UNESCO World Heritage and is located in the heart of Rila Mountain.
After our visit to the monastery we will have lunch at local family restaurant – grilled trout is the local speciality.
This tasty lunch will charge you with plenty of energy for the adventure of the day – rafting along the longest river track in Bulgaria at the Struma River. After less than an hour drive, we will reach the starting point and meet with rafting team. You will receive full equipment needed for the rafting trip. The river track is 12 kilometres long and includes numerous rapids with different profiles and difficulty and takes about 1.5 hours to go through.
From here we continue our drive to the most southwestern parts of Bulgaria till we reach the smallest town of Melnik. When you get there allow your imagination to be provoked by the strangely shaped sand and clay formations. Now in the smallest town in Bulgaria live only 208 inhabitants, Melnik still preserves part of its glory from 14th until 19th-century, when it had been a flourishing tobacco and wine-producing centre, whose fame was spread by local merchants to many European countries. Today, the town is famous for its lovely white houses and cobbled streets, mild climate and internationally recognised brands of red wine. You will have a guided walking tour through the city and enter the biggest Bulgarian Revival Period style house and its cold tunnel-like wine cellar. Accommodation at local boutique style family hotel. Overnight in Melnik.
DAY 5 – MELNIK – TRIGRAD (CAVING AND HORSE RIDING) – DEVIN
After a home-made breakfast at hotel we will check-out and depart from Melnik to the east until we reach the heart of Rhodope Mountains. Visit of Trigrad Gorge and the Devil’s Throat Cave. Once there it is not hard to imagine why it bears this name. The constant roar of the water inside makes you feel like you’re inside a mythical creature.
After the visit of the cave we will stop in the village of Trigrad at the Arkan Horse Base. You will be able to enjoy a 2.5 hour horse riding tour through the forest paths. The departure point will be from the horse base and the riding trip will go through the gorge of Padska River which is full of twists and water cascades. We will reach the village of Vodni Pad, located close to the border with Greece and we will return to Trigrad the same way.
In the late afternoon we will continue our way through the mountains reaching the SPA resort of Devin famous for its mineral springs. A relaxed late afternoon in the pool is all you need at the end of this day. Overnight in Devin.
DAY 6 – SHIROKA LAKA – WONDERFUL BRIDGES – BACHKOVO MONASTERY – PLOVDIV
Breakfast and check-out. On this day we will proceed to the central parts of Rhodope Mountains, where we will visit the small village of Shiroka Laka and will do some hiking through the eco-path to the natural phenomena Wonderful Bridges. The village of Shiroka Laka is a natural architectural and folklore reserve as more than 90 local artefacts are important cultural assets and memorials. Most of these are authentic Rhodopa mountain houses built in a unique architectural style. The most popular among them are the Zgurovska, the Uchikovska and the Grigorovska houses. The natural arches of the Wonderful Bridges makes it a must-see attraction, amazing rock phenomena, one of the most attractive in Bulgaria. Visit to the famous Bachkovo Monastery and have a glimpse of one of the most sacred orthodox places in Bulgaria. The small rustic open-air market nearby will show you plenty examples of local home-made jam, ceramic vessels and souvenirs. Arrival in Plovdiv in the late afternoon. Check-in at hotel. Overnight in Plovdiv.
DAY 7 – PLOVDIV – VILLA YUSTINA WINERY – SOFIA
Check-out the hotel in Plovdiv. Our day will start with a morning sightseeing tour in the Old town of Plovdiv. The walking tour will give you a chance to submerge yourselves in the atmosphere of the past while walking on the cobbled streets surrounded by stone walls and colourful facades. You will explore the earliest settlement on Nebet Tepe with its commanding view towards Maritza River and Rhodope Mountains, take on the stage of the Roman Theatre and get to know what Bulgarians were up to during the Revival Period in the Ethnographic Museum situated in a lavish house from the same time. Your guide will also take you past churches, small souvenir shops, along the main street of Plovdiv and the ruins of the Roman Philippopolis. We will leave Plovdiv after lunch and will proceed for Sofia. On our way to Sofia we will stop for a visit of Villa Yustina Winery – “Emotion in a bottle”. Visit of park-vineyards “Villa Yustina” and the goat farm “Agro Yustina”. Our wine tour continues with the process of “Following the Wine route” in the winery. Presentation of the different stages of wine-making. Tasting of 3 specially selected wines, paired with bread, meat, dairy appetisers and mineral water. Arrival in Sofia late afternoon. Check-in and prepare for a transfer to a local traditional restaurant for a farewell dinner with local Nestinar dances (Bulgarian dance on the fire) and music.
DAY 8 – SOFIA DEPARTURE
Check-out, transfer to the airport and departure from Bulgaria.
COOP Hotel 4* (great central location, opened 2017)
Best Western Premier City Hotel 4* (great central location)
Artòtel 4* (boutique style, great central location)
Crystal Palace 4* (boutique style, great central location)
Sofia Residence 4* (boutique style, great central location)
Budapest Hotel 3* (cosy boutique hotel, just a 10-minute walk to the ideal centre)
Arte Hotel 3* (gallery concept boutique hotel, located in top centre)
Bulgari Family Hotel 3*
Zlaten Rozhen Family Hotel 3*
Bolyarka Family Hotel 3*
SPA Hotel Ismena 4*
SPA Hotel Devin 4*
Park Hotel Plovdiv 3*
Ramada Trimontsium 4*
Landmark Creek Hotel 4*
Park Hotel&SPA Imperial 4*
Hotel Dafi 3*
Hiking in the mountains
Level of difficulty: easy to intermediate, depending on the trails
Horse riding in Trigrad area
Necessary experience: the riders are not required to have serious past experience, the only think they need is desire, little courage and love for the animals.
Riding period: 2 hours and 30 minutes
Terrain: Forest road
Riding paces: Consistent with the experience of the riders. If the rider is a complete beginner, the riding turns into a walk during the trip.
Necessary equipment: Long pants and shoes without expressed heels. Backpacks are prohibited! Horse base will provide with a current (riding helmet) and safety vest.
Included equipment: riding helmets, safety vests, collective kit, saddlebags for horses
Minimum age of rider: 7 years
Maximum rider weight: 100 kg.
Accompaniment for the riders: professional guide
Rafting at Struma River
Rafting centre is located 120 kilometres south from Sofia and includes changing rooms, showers, WIFI and a place to relax.
Rafting tour includes:
- the longest river run – about 12 kilometres, takes 1 hour and 30 minutes to go through
- full equipment for the rafting – neoprene suit, neoprene shoes, helmet, jacket, PFD
- qualified rafting instructor
- safety instructions for the rafting
- changing rooms and outside showers
- transport on the rafting track
- rafting insurance
- convenient parking lot
- professional photographer, who takes pictures on the rapids.