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Round Trip

Bulgaria and Istanbul from Varna/Burgas

Bulgaria and Istanbul from Varna/Burgas

Burgas - Istanbul - Plovdiv - Sofia - Plovdiv - Shipka - Etara - Tryavna - Veliko Tarnovo - Arbanassi - Madara - Varna/Burgas.

Day 1  Arrival at Burgas airport – Burgas area

-          Arrival at Burgas airport. Transfer to the hotel in Burgas area, check-in, dinner, overnight.

Day 2  Burgas area – Istanbul (334 km)

-          Breakfast. Drive to Istanbul (334 km, approx. 6.5h)The only city in the world that has been capital to consecutive Christan and Islamic empires, Istanbul retains features of both. Situated on two continents - Europa and Asia, Istanbul is a meeting pot of Eastern and Western cultures.
-          Option for lunch – on the way
-          Tour of Istanbul

TOUR INFO: A walking tour of the Old Town: visit to the Hippodrome and the Blue Mosque, view outside of Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Saray. Drive by bus via the bridge of Golden Horn. Drive along the Bosphorus and Dolmabahce Saray, visit to the Asian part of Istanbul. Drive back to the European part and visit to the Bulgarian Church St.Stephan.

-          Accommodation in a hotel in Istanbul. Dinner and overnight.

Day 3  Istanbul

-          Breakfast. Option – CULTURAL TOUR with a visit to Adam Mickiewicz Museum – 25 EUR

TOUR INFO:Visit to the Ecumenical Patriarchate of ConstantinopleVisit to Istanbul Downtown: a walk on the pedestrian zone from Taksim Square, visit to Aya Triada Greek Orthodox Church, Aya Triada Armenian Catholic Church and the biggest Catholic Cathedral S. Antonio di Padova.  Visit to Adam Mickiewicz MuseumBosphorus cruise: passing by Dolmabahce Saray and Chiragan Palace, the fortresses Rumeli Hisari and Anadolu Hisari.Shopping at Forum Istanbul Shopping CentreShopping at Kapali Carsi.

-          Dinner. Option – Dinner + variety show program – 30 EUR. Overnight.

Day 4  Istanbul – Plovdiv (412 km)

-          Breakfast. Drive to Plovdiv (412 km, approx. 7h).  Option for lunch – on the way.  Accommodation in a hotel in Plovdiv. Dinner,  option – dinner in a traditional Bulgarian restaurant with folklore program – 15 EUR.  Overnight.

Day 5 Plovdiv – Sofia – Plovdiv (300 km)

-          Breakfast.   A walking tour in Plovdiv Old Town.

TOUR INFO: During your guided walk you will admire some of the highlights of Plovdiv. As you discover the Old Town you will get to the Antique Theater. Built in the early 2nd century A.D. by the Roman Emperor Traianus (98-117), the theatre was one of the most important public buildings in Trimontium, remarkable with its architectural impressiveness and splendor. The Ancient Theatre seated 5 to 7 thousand. It still is the center of the cultural life in Plovdiv. Another trace from the Roman times is the Roman stadium under the main street in town. It is believed to have been built during the reign of Septimus Severus (193-211) and had a capacity to seat 30 000 spectators. Now the larger part of it remains still underground but the stadium is visible from the Dzhumayata Square. The Old Town of Plovdiv will offer you the possibility to admire also the Bulgarian Renaissance architecture with a few houses that are masterpieces of the local architectural tradition. Nowadays many of them are galleries and museums; some are turned into restaurants and cozy hotels. Some of the most remarkable houses are Balabanov house, Hindlyan House and Nedkovich House. The Ethnographic Museum in the Old Town of Plovdiv is one of the most interesting museums in Bulgaria. Its exhibits are on show in a beautiful house, which is a fine example of the Bulgarian Baroque architecture of the National Revival Period. It was built in 1847. The principal facade of the house faces west, giving onto a spacious and well-kept garden.

Included in the tour: Antique Theater, Roman Stadium, Balabanov House, Hindlyan House, Nedkovich House, Ethnographic Museum – all of them outside. Entrance fees – about 2-3 EUR each

-          Free time for lunch
-          Drive to Sofia (150 km, approx. 2h)
-          A walking tour of Sofia

TOUR INFO: As you enjoy a guided walk along the central area of the town you will discover traces from the Roman and Thracian times as well as beautiful examples of the 19th and early 20th century European architecture – usually the work of German, Austrian or Italian architects. They coexist with some monstrous concrete buildings inherited from the Communist past of the country.

Your stroll along the area of "yellow paving stones" once marking the Palace district will start with the impressive Alexander Nevski Cathedral. It is one the country's landmarks and Sofia's top attraction. Its gold-plated domes dominate the skyline of the city center. Built to commemorate the Russian and Ukrainian soldiers who fought in the Russo-Turkish Wars 1877- 1878, this large Eastern Orthodox Cathedral is a gallery of the best Russian and Bulgarian artists at the turn of the 20th century. Nearby you will also see one of the most valuable examples of early Christian architecture in South Eastern Europe – the 14th century Hagia Sophia church that also gave the name of the Bulgarian capital. Walking further, you will be fascinated by the golden onion-shaped domes and vibrant colors of the Russian church – the official church of the Russian embassy in 1882. Then it will be time for something more European as you will have reached the former Royal Palace, the work of 2 Austrian architects and home of the Bulgarian Royal family. Nowadays it houses the National Art Gallery. Passing by the National Theater, another lovely piece of work of Viennese architects and also the place where the mausoleum of the communist leader Georgi Dimitrov once stood, you will get to the Presidency building. Take a peak through the gate and you will discover the charming 4th century Rotunda St. George, hiding in the courtyard of the presidency and the Sheraton hotel. The surrounding area was the heart of the ancient town of Serdica and in the underpass next to the Presidency you can see some more traces of the Roman and Thracian times – the old city gates and fortification walls.

Included in the tour: inside - Alexander Nevski Cathedral (without the crypt ), Hagia Sophia church, Russian church, Rotunda St. George ; outside - former Royal Palace, National Art Gallery, National Theater, Presidency building

-          Drive back to Plovdiv
-          Dinner
-          Overnight

Day 6 Plovdiv – Shipka – Etara – Tryavna (203 km)

-          Breakfast. Departure for Etara (180 km, approx. 3h45min). On the way drive through Shipka pass, visit the monument at Shipka peak and the Memorial church. Visit to the open - air ethnographic museum "Etara". Etara is one of the most interesting open-air museums in Bulgaria. It presents the local traditions, customs and craftsmanship from the period of the National Revival in Bulgaria. The complex includes water installations, houses with the craftsmen's workshops attached, bakery and a small restaurant. The ethno village is a wonderful illustration of the way of life and the economy of the region in the past. Visitors can watch the process of making the articles with their own eyes. Silver ornaments, pottery articles, copper utensils, braids, hot buns, traditional dishes and clothing come out of the dextrous hands of the masters there.

Entrance fee for Etara (not included in the package price): 2 EUR

-          Free time for lunch
-          Drive to Tryavna (25 km, approx. 45 min)
-          A walking tour in Tryavna

TOUR INFO: The town of Tryavna is nested on the northern slopes of the Balkan mountain range. It is a quaint, neat, charming little town with well-preserved architecture from the 1800s. The typical houses in Tryavna have ground floors with irregular forms and usually housed craftsmen and traders. The upper floors featured wooden bow-windows and the roofs were covered with well arranged rocks. The town was a busy crafts center and particularly famous for the wood-carving school. You will see some lovely examples of it when you visit the Old School in the center of town and also the Daskalova house where two of the best masters of wood – carving competed and worked hard for six months in the two largest rooms in the house to decorate the ceiling. You can be the judges and tell who did a better job.

Entrance fees (not included in the package price): Old School – 1 EUR, Daskalova House – 1 EUR

-          Accommodation in a hotel, dinner and overnight.

Day 7  Tryavna – Veliko Tarnovo – Madara Horseman - Varna (270 km)

-          Breakfast. Drive to Veliko Tarnovo (43 km, approx. 50min).   A Walking tour of Veliko Tarnovo.

TOUR INFO: Veliko Tarnovo or "the town of noblemen" as it is called in Bulgaria is the former capital in the middle ages and a symbol of the Bulgarian nationhood. You will visit the main landmark of the city - the Tsarevets fortification, which was the seat of the kings and the Bulgarian Patriarch during the Second Bulgarian Kingdom. The fortress walls and watchtowers as well as the Patriarch's church on top of the hill can still be seen. You can also see the so-called Baldwin Tower surrounded by legends and myths where supposedly one of the most prominent leaders of the Fourth Crusade, Baldwin of Flanders was imprisoned and died. You will take a stroll along the historical Samovodene street in the Old Town. There you will find a charming handicraft shops and get acquainted with some traditional local crafts like icon-painting, wood-carving, weaving, copper-smithing, silver-smithing, etc. You can even enjoy a cup of Turkish coffee made on hot sand the way it was prepared for the craftsmen and tradesmen 100 years ago.

Entrance fees (not included in the package price): Tsarevets Fortification – 3 EUR

-          Drive to Arbanassi (4 km),  a walking tour of Arbanassi

TOUR INFO: Arbanassi is a small architectural gem with houses and churches from the 17th and 18th centuries. The village enjoyed some privileges from the Ottoman sultan and was the residence of rich merchants in the past. Now it is a great and beloved place for both locals and tourists. The most famous church is the Nativity church where you can admire the beautiful fresco depicting the circle of life. You will also see the Konstantzalieva house and learn about the way of life in the 17th century of a wealthy local family. The village offers spectacular views over the town of Veliko Tarnovo.

Entrance fees (not included in the package price): Konstantzalieva house – 3 EUR, Nativity Church – 3 EUR

-          Return to Veliko Tarnovo. Free time for lunch.
-          Drive to Madara (151 km, approx. 2h45min), Visit to Madara Horseman

Madara Horseman is located near the village of Madara and is included in UNESCO's world heritage list. It is dated to 8th century and is connected to the early history of the Bulgarians. It is a relief cut in vertical rocks and depicting a rider on a horse. The horseman is thrusting his spear in a lion at his horse's feet, there is a dog running behind him and an eagle flying ahead of him. It possibly represents a military victory or a Thracian god. The Madara Horseman is seen as one of the symbols of the Bulgarian State.

Entrance fee (not included in the package price): 2 EUR

-          Drive to Varna (77 km, approx. 1h), accommodation in a hotel in Varna area,  dinner.
           Option – Varna by night & Golden sands Panoramic BUS tour -10 EUR. Overnight.

Day 8  Varna – Burgas airport

-          Breakfast and transfer to Burgas airport

Madara Horseman

    The Madara Rider or Madara Horseman is an early medieval large rock relief carved on the Madara Plateau east of Shumen in northeastern Bulgaria, near the village of Madara.

Architectural Complex Etar

    The Etar Architectural-Ethnographic Complex (usually referred to as Etara) is an open-air museum and a neighbourhood of Gabrovo (8 km south of its center) in northern Bulgaria.

Architecture Reserve Tsarevets

    Architectural and Museum Reserve Tsarevets is one of the most frequented tourist sites in Bulgaria. It is located on Tsarevets Hill in the old part of the town of Veliko Tarnovo.

Arbanasi Archeological Reserve

    The village of Arbanasi is located on a high plateau 4 km from the city of Veliko Tarnovo. It is known that the village existed during the time of the Second Bulgarian State (1185 - 1393).

National Park-Museum Shipka

    National Park Museum Shipka is located on top of Shipka Peak (1,326 m) in the Balkan Mountains, 28 km from the town of Kazanlak and 22 km from the town of Gabrovo.

The Shipka Monastery

    The Shipka Monastery "The Nativity" is located on the outskirts of the city Shipka. The idea to found the monastery began with the Russian diplomat Count Ignatiev and Olga Skobeleva, mother of General Skobelev.

Old Town - Plovdiv

    Ancient Plovdiv Architectural Reserve is a well-preserved complex where on a relatively small area visitors can take walks through different historical ages, see ancient buildings adapted to the modern way of life.

Burgas

    Burgas is one of the largest cities in the country. It is situated on the Black Sea shore, in the Burgas Bay, at a distance of 400 km from Sofia and 130 km from Varna. Burgas is an administrative center.

Sofia

    Sofia is Bulgaria's capital and its largest city. Founded thousands of years ago, today the city continues to develop as the country's cultural and economic center.

Plovdiv City

    The town in its present appearance was built around seven hills – the hills of Plovdiv (Plovdiv Tepes) which are an inseparable part of the city's history. Plovdiv is one of the oldest cities in Europe.

Tryavna

    Placed along the northern slopes of the Tryavna Balkan Mountain and Fore-Balkans. The relief is diverse - from mountain to river valleys, hills and gorges.

Veliko Tarnovo

    Often referred to as the "City of the Tsars", Veliko Tarnovo is located on the Yantra River and is famous as the historical capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire, attracting many tourists with its unique architecture.

City of Varna

    Varna (Bulgarian: Варна, pronounced [ˈvarnɐ]) is the largest city and seaside resort on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast, classified the third and the second largest city in Bulgaria. It is the administrative centre of the homonymous province and Varna Municipality and the tenth-largest city in the Balkans after Istanbul, Athens, Bucharest, Belgrade, Sofia, Thessaloniki, Zagreb, Skopje and Tirana.

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