Bulgaria mountains and monasteries Tour

“A ten day, small group fully guided tour, starting and ending in Sofia and staying in small hotels. With private transfers. ”

Highlights

Sofia | Rila Monastery | Rila National Park | Melnik | Pirin Mountains | Rhodope Mountains | Trigrad | Asenovgrad Fortress | Bachkovo Monastery | Plovdiv | Kazanlak | Arbanasi | Troyan Monastery | Veliko Tarnovo | Central Balkan National Park

Description of Bulgaria mountains and monasteries Tour

This Bulgaria mountains holiday, a small group tour of ten days, focuses not only on the country’s stunning natural heritage but also on its cultural highlights and, in particular, its monasteries. A most underrated destination, Bulgaria has a fascinating history thanks to its geography which has seen influences from both Christian Europe and the Ottoman Empire from the south.

Starting and ending in Sofia, we head immediately into the Rila Mountains to visit one of the country’s most famous ancient sites: Rila Monastery. The centre of Eastern Orthodox Christianity, it is a fortified complex packed with magnificent frescoes and carvings. Other great monasteries on this trip include Bachkovo and Troyan.

Insights into contemporary Bulgarian life can also be enjoyed in many of its untouched rural areas, such as in the tiny villages of Gorno Draglishte or Apriltsi where we stay in a small, local guesthouses or the village of Arbanasi, where traditional houses in this ancient trading spot resemble small forts. The larger towns of Plovdiv and Veliko Tarnovo are wonderful places to explore the country’s medieval history and traditions.

Throughout this trip, you will be enveloped by mountains, with more than a third of the country covered by ranges which we will dip in and out of. These are the Balkan, Rhodope, Rila and Pirin ranges, and we spend some time specifically in Central Balkan National Park which lies within the Balkan Mountains, taking a gentle hike through ancient beech forests.

With great food, welcoming people and a superb array of historic monuments, this Bulgaria holiday itinerary is a perfect introduction to a country that is packed with unknown beauties.

Hello. If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. Rosy & team.

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Check dates

2019: 18 May, 21 Sep
2020: 16 May, 19 Sep
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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Bulgaria mountains and monasteries Tour

Environment

Much of the time on this tour is spent in towns and cities, but we do spend time in the Rhodope and Balkan Mountains, a stunning area of impressive landscapes. When exploring this area on foot we take care to stick to the trails and not to damage any of the flora, as some parts of the region are quite a fragile environment. We operate a strict no litter policy on our tours, which includes the drivers. Bulgaria is a country where western European norms regarding the environment are not so well entrenched, therefore it is quite common for local people to dispose of rubbish simply by throwing it out of the window. We work to educate our drivers and other service providers so as to avoid contributing to this problem.

Similarly, in conjunction with our local team we work with hotels and guesthouses to implement best practices when it comes to environmental matters – again in some places this is far behind what we might be used to in other parts of the world. This includes basic things like not replacing towels each day, as well as saving electricity and turning lights off – small things but we hope that they can become ingrained into the culture of a country where tourism isn't so established as other parts of Europe.

In Gorno Draglishte we stay in a small guesthouse which uses local produce for the meals they provide – local in the sense of being from the village and nearby area, not from elsewhere. Not only is this a great introduction to the culinary culture of Bulgaria but it helps in a small way to cut down on food miles.

Community

On all of tours we strive to include a strong focus on local communities and we are firm believers that tourism should have a positive impact on the places visited. On this tour we spend time in some of Bulgaria’s more traditional areas such as the village of Gorno Draglishte, that do not see as much tourism as other parts of the country. We stay at locally owned guesthouses and hotels and where appropriate employ the services of local people in order not only to gain a greater insight into the complex traditions here but to ensure that they gain financial benefit from our visit, rather than just being ‘exhibits’.

We visit a number of sites and monuments on this tour that do not necessarily receive much funding from other sources; the entrance fees that we include help to maintain the heritage of this country for future generations – not just western travellers but more importantly to local people to whom they have far more cultural and historical significance. We use locally owned suppliers and our partners here are deeply involved with the preservation of the culture and heritage of the country. Through carefully supervised tourism, greater worth is placed upon Bulgaria’s rich heritage and it is hoped that local authorities will not only have the funds but also recognise the value in restoring and preserving such places.

When visiting the smaller communities we encourage our travellers to spend money locally and perhaps purchase some of the fine handicrafts on sale here.

1 Reviews of Bulgaria mountains and monasteries Tour

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Reviewed on 02 Oct 2018 by

Overall, this was an exciting and enjoyable trip with numerous highlights. The most outstanding things for me were the: frescoed monasteries and churches, the mountain scenary including the gorges and caves, the historical and attractive city of Plovdiv and the interesting heritage villages with their traditional architecture.

The accommodation was clean and comfortable and in good locations. The transport was comfortable and all journeys were less than 2 hours. The guide was very knowledgeable, patient and considerate. The driver was safe, helpful and pleasant.

Suggestions --- More time in Sofia at either the start or end of the tour. More detailed trip notes to save long explanations from the guide at the site. Maybe less included meals ( with a subsequent reduction in the trip price) My wife and I are not used to having a 3 course lunch and a 3 course dinner every day. ( although others may disagree!). Some indication of the level of fitness required would have been helpful -- there were a lot of steps, steep slopes and hills to negotiate.

Overall it was a great trip which I would recommend to like- minded friends.

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