Day 1: Arrival in Sofia
You will be met on arrival and transferred to our hotel. The flights generally arrive in mid afternoon giving you a chance to rest the remainder of this day and evening. The hotel is centrally located near restaurants and shops.
Day 2: Full day tour of Sofia
A city tour of Sofia in the morning to include St. Nedelya Square, St. George Rotunda and the Alexander Nevsky Memorial Cathedral as well as the Spanish-Moresque style Synagogue and Jewish Museum.
In the afternoon a visit to Boyana Church, UNESCO World Heritage site, and the National History Museum.
Day 3: Rila and Rozhen Monasteries - Melnik
Enjoy the 10th century colorfully-painted Rila Monastery, where a few monks still reside, and see its rich museum collection, ethnographic exhibition and library containing more than 16,000 books. Next, 12-13th century Rozhen Monastery with its Blessed Virgin Church, decorated with over 150 biblical scenes.
Our Bulgarian tour then travels onward to the charming museum town of Melnik. Relish tastings at Manolev's wine cellar, dug into sandstone rocks on top of a hill above town.
Day 4-5: Bansko - Plodiv
In Melnik, visit Kordopulova House, a historical museum built in 1758. Our small group will enjoy a delightful time in Plodiv's famous Old Town, with distinctive revival architecture popular among 18th-19th century merchants.
The region is also well known for the beautiful Rose festival (held once annually in late May, please view detailed itinerary for included dates). On tours that coincide with the Bulgarian Rose festival tour members will be able to participate in rose picking, the "Horo" dance and see the Rose queen parade among other folkloric customs.
Day 6: Koprivshtitsa - Valley of Roses - Veliko Turnovo
We stop first in the village of Koprivshtitsa, known for its international folklore festival which occurs once every five years. We continue through the Valley of the Roses, along the Balkan Range to Banya and Kazanlak.
Our cultural tour of Bulgaria culminates with sightseeing in Veliko Turnovo, the capital of the second Bulgarian Kingdom, 12-14th century.
Day 7-8: Bucharest
The combined Bulgaria-Romania tour continues to Romania by car (3.5 hrs) with stops to visit Ivanovo Rock churches near Rouse and lunch.
In Bucharest, we enjoy a comprehensive guided tour of historic Bucharest including a visit to the outdoor Village Museum, the Museum of the Romanian Peasant, the Palace of Parliament, Revolution Square, Patriarch's Cathedral and a walk in Bucharest's historic area with its well preserved medieval architecture.
Day 9-10: Sibiu
Crossing the Carpathian Mountains, our small group tour of Romania will drive along the picturesque Olt Valley to Cozia Monastery, built in 1386.
Arrive in Sibiu, one of the oldest Saxon towns in Transylvania. A guided walking tour of the medieval town with cobblestone streets and pastel houses.
We visit the Bruckenthal Palace Museum, enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride through the open air museum of Astra and visit traditional villages nearby for further cultural immersion.
Day 11: Sighisoara
Our small group tour will explore Sighisoara, one of the best preserved and continuously inhabited medieval cities of Europe, with a walled citadel on the hilltop, secret gateways and passages, and a 14th century clock tower. Sighisoara is the birthplace of Prince Vlad Tepes (also know as Vlad the Impaler and the inspiration for the fictional character Dracula).
Day 12-13: Vadu Izei Village in Maramures
Soak up the ambiance in Maramures, the land of wooden churches, unique folk costumes and timeless traditions, where ancient Romania co-exists with modern times. Become immersed in the local romanian culture as you experience the local peasant lifestyle with a delightful village family. See the whimsical Merry Cemetery in Sapanta Village with its brightly colored grave markers that include simple paintings and interesting epitaphs. Special treat, dinner with "ceterasi", the local violin players
Day 14-15: Bucovina
Travel through the scenic Prislop Pass to the Bucovina region, renowned for the wondrously detailed exterior frescoes on the walls of its monasteries and churches. Visit four of the eight famous Painted Monasteries of northern Moldova in their construction and painting order: Humor, Voronet, Moldovita, Sucevita.
Day 16-17: Brasov - Bran - Sinaia
Our small tour group will enjoy a guided walking tour in the historical center of Brasov including the Black Church, the largest gothic structure between Vienna and Istanbul. Visit “Dracula’s Castle” in Bran and the fabulous Peles Castle in Sinaia.
Day 18: Depart from Bucharest
Transfer to airport.