Through the Valley of the Roses to the Painted Monasteries

Explore the complex history and fascinating culture of Bulgaria and Romania, two Balkan countries whose rugged terrain and consequent isolation have helped preserve their heritage. Discover the luminous frescoes of the painted monasteries, breathe in the fragrance of the Valley of the Roses, and spend an afternoon visiting with villagers in a tiny Transylvanian town.

16 Day Trip

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Overview Itinerary

MIR Signature Experiences on this Tour
  • Sample the fruit of the vine at a Bulgarian winery
    Sample the fruit of the vine with a wine tasting at a renowned Bulgarian wine cellar in a prime grape-growing region that has produced wine since Roman times....
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  • Interview the vampire
    Discover the Romanian origins of the Dracula story in the medieval towns of Sighisoara and Bran, whose castle embodies the Gothic image of a Transylvanian vampire castle....
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  • Admire the vivid frescoes of the painted monasteries
    Appreciate the striking beauty of the painted monasteries of Bucovina, whose 13th to 15th century stone exteriors are frescoed with dramatic biblical scenes....
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  • Toast a brandy-making family
    Enjoy a private brandy tasting at the home of a Romanian family who has been involved with brandy making for more than three centuries....
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Why Travel with MIR on this Tour
  • Over two decades of Bulgaria and Romania travel experience
  • Travel programs such as the Stanford University alumni and the California Agriculture Leadership Program have chosen MIR to guide them to Bulgaria or Romania
  • Twice named one of National Geographic Adventure’s “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth”
  • On-the-ground support and quality you can trust
  • Personalized travel planning from start to finish
  • Guides and tour managers that clients rave about
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Itinerary & Highlights at a Glance

Days 1-6: Sofia, Plovdiv, Kazanluk, Veliko Tarnovo

Begin the journey in Sofia, Bulgaria, a city with more than 7,000 years of history. Visit the serene Rila Monastery, founded in 927 AD as a retreat for hermits. Pause in the Thracian settlement of Plovdiv, with its ancient Roman and 19th century architecture, before setting off through the beautiful countryside of the Valley of Roses toward Veliko Tarnovo, capital of the 12th century Second Bulgarian Empire. Here, the remains of the Royal Fortress still stand at the top of Tsarevets Hill.

Highlights

  • Sofia, capital of Bulgaria, with its 4th century St. George Rotunda
  • 10th century striped Rila Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
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Days 7-8: Bucharest

Crossing the Danube into Romania, tour its capital, Bucharest, and contemplate Ceausescu’s last folly, the 1,100-room Palace of the Parliament. Set out north to Transylvania, a land of mixed Hungarian, Romanian and Saxon heritage.

Highlights

  • Romania's capital, Bucharest, once known as "Little Paris"
  • Ceausescu’s last folly, the 3,100-room Palace of the Parliament

Days 9-14: Transylvania, painted monasteries, medieval towns

In Sinaia, admire the German-influenced 19th century Peles Castle. Explore the birthplace of Vlad Dracul in the citadel of Sighisoara, and visit Bran Castle, which served as Bram Stoker’s model for Dracula’s ancestral home. Drive via dramatic Bicaz Canyon to four of the UNESCO-listed painted monasteries of Bucovina, and enjoy lunch and a demonstration of traditional egg painting in a private home. Meet a Romanian costume designer in the village of Salva and spend an evening with actors from a Tirgu Mures theater. Stroll the Old Town Square in the Saxon town of Sibiu.

Highlights

  • Bran Castle, whose gothic stone walls, towers and secret passageways embody the popular image of a Transylvanian vampire castle
  • UNESCO-listed fortified Saxon churches of Saschiz and Biertan
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Days 15-16: Curtea de Arges, Bucharest

Learn about legends surrounding the Byzantine-style cathedral in Curtea de Arges Monastery before heading to Bucharest for a farewell dinner.

Highlights

  • Curtea de Arges, ancient capital on the Arges River

See Dates & Prices for more details or to see suggested extensions.

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Tour Dates & Prices
Trip Length: 16 Days

Land Tour Price, Per Person
based on double occupancy

  • 5-16 Travelers

2015 Dates

  • June 2-17 - Provisional dates. Features Bulgaria's Rose Festival.
  • September 1-16 - Provisional Dates
  • Call for Pricing
  • Max 16 Travelers
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Group Size

Small Groups – Never More than 16 Travelers. Guaranteed!

What’s Included

On Your Tour

  • Shared accommodations in well-located superior tourist class hotels.
  • 15 breakfasts, 14 lunches and 8 dinners, per the itinerary. Some lunches and dinners are not included so that you may enjoy a chance to experiment on your own.
  • Restaurant tips for included meals.
  • Services of an experienced, English-speaking MIR Tour Manager with local guides at specific sites.
  • Arrival/departure transfers. MIR will arrange for all travelers to be met on arrival and seen off on departure whether we make your airfare arrangements or not, provided you arrive and depart on the tour start/end dates in the tour start/end cities.
  • Transportation throughout itinerary by private coach or van (size of vehicle depends on group size).
  • Guided sightseeing tours and entrance fees as outlined in the itinerary.
  • Special events, excursions and cultural performances per the itinerary.
  • Baggage handling where available.
  • Gratuities to local guides and drivers.

Before Your Tour

  • Personalized pre-departure support from one of our knowledgeable Tour Specialists.
  • Complete pre-departure information including detailed packing list and reading list.
  • Touring with MIR handbook with country-specific information, maps, and travel tips.
  • Final document packet including luggage tags, final updates, and more.
  • Assistance booking your custom flight arrangements (on request; please note that international and internal airfares are not included in the land tour cost).
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Prepare for Your Trip

International Airfare

MIR's in-house, full-service air department will gladly assist with your air travel needs.

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Reading List

MIR recommends reading up before you leave home. So settle back in your armchair with some of our favorite books about our favorite places.

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Visas

Most MIR programs require one or more visas, and each visa requires a completely blank page in your passport. Visa information for this particular tour is listed in the Detailed Descriptive Itinerary.

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Travel Insurance

Stay a Little Longer…

MIR can arrange for an extended program in Sofia, Bulgaria before the tour begins or in Bucharest, Romania at its conclusion. Please contact us for more information. This tour may also be combined with Belarus, Ukraine & Moldova.

Or, choose from one of our suggested itineraries:

Is this Trip Right for You?

While the accommodations are as comfortable as possible, it is important to keep in mind that parts of Romania and Bulgaria are not up to the standards North American travelers expect. A full list of details about the rigors of this tour can be found in the Detailed Descriptive Itinerary.

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