Central & East Europe

Essential Bulgaria

Photo credit: Photo credit: Michel Behar

12 Days
From $6,395
Trip Type
Group Size
Your choice
Activity Level
Flexible Private Trip — Book Your Dates for You & Yours!

From Roman Ruins to Mountain Monasteries


Bulgaria is one of Europe’s best kept secrets: great food and wine, fascinating historical sights, outstanding scenery, and friendly people. Spend twelve days on this private tour of Bulgaria exploring the diverse terrain of this country and getting to know its unique people and culture. Start in the capital Sofia, winding your way across the Roman ruins and vineyards of the Thracian Plain to the Black Sea resort town of Varna. Then head up to the Danube River town of Ruse, and inland along the Balkan Mountains to Veliko Tarnovo and Kazanluk, stopping off in scenic towns and ancient monasteries as you go.


Travels to: Bulgaria



  • Days 1-3: Sofia (Bulgaria) and Plovdiv

    Begin your private tour in Sofia, Bulgaria’s capital. Explore the center of this ancient city on foot, taking in some of Bulgaria’s most important buildings, including the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. The next day you’ll head out of town and across the Thracian Plain to Plovdiv, replete with Roman ruins and modern wineries.


    • Stroll through Sofia’s city center, marveling at the immense Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
    • View the wonderful frescoes adorning the UNESCO-listed Boyana Church in Sofia
    • Sample local wines at Dragomira Winery near Plovdiv
    • Contemplate Bulgaria’s deep history as you roam the Roman amphitheater in Plovdiv
  • Days 4-6: Varna and Ruse

    From Plovdiv head east to the Black Sea coast, stopping off in the small towns of Burgas and Nessebur along the way. Spend a full day exploring the seaside resort town of Varna. Then head back inland to the Danube River city of Ruse. Thracian ruins and modern museums are among the touring highlights in and in between these cities.


    • Learn more about the post-Ottoman history of Varna at the city’s interesting National Revival Museum
    • View some of Europe’s largest Roman baths outside of Varna, known as Odessus in antiquity
    • Head even farther back in time as you view the Madara Horseman and the Sveshtari Royal Tomb, both dating to Thracian times and on the UNESCO World Heritage List
  • Days 7-10: Veliko Tarnovo and Kazanluk

    From Ruse head back south toward the Balkan Mountains, overnighting in both Veliko Tarnovo and Kazanluk as you go. Medieval villages, ancient churches, vibrant markets, and museums showcasing the history of the region are among the sights you’ll see in these towns. Take time to sample a few more Bulgarian wines and learn about the rose oil industry of Kazanluk.


    • Explore the hilltop fortress of Tsarevets, one of Veliko Tarnovo’s most important sights and a great place to learn about local history and take in the views
    • Visit the small village of Arbanassi, home to several ornately decorated churches and monasteries dating back centuries
    • View the UNESCO-protected, beehive shaped-Thracian tomb in Kazanluk, and the browse the related exhibits at the town’s history museum
    • Breathe deeply and enjoy the aromas as you learn about Kazanluk’s rose oil industry at the Damascena Ethnographic Complex
  • Days 11-12: Sofia and Rila Monastery

    From Kazanluk head back to Sofia, stopping off in Koprivshtitsa on the way. Your final full day in Bulgaria is dedicated to a visit to the beautiful Rila Monastery.


    • View traditional Bulgarian architecture and learn about the post-Ottoman revival of Bulgarian culture in the small village of Koprivshtitsa
    • Visit Rila Monastery in the mountains south of Sofia, a UNESCO-listed site and Bulgaria’s most important religious complex

Dates & Prices

Please note:

  • Private trip prices vary by season and are subject to hotel availability for your travel dates.
  • Listed prices below are based on double occupancy and a 2 traveler minimum.
  • Hotel upgrades, additional nights, and solo traveler prices are available on request.
  • These prices are not valid during Bulgaria’s annual Rose Festival period. If your dates include the second half of May or the first half of June, please call for pricing.

Land tour price, per person, starting from:

  • 2024 Dates
    Available: January - December
    Tour, double occupancy
    Single supplement
  • 2025 Dates
    Available: January - December
    Tour, double occupancy
    Single supplement

What's Included

  • Tour Includes
    • Shared accommodations in well-located four-star hotels throughout the itinerary.
    • Meals, as noted in the itinerary: breakfast daily, beginning with Day 2. Lunches and dinners are left independent to allow independent exploration.
    • Services of experienced driver throughout the program.
    • Services of a professional English-speaking guide from Day 2 until Day 11.
    • One arrival and one departure transfer. (Additional arrival and departure transfers are available at additional cost.) MIR arranges for travelers to be met on arrival and seen off on departure whether we make your airfare arrangements or not.
    • Ground transportation throughout itinerary by private van or car (type of vehicle depends on the size of your party).
    • Guided sightseeing tours and entrance fees as outlined in the itinerary.
    • Complete pre-departure electronic document that includes detailed packing suggestions, reading list links, country-specific information, maps, travel tips and more.
    • Assistance booking your custom flight arrangements (on request; please note that international airfare is not included in the land tour cost).
    • Electronic final update bulletin, with any late news, updates and important information.
  • Not Included
    • International airfare or taxes/fuel surcharges.
    • Meals not specified as included in the itinerary.
    • Single supplement charge, if requested or required.
    • Baggage handling.
    • Items of a personal nature (phone calls, email, laundry, alcohol, excess baggage, etc).
    • Gratuities to local staff.
    • Visa/passport fees, airport departure fees.
    • Expenses incurred as a result of delay, modification or extension of a tour due to causes beyond MIR’s control.
    • Travel and trip cancellation insurance.

Activity Level

Level 2: Moderate, but Customizable

This ‘Essential’ itinerary designed for private travel features long days walking and standing, some long days of overland travel, some stair climbing, unpaved sidewalks and streets, uneven surfaces and steps, absent handrails, and lack of elevators. While some of these challenges are inherent in the destinations and sites, as one of our Essential Series programs this trip can be modified as needed for those travelers who are looking for a less challenging (or more challenging) program.

There is a significant amount of touring on foot, and those travelers planning to take the program as written should be able to walk one to two miles a day comfortably. Footing can be an issue and travelers should be able to negotiate streets of packed dirt, cobblestones, uneven surfaces (possibly steep and/or wet), and deal with situations without handrails or ramps. Museums rarely have elevators.

Past travelers have also encountered challenges with plumbing, bureaucratic service, variety of locally available foods, and availability and quality of public restrooms.

Accommodations in the basic program are generally four-star hotels. Upgrades are available, please call for details.


Traveler Reviews

  • "We had a wonderful informative overview of both Bulgaria and Romania. Was very impressed with the histories and how these countries are doing economically. The churches and monasteries in Bulgaria – spectacular!"

    J. Dunlap

    Pittsburgh, PA

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