Explore the little-explored art and architectural gems found in Bulgaria on our unique cultural tour across the country. The spectacular sites include:
• Unspoilt stunning landscapes and groundbreaking archaeology discoveries, unaffected by mass tourism.
• Artistically wealthy monasteries: these treasuries of Bulgarian culture were the focal point for artistic patronage.
• Ancient city of Sofia, with an abundance of cultural and archaeological assets.
Unique vernacular architecture: The townhouses of wealthy merchants, government officials and craftsmen combine local Bulgarian, Ottoman Turkish and Central European traditions.
Depart Heathrow 0820 on British Airways, arriving Sofia 1325. Transfer to Grand Hotel, central Sofia, for three nights. Afternoon: neo-Byzantine Alexander Nevsky Cathedral (huge crypt with icon collection) and National Archaeological Museum.
Sofia: Boyana Church (13th century frescoes), National Museum of History, walking tour of central Sofia: beautifully restored synagogue (Moorish turrets), Banya Bashi Mosque, churches. Free evening.
Whole-day excursion to small town of Koprivshtitsa (National Revival architecture), and Kremikovci Monastery.
Zemen Monastery (14th century frescoes), 10th century Rila Monastery (wood-carvings, frescoes, icons), then continue to Interhotel Sandanski, for two nights.
Melnik (remarkable wooden houses, medieval churches with valuable icons), medieval Rozhen Monastery (unique wood-carved altars) and Sandanski early-Christian basilica.
Bansko (church, National Revival houses), Kovachevitsa (local architecture) with drive through Rhodope Mountains to Devin for overnight at Spa Hotel Devin.
Shiroka Luka (stone-roofed houses), 11th century Bachkovo Monastery, then continue to Plovdiv for two nights at Grand Hotel Plovdiv.
Plovdiv: old town (National Revival architecture), ethnographic museum, St Konstantin and Elena churches, House of Stepan Hindlian, Cumaya Mosque, Roman amphitheatre. Free evening.
Starosel (recently discovered Thracian sanctuaries), Hisar (Roman remains) then continue to Kazanlak (archaeology museum, replica of the 4th century Thracian tomb), Thracian tombs of Golyama Kosmatka, Shushmanets and Ostrusha. Overnight at Hotel Palace, Kazanlak.
Across historic Shipka Pass to Shipka (memorial church), then Sokolski Monastery, Etura (traditional rural architecture) and Preslav (archaeology museum, round church). Continue to Shumen (centre of Muslim minority) for overnight stay at Hotel Shumen.
Tombul Mosque. Depart Shumen for Pliska site and Basilica, Madara Horseman (medieval rock carving on 300-ft cliff), Sveshtari (3rd century Thracian tomb), then continue to Arbanassi Palace Hotel for three nights.
Environs of Veliko Turnovo (medieval capital): Arbanassi (merchant’s semi-defensive house), 12th century Tsarevets (royal palace and cathedral), churches.
Ivanovo cave monastery (vast rock-hewn complex with 14th century murals), Cherven (medieval fortress).
Preobrazhenski Monastery (murals, icons), Troyan Monastery (spectacular frescoes) then continue to Sofia for overnight stay at Grand Hotel.
Free morning. Depart Sofia 1420 arriving Heathrow 1555.