• Private tour: only for you and your partner/family/group
• In English: with a guide or driver (other languages upon request)
• Dates: you decide the dates
• Services: you choose the type of services and options
• Location: it starts and ends in Sofia
• Duration: 7 days in total
• No flights included
The most important attractions from east to west in 1 week. The tour includes everything you can not miss in Bulgaria. With time to explore the capital city, the interior, and the Black Sea Coast, it becomes the most recommended trip to discover and enjoy this country.
What you will do
• Explore Koprivshtitsa, an authentic museum-village that maintains the atmosphere of the 19th century
• See UNESCO attractions: Thracian Tomb, Rila Monastery, Nessebar's old town
• Discover symbols of Bulgaria: the Knight of Madara, the rock churches of Ivanovo, the village of Arbanassi
• Visit Sofia (young and welcoming capital), Plovdiv (beautiful cultural center), Veliko Tarnovo ("the city of the Tsars") and Varna (the "marine capital" of the country)
Why Santiago Tour?
1. Local experts and excellent guides
2. Local prices and selected services
Why a Private Tour?
1. It's flexible - you decide when to travel and how
2. It's personal - a trip for you and according to your preferences
This is a private tour, adaptable to your travel dates and preferences, organized only for you and your partner / family / group.
|Number of participants
||6 or more
Price* / person
* Discount: up to - €180/person, in case of choosing English-speaking driver-guide instead of proficient tour guide (see below in options)
What is Included:
• Accommodation: 6 overnights according to the program, in double room with breakfast included, 3* Smart type (see below).
• Transportation by modern vehicle according to the program, with related expenses and 2 airport-hotel and return transfers included
• Assistance: English speaking proficient tour guide, as per program
• Guided visits mentioned in the program; 1 attraction with free entrance: Rila Monastery (Bulgaria); 7 attractions with entrance fee included: Nativity Church (Arbanassi); Tsarevets Fortress (Veliko Tarnovo); Rock-hewn Churches (Ivanovo); Madara Rider (bas-relief); Thracian Tomb (Kazanlak); Hindliyan or Balabanov House (Plovdiv); Koprivshtitsa Museum (houses).
3* Smart Type Accommodation: mainly 3* superior hotels with quality services
or similar, depending on availability.
• Single room supplement: + €115.
What is Not included:
• flights and travel insurance
• personal expenses, such as: mini bar, phone calls, porterage etc.
• photo / video fees during the visits (if applicable)
• in general, all services not specified in "what is included"
• tips for the guide and/or driver.
• 4* Comfort type - mainly 4* hotels with quality services: Sofia - Central 4* Hotel (center 0); Veliko Tarnovo - Studio 3*- superior Hotel (center 0); Varna - Golden Tulip 4* Hotel (center 1); Plovdiv - Holiday Inn 4* Hotel / Best Western Premier Hills 4* Hotel (center 2). Or similar, depending on availability. Total extra charge: approx. + €35/person in double room and the single supplement changing to: €150.
• 3* Economy type - mainly 3* standard hotels and pensions, with quality services. Total discount: approx. - €25/person in double room and single supplement changing to: €120.
Notes on accommodation
• Confirmed hotels can be communicated only after making the reservations on specific dates
• center 0 / center 1 / center 2 means: 0-5 / 5-15 / 15-25 minutes walking distance from the center (the important tourist area of the city)
• Some 3* boutique hotels and pensions don't have an elevator or air conditioning (because it is not usually required). If these are essential requirements, please let us know or choose the 4* Comfort option.
A. With a proficient tour guide. Option included in the price.
• English-speaking tour guide, offering detailed explanation, presentations, and guided tours. The tour guide also makes all necessary arrangements, as well as restaurant and meal recommendations.
• a tour guide for the entire program, no local tour guides being used in general. Some attractions only allow guided tours (their own staff); if the included tour is not available in English, our tour guide will join you and translate or even make the tour by himself (if allowed).
• depending on availability: a tour guide who also drives (1 person), or a tour guide plus a driver (2 people), with fee, meal allowance, and accommodation included.
B. With a driver-guide. Discount: up to - €180/person.
• English-speaking driver-guide, facilitating the visits, the entrances to attractions, the check-ins and other details. The driver-guide is also able to make restaurant and meal recommendations.
• offers basic information about the main attractions and the country but not detailed explanation or presentations. Some attractions only allow guided tours (their own staff); if the included tour is not available in English, our driver-guide will join you and translate or even make the tour by himself (if allowed).
• his fee, meal allowance, and accommodation are included.
• lunches and dinners will be organized freely or with the help of your assistant.
• breakfasts are included with the accommodation
Read the General Conditions for a Private tour by clicking here
How it is organized
• 6 Overnights: Sofia (2) - Veliko Tarnovo - Varna - Plovdiv - Sofia
• Itinerary: Sofia (the capital) - Rila Monastery (UNESCO) - Sofia (second night) - Arbanassi (original village) - Veliko Tarnovo (medieval capital of the tsars) - Ivanovo (the cave churches) - Madara (The Madara Rider) - Varna (the country's "marine capital") - Nessebar (peninsular old town protected by UNESCO) - Kazanlak (the city "of roses") - Plovdiv (European Capital of Culture 2019) - Koprivshtitsa (village and museum at the same time) - Sofia (the capital)
• The tour has 6 overnights and 7 days: 2 days for arrival & return and 5 days of program with activities such as city tours, free time, and visits along the route.
• 7 days in total and planned to take place from Saturday to Friday. It can be adapted to your flights and preferred dates while taking into account the visiting hours of the attractions included in the program.
• The program can be slightly customized to match your preferences and ideas, or it can be the draft for a tailor-made trip made from scratch.
• Extend: there are optional days that can be added to the program, which are detailed below and imply an additional cost.
Day 1 of 7. Arrival in Bulgaria
Program: airport transfer and free time in Sofia (if possible)
Arrival at Sofia Airport and meeting with Santiago Tour’s guide or driver.
Transfer to the accommodation.
Depending on the arrival hour, free time in the city (without driver or guide). You can stroll along the beautiful shopping street Vitosha, with its many cafes and terraces, visit one of the important Orthodox churches, or discover the offers of the Market Hall, housed in an elegant neo-Renaissance building.
Day 2 of 7. A Byzantine monastery and exploring the capital
Sofia - Rila Monastery - Sofia ☾. 245 km
Program: visit Sofia and Rila Monastery; free time in Sofia
Breakfast. Sofia city tour: Nevsky Cathedral with its multitude of domes, the Art Gallery - former Royal Palace and the rather small National Assembly, the beautiful Russian Church also known as St. Nicholas the Miracle-Maker, the Presidency with its guard of honour and the old St. George Rotunda inside its courtyard, and the iconic Theater building.
Next, we leave Sofia and take the road to Rila Monastery. It is a convent protected by UNESCO due to the beautiful Byzantine architecture and its importance as an Orthodox cultural and spiritual center. Founded in the 10th century by Saint John of Rila, the monastery is located at an altitude of 1,147 m, all surrounded by the nature of the homonymous mountains. Visit, time to have lunch, and return to Sofia in the afternoon. Overnight accommodation and free time in the city.
Day 3 of 7. On the other side of the Balkans
Sofia - Arbanasi - Veliko Tarnovo ☾. 240 km
Program: visit Arbanasi; city tour and free time in Veliko Tarnovo
Breakfast. We start our itinerary through Bulgaria heading northeast and crossing the Balkans. We first arrive in Arbanasi, a prosperous merchant village privileged by the Sultan in the past, characterized by a beautiful architectural heritage from the 17th and 18th centuries. Highlights include the surprising Nativity Church and Konstantsalieva House, an original residence with remarkable attention to detail. Visit and time for lunch. We then continue to Veliko Tarnovo, old medieval capital with beautiful and unusual architecture that seems to climb the hills. Accommodation check-in and city tour: walking and admiring the extensive Tsarevets Fortress and the historical street of the artisans “Samovodska Charshia”. Free time in the city.
Day 4 of 7. On the way to the sea
Veliko Tarnovo - Ivanovo - Madara - Varna ☾. 300 km
Program: visit the Rock-hewn Churches of Ivanovo and admire the Madara Rider; visit and free time in Varna
Breakfast. We leave in the morning for Danube’s lowlands and reach the canyon of the Rusenski Lom river. In a natural park, we find a precious medieval heritage: the Rock-hewn Churches of Ivanovo. The St. Archangel Michael Chapel (“The Buried Church”) and the Main Church of the Holy Mother of God stand out. The remarkable Byzantine frescoes did not forget to represent the czars of the Second Bulgarian Empire, important donors of this monastic complex currently protected by UNESCO.
Afterwards, we continue the itinerary, turning this time to the east and reaching the Madara plateau. Here we stop to admire The Madara Rider, a large relief from the Early Middle Ages carved at 23 meters above the ground, in the rock of a cliff that goes up to almost 100 meters. A knight is seen stabbing a lion that lies at the feet of his horse, an eagle flies ahead and a dog runs alongside him. It dates from the 8th century and is considered the symbolic representation of a military triumph or, more importantly, the representation of khan Tervel himself, the leader who consolidated the Bulgarian state, whose existence in the Byzantine province of Moesia had been won by his father Asparuh. Time to have lunch en route and in the afternoon we arrive in Varna, the "marine capital" of the country. Accommodation check-in and brief visit. The Dormition Cathedral, with elements of Russian Renaissance, and the interesting Clock Tower, behind the Dramatic Theater, stand out at the beginning of an elegant pedestrian city center. Free time to stroll around the Sea Garden, a large park and recreation area along the city’s coast.
Optional: Extra day in Varna. Explore the Black Sea Coast
Varna - Balchik - Cape Kaliakra - Varna. ☾. 160 km
Program: visit Balchik Palace, spend time on the Black Sea Coast and in Varna
Breakfast. We leave in the morning to the north and arrive at the Balchik Palace - the favorite summer residence of Queen Maria of Romania during the interwar period. It is a beautiful architectural ensemble on the Black Sea coast: a main building with an extravagant minaret, a botanical park, a wine cellar, outdoor baths and the Stella Maris Chapel. After the visit, we explore the coast further with two possible stops: Cape Kaliakra, a historical place with beautiful views of the sea at 70 m high, and Bolata Bay Beach, one of the most beautiful in the area. Both attractions are part of a protected natural area. Time for lunch in a restaurant on the seashore, one of the options being Dalboka, famous for its mussel farming, and / or return to Varna in the afternoon. On our way back, optional visit to the Stone Forest, a small desert with fine sand and curious stone columns, created and shaped by nature apparently. Or enjoy more time in the city by visiting: the Archaeological Museum (exhibits the "Gold of the Thracians", summer hours from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and / or the Retro Museum with a surprising collection of "socialist" cars (hours from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. ). Overnight accommodation and free time in Varna.
Day 5 of 7. Between the coast and the inland of Bulgaria
Varna - Nessebar - Kazanlak - Plovdiv ☾. 425 km
Program: visit Nessebar and the Thracian tomb of Kazanlak; free time in Plovdiv
Breakfast. We continue our route, this time to the south, and we arrive in Nessebar. Visit the Old Town (UNESCO), located on a small peninsula and preserving the charm of a fishing village, with narrow streets, churches and a multitude of restaurants overlooking the sea. Short free time and we return inland stopping in Kazanlak, a center of rose oil production. Refined and very much appreciated in perfumery, it is the essence of the flower that has become the national symbol of Bulgaria. Here, We visit the accurate replica (the only visit allowed) of "The Thracian Tomb" dating from the Hellenistic period - 4th century BC, a monument included in the World Heritage List. Time for lunch, then we continue in the afternoon to Plovdiv, a charming city with a bohemian air and the second largest in the country, with an impressive history. Overnight accommodation and free time in the city.
Optional: Extra day in Plovdiv. Route through the Rhodope Mountains
Plovdiv - Bachkovo - Asen Fortress - Plovdiv. ☾. 60 km
Program: visit Asen’s Fortress and Bachkovo Monastery; free time in Plovdiv
Breakfast. We head south turning at some point towards Asenova Krepost, on a road with beautiful views all around. On the left bank of the Asenitsa River, on top of a rocky peak with almost vertical slopes, lies Asen’s Fortress. Built and rebuilt by everyone who controlled it over time, this stronghold, inaccessible on three sides, closed the route between the fertile plains of Thrace and the Aegean Sea. Only one medieval church survives on this site steeped in history.
After exploring the place, we continue to the beautiful Bachkovo Monastery. Founded in the 11th century by a Byzantine politician and military man of Georgian origin, the convent flourished during the Second Bulgarian Empire. Although it was sacked by the Turks later, it re-emerged in the 17th century. Highlights: the main Church "Sveta Bogoroditsa" (Mother of God), with the fresco of Christ Pantocrator and the adored miraculous Icon of the Virgin, the Refectory of 1601 with remarkable frescoes that tell the history of the monastery, and the Church of St. Nicholas, where the Last Judgment may be admired, a refined work of the painter Zahari Zograf. Time for lunch and return to Plovdiv in the afternoon. Free time in the city and overnight accommodation.
Day 6 of 7. Catch the spirit of a free nation and return to the capital
Plovdiv - Koprivshtitsa - Sofia ☾. 200 km
Program: visit Plovdiv and Koprivshitsa, free time in Sofia
Breakfast. In the morning, Plovdiv city tour including “the Roman city”, with a wonderful Ancient Theater and the ruins of the Stadium, and the Old Town dominated by beautiful buildings from the Bulgarian Revival period. During the walking tour, we highlight attractions such as Dzhumaya Mosque, Hindliyan and Balabanov House Museums, or the Church of Saints Konstantin and Elena. Plovdiv was the European Capital of Culture of 2019. Next, we leave for Koprivshtitsa. It is a museum-village located 950 m high, in the Sredna Gora mountains, that preserves many houses of the National Revival period.
A quiet and beautiful place that maintains the special atmosphere of the 19th century, when the first rebellion against the Ottoman occupation sparkled here. You can visit the heritage formed by 8 authentic houses, each linked to a native personality. Free time to enjoy the place and have lunch. In the afternoon, we travel 111 km to Sofia, the capital. Overnight accommodation and free time in the city.
Day 7 of 7. Return
Sofia - Airport ✈
Program: free time (if possible) and airport transfer
Breakfast. Free time in the city depending on the flight and transfer to the airport. End of Santiago Tour’s services. Thank you!