Unique Experience Intrepid | Eastern Europe Express

Embark on a spectacular journey from Romania and through Bulgaria to Istanbul, discovering the architectural grandeur and quaint cultural enclaves that make this such an intriguing part of the world. Absorb Bucharest’s austere atmosphere on a guided walking tour, compare age-old places of worship in Sofia, breathe in crisp alpine air on a hike in the Pirin Mountains, and meander back in time in the Old Town of Plovdiv. and bask in the glory of transcontinental Istanbul. Relatively short in terms of distance travelled, this nine-day trip is a fascinating study in just how much regions can change as you cross national borders.

Theme

Explorer

  • Highlights

    • Breathe the crisp air on a hike and take in stunning view in the Pirin Mountain.
    • Experience the romantic "time travel" back to the 20-th century by taking a trip on the last operational narrow gauge line in Bulgaria on route from Bansko to Plovdiv.
    • Explore the amphitheatre and Plovdiv's other significant sights on a guided walking tour.
    • Immerse yourself in the communist past and vibrant present of Bucharest, a city often underrated by travellers
    • Stand in awe of the exquisite architectual design of Selimiye Mosque and celebrate the end of your journey in the transcontinental Istanbul.
    • Travel through the scenic Rila Mountains in Bulgaria, mingling with monks at the 10th-century Rila Monastery
  • What's Included

    Meals

    6 Breakfasts

    Transport

    Train , Public Bus , Private vehicle , Metro , Taxi

    Accommodation

    Hotel (8 nights)

    Included Activities

    • Istanbul- Private Transfer from Istanbul Bus Station to Istanbul Hotel
    • Pirin Mountains - Hike
    • Plovdiv - Walking Tour with Local Guide
    • Plovdiv- Private Transfer from Plovdiv Hotel to Plovdiv Bus Station
    • Plovdiv-Private Transfer from Plovdiv Train Station to Plovdiv Hotel
    • Rhodope Narrow-Gauge Railway
    • Rila - Monastery Visit
    • Veliko Tarnovo - Tsarevets Fortress
  • Pricing

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      • Book now and receive a discount. Was $2,480. Now only $2,356 for this departure

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      • Book now and receive a discount. Was $2,480. Now only $2,356 for this departure

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    Please note: while prices are accurate at time of loading they are subject to change due to currency fluctuations and currency surcharges may apply. Please check price at time of booking
  • Itinerary

    Day - 1

    Location: Bucharest - Salut! Welcome to Romania. Bucharest, Romania's capital city, likes big things. It's home to one of Europe's biggest squares and its Palace of Parliament is the second largest building in the world. It's worth arriving into the city a few days early to explore. Perhaps take a tour of the Palace of Parliament (former dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu ordered the construction of this 12-storied monster, a building of staggering scale and opulence that includes 1,100 rooms and 4,500 chandeliers), or visit his former luxurious residence where he lived with the family. You might even like to partake in one of our Urban Adventure day trips, such as the "Bohemian Bucharest tour".  Our adventure begins with a important welcome meeting at 6 pm, where you'll meet your group leader and fellow travellers. Afterwards, why not seek out some traditional Romanian fare with the group.

     

    Day - 2

    Location: Veliko Tarnovo - Travel by train across the friendship bridge into Bulgaria and on to the picturesque town of Veliko Tarnovo. Veliko Tarnovo's history is incredible. Founded in 4500 BC by the Neolithic people, the Romans later built the first fortress walls and in the 6th century a Byzantine capital was established on Tsarevets Hill by Emperor Justinian. After the foundation of the second Bulgarian empire in 1185, it became the second most important and beautiful city in the region (after Constantinople) and trade and culture flourished for the next 200 years. In 1393 the town fell to the Turks who held the city until the Russians liberated it in 1877. Because of its importance during the second Bulgarian empire, the city was chosen as the place where the Bulgarian constitution was written in 1879 and where the official proclamation of Bulgaria as an independent state was made in 1908.

     

    Day - 3

    Location: Veliko Tarnovo - This morning join your leader for a visit to Veliko Tarnovo's imposing Tsarevets Fortress which overlooks the city. This once-magnificent fortress was first built in the 7th century and the ruined citadel is a delight to wander through. The rest of the day is free for you to explore the City of Tsars. Wander through the Old Quarter with its preserved Renaissance houses and handicraft workshops before relaxing in one of the town's cafes or 'vinarnas' (wine bars).

     

    Day - 4

    Location: Sofia - In a morning, take a public bus (3 hrs approximately) to Sofia. Bulgaria's capital is a cosmopolitan city with wide tree-lined boulevards and pleasant parks. You've got the rest of the day to wander, so maybe begin with a browse around the cured meats and cheese of the Central Market Hall, then take a walk through the city and see the gold-domed Alexander Nevski Church. You might want to sate your cultural curiosity at the National History Museum, discover artefacts from the many empires of old that have occupied the city at the National Archaeological Museum, or get cultural at the National Art Gallery.

     

    Day - 5

    Location: Bansko - Today journey into the Rila Mountains, where you'll visit the impressive Rila Monastery. Tucked away in a valley, this World Heritage-listed site is the largest and holiest of Bulgaria's orthodox monasteries. It was founded in 927 to keep Bulgarian spiritual and social life alive during Turkish rule. The entire monastery complex is a work of art in itself – check out stunning murals, the 14th-century Hrelyo Tower, the five-domed Birth of the Blessed Virgin Church and the original 19th-century monastery kitchen. Then onto Bansko. Set at the base of the majestic Pirin Mountains, Bansko is home to more than 150 cultural monuments. Down its cobbled streets, many of its stone houses have been transformed into charming ‘mehanes’ (taverns). Wander through pl. Vazrazhdane and check out the frescoes of the Church of Sveta Troitsa, or the paintings in the Rilski Convent. In the evening, you'll have the opportunity to indulge in some local cuisine. Try filet elena (spicy cured meat) or kapama (simmered meat, rice and sauerkraut), washing it down with some delicious melnik (dark red wine).

     

    Day - 6

    Location: Plovdiv - In the morning, drive to Vihren Chalet (45 mins approximately) from where you start the moderate hike in the Pirin Mountains to a small but picturesque lake Okoto (2000m above the sea level). Enjoy the clear views over the stunning valley with Mt Vihren, the range's highest peak, visible to the west. Total walking distance is 2 km with 102 m elevation gain and it takes about one hour depending on fitness and trail conditions. Those who want to challenge it a bit more can continue to Banderitsko lake, your leader willl help with suggesting the route. If you don't wish to hike can stay in Bansko and visit it's thermal baths. In the afternoon board scenic and only operational narrow gauge line in Bulgaria - Rhodope railway from Bansko to Septemvri from where continue by another to Plovdiv. Situated on the Maritsa River, Plovdiv was once the meeting point of two ancient transportation routes. In the evening, make sure you indulge in the local cuisine, famed for its grilled meats and vegetables on skewers.

     

    Day - 7

    Location: Plovdiv - This morning, join a local guide for a tour of the main sights and some insight into the town's history. The most remarkable sight is the ancient Roman theatre, accidentally ‘discovered’ after a landslide exposed the site in the early 1970s. Built in the 2nd century BC during the reign of Trajanus, the theatre seats about 6,000 people and is now back in use. From here, wander up to the site of the former hilltop fortress of Nebet Tepe, where you can enjoy excellent views of the city. Head back down to visit the 15th-century Dzhumaya Mosque, still in use today. Enjoy a free afternoon in this charming city.

     

    Day - 8

    Location: Istanbul - Get ready for a long day of travel that takes you from Europe to Asia today. Grab a window seat if you can and watch the scenery pass you by, or get stuck into a good book. You'll be travelling how the locals do, on a bus along the Tsarigrad Road. Also named the Road to Istanbul, this was one of the most important roads in the Middle Ages, widely used by travelling merchants. Arrive in Istanbul, the continent-straddling metropolis that the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines and Ottomans have called home. You'll have some free time to settle in, then in the evening, maybe join your new friends for an optional dinner and bask in the beauty of a real Turkish kebab.

     

    Day - 9

    Location: Istanbul - All good things come to an end, and this morning your adventure officially comes to a close. If you would like to extend your stay in Istanbul we are able to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).

     

    Eastern Europe Express
*Terms and Conditions
Offer subject to availability at time of booking. Prices are per person share twin based on best available tour price, inclusive of all discounts unless otherwise stated. Prices are subject to currency fluctuations and are based on cash or cheque. Tour deposit, amendment and cancellation conditions may apply. Travel agent service fees may apply. Special conditions apply - please ask for full details at time of enquiry.
HLO Ref# 14431
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