Highlights
  • Visit the Alexander Nevsky Memorial Cathedral, famous for its gilded domes and masterful mosaics,
  • Drive through the scenic Rilska Valley, passing traditional villages en route to our destination high in the mountains
  • Enjoy the structures that Plovdiv is proudest of the old town's unique collection of elegant, pastel-pretty "Bulgarian Renaissance"
  • Visit the remote village of Glogovo — a community that converted to Islam under the Ottoman Turks.

Bulgaria is a land of fascinating contrasts, with a European identity that's rooted in a unique blend of Ottoman, Orthodox, and Soviet soil. You'll marvel at Roman outposts, mystical medieval monasteries, and a dazzling collection of prehistoric gold. All along the way, your Bulgarian Rick Steves guide will connect you with people who make their country's history, art, culture — and hospitality — come to life. You'll be warmly welcomed in neighborhood cafés, rustic mountain villages, and humble monasteries. Join us for the Best of Bulgaria in 12 Days!

Travelers Also Viewed All similar trips
Travel Theme
Countries
Cities & Attractions
Flights & Transport
  • Only ground transport
Rivers & Seas
  • Black Sea

8
Rick Steves Travel Reviews & Ratings
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
100% Recommend

5.0 out of 5
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Value
4.9 Guide
5.0 Activities
5.0 Lodging
5.0 Transportation
5.0 Meals
5.0
Best of Bulgaria in 12 Days Tour

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M

Recommends

Our Rick Steve's "Best of Italy Tour," starting in Varenna, October 18, through Rome, November 3, 2015. January 2017

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
We flew into Milan and toured the town on our own a few days. Then we took the train to Varenna on Lake Como to formally start our Rick Steves tour with our guide, Lisa Anderson. She was excellent; very organized, helpful to a fault, and took us to a lot of out-of-way places not on the itinerary. What I liked most was the mixture of planned activities and time our own own; a nice balance which I believe gave us a good feel for the people, culture, and historical places we toured throughout Italy. You can read any itinerary for this trip and learn about what you're going to see, but getting to know your traveling companions (there were 28 of us) well, share food (and a cold- achoo!) made it all the better. I would highly recommend this tour to anyone who would really like to get a taste of Italy from Rome north. I had no interest in visiting Italy before, but would go back in a heartbeat. I especially enjoyed our time high up in a ski village in the Dolomite Mountains. Seeing the "big three" of Venice, Florence, and Rome was great, but I also enjoyed seeing Pisa and Assisi, and spending time in places I had never heard of before - Cinque Terre , Siena, and Orvieto. While I know you can't pick your tour hosts, I would give the highest marks to our guide Lisa, her assistant, Alex, and our bus driver extraordinaire, Adrian. They helped put an excellent adventure over the top. Kudos to you Rick Steve's! We'll book another one of your tours in the next few years.
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Operator Rick Steves

M

Recommends

Great Tour of Paris July 2016

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
My family and I took the seven day Paris tour run by Rick Steves and had a great time. Excellent guide and perfect mix of scheduled events and free time. The specialist guides in the museums provided essentially a college level class on art history and appreciation which made it all the more special. The accommodations were well located and nicely sized. The mix of free time was excellent for my photography so I never felt rushed nor did we hold up the group. We look forward to booking another Rick Steves tour sometime in the future.
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Operator Rick Steves

BH

Recommends

Excellent! October 2015

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
We went on the My Way Best of Euope 14 day tour last month. Excellent tour. So much to see!!! We loved it!! I would highly recommend it if you are an independent traveler who doesn't want any stress.

Operator Rick Steves

M

Recommends

Absolutely fantastic tour! October 2015

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
Just got back from the Best of Scandinavia Tour. It was absolutely fantastic in every respect: Great venues and sights, great food and lodging, great local tour guides, a wonderful group to travel with, but the best part was having two fantastic professional guides with us every day to make everything come to life and help us connect in a very meaningful way with the cultures and lands we were there to experience. This is my second RS tour and I would say both have exceeded my expectations. I would highly recommend RS tours to anyone looking to travel in this part of the world!!
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Operator Rick Steves

CW

Recommends

Rick Steve's tours are the best! October 2015

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
We had a glorious time in Europe. Rick Steve's tours are the best way to learn about the various country's history, people, and culture. Great recommendations for places to eat when you're on your own. Fun meeting people in the tour group.
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Operator Rick Steves

Itinerary

Day 1: Welcome to Bulgaria

Join your guide and group at 4 p.m. today in our Sofia hotel for a "Welcome to Bulgaria" get-together. We'll take a neighborhood stroll, and then enjoy our first taste of Bulgaria's rich cuisine over dinner together. Sleep in Sofia (2 nights). No bus. Walking: light.

Day 2: Exploring Sofia

Today we'll take a walking tour to uncover Sofia's intriguing past and present. We'll visit the President's Building, where we'll stop for the changing of the guard, as well as the Sofia Synagogue. We'll also tour the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, famous for its gilded domes and masterful mosaics. Then you can "follow the yellow brick road" (Sofia has one) to explore the bustling market hall and more of the city's center on your own. We'll wrap up our day by meeting with a high-profile politician and economist, who will answer questions and tell us about issues facing Bulgaria today. No bus. Walking: moderate.

Day 3: Rila Monastery

We dive headfirst into Bulgarian culture today with a visit to a Roma (gypsy) village, where we'll be welcomed by these fascinating people, visit kids at a local school, and learn about their history and culture. Later, we'll drive through the scenic Rilska Valley, passing traditional villages en route to our destination high in the mountains: the remote and mystical Rila Monastery. We'll sleep as guests in the monastery tonight — with no expectation of hot water or plush beds (1 night). Bus: 4 hrs. Walking: moderate.

Day 4: Bessa Valley Wines

You'll have time to appreciate the tranquility of Rila Monastery (even attend an early prayer service) this morning before we take a walking tour of this 14th-century architectural treasure and its fabulous frescoes. We'll leave at noon for the city of Plovdiv stopping where merchants from Troy journeyed 4,000 years ago: a Bessa Valley winery. We'll learn the history of some of Europe's oldest vineyards — from ancient times to the Communist "collective era" and the entrepreneurial present — and enjoy a tasting. Then we'll continue on to Plovdiv, one of Bulgaria's most delightful cities, where we'll enjoy dinner together. Sleep in Plovdiv (2 nights). Bus: 6 hrs. Walking: moderate.

Day 5: Renaissance Plovdiv

Once the capital city of ancient Thrace, Plovdiv is actually older than Athens and Rome, with archaeological relics dating back 7,000 years. We'll start our day with a walking tour of Plovdiv's old town, including Trajan's 2nd-century Roman theater and its commanding view of the city. We'll also enjoy the structures that Plovdiv is proudest of: the old town's unique collection of elegant, pastel-pretty "Bulgarian Renaissance" homes from the 19th century and a visit to the Dzhumaya Mosque, the oldest in Bulgaria. The remainder of the day is free for you to explore more of this cultural and cosmopolitan city. No bus. Walking: strenuous.

Day 6: Kazanlak and Nesebar

We'll drive to the Black Sea today, stopping in Kazanlak en route to visit some of the greatest examples of early Hellenistic art: a 4th-century B.C. Thracian tomb covered with magnificent murals, and another packed with beautifully preserved gold and bronze artifacts. We'll end our day with dinner together along the seaside in the lovely little island town of Nesebar — dotted with Byzantine churches and even a windmill — and connected to the rest of Bulgaria by only a narrow isthmus. Sleep in Nesebar (2 nights). Bus: 7 hrs. Walking: light.

Day 7: Nesebar and the Black Sea

This morning we'll take a time-tripping walk through Nesebar, learning about its important Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Bulgarian and Turkish past — a lot happened in this tiny place! The rest of the day is yours to relax on the beach, stroll around town, take a boat ride on the Black Sea or sample the local catch direct from the fishermen. No bus. Walking: moderate.

Day 8: Treasures of Varna

We'll drive along the Black Sea coast to the resort city of Varna where we'll stop to tour the Varna Archaeological Museum and marvel at the oldest gold jewelry ever discovered. We'll get oriented to the bustling town of Varna and settle into our hotel. The rest of the afternoon and evening are yours to explore this modern town and stroll the extensive, waterfront park and promenade. Sleep in Varna (1 night). Bus: 3 hrs. Walking: moderate.

Day 9: Over the Balkan Range

Today we'll drive up and over the green Balkan Range to one of Europe's most dramatically situated towns: Bulgaria's medieval capital of Veliko Tarnovo. En route we'll see the Madara Horseman, carved high into a rock cliff 13 centuries ago, and stop to tour the stuck-back-in-time village of Arbanasi. Tonight we'll enjoy a hearty dinner together, and admire the striking night view of Veliko Tarnovo's illuminated citadel across the valley. Sleep in Veliko Tarnovo (2 nights). Bus: 5 hrs. Walking: light.

Day 10: Veliko Tarnovo

We'll walk from one hill to the next, learning about Veliko Tarnovo's role in the medieval birth of the Bulgarian Kingdom, its 14th-century fall to the Ottoman Turks, and the 19th-century uprising that led to the end of Bulgaria's Ottoman occupation. As the story unfolds, we'll wind our way along narrow cobblestone streets, meeting local artisans along the way, then finally conquer the ruins of one of Europe's mightiest citadels. After our trek together you'll have free time to continue exploring this unique town or work your way back through the medieval streets to where we started. We'll meet up later this evening and drive to a nearby community center and enjoy a fabulous folk performance. Bus: 1 hr. Walking: strenuous.

Day 11: Village to City

This morning we'll visit the remote village of Glogovo — a community that converted to Islam under the Ottoman Turks, and has kept that faith ever since. We'll have lots of opportunities to interact with local school kids and adults. In fact, the villagers are preparing a traditional lunch for us today! This afternoon we'll return to Sofia and have a festive final dinner together, where we'll share travel memories and toast new friends. Sleep in Sofia (1 night). Bus: 5 hrs. Walking: light.

Day 12: Tour Over After Breakfast

Breakfast is provided, but there are no group activities today. Bulgaria's international airport is just outside of Sofia, or you can hop a nearby train to other European cities. Your guide will help get you pointed in the right direction. Radvayte se na pytuvaneto!

Dates & Pricing

Price From

$ 2,695

Price Per Day:

$ 225 per day
 
  • Single Supplement (Single Occupancy): $ 625
Prices may vary due to local taxes and trip seasonality. Click "Request Info" to inquire directly with the tour operator for the final trip price.
Details
Trip Includes
  • A small, friendly group of 24–28 people — half the size of most tour groups
  • Full-time services of a professional Rick Steves guide and local experts who will make the fascinating history, art, and culture of Bulgaria come alive for you
  • All tours and admissions — at no extra cost — covering at least 17 group sightseeing events, Sofia walking tour,  Alexander Nevsky Cathedral tour, Meet with government official, Roma village visit,  Rila Monastery tour, Winery visit and tasting, Plovdiv walking tour, including Roman Theater, Dzhumaya Mosque visit,  Cultural performance, Kazanlak Thracian Tomb, Nesebar walking tour  Varna Archaeological Museum tour, Madara horseman visit, Arbanasi visit, Veliko Tarnovo walking tour, Tsarevets Citadel in Veliko Tarnovo, Traditional village visit…and more
  • All group transportation from Sofia to Sofia
  • 11 nights' accommodations in memorable, centrally located hotels
  • All breakfasts and half your dinners
  • All tips for guides and driver
  • Rick Steves Travel Store credit to use toward guidebooks for your trip
  • Guaranteed tour price, locked in the moment you make your deposit
  • Optional single supplements — this tour has a limited number of private rooms for solo travelers for an additional fee
  • Tour alum discount of $50 for each tour you've taken prior to 2017
  • 50% discount on a consulting appointment with our in-house experts to assist with your pre- or post-tour travel plans
  • Flexibility should you need to transfer, or cancel/interrupt your tour
  • Fine print: You are responsible for the cost of your drinks and free-time sightseeing
Flights & Transport
Only ground transport
Group Size:
Small Group - 24 max
Maximum Number of People in Group: 28
Start City
Bulgaria
End City
Sofia
Cancellation Policy:

Cancellations and refunds: Your tour deposit is 100% refundable for 30 days from the date it is received, unless noted otherwise below. After 30 days your deposit becomes nonrefundable, and will be forfeited should you decide to cancel your reservation. Deposits made 60–90 days before a tour departs become nonrefundable on the final payment due date. If you book a tour less than 60 days before its departure date, the entire tour cost becomes non-refundable after 7 days.

Trip ID#: BesBulRic

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