AITO: The Association of Independent Tour Operators
Bulgaria’s Hidden Secrets

Bulgaria’s Hidden Secrets

Bulgaria’s Hidden Secrets Overview

Bulgaria has so much to offer the tourist. This tour combines wonderful cultural treasures of historical significance with journeys that deliver amazing scenery and a chance to enjoy rides on board a vintage tram and narrow gauge railway.


Day 1 – Flight to Sofia

Morning flight from London Heathrow to Sofia, capital of Bulgaria. Transfer to central hotel followed by short guided orientation walk. Welcome dinner at local restaurant.

Day 2 – Vintage Tram Tour

Morning tram tour by vintage tram with local guide. Free afternoon for sightseeing (transport pass included for metro, buses and trams).

Day 3 – The Madara Horseman

Mid-morning train to Shumen, arriving late afternoon. Drive to the nearby Madara Horseman (UNESCO listed), an archaeological site dating from pre-historic times. Overnight and dinner at a delightful small hotel in the village of Kyulevcha.

Day 4 – Ruse Railway Museum

By train to Ruse on the Danube. Visit the national railway collection at the old Ruse station. Afternoon visit to the Ivanovo rock cut churches (UNESCO) dating from the 14th Century. Return to Kyulevcha for dinner and overnight.

Day 5 – Veliko Tarnovo

By train and bus to the village of Arbanassi to see the Church of the Nativity. Continue to Veliko Tarnovo, former capital city. Short walking tour to include the famous citadel. Overnight in family run private hotel in the old town.

Day 6 – Shipka Pass and Koprivshtitsa

Train to the historic town of Tryavna for short sightseeing tour followed by drive over the Shipka Pass to Kazanlak to visit the Thracian tombs. This is also rose growing country and we visit a rose distillery supplying the French perfume industry before a transfer to Karlovo to connect with the train to Koprivshtitsa. Overnight at a good guest house with en-suite facilities.

Day 7 – Rail to Plovdiv

Koprivshtitsa is a small town high in the mountains and is well worth a morning’s exploration. Visit a small “house-museum” to gain an insight into life here 150 years ago. Transfer to station for afternoon train to Plovdiv, changing at Karlovo. The bus with luggage will go ahead. Overnight at a quality boutique hotel.

Day 8 – Plovdiv

Starting with a short guided walk but with much of the day free for your own exploration, you will find that the old city has much to offer – beautiful 19th Century houses to visit, a Roman theatre and stadium dating from the 2nd Century and one of the first mosques built by the Ottomans on Bulgarian land.

Day 9 – Narrow Gauge to Bansko

Main line train to Septemvri  followed by a journey over the highly scenic narrow gauge rail line to Bansko. This line also boasts the highest station in the Balkans – Avramovo (4100 ft). Arrive Bansko late afternoon. Dinner and overnight at a local hotel.

Day 10 – Rila Monastery

Short sightseeing tour of Bansko followed by a short drive to Rila Monastery where lunch is included. A tour of the monastery includes, apart from the main church, the 14th Century fortress tower, monk’s cell, jewellery and ethnographic exhibitions. Continue by road to Sofia for a farewell dinner (included).

Day11 – Sofia to London

Late morning transfer to the airport for flight to Heathrow, arriving late afternoon.

Price Includes

  • Flights in economy class by scheduled airline
  • Rail travel as specified
  • Other travel by private mini-coach
  • Vintage tram tour
  • Sofia transport ticket
  • Hotel accommodation in Sofia in city central hotel
  • Other accommodation in smaller boutique hotels and guest houses, all en-suite
  • All breakfasts, two lunches and five dinners
  • Entrance tickets as specified in the itinerary
  • Airport and other transfers
  • Services of a tour leader from London and throughout the tour plus local professional Bulgarian guide
Find out more about this holiday