Bulgaria
Holidays and Tours

Bulgaria, once firmly hidden behind the iron curtain, held little fascination for and even less knowledge in the hearts of western travellers. After its borders fully opened in 1989, people have been drawn to its idyllic Black Sea coast and to the excellent skiing it offers, yet there is so much more to this country: it boasts two fascinating large cities – the mountain magnificence of Sofia, the modern capital and the cultural hotspot that is ancient Plovdiv.

Beyond these centres, the country offers endless historic sites and is alive with tiny hill villages which open their arms to visitors who explore their own timeless societies, walking as you are, in the steps of some of history’s greatest powerhouses.

Our fascinating group tour and tailor-made trips tread the four corners of this historic country. From the dignity and magnificence of Sofia with its huge golden-domed basilica to Aleksander Nevski, via dramatic, idyllic monasteries where golden eagles soar on the thermals, to some of the most unvisited villages set amidst the Rila and Rhodopi Mountains, you will experience some of Bulgaria’s hidden marvels.

A land which has seen the passing of so many of central Europe and Asia’s great civilisations, you will have access to a 6th century Thracian necropolis as well as stunning Roman ruins in Plovdiv.

Whilst immersing yourself in the rural cultures, crafts and cuisines of secluded communities where tradition is central, the broad spectrum of religious sites will strike you in a land where tolerance, co-existence and hospitality are second nature.

As Seen in…

 

There is so much more to Bulgaria than just a beach or ski holiday. I would encourage anyone thinking of visiting Bulgaria to do it as you will not be disappointed .

Thomas Hunt, UK

Places to visit in Bulgaria and on our Bulgaria tours

For expert advice get in touch now with our passionate,
well-travelled team.

+44(0) 191 296 2674 from THE UK
1-800-614-2967 from THE US & CANADA
1-300-956-415 from AUSTRALIA

Why visit Bulgaria?

With 110,000 km² of huge, secluded spaces that hide dramatic karst scenery gorges, welcoming hill villages and a wonderful array of wild animals from deer and wild boar to bears, jackals and wolves, Bulgaria is infinitely more than just the glossy brochures’ visions sun and après-ski. Exploring Egyptianesque Hellenistic necropolis-valleys, unwinding amidst ancient seats in Roman amphitheatres with jaw-dropping views, gazing at frescoes in ornate and picturesquely isolated mountain monasteries and sharing Bulgarian bagpipe lessons with locals all await those willing to push into the heart of this captivating country.

The peaceful rolling mountain slopes, green gorges, sultry pine forests and idyllic Black Sea shores all speak of a land where languor and warm hospitality have always been the order of the day. Indeed, Bulgaria is, above all a land which oozes space, where its 7¼ million inhabitants are scattered sparingly across the fertile plains and highlands – over 40% of the nation is mountainous.

And yet it has been coveted and invaded by an endless tide of hostility, from its very earliest times as the tribal heartlands of the Thracian peoples. Gold, copper and bronze created early trade and such grave goods adorn burials from 6,000 years ago. This early culture gave birth to hugely significant sites like the 4th century B.C. Valley of the Thracian Kings near Kazanlâk and its 1,000 royal tombs. Inevitably, wealth brought rivals and the Greek settlements around the Black Sea, Bulgaria’s first democracies, were precursors to the arrival of Philip of Macedon in 335 B.C..

Having conquered the region, he established Philipopolis as his new capital at modern-day Plovdiv: today’s city on seven hills boasts evidence of the next aggressors, the Romans who left an aqueduct, stadium and the acoustic marvel of the iconic amphitheatre on its spectacular perch above the city. In the 1st century A.D. the Romans moved the capital to Sofia. With Christianity came churches – the delightful Sveti Georgi Rotunda Sofia dates to this period. When the empire fractured, Bulgaria went with Byzantium’s eastern half and the practices of orthodoxy became entrenched, raising churches like Sveta Sofia, the capital’s eponymous saint.

Turkic Bulgar nomadic horsemen ranged down from Central Asia, settling and dominate the region by 632 A.D., establishing an astoundingly enduring Bulgarian Empire until the 11th century. The Khans constantly feuded with the Byzantines, but by 870 had adopted Orthodox Christianity and established the hugely powerful monasteries, such as at Rila: amidst the mountains, a fiercely independent religious order flourished. Their fresco and icon painting knew little parallel and it was here and at such as Rozen and Bachkovo that Bulgarian culture survived during the Ottoman period of lowland Christian oppression. From 1362 the Bulgarians were subject to Ottoman rule, bringing their brand of Islamic religion with its superb building skills, but a powerful intolerance of infidels: a period of persecution, characterised by ecclesiaclasm and the murder or enslavement of 50% of ethnic Bulgarians followed which only truly subsided with the nationalistic uprisings of the 1800s.

In the meantime, cities like Sofia and Plovdiv had thrived in monetary terms, evidenced in their opulent, colourful, wooden-fronted townhouses. With Russian and Ukrainian support, independence was won in 1878 – the Golden Church of Shipka commemorates the appalling losses that won this prize. The modern, independent Bulgaria has seen Princes, Kings, Tsars and then soviet-style dictatorships come and go, leading to the current democracy, but beneath all this, a proud and vibrant culture imbues everything.

It is a land which has so many tales to tell and so many willing hearts to relate them.

Why travel with us?

  • Small Group Tours with a Maximum of 12 People
  • Tailor-made Tours and Private Tour Options
  • Expert Advice and First Hand Knowledge
  • Multiple Award Winning Tour Operator Established in 2004
  • No Local Payments and Airport Transfers Included
  • Fully Transferable Group Tour Deposits