Southern Bulgaria self-drive tour
Only in small but naturally beautiful Bulgaria is it possible to combine a mountain trip with stunning landscapes and the romantic embrace of the warm southern sea in a short time.Read more
Only in small but naturally beautiful Bulgaria is it possible to combine a mountain trip with stunning landscapes and the romantic embrace of the warm southern sea in a short time.
This tailormade trip, tour, holiday and vacation is a week surrounded by a great variety of landscapes, villages and towns which still preserve the magic of a bygone time, Rodopi mountain, the stone villages and the monasteries perched on the river, upon deep gorges with hidden caves.
The South Coast of the Black Sea offers endless fine sandy beaches, surrounded by small towns with wooden houses and incomparable archaeological sites which remind of Homer's times. What are you waiting for? Depart on your vacation in Bulgaria!
Transfer from the airport to the hotel. The capital city of Bulgaria, Sofia, has been known since ancient times. Its many names reflect its long and irregular history. A walk through the historic and cultural center of the city will be enough to show you remains dating back to over two thousand years ago, one of the oldest church of Christianity, St. George Church and the Basilica of Saint Sophia, to feel the Reinassance spirit of the 19th century, embodied by buildings such as the National Library, Sofia University, the National Theater, the Academy of Fine Arts, to see the collections of the National Art Gallery and the Archaeological Museum and finally breathe the atmosphere of the square surrounding the largest church of the Balkan area: Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.
(Sofia – Melnik. Distance Sofia – Melnik: 175 km). Car pickup at 9 am at the hotel. Situated amidst yellow stone towers, Melnik is one of the most picturesque towns in Bulgaria. Its charm is doubled by the strong red wine that you can taste in one of the cool wineries below the stone houses. Near Melnik lies the imposing Rozhen Monastery. Its wooden silhouette will top off a splendid visit to the surrounding mountains.
Possible detours for optional visits:
Rila Monastery is one of the main attractions in Bulgaria. It was established in the 10th century by hermit St. John from Rila, in the heart of Rila mountain, the highest on the Balkan Peninsula. An important spiritual and cultural center over the centuries, the monastery has maintained its Bulgarian conscience during 500 years of Ottoman rule. Repeatedly burned down and devastated, the current 5-floor building dates back to the first half of the 19th century, but the oldest building, the tower of Sovereign Hrelyo dates back to the 14th century.
The surrounding peaks and thick pine forests create the perfect environment for the mystical air of the place, which is protected by Unesco.
The road crosses Pirin and Rodopi mountains and has many gradient curves. Pamporovo is one of the most visited ski resorts in Bulgaria with a record of 100 sunny days in the winter. But it is not less attractive in the summer. Old beech forests and clearings create the perfect place for a holiday.
Possible detours for optional visits:
Kovachevitsa is an architectural marvel, with stone houses and roofs organically set in a landscapes of rocky mountains. A village, where you can still feel the spirit of the old times. Nearby is also Leshten village.
Yagodinska cave with Buynovsko gorge and Trigrad gorge with Devil's Gorge are located among the sweet shapes of the Rodopi mountains, where the enormous rocks of the two gorges can be clearly distinguished, crossed by rivers that have escavated the two beautiful caves.
On the main road from Melnik to Pamprovo lies the village of Shiroka Luka, an architectural and folkloric reserve, where you can hear the strong sounds of the Bulgarian traditional music instrument, the bagpipe.
The road has many curves, Plovdiv is like a history book. It was established in ancient times and is considered the oldest European city. The most important monument of that time is the Ancient Theater. Plovdiv, like Rome, is set on several hills.
One of these is the historic center, a picturesque kaleidoscope of colorful houses, a maze of cobbled streets and stone churches.
Possible detours for optional visits:
In the high mountains, below Persenk Mountain, among forests of old pines, there are two enormous rock formations called Miraculous Bridges, one of the emblems of Rodopi mountain.
On the main road Pamporovo - Plovdiv lies Bachkovo monastery. The second largest in Bulgaria, it was founded in the 11th century, but only the old ossuary has remained from that period, situated 300 m from the monastery. The monastery is famous for the frescoes from 1605, covering the walls of the dining hall. The main church of the monastery dates back to the beginning of the 17th century.
Assen fortress was built in the same period as Bachkovo monastery. Only the 2-floor church has remained today, perched on a rocky cliff on the valley of Chepelarska river. The view from the church is unforgettable.
Due to the relaxing atmosphere and the typical marine architecture, Sozopol is the favourite summer holiday destination for artists and bohemiennes. It was once a Greek colony and nowadays every fall Sozopol hosts Apolonia art festival.
The ancient Greek colonial city of Nessebar is the undisputed pearl of the Bulgarian coast. Located on a small peninsula connected to the mainland by a narrow isthmus, the city is full of ancient and medieval monuments, ancient buildings in ruins or those preserved perfectly in the traditional style of the local architecture - wooden two-storey houses with wide eaves and balconies full of flowers, cobblestone streets. The city is crowded, full of shops and open-air makeshift artists galleries that create a unique atmosphere.
The art exhibitions in numerous ancient churches -42!- contribute to the artistic atmosphere of Nessebar. A multitude of restaurants with terraces overlooking the sea make it a real charming place, perhaps the most fascinating of Bulgaria. Nessebar is under the protection of UNESCO.
If you are interested in bird watching, along the way you will pass between some very important lakes where you can admire the birds. As well as being home to many species throughout the year, twice a year they become an obligatory stop on the migration route along the coast, called Via Pontica.
Koprivshtitsa is the most interesting, beautiful and most important Renaissance city. Its evocative architecture, the paved roads and the ancient churches supported the spirit of the country during decades of cataclysms in modern Bulgaria. In the mid 19th century, the economic and spritual renaissance of Koprivshtitsa became the symbol of the reviving nation. Here famous revolutionaries were born, Todor Kableshkov and G. Benkovski, as well as the writers Nayden Gerov and Lyuben Karavelov, and the poet Dimcho Debelyanov. Their native houses are open to the public.
Today's route crosses the Valley of Roses, with the rose fields from which the famous Bulgarian rose oil is extracted. The surrounding area bears another name, King Valley due to many graves, ancient treasures which include the most precious archaeological findings of Bulgaria. One of these graves, open to visitors, is Kazanlak tomb, the largest and best preserved tomb in Thrace, with frescoes from the 4th-3rd century BC.
Return to Sofia, deliver the car and the tour is over.