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Walking in Bulgaria: Epic Landscapes of Ancient Thrace

Group Tour

11 Days From $2,079

Overview

Wild and beautiful, the high mountains and vast forests of Bulgaria provide the breath-taking setting for this cultural walking tour through one of eastern Europe’s most beguiling destinations.

Infused with a history that can trace its ancestry back to the Ancient Thracians, Bulgaria’s untamed landscapes hark back to a time of rich discovery and adventure. Beginning in the capital we will get a chance to discover some of Sofia's highlights before beginning the journey ...

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HIGHLIGHTS

At a glance

MEALS

10 x Breakfasts
9 x Lunches
8 x Dinners

TRANSPORT

On this tour we will use a minibus when not on foot.

GROUP SIZE

Maximum: 12

CARBON CONTRIBUTIONS

A carbon-offsetting contribution to Eco Act for all bookings

EXPERT TEAM

The full services of a Wild Frontiers Tour Leader with local guides where appropriate

ACCOMMODATION

5 nights x Premium
4 nights x Superior

ACCOMMODATION

As an overall ethos, wherever possible we aim to use characterful accommodation that enhances the overall travel experience, not just offers a bed for the night. This can obviously vary dramatically from country to country and from trip to trip. On this particular trip we will be in a variety of simple but comfortable hotels and guesthouses, all of which are local owned and have been chosen to offer, where possible, an authentic insight into Bulgarian hospitality and culture. Please note that the accommodation mentioned in the itinerary is intended as a guide only and is always subject to availability.

ENTRANCE FEES

All entrance fees for sights mentioned in the itinerary

FITNESS RATING

Moderate / High

FITNESS RATING

LOW: You should be comfortable walking around towns and cultural sites. May include some optional walks (typically 1-2hrs).

LOW/MODERATE: May be of a long duration and/or involve numerous border-crossings. May include easy/moderate day walks (up to 2-3hrs/day). You should be relatively fit and lead a generally active lifestyle.

MODERATE: May include several easy/moderate day walks (up to 2-5hrs/day) possibly at altitude. You should be relatively fit and lead a generally active lifestyle. Previous experience of similar trips helpful.

MODERATE/HIGH: May involve several days of moderate hiking (up to 3-6 hrs/day) possibly at altitude. You must be a fit and active traveller with appropriate trekking experience.

HIGH: May involve several days of moderate/strenuous trekking (up to 4-7 hrs/day) possibly at altitude. You must be a very fit and active traveller with appropriate trekking experience.

Map & Itinerary

Individual departures may vary so please refer to the information in the tour specific links in the Dates and Prices section below

Walking in Bulgaria: Epic Landscapes of Ancient Thrace
EXPAND ALL ITINERARY DAYS
COLLAPSE ALL ITINERARY DAYS

DAY 1: TOUR STARTS IN SOFIA

DAY 1: TOUR STARTS IN SOFIA

The tour begins in Sofia, Bulgaria's laid-back capital city. This compact city has the ability to make you want to lose yourself amongst the numerous pavement cafes, whilst allowing you access to the main sights on foot. Built on ancient foundations the city is home to an abundance of museums, galleries, Ottoman mosques and churches. Several of the monuments in the city reflect on Bulgaria's long and close relationship with Russia, whilst others unveil the ancient Roman connection with ruins dating back nearly 2000 years.

Hotel Sveta Sofia or similar

DAY 2: SOFIA - CENTRAL BALKANS MOUNTAINS

DAY 2: SOFIA - CENTRAL BALKANS MOUNTAINS

Following breakfast this morning we'll enjoy a short tour of the Bulgarian capital, taking in a number of its historic as well as modern highlights. Exploring the city on foot we'll take in the Alexander Nevski Cathedral, the parliament building, the Banya Bashi Mosque, the National Theatre and finally the King's Palace before breaking for lunch. After lunch we’ll drive for about 2.5 hrs to our next night’s stop – a family run hotel with outstanding views of the Central Balkan Mountain range. En route we’ll pay a short visit to the idyllically located Troyan Monastery, a masterpiece of Bulgarian workmanship and a repository of the revered icon of the Three-handed Virgin Mary,

Tihiyat Kut Hotel or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 3: CENTRAL BALKANS MOUNTAINS - VELIKO TURNOVO

DAY 3: CENTRAL BALKANS MOUNTAINS - VELIKO TURNOVO

A short transfer into the Central Balkans National Park this morning heralds the start of an initially steep hike along one of the most beautiful trails in the region, where we’ll meander through centuries-old beech forests to Pleven Hut (1,500m) which offers stunning views of the main ridge. Heading towards the higher meadows under the ridge we’ll then visit the Vodnite dupki cave before our gentler descent back to our vehicle. After lunch, we’ll then drive for about 90minutes to Veliko Turnovo, Bulgaria’s unforgettable medieval capital with its striking fortress and unique setting on the Yantra River. Approx. 4hrs walking (425m ascent, 425m descent. Total distance 10kms, highest point 1614m)

Hotel Izvora or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 4: VELIKO TURNOVO - KAZANLAK - PLOVDIV

DAY 4: VELIKO TURNOVO - KAZANLAK - PLOVDIV

Transferring on to the city of Kazanlak this morning, we will visit a 4th Century B.C. UNESCO World Heritage Site Thracian tomb, famed for its remarkable frescoes. Then we’ll head to Plovdiv, one of the oldest cities in Europe and one where the Romans left behind a number of archaeological sites. Here we'll take the opportunity to wander around the picturesque churches and traditional architecture of the Old Town. Plovdiv’s cobbled streets are little-known outside of the country but hold some of the finest buildings ever constructed in the Balkans; they are sure to charm.

Alafrangite Hotel or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 5: PLOVDIV - RHODOPE MOUNTAINS - TRIGARD

DAY 5: PLOVDIV - RHODOPE MOUNTAINS - TRIGARD

Heading south today we’ll first marvel at the medieval majesty of Asen’s Fortress and the site of the second largest monastery in Bulgaria (Bachkovo) before continuing on to the Rhodope mountains where we’ll take a beautiful alpine walk to the Smolyan Lakes near Pamporovo. After lunch we’ll head west through the Rhodope Mountains to our night stop near the impressive Trigard Gorge. Approx. 2-3hrs walking (180m ascent, 290m descent. Total distance 7km, highest point 1771m)

Arkan Han Hotel or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 6: TRIGARD - RHODOPE MOUNTAINS - YAGODINA - LESHTEN

DAY 6: TRIGARD - RHODOPE MOUNTAINS - YAGODINA - LESHTEN

Our first visit this morning will be to the legendary Devil’s Throat Cave, from where Orpheus is said to have descended to Hades in search of his love, Eurydice. From here we’ll hike through lush meadows and forests up to Yagodina, one of the most acclaimed cave complexes in the region. Later we’ll continue through the labyrinthine Rhodope Mountains to Leshten where we’ll discover a little authentic Bulgarian charm amongst narrow cobblestone streets filled with beautifully preserved houses dating back to the Bulgarian Revival Period. Approx. 3.5hrs walking (470m ascent, 270m descent. Total distance 7kms, highest point 1422m)

Leshten Hotel or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 7: LESHTEN - MELNIK – BANSKO

DAY 7: LESHTEN - MELNIK – BANSKO

The picturesque town of Melnik is considered to be Bulgaria’s wine capital and it is to here that we will hike from the renowned Rojen Monastery this morning. The route takes us through the spectacular scenery of the Melnik Pyramids, before arriving at Melnik later to enjoy lunch in a traditional restaurant and a wine tasting session in an old cellar cut into the hillside. This afternoon’s drive then takes us to Bansko in the heart of the breath-taking Pirin Mountain range where we’ll take an evening stroll through the Old Town before having dinner in one of the characterful mekhanas (traditional taverns). Approx. 1.5hrs walking (No ascent, 314m descent. Total distance 4kms, highest point 525m)

Casa Karina Hotel or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 8: PIRIN MOUNTAINS

DAY 8: PIRIN MOUNTAINS

After a short transfer this morning, we will take chairlift up into the heights of the Pirin Mountains. Here we plan to trek up to the summit of Mt Polejan (2,851m), one of the highest peaks of the entire range. If the weather gods are kind we will be afforded fantastic views of hundreds of ridges and glacial lakes, including Popovo lake – the largest in Pirin. Tonight you will be free to explore Bansko at your leisure. Approx. 5-6hrs walking (611 ascent, 611m descent. Total distance 13kms, highest point 2851m)

Casa Karina Hotel or similar
Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 9: BANSKO - PIRIN MOUNTAINS - RILA MONASTERY

DAY 9: BANSKO - PIRIN MOUNTAINS - RILA MONASTERY

A short transfer to Vihren Hut after breakfast drops us at the start of today’s walk in another area of the Pirin Mountains. From here we will explore the beautiful Bunderishki cirque for stunning views of the famed lakes and the entire mountain. One by one, on the way up and down, in front of us will appear the Eye Lake, the Frog Lake, the Green Lake, the Spoon Lake, the Long Lake and the Fish Lake. This afternoon then sees us driving north to pay a visit to the famed Rila Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We will overnight nearby. Approx. 3-4hrs walking (362m ascent, 362m descent. Total distance 12kms, highest point 2335m)

Gorski Kut Hotel or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 10: RILA MONASTERY - RILA MOUNTAINS - SOFIA

DAY 10: RILA MONASTERY - RILA MOUNTAINS - SOFIA

Today begins with a drive to Panichiste and then a short transfer by chair lift up to the higher slopes of the Rila Mountains, from where we begin our hike. Our route then takes us along a trail that passes nearby to each of the Seven Lakes in turn, through what is without doubt one of the most stunning alpine areas in Bulgaria. After a picnic lunch we’ll then descend and return to Sofia for our final night. Approx. 4hrs walking (490m ascent, 490m descent. Total distance 8kms, highest point 2,328m)

Hotel Sveta Sofia or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 11: TOUR ENDS IN SOFIA

DAY 11: TOUR ENDS IN SOFIA

Today you will have the morning at leisure to explore some more of Sofia. Those on the suggested group flight (see the GETTING THERE section below) will then be transferred to the airport for their flight home. For anyone else, rooms will be available until midday.

Breakfast

ACCOMMODATION USED ON THIS TOUR

Hotel Rating

Ultra
The best of the best, the ultimate in luxury
Luxury
Outstanding service and facilities, giving you the 5* experience
Premium
Excellent standards without the big price tag
Mid-Range
Good quality service and overall comfort
Superior
No frills, basic accommodation, but often in the most exciting of places

Hotel Rating

Ultra
The best of the best, the ultimate in luxury
Luxury
Outstanding service and facilities, giving you the 5* experience
Premium
Excellent standards without the big price tag
Mid-Range
Good quality service and overall comfort
Superior
No frills, basic accommodation, but often in the most exciting of places

Hotel Rating

Ultra
The best of the best, the ultimate in luxury
Luxury
Outstanding service and facilities, giving you the 5* experience
Premium
Excellent standards without the big price tag
Mid-Range
Good quality service and overall comfort
Superior
No frills, basic accommodation, but often in the most exciting of places

Hotel Rating

Ultra
The best of the best, the ultimate in luxury
Luxury
Outstanding service and facilities, giving you the 5* experience
Premium
Excellent standards without the big price tag
Mid-Range
Good quality service and overall comfort
Superior
No frills, basic accommodation, but often in the most exciting of places

Hotel Rating

Ultra
The best of the best, the ultimate in luxury
Luxury
Outstanding service and facilities, giving you the 5* experience
Premium
Excellent standards without the big price tag
Mid-Range
Good quality service and overall comfort
Superior
No frills, basic accommodation, but often in the most exciting of places

Hotel Rating

Ultra
The best of the best, the ultimate in luxury
Luxury
Outstanding service and facilities, giving you the 5* experience
Premium
Excellent standards without the big price tag
Mid-Range
Good quality service and overall comfort
Superior
No frills, basic accommodation, but often in the most exciting of places

Accommodation displayed here should be taken as a guide only. *Please refer to the Detailed Itinerary of your individual departure for more information.

PRIVATE HOLIDAYS: DATES DON’T FIT?

All group tours can be taken on a private basis.

REVIEWS OF THIS TRIP

Additional Details

Responsible Travel

Responsible travel and sustainable tourism are fundamental ideas that Wild Frontiers has been committed to since our birth. It is our strong belief that these words should not be simply ‘tagged on’ to itineraries and websites but should be at the very core of each trip, and our adventures are therefore designed with the local people, culture and eco-system in mind. We believe that a successful trip not only delivers a unique and unsurpassable journey for our clients, but that it also benefits the peoples whose lands we are privileged to visit. For more information, please see our responsible travel page.

The Ladies Collective

On this tour we will take the chance to visit a ladies co-operative based in Plovdiv called "The Ladies Collective for Bulgarian Embroidery and Ornamenting". Founded in 1968 by Yanka Arsova, its members are aged between 18 and 86, and they work hard to preserve national traditional embroidery, whilst trying to incorporate this into contemporary life. We will get a chance to watch the ladies produce some of their finest work and talk to them about the history behind their craft and why they are so keen to keep the tradition alive.

Getting There

If you would like us to send you a quote for the suggested tour flights or on any alternative flight that may suit you better, please let us know, noting that for our US clients, we will most likely refer you to one of our preferred partners. For this trip our suggested flights from the UK (subject to change) are shown below.

If you wish to arrange your own flights you are completely free to do so and in this case we can arrange any transfers or supplementary accommodation that you may require. However please note that if you are planning on making your own flight arrangements, we recommend that you first check with us to see if the trip is guaranteed. We then suggest that you purchase flights that are flexible and ideally refundable as due to the nature of adventure travel, itineraries and destination accessibility can change at any time. For more information, please refer to our booking conditions.

If travelling to/from the start/finish of the tour from another European country you might also want to consider reducing your carbon footprint by travelling there by train. We are unfortunately not (yet) in a postion to help with you with the actual booking of the train tickets but lots of good information can be found here - www.seat61.com 
 

Flight Code Departing Arriving
BA 890 London Heathrow (LHR) 11:20 Sofia Intl Airport (SOF) 16:30
BA 891 Sofia Intl Airport (SOF) 14:00 London Heathrow (LHR) 15:30

Visas

Visas are necessary for many of the destinations we travel to and while we aim to provide you with the most up-to-date information, requirements frequently change and as such for the latest advice we advise that you check with the relevant embassies or contact our recommended visa agency, Travcour www.travcour.com 

For this tour UK passport holders currently do not require a visa for Bulgaria.

Non-UK passport holders or non-UK residents should contact the relevant embassies for individual requirements.

Further details will be sent out to you on booking, however ensuring that correct and valid visas are obtained remains the sole responsibility of the client.

Extensions

If you have more time available, why not arrive early to adjust to a new time zone or just to get a feel for the country before your tour starts? Or alternatively you might choose to allow a few extra days after the tour to relax or to undertake some further exploration.

The choice is completely yours and we can usually arrange anything from simply additional accommodation and transfers to full tailor-made itineraries.

Below is just a small sample of what you could do. Please contact the office for more details and to discuss your individual requirements.

Sofia

With only one day in Sofia included in the tour, why not extend your time in the capital to allow a for more relaxed experience? Allow 1-2 days.

Macedonia

Why not combine this trip with our Walking in North Macedonia trip? A 5hr bus journey links Sofia with Skopje making for an easy link between the two tours. Allow 9 days (+ 4 days in between tours).

Governmental Travel Advice

Many governments issue advice which highlights potential hazards their citizens might experience when travelling abroad. We strongly suggest you refer to your country’s particular advisory site before booking and contact us if you have any queries or concerns. Click to follow links to the advice of the British Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) or the US State Department.

Non-UK citizens should consult the travel advice of their respective governments.

Key Information

CLIMATE

Bulgaria’s climate can be extreme with scorching summers and intensely cold winters. It is also a predominantly mountainous country with a maximum altitude of 2,925m (Mt Musala in the Rila Mountains) and an average altitude of 470m. As such, the weather can be very changeable and you will need to be prepared for all conditions. We have scheduled our walking trips to Bulgaria for the summer and early autumn when daytime temperatures should be warm in the mountains (20-25C) and trails should be clear of snow but rain and cold are always a possibility.

IS THIS TRIP FOR ME?

It may sound obvious but Wild Frontiers tours are not always for everyone and it is important to us that the tour you choose is the most suitable. All our tours have a fitness rating as a guideline but you should check the day-by-day itinerary carefully. In certain instances we may ask you to complete a travel questionnaire before confirming your booking in order to ensure your suitability. Should you have any concerns about your ability to partake in any aspect of the tour then please contact the office.

KEY ASPECTS TO CONSIDER

This is the perfect tour for those who enjoy fresh air, mountain hikes, great food and mixing with welcoming locals at every turn. While all the walks can be opted out of (and luggage will be transported throughout by minibus) they form a key part of the trip and you should be fit enough to enjoy several days of moderate to strenuous walking (4-6hrs/day on average).

THE NATURE OF ADVENTURE TRAVEL

We feel that it’s worth pointing out that while we will always strive to stick as close to the stated itinerary as possible, it may be necessary from time to time to make changes to our itineraries or services (due to weather, political and religious influences etc.) and this can happen with little or no notice. This unpredictability can be one of the most exciting aspects of adventure travel and for many of our clients often leads to unexpected highlights as the tour-leader necessarily adapts the tour to the changing conditions. However we are aware that this lack of assuredness may not suit everyone. As such, with the greatest respect, if you are someone who needs to know that everything will happen exactly as planned, we would kindly suggest that perhaps our tours are not for you. Adventure travel can be infectious and once you’ve caught the bug, it is likely to never leave you, but especially if this is your first such tour we would strongly urge you to give us a call if you have any concerns whatsoever about your suitability for this trip.

TRAVELLING SOLO AND SINGLE SUPPLEMENTS

As a company approximately 70% of our clients are solo travellers, so it’s very unlikely you’ll be alone!

Our prices are typically based on twin-share accommodation but single supplements are not compulsory for any Wild Frontiers tour. If you prefer not to pay a single supplement we’ll pair you with someone else of the same sex for you to share with throughout the trip.

On this trip, if you do opt to pay for a single supplement then please note that it will cover you for all nights of the tour.

Please note that paying a single supplement entitles you to lone occupancy of a single room. In many cases these rooms will be of the same size as a double/twin room, but in some cases they may be smaller.
 

INSURANCE

Insurance that provides cover for emergency repatriation in case of a medical emergency is compulsory for all tours. You should be aware that due to some of the geographical areas visited and some of the activities included on certain of our trips some standard insurance policies may not always provide adequate cover. As such we strongly recommend that you purchase a policy that adequately covers your trip. If you choose to purchase the Wild Frontiers bespoke policy through Travel & General (currently available to UK residents only) then please note for this trip the minimum required level of cover will be the Standard policy. Please see the Insurance section for more details.

General Information

TOUR PRICE

All our tours are priced on a land-only basis, giving you maximum flexibility when deciding how to get to and from your tour.

DEPOSIT

A £200 (or equivalent) deposit is required to confirm your booking.

PROTECTION FOR YOUR MONEY

For further details please see our travelling with peace of mind page

WILD MILES

This tour will earn you 2508 Wild Miles

WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED

We believe in a completely transparent approach to pricing with no hidden extras. As such, please note that the following are not included in the cost of the tour.

Visas & Travel Insurance: Visas will always be tour/nationality dependent but travel insurance is mandatory
Tips: Always optional but some guidance will be given in the pre-departure information documents
International Flights: Please ask us for an obligation-free quote for flights which originate in the UK
Airport Transfers: We include complimentary transfers if arriving/departing on the suggested group flights
Beverages & any costs of a personal nature: This will include items such as laundry and souvenirs

WILD FRONTIERS COMMUNITY

If you’re still not sure if this trip is right or just want to see get some different perspectives, then why not have a look at the wide variety of resources we have on our website? Browse our community section to read our blogs, watch videos and find out about our events. 

WHY WILD FRONTIERS?

We are frequently asked what makes Wild Frontiers different from other tour operators. Visit our Why Wild Frontiers page to find out.

INSPIRATION