Bulgaria and Romania
Itinerary based on shooting location
Day 1: Arrival in Sofia, city tour Arrive in Sofia
In the afternoon, delight in a guided promenade down Sofia’s beautiful streets, paved in unique yellowglazed brick. Drop by the Neo-Byzantine Aleksandar Nevski Cathedral; the National Assembly chambers; the Presidency, built in the style of Socialist Classicism; and the St. George Rotunda, Sofia’s oldest building and an excellent illustration of surviving Roman architecture.
Day 2: Sofia – Boyana church – Rila Monastery – Plovdiv
Take a small excursion to the foothills of Vitosha Mountain to explore the 10th-century Boyana Church, a UNESCO World Heritage Site best known for its medieval architecture and highly illustrative collection of pristine 13th-century iconic masterpieces. Next, drive on to the UNESCO World Heritage Rila Monastery, a beautiful architectural jewel originally brought into being by the reclusive Bulgarian patron saint, Ivan of Rila. The expansive church complex, largely completed during the 19th century, is widely thought to be one of the holiest places in the greater region. This magnificent structure acted for centuries as a safe house for priceless treasures of Bulgarian culture, and its restoration allowed more recent works of art to come into recognition. Continue to Plovdiv; late afternoon arrival. Overnight in Plovdiv
Day 3: Plovdiv – Kazanlak Thracian Tomb– Shipka pass – Veliko Tarnovo
This morning, you’ll have the remarkable opportunity to experience a guided exploration of Plovdiv, one of Europe’s most ancient cities. The Thracians, Romans, and subsequent cultural forces all left indelible imprints that are still visible today. Plovdiv emanates a delightfully inventive aesthetic, and it is a notable gathering place for artists. Take in the atmosphere as you stroll to the Roman Theater and the Museum of Ethnography, founded in 1917. Here, you’ll have the chance to take a closer look at Bulgarian history and culture as represented by myriad examples of traditional clothing and textiles, painting, tapestries, and ceramics. In the afternoon, drive through the famous Bulgarian rose fields to witness the extraordinary Thracian Tomb (UNESCO World Heritage Site). Please note: you will visit a meticulous replica, as visits to the ancient site, for reasons of preservation, are almost never allowed. The necropolis, recently discovered in the 1940s, represents Bulgaria’s only example of intact, priceless Hellenistic murals. Next, voyage to Veliko Tarnovo by way of the spectacular Shipka Pass. Tour the Russian Church and the historic monument at Shipka Peak—a revered place for Bulgarians. Late afternoon arrival in Veliko Tarnovo. Overnight in Veliko Tarnovo.
Day 4: Veliko Tarnovo – Arbanassi – Bucharest
In the morning, discover Veliko Tarnovo. Meander through the Old Town and search through the delightful shops on the arts and crafts streets, perusing offerings in metalworking, icon painting, woodcarving, and weaving. You can even order a cup of exquisite Turkish coffee, infused on scalding sand in the traditional way. Next, tour the immense fortification at Tsarevets, strategically placed high on a hill with an uninterrupted view. The fortress served as home to the Bulgarian patriarch in medieval times. Tour the extensive fortress walls and watchtowers, and let yourself be transported back to another era. Later, take a small side trip to Arbanassi, a sweet, spectacularly preserved village featuring houses built in the 17th and 18th centuries. In days of old, the village became a center of affluence, primarily due to preference ceded by Ottoman luminaries. Take an insider’s peek into the lifestyle of the era inside the fascinating Konstantsalieva House, a preeminent museum that successfully freezes in time the home of a wealthy 18th-century merchant and his family. Next, view the Nativity Church in Arbanassi, a fantastic example of the religious architectural style prevalent during Ottoman rule. In the afternoon, depart for a drive north, in the direction of the Romanian border and Bucharest. Overnight in Bucharest.
Day 5: Bucharest (city tour) – Brasov
The following morning, savor a lovely city tour of Bucharest, the vast Romanian capital. Against a backdrop of monumental 20th-century architecture, vestiges of a more serene, artistic time are still in evidence, most importantly in the 19th-century French houses and extant medieval churches sprinkled throughout the city. Next, depart on an exciting journey into windswept Transylvania, still carpeted with old-growth forest and teeming with wildlife. In the afternoon, your guide will lead you on a comprehensive walking tour of Brasov’s Old Town. Discover the citadel, the enormous Black Church, and the Strada Sforii, the narrowest street in Eastern Europe. Old Brasov is still encircled by medieval bastions and fortifications, much to the delight of travelers seeking immersion in that time period. Wind up your day of adventure by relaxing at one of the wonderful restaurants in Brasov’s Old Town. Overnight in Brasov.
Day 6: Brasov – Bran Castle – Peles Castle – Bucharest
In the morning, you’ll visit the jaw-dropping Bran Castle, situated at the edge of a dramatic cliff and one of the most well-loved and celebrated sites in all of Romania. The interior, made warm and inviting by Queen Marie, does not align with the expectation of a vampire’s abode; but be sure to explore the secret passage while you’re there. Don’t miss the opportunity to taste the delicious cheeses, pálinka (plum and pear brandy), and traditional sausage and ham for sale at the castle. A bit later, set out through the untamed Transylvanian wilderness, arriving in the resort town of Sinaia. Here, you’ll have the chance to tour Peles Castle, the astonishing 19th-century royal abode. The castle overflows with all of the riches available for purchase during that time period; pay special attention to the dozens of types of rare and exotic wood employed to finish the interior. Afterward, stop at the lovely Sinaia Monastery, complete with gold mosaic paintings, a museum, and a beautiful bell tower. Return to Bucharest in the evening.
Day 7: Bucharest, departure
Departure to Airport.