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Itinerary

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Tour Itinerary

Embark on a spectacular journey from Romania and through Bulgaria to Turkey, discovering the architectural grandeur and quaint cultural enclaves that make this such an intriguing part of the world. Absorb Bucharest's austere atmosphere on a guided walking tour, compare age-old places of worship in Sofia, breathe in crisp alpine air on a hike in the Pirin Mountains, bask in the glory of transcontinental Istanbul and soak up sun and history with a visit to the ancient city of Ephesus. Catch the overnight train to Central Anatolia and the fairytale landscape of Cappadocia, where hot air balloons dot the skyline and dwellings are cut into the cliffs - this 16-day trip is a fascinating study in just how much regions can change as you cross national borders.

Countries Visited

Bulgaria , Romania , Turkey

  1. Day 1
    Bucharest
    Salut! Welcome to Romania. Bucharest, Romania's capital city, likes big things. It's home to one of Europe's biggest squares and its Palace of Parliament is the second largest building in the world. It's worth arriving into the city a few days early to explore. Perhaps take a tour of the Palace of Parliament (former dictator Nicolae Ceau?escu ordered the construction of this 12-storied monster, a building of staggering scale and opulence that includes 1,100 rooms and 4,500 chandeliers), or visit his former luxurious residence where he lived with the family. You might even like to partake in one of our Urban Adventure day trips, such as the "Bohemian Bucharest tour".  Our adventure begins with a important welcome meeting at 6 pm, where you'll meet your group leader and fellow travellers. Afterwards, why not seek out some traditional Romanian fare with the group.
  2. Day 2
    Veliko Tarnovo
    Travel by train across the friendship bridge into Bulgaria and on to the picturesque town of Veliko Tarnovo. Veliko Tarnovo's history is incredible. Founded in 4500 BC by the Neolithic people, the Romans later built the first fortress walls and in the 6th century a Byzantine capital was established on Tsarevets Hill by Emperor Justinian. After the foundation of the second Bulgarian empire in 1185, it became the second most important and beautiful city in the region (after Constantinople) and trade and culture flourished for the next 200 years. In 1393 the town fell to the Turks who held the city until the Russians liberated it in 1877. Because of its importance during the second Bulgarian empire, the city was chosen as the place where the Bulgarian constitution was written in 1879 and where the official proclamation of Bulgaria as an independent state was made in 1908.
    Meals:   Breakfast
  3. Day 3
    Veliko Tarnovo
    This morning join your leader for a visit to Veliko Tarnovo's imposing Tsarevets Fortress which overlooks the city. This once-magnificent fortress was first built in the 7th century and the ruined citadel is a delight to wander through. The rest of the day is free for you to explore the City of Tsars. Wander through the Old Quarter with its preserved Renaissance houses and handicraft workshops before relaxing in one of the town's cafes or 'vinarnas' (wine bars).
  4. Day 4
    Sofia
    In a morning, take a public bus (3 hrs approximately) to Sofia. Bulgaria's capital is a cosmopolitan city with wide tree-lined boulevards and pleasant parks. You've got the rest of the day to wander, so maybe begin with a browse around the cured meats and cheese of the Central Market Hall, then take a walk through the city and see the gold-domed Alexander Nevski Church. You might want to sate your cultural curiosity at the National History Museum, discover artefacts from the many empires of old that have occupied the city at the National Archaeological Museum, or get cultural at the National Art Gallery.
  5. Day 5
    Bansko
    Today journey into the Rila Mountains, where you'll visit the impressive Rila Monastery. Tucked away in a valley, this World Heritage-listed site is the largest and holiest of Bulgaria's orthodox monasteries. It was founded in 927 to keep Bulgarian spiritual and social life alive during Turkish rule. The entire monastery complex is a work of art in itself – check out stunning murals, the 14th-century Hrelyo Tower, the five-domed Birth of the Blessed Virgin Church and the original 19th-century monastery kitchen. Then onto Bansko. Set at the base of the majestic Pirin Mountains, Bansko is home to more than 150 cultural monuments. Down its cobbled streets, many of its stone houses have been transformed into charming ‘mehanes’ (taverns). Wander through pl. Vazrazhdane and check out the frescoes of the Church of Sveta Troitsa, or the paintings in the Rilski Convent. In the evening, you'll have the opportunity to indulge in some local cuisine. Try filet elena (spicy cured meat) or kapama (simmered meat, rice and sauerkraut), washing it down with some delicious melnik (dark red wine).
    Meals:   Breakfast
  6. Day 6
    Plovdiv
    In the morning, drive to Vihren Chalet (45 mins approximately) from where you start the moderate hike in the Pirin Mountains to a small but picturesque lake Okoto (2000m above the sea level). Enjoy the clear views over the stunning valley with Mt Vihren, the range's highest peak, visible to the west. Total walking distance is 2 km with 102 m elevation gain and it takes about one hour depending on fitness and trail conditions. Those who want to challenge it a bit more can continue to Banderitsko lake, your leader willl help with suggesting the route. If you don't wish to hike can stay in Bansko and visit it's thermal baths. In the afternoon board scenic and only operational narrow gauge line in Bulgaria - Rhodope railway from Bansko to Septemvri from where continue by another to Plovdiv. Situated on the Maritsa River, Plovdiv was once the meeting point of two ancient transportation routes. In the evening, make sure you indulge in the local cuisine, famed for its grilled meats and vegetables on skewers.
    Meals:   Breakfast
  7. Day 7
    Plovdiv
    This morning, join a local guide for a tour of the main sights and some insight into the town's history. The most remarkable sight is the ancient Roman theatre, accidentally ‘discovered’ after a landslide exposed the site in the early 1970s. Built in the 2nd century BC during the reign of Trajanus, the theatre seats about 6,000 people and is now back in use. From here, wander up to the site of the former hilltop fortress of Nebet Tepe, where you can enjoy excellent views of the city. Head back down to visit the 15th-century Dzhumaya Mosque, still in use today. Enjoy a free afternoon in this charming city.
    Meals:   Breakfast
  8. Day 8
    Istanbul
    Get ready for a long day of travel that takes you from Europe to Asia today. Grab a window seat if you can and watch the scenery pass you by, or get stuck into a good book. You'll be travelling how the locals do, on a bus along the Tsarigrad Road. Also named the Road to Istanbul, this was one of the most important roads in the Middle Ages, widely used by travelling merchants. Arrive in Istanbul, the continent-straddling metropolis that the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines and Ottomans have called home. You'll have some free time to settle in, then in the evening, maybe join your new friends for an optional dinner and bask in the beauty of a real Turkish kebab.
    Meals:   Breakfast
  9. Day 9
    Istanbul
    Enjoy a free morning until your group meeting at 1 pm, followed by a guided tour of the Old City with your expert leader. Visit the scene of many a chariot race in the ancient hippodrome, check out the Blue Mosque, take a walk past the wares of the Grand Bazaar and marvel at the architectural masterpiece that is Suleymaniye Cami. If you're not too exhausted after all the exploring, join your new friends for dinner and bask in the beauty of a real Turkish kebab. While you might be familiar with the shaved meats and pita bread sensation that you may have come across at 2 am, nothing beats the kind they wrap up in Istanbul.
    Meals:   Breakfast
  10. Day 10
    Canakkale
    After breakfast this morning, hit the road enroute to Canakkale – a port city on the southern shore of the Dardanelles. You’ll stop along the way to explore Gallipoli on a guided tour that will teach you about the significant events and history embedded in this area. Your guide will take you to ANZAC Cove and major memorial sites like Brighton Beach and ANZAC commemorative Site. You’ll also take in the views across the Dardanelles Strait and the Gallipoli Peninsula. This evening, we’ll spend the night in Canakkale with free time to grab dinner and get ready for tomorrow’s adventures.
    Meals:   Breakfast
  11. Day 11
    Selcuk
    This morning, we’ll drive to Selcuk with a stop in Troy – where history and mythology sit side-by-side – along the way. You’ll wander the ancient city walls with your group leader and even get a chance to enjoy a photo op with a replica Trojan Horse. You’ll learn more about how this place has confounded historians and archaeologists alike before continuing on to Selcuk. After arrival in the town, on the slopes of Ayasoluk Hill lie several historical buildings – you’ll follow your leader on an orientation walk, passing Isa Bey Mosque and the imposing Byzantine citadel of the Grand Fortress.Then drive out to the nearby picturesque village of Sirince and taste some locally produced fruit wines. This authentic Greek Ottoman village seems to have been overlooked by modern development and the unique local architecture nestled in the hills make for a photographer's dream. Return to Selcuk and the evening is yours.
    Meals:   Breakfast
  12. Day 12
    Ephesus/Overnight Train
    This morning, take a private minivan to visit the ruins of the ancient city of Ephesus – one of the best-preserved Greco-Roman classical cities in the world. Once the capital city of Roman Asia Minor, the city has a fascinating history, which really comes alive with a local guide to enhance your experience. Considering their age, the ruins are in incredible shape, and it’s not difficult to imagine them in their full glory over 2000 years ago, equipped with running water, public toilets, a medical institute, and Roman baths. The theatre is well preserved and regularly hosts concerts, but it's perhaps the magnificent library that is the most striking. Then enjoy a lunch after the tour and don't miss out the chance of peeking into their kitchen where the local ladies make the delicious gozleme. You'll some free time later before being transferred to Izmir in the early evening - an overnight train, will be waiting to transport you through the night to the central Anatolian city of Konya.
    Meals:   Breakfast   Dinner
  13. Day 13
    Konya / Cappadocia
    Wake up in Konya, a traditional Turkish city that's closely linked with the whirling dervish sect of Islam developed in the 13th century by Celaleddin Rumi, considered one of Islam's greatest Sufi mystics. Visit the Mevlana Museum and stretch your legs in town before hitting the road to Cappadocia. Keep an eye out for the fairy chimneys, the hallmarks of Cappadocia's otherworldly landscape, as you drive across the Anatolian plains. Stop enroute at one of the underground cities that once provided a safe haven in times of war or persecution. Arrive in the Cappadocian town of Ugrup in the late afternoon and take a sunset valley walk before settling in for the evening. This evening, you'll be treated to a stay in a local cave hotel that Cappadocia is famous for here.
  14. Day 14
    Cappadocia
    This morning you have the option to take a hot air balloon flight, a once-in-a-lifetime experience during which the sun illuminates a skyline dotted with balloons. Later this morning, enjoy a guided walk through one of the nearby valleys, possibly the Valley of Love, which features fairy chimneys, deserted rock-cut homes and churches. Your leader will know a number of fantastic scenic routes, and a good walk is by far the best way to experience this unique environment. In your free time today, maybe visit the UNESCO-listed Goreme Open Air Museum, a monastic complex composed of churches, rectories and dwellings cut into the soft cliff face, or check out the Dark Church. This evening you’ll be warmly welcomed into a local home where the family will prepare a special home-cooked dinner for you and your group. Sit down to a feast made with passion, enjoy a friendly chat with your affable host and perhaps top off the night with some Turkish delight.
    Meals:   Breakfast   Dinner
  15. Day 15
    Cappadocia to Istanbul
    Wave goodbye to Cappadocia and transfer to the airport for a flight back to Istanbul (expect to arrive between 1 pm and 4 pm), and get transferred to your hotel. Meet up with your travel buds in the evening and take a stroll to one of the city's trendiest neighbourhoods, a place of contradictions where tool-selling tradesman share space with chic cafes and galleries – this is the place to be seen. Perhaps, try a local favourite, balik ekmek (fish sandwich), for dinner, then cleanse the palate with a baklava. Maybe check out a few of the bars, or simply enjoy a farewell cay (Turkish tea) overlooking the Bosphorus.
    Meals:   Breakfast
  16. Day 16
    Istanbul
    Your Turkey adventure comes to an end after breakfast today, and there are no activities planned. However, if you'd like to spend more time in Istanbul, we’re happy to organise additional accommodation (subject to availability).
    Meals:   Breakfast

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Inclusions

  • Veliko Tarnovo - Tsarevets Fortress
  • Rila - Monastery Visit
  • Pirin Mountains - Hike
  • Rhodope Narrow-Gauge Railway
  • Plovdiv-Private Transfer from Plovdiv Train Station to Plovdiv Hotel
  • Plovdiv - Walking Tour with Local Guide
  • Istanbul- Private Transfer from Istanbul Bus Station to Istanbul Hotel
  • Plovdiv- Private Transfer from Plovdiv Hotel to Plovdiv Bus Station
  • Istanbul - Old City Walking Tour (Half Day)
  • Gallipoli - Fully guided Gallipoli tour & visit to the Commonwealth graveyards
  • Sirince - Village visit and fruit wine tasting
  • Troy - Archaeological site visit
  • Selcuk - Leader-led orientation walk
  • Ephesus - Archaeological site visit
  • Selcuk - Artemis Temple Visit
  • Selcuk - Gozleme making demonstration and lunch
  • Cappadocia - Kaymakli Underground City
  • Konya - Mevlana Museum
  • Cappadocia - Valley walk
  • Cappadocia - Dinner at Local Family Home

Meals
12 Breakfast(s) Included
1 Lunch(es) Included
1 Dinner(s) Included

Style: Original

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Accommodations

Hotel (14 nights), Overnight Train (1 night)

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Questions & Answers

Question: How many suitcases can I take with me on my trip?

Each person is allowed one "check-in," and one "carry-on." Remember to take all valuables with you as "carry-on", because electronic equipment, cameras, laptops, jewelry, business documents and money are not covered by the airlines' liability, so always carry them aboard with you.

Question: Is Airfare Included in the Price?

Airfare from your point of origin to and from the trip is not included in the land price.

Intrepid Tours Customer Reviews

Overall Rating
4
Accommodations
3.6
Itinerary
4.2
Professional Staff
4.4
Repeat with Operator
4.1
Value for Money
3.7

Ratings based off 217 reviews about Intrepid Tours - currently showing 9 reviews with comments only

Intrepid is awesome. Our guide was superb. Everything went smoothly!

Our tour guide was wonderful. She was knowledgeable, fun, energetic, and made our week run very smoothly. The trip itself was fantastic! We saw a lot and the islands are absolutely beautiful. Great food, great new friends made on the tour, and would absolutely book with Intrepid again.

Intrepid tour is great company. Will use this company again.

The trip was both both educational and exciting. I very much enjoyed the sights and culture.

The itinerary was just as I expected! The guide was very good as were the accomodations

Intrepid did such a great job. I never had to worry about where I was supposed to be and it felt so good not to worry about a thing but just to enjoy myself. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable about culture and history.

Taiwan people very friendly. Accommodation were centrally located and easily accessible. Did extra activities then in brochure which was greatly.

Larus our tour guide did an excellent job and was very attentive to our needs. He is very knowledgeable and has a great sense of humor.

Our guide Tarang chandola was exceptional. Courteous, knowledgeable, organized, polite, professional and went above and beyond taking care of our needs and requests offen anticipating what that might be. He made sure we all had the best possible time and offered suggestions to meet the needs of everyone on the tour. This made the trip even more enjoyable.

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