Thursday 26 October | Meet your tour-leader at the airport at 2 am for our Airmalta flight to Thessaloniki departing at 4 am. After arrival, transfer to a 5-star hotel in Thessaloniki for breakfast. Afterwards we shall head for Bulgaria with a stop in the town of Melnik, located on the south-western foot of Pirin Mountain. The small town of Melnik is famous for the many old houses with remarkable architecture, legendary history incredible nature, fantastic rock formations, known as the ‘Melnik pyramids’ and for the wines produced here. After enough free time we then drive on to Rozhen Monastery, one of the largest and oldest monasteries in Bulgaria. We then head on to Bansko for room check-in followed by dinner (optional) and overnight.
Friday 27 October | After breakfast join our optional excursion as we drive towards the capital city of Bulgaria, Sofia and visit the magnificent Alexander Nevski Cathedral, one of the largest Eastern Orthodox cathedrals in the world and admire the Venetian mosaics, the giant brass chandeliers, Italian marble and wonderful frescoes. Enjoy some free time in the city centre for shopping or personal sightseeing. We return to our hotel in time for dinner (optional) and afterwards stroll around the narrow & cobbled streets of the charming Old Town.
Saturday 28 October | After breakfast we suggest you join our optional day excursion as we visit the traditional rural Bulgaria. We shall first visit the village of Kovatsevitsa located in the higher parts of the Rhodopi Mountain. The origin of Kovatsevitsa is connected to the waves of forced conversion of Bulgarians to Islam after the country fell under Turkish rule. In order to escape the unenviable choice of death or conversion during the 17th century, farmers from the foothills of the mountain fled upwards and settled in hard-to-reach locations of the mountain. We shall then drive on to the nearby village of Leshten, one of the most attractive and well developed destinations for rural tourism in Bulgaria. Enjoy some free time where you may visit some renovated houses, built in the traditional style of the Bulgarian Renaissance period. After enough free time, we then drive on to the spa village of Ognyanovo, which has been used since Roman times. We return to our hotel and after our evening dinner (optional) you may wish to further explore Bansko.
Sunday 29 October | After breakfast and room check-out we shall visit Bulgaria’s most famous and largest monastery – the Rila Monastery (entr. extra). Founded in the 10th century by the hermit St. Ivan Rislki, Rila Monastery’s 300 monk cells fill four levels of colourful balconies overlooking a large courtyard. After some free time we continue our drive to Thessaloniki in time for dinner (included but not drinks) in the city centre followed by a late evening transfer to the airport. Flight to Malta departs at 1.20 am (30 Oct) and arrival in Malta is expected at 01.50 am.