DAY 1: Sofia
Arrival at Sofia Airport. Transfer to the center. Panoramic tour of the city center (appr. 2 hours): Alexander Nevski Cathedral – largest Orthodox temple in Bulgaria, built as a memorial to the Russian troops that died for the liberation of the country in 19th century, St. Sofia Church that gave its name to the city, Parliament building, Monument of the Tsar Liberator, Russian Church of St. Nicolas, old Royal Palace, Largoto Square with the building of the old Party House, St. George Rotunda – the oldest building in the city, dating to the times of the Roman empire, Banya Bashi Mosque, St. Nedelya Church. Accommodation. Overnight in Sofia.
DAY 2: Sofia surroundings
Breakfast. Half-day tour to Boyana Church and the National History Museum. Boyana Church is one of the seven objects of world cultural heritage of UNESCO in Bulgaria, included in the list for its magnificent frescoes from 1259, created by unknown artists and considered to be one of the predecessors of European Renaissance art. National History Museum is largest and wealthiest in Bulgaria – here you can witness the full historic development of Bulgarian lands represented by some of the most interesting treasures of prehistory, Thracian and Roman antiquity, middle ages and the Ottoman times. Tour (approx. 6 hours) to Tsari Mali Grad – the newest attraction in Bulgaria. This is a fully restored fortress complex from the ancient and mediaeval period. Return to Sofia. Dinner at traditional restaurant with folklore music and dances. Overnight in Sofia.
DAY 3: Sofia – Rila Monastery – Bansko – Sofia
Breakfast. Along the route, visit to one of the most beautiful and important Orthodox monasteries included in the list of UNESCO – Rila Monastery. The Church of the Nativity of the Virgin with its miraculous icon of the Virgin and splendid gilded iconostasis, the Monastery kitchen, the Rila Monastery Museum keeping the long and heroic history of the monastery, the beautiful wood-carved cross, created for a period of twelve years by a monk called Rafael, the Hrelyu’s Tower and many spectacular views from the mountain and the surrounding nature are the highlights of this tour. After Rila Monastery we will visit the famous Ski resort Bansko. By end of day return in Sofia. Overnight in hotel.
DAY 4: Sofia – Belgrade
Breakfast. Departure for Belgrade. Arrival in the Serbian capital and accommodation. Panoramic tour of Belgrade: visit to St. Sava Church – largest Orthodox temple on the Balkan peninsula, built on the exact spot, where in 1594 the Turks have burned the relics of the most popular Serbian saint. Drive through the Old town, New Belgrade, built after the Second World War, Dedinje with the old palaces of the families Obrenovich and Karadjordjevich. Return to the hotel. Overnight Belgrade.
DAY 5: Belgrade – Sremski Karlovci – Novi Sad
Breakfast. Walking tour in Belgrade from the Republic Square along the main pedestrian street “Knez Mihailova” to Kalemegdan Park and the Belgrade Fortress with its picturesque panorama to the confluence of Sava and Danube rivers. In the afternoon tour to Sremski Karlovci and Novi Sad. Sremski Karlovci has been the most important cultural center of Serbs under the rule of the Habsburg Empire, seat of the Serbian Archbishop and, till 1936, of the Serbian Patriarch. It is also one of the most important wine-production regions in Serbia, where you can visit some of dozens of local family wineries, the oldest of which have more than 3 centuries of history. Novi Sad is the second largest city in Serbia, known as the Serbian Athens for its great role in the Revival of the Serbian people – here is the seat of some of the most important Serbian cultural institutions, including Matica Srpska. Here, on the shore of Danube River, you can witness one of the most impressive fortresses in Europe – Petrovaradin, called “Gibraltar on Danube” – masterpiece of the fortification construction of the 18th century. Return to Belgrade in the evening. On request – traditional Serbian dinner in local restaurant – “kafana”, with live music at Skadarlia. Overnight in Belgrade.
DAY 6: Nis – Skopje
Breakfast. Departure for Nis. Sightseeing of the town: Nish fortress built by the Turks in the 18th century, the Tower of Skulls (Chele Kula) – monument to the fallen Serbian soldiers in the uprising of 1809, Villa Mediana – archaeological reserve, Roman villa-rustica from the 3rd century, probable birthplace of the Roman emperor – Constantine the Great. From here we continue to the Republic of Macedonia. Accommodation in Skopje in the evening. Overnight in Skopje.
DAY 7: Skopje – Skopje surroundings
Breakfast. Walking tour of Skopje (appr. 2 hours): Macedonia Square with the sculptural compositions from the project “Skopje 2014”, among which the monument of Alexander the Great and the Arch of Triumph “Macedonia”, Memorial house of Mother Theresa, dedicated to the world-famous missionary from Skopje, Old Bridge, the old Turkish market, St. Spas church where you can witness one of the most beautiful wood-carved iconostases on the Balkan peninsula, created by Debar masters in 1824. Free time. In the afternoon – optional half-day tour (appr. 5 hours) to Matka Canyon and St. Andrew Monastery, founded in 1389, and boat trip along river Treska to the cave Vrelo for a walk among the beautiful sandstone formations, some of which unique on the Balkans. Return to Skopje. Optional Macedonian evening with live music and dances. Overnight in Skopje.
DAY 8: Skopje
Breakfast. Transfer to the airport and departure.