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Join Atlas Obscura for a unique and memorable introduction to one of Europe’s oldest countries: Bulgaria. Across nine days and eight nights we’ll dive into Europe’s most southeasterly corner, as we explore ancient civilizations and marvel at otherworldly relics of a communist utopia that never came to be. Immerse yourself in the rich and often tragic history of a country that stands on the frontier between Europe and the Middle East—a country that has seen the rise and fall of three historic Bulgarian Kingdoms. We’ll be accompanied throughout by two local experts, who between them have experience of running many such trips, combined with a deep knowledge and passion for the subject matter. And when we’re not learning about Bulgaria’s complex history—or admiring the underrated architectural masterpieces constructed during its communist period—our small group of intrepid explorers will be taking in jaw-dropping natural landscapes, wandering the streets and markets of picturesque old towns, and feasting on hearty local cuisine.
The cost of this trip is $1,970, based on double occupancy.
You’re in good company. Solo travelers typically make up about half of our small groups. With curiosity at the center of our experiences, there’s a natural camaraderie that develops over the course of a trip. We have two options for you:
Shared Room: You’ll be matched with another solo traveler of the same gender. (Not available in 2020.)
Private Room: Have your own room, subject to availability, for a supplemental cost of $440. When booking, please select the single room package option.
This trip will not be particularly physically demanding. Some walking will be required, and often over uneven ground, but rarely for more than a short distance at a time. Be prepared for between three to five miles of moderate walking over the course of a day. The longest walks will be in Sofia, on the first day, as we intend to explore much of the capital on foot. Be sure to bring proper walking boots or other outdoor footwear, and be aware that this tour also involves a good amount of driving time, so dress for comfort.
For flights in and out of Sofia Airport (SOF), we suggest you arrive anytime by 4 p.m. on May 9 and depart anytime on May 17. We’ll provide the option of booking extra nights at our Sofia hotel before and/or after the tour, and are more than happy to provide suggestions for things to do and see in the city on your own.
The itinerary crafted for this trip will bypass the country’s more famous tourist attractions. Instead, we’ll be investing our time, curiosity, and dollars into regions and communities that typically don’t enjoy so much love from foreigners. Bulgaria’s socialist-era architecture and memorials will be a particular focus for us, and the photos and conversations we share after the trip will help to raise the profile of these heritage sites worldwide. Within Bulgaria itself, the fact that foreign groups are seen visiting such places helps to encourage the cultural re-evaluation needed to save many of these sites from ruin. Case in point, one of the largest sites we visit, the Buzludzha Memorial House, has recently been awarded a preservation planning grant by the Getty Foundation in LA—a result of the monument’s growing international recognition.
We can cater to vegans quite well in Bulgaria, though it absolutely helps to know in advance. Salads are a major part of local cuisine, and practically every place we go to will serve fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, roasted peppers, eggplant, etc. Most restaurants will have baked vegetable dishes too, vegetables stuffed with other vegetables then roasted, or vegan-friendly combos baked in clay pots. A couple of restaurants we visit even feature comprehensive lists of vegan options—the place in Veliko Turnovo has an excellent range of vegan pizzas, while vegan guests in the past always speak highly of the Turkish restaurant in Varna. Turkish cuisine features very little dairy, and there will be a huge range of hummus, chickpea salads, taboule, vegetable soups, and so on. From time to time—and particularly with lunches, which tend to be chosen more for convenience of location—the vegan options might be limited. The worst case scenario might be the occasional lunch of french fries, bread and salad. But on the whole, the evening meals will be quite satisfying, and there will be a few very vegan-friendly banquets along the way.