Monastery Cycling Tour (Bulgaria)

Departure Date: from 01-04-2017 to 31-10-2017 Status: Guaranteed departure Price: 490 Duration: 8 days
Departure Date: from 01-04-2018 to 31-10-2018 Status: Open for booking Price: 490 Duration: 8 days

Experience the atmosphere of Bulgarian monasteries and history on a bike.

This tour is not just a circuit of some of the most interesting Bulgarian monasteries. It is also a journey through Bulgaria's history, since all of the featured religious buildings are monuments to everything that happened in Bulgaria over the last 700 years or so. Along with the rich history you will submerge in the green hug of the mountains (“Balkana”) and admire its outstanding nature - beautiful waterfalls, caves, rock cliffs, forests, vast meadows, rivers and valleys combined with crop and potato fields. We bike along the Central part of the Balkan mountains exploring many scattered villages nestled among quiet valleys and beautiful green mountain landscapes. It seems that time has stopped here and life is quiet and peaceful - people still use the horse driven cart, look after their small herds of sheep, goats and cattle, cut the grass in the old fashion way, take care of their small vegetable gardens or just sit in front of their houses and have a chat with smiles on their faces.

Tour highlights:

♦ Arbanasi village is famous for its massive houses that resemble minor fortresses, several monasteries and old churches 
♦ Dryanovo Monastery “St Archangel Michael” is situated in the gorge of Dryanovska River where limestone rocks rise high on all sides of the gorge as unapproachable forest walls.
♦ Tryavna has preserved its old town square, the only one left in the country, which has been proclaimed as a Monument of Architecture.
♦  Etura Open-air Ethnographic Museum Master craftsmen fashion beautiful gold, silver, copper, leather and wooden articles right before your eyes from early morning until late at the night.
♦ Shipka monastery - built in the traditional style of 17th-century Russian cathedrals the monastery stands to the living memory of Russian soldiers and Bulgarian revolutionaries who died during the Russian-Turkish Liberation War.

Itinerary:

Day 1. Arbanasi
Arrival at Sofia airport and transfer to the architectural reserve of Arbanasi village and St. Virgin Mary monastery where we stay the next two days. Dinner in a traditional Bulgarian restaurant (mehana).

Day 2. Transfiguration monastery - Hotnitsa waterfall - Veliko Tarnovo
Today we start with a visit of the picturesque Transfiguration monastery near Veliko Tarnovo. Then we get on the bikes and reach the beautiful Hotnitsa waterfall and eco trail. After a short walk we continue biking near Hotnista gorge until you reach the main road to Sofia. You get on the car for short transfer and start biking again to Buria (Storm) village.  among beautiful hilly landscapes with nice views to Dryanovo rock cliffs. You finish cycling near Dryanovo town. Then we go for sightseeing in Veliko Tarnovo and have transfer back to St. Virgin Mary monastery in Arbanasi.
Cycling distance: 34 km

Day 3. Merdanski monastery - Kapinovo monastery
Transfer to Dragizhevo village where you start biking. Enroute you pass by Merdanski Monastery and continue in direction to Plakovo and Kapinovo monastery. We stay overnight in the peaceful Kapinovo monastery and enjoy dinner in the lovely monastery yard.
Cycling distance: 33 km (or 53km with possible extension) km;

Day 4. Kilifarevo monastery - Dryanovo monastery 
After short transfer you start cycling through the villages Plakovo, Golemanite and Natsovtsi to Kilifarevo monastery. After lunch and a visit of the monastery you continue with a short but challenging ascent to Ialovo village. Then you cycle along Dryanovska River to Dryanovo town. From there you are transferred to Dryanovo monastery where we stay overnight. Optional visit of the nearby Bacho Kiro cave.
Cycling distance: 34 km

Day 5. Bojentsi architectural reserve - Tryavna
In the morning we have a short transfer and then start cycling up and down to Bojentsi village where we spend some time for sightseeing. After a short transfer back you start cycling before Tsareva livada village on isolated village roads to National revival town of Tryavna, where we stay overnight.
Cycling distance: 35 km

Day 6. Gabrovo - Etura open air museum - Sokolski monastery 
Cycling from Tryavna up to a mountain pass and then downhill to Gabrovo. The next stop is the open-air ethnographic museum of Etura. Its 18-th-19-th century water driven machinery, crafts and lifestyle come alive before the eyes of the visitors. From here you have four more kilometers to the picturesque Sokolski Monastery and cycling back to Etura where we stay overnight.
Cycling distance: 28 km

Day 7. Shipka monument - Shipka monastery - Plovdiv
After breakfast in Gabrovo town in typical Bulgarian pastry we go for a transfer to the historic Shipka pass and memorial. You get on the bikes for a 10 km up/down ride in beautiful beech forest to the historic Buzludza area. A supreme downhill ride on the Southern slopes of the mountains awaits us. You continue biking to Shipka town where we visit the richly decorated Shipka monastery and church. Transfer to Plovdiv, where we stay overnight.
Cycling distance: 30 km

Day 8. Departure
After breakfast transfer to Sofia or Plovdiv Airport for departure


Included in the price: ►
Accomodation in monasteries (days 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6), family run hotels (days 5 ) and guesthouse with en-suite facilities ►6 days on halfboard (breakfast & dinner included), 1 day on BB (day 7) ►English-speaking guide/driver with a supporting vehicle►map and road book►group transfers from/to Sofia or Plovdiv airport (09.00 - 19.00) ►all local transfers ► techical support for the bikes

Not included: ►Bike rental ►Rent of pannier bags flights►travel insurance►dinner on day 7 (free to choose in Plovdiv) ►lunches ►tips ►entrance fees ►Private transfers: Sofia APT - Sofia center: 17 EUR (per vehicle 1-3 passengers); Plovdiv APT - Plovdiv center: 15 EUR (per vehicle); Sofia-Plovdiv or vv. 60 EUR (per vehicle 1-3 passengers) ► drinks ► other personal expenses ►helmet: 5 EUR per week per person

Other expenses: ►Single room supplement: 80 euro  ► surcharge for 2-3 people: 60 EUR per person (single room not included)

Good to know: 
♦ Bikes: hardtail mountain bike or hybrid bike 
♦ Roads: we use mainly isolated village asphalt roads with little traffic, road conditions are relatively good with some exceptions (bumpy sections, potholes, rough asphalt), we do not go off road
♦ Guide/driver: The guide with the supporting vehicle and the luggage inside checks several times a day if everything is OK with the group, waiting by crossroads, accompanying them for breakfast, lunch and dinner and giving them talks by the most interesting sites en-route
♦ Dress code in monasteries and churches - men are not allowed to enter in shorts and women should not expose their legs and shoulders.
♦ Extension at the Black Sea coast - relax at the seaside - more information upon request

How to get there:
Wizz Air - http://wizzair.com/; Easy Jet - http://www.easyjet.com/; Germanwings - http://www.germanwings.com/; Penguin Travel – http://www.flybulgarien.dk/; Norwegian Air Shuttle - http://www.norwegian.no/ Airberlin - http://www.airberlin.com; Ryan Air - http://www.ryanair.com/

We recommend trip in the period:   April - October

Necessary equipment:
We strongly recommend you wearing a helmet during the cycling. You can bring your own helmet or rent one of ours. Cycling gloves, breathable clothes, waterproof gear, cycling shoes/trainers. (for list with recommended items see “General” in the trip dossier)