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Sofia and Day Trips

Hello RS Community! My husband and I have the amazing opportunity to visit Bulgaria over the 4th of July weekend. Arriving 1 July and departing 4 July. This just came to us today and I haven't had a lot of time to research yet (I did watch the latest Bulgaria episode). Looking for recommendations on guides for the city and possibly day trips. Would welcome any other recommendations as well. Thank you in advance!

Posted by
19172 posts

Plovdiv has a very interesting historic district and some great opportunities for picking up inexpensive crafts. But it's a 2-hour drive each way, sort of pushing it for a day-trip.

Posted by
12546 posts

I love Sofia, but I think I am in a minority on that one.

Still given your time I would spend it all in and around Provdiv; after visiting the Rila Monastery.

Assen’s Fortress isn’t one of the most spectacular places in the world, but something about it touched me and it is one of my favorite stops in Bulgaria. As is the Bachkovo Monastery because of its ties to courage and the Jewish people; again, a place that touched me and I will return one March for Kaddish. All three of these are possible on the way to or while in Plovdiv; which is an amazing place in its own right.

Posted by
12546 posts

So,

•July 1: Tour around Sofia, try to see the main sights

•July 2: Morning day trip to the Rila Monastery, on to Bansko for lunch (or there is an interesting place down below the road about half way back from the Monastery to the main highway). Then to Plovdiv. Its a long day, but the scenery is pretty and it will put you in Plovdiv so you get a full day the following day.

•July 3: You could easily spend all day in Plovdiv; you could easily spend 3 days in Plovdiv. This is tough. At the very least i think i would get out in the morning and see Assen's fortress (or the Bachkovo Monastery) then spend the rest of the day and evening in Plovdiv. Plovdiv is pretty in the evening as well.

•July 4: Head back to Sofia for your flight

You really need one more day.......

Posted by
12546 posts

Heck, I just realized where you live. Are there flights home for you from Thessaloniki? If yes, then from Plovdiv drive to Thessaloniki and fly home from there.

Posted by
28 posts

Thank you for the recommendations! And, the idea to drive to Thessaloniki is genius. :)

Posted by
12546 posts

Glad I helped a little. Check your Private Messages. And if Mr. K above contradicts anything, listen to him; he knows a lot more about Bulgaria than any of us.

The drive to Thessaloniki from Plovdiv is still a 5 hour drive, but returning to Sofia (something less than 2 hours) is back tracking and I don't like backtracking. The airport in Istanbul is about an hour closer. I've never crossed to Greece, but the crossing into Turkey took about an hour. Not terrible.

You can also get flights home from Kaval and Alexandroupoli; about 3 to 3.5 hours from Plovdiv.

Posted by
12546 posts

You are correct. None of this works without a guide. Give how little time is available, if you really want to maximize it, you will need a guide with a car. The one we know there is always encouraging the trip to Thessaloniki and I guess some day we will do it.

This is not for the love of Thessaloniki, but to find a flight home with out a lot of back tracking. Still, the flight times, costs, etc, may not make it worth it. Just throwing out ideas. Sometimes something sticks.

Posted by
12546 posts

AND, one of the nicest hotels we have ever stayed in was in Plovdiv; the Hebros Hotel. Perfect location too i think. We were there for the 4th of July in 2009 (give or take a year - mind is going); and someone was putting on a pretty spectacular fireworks show that we watched from our room balcony. The staff in the hotel smiled and said was because Americans were staying in their hotel. Pretty amazing evening.

We've stayed in three hotels in Sofia but none that were exciting enough to recommend. Since you have so little time, maybe something on or near Vitosha Boulevard, mainly so you can wander in the evening.

Posted by
12546 posts

Kaeleku, thank you. I know we will be back that way next year. We sort of fell in love with Bulgaria, and the people. The guide we used on both of our trips is sort of a friend now. She took us home to her mother who cooked for us; and now we exchange pictures of the two families growing up. Its always about the people. The rest is window dressing.