back to Bulgaria


A Pilgrimage Journey through Bulgaria

Our 12 day journey begins and ends in Sofia; the capital of Bulgaria, born 7,000 years ago in the green embrace of Vitosha Mountain. We also visit Plovdiv, the oldest city in Europe, and our itinerary will include many churches and monasteries,

While in Sofia, we include visits to the dominating Alexander Nevski Cathedral, Rila monastery complex, and the monastery church with its amazing frescoes, the remains of the Roman Amphitheater, and many other treasures in this fascinating city.

Other highlights of the tour include the spa town of Sandanski; Melnik, the smallest Bulgarian town with a population of around 300; Plovdiv with its Roman remains and Bachkovo Monastery; Tryvana where we see how the famous Bulgarian yoghurt & cheese is produced, along with visiting a wood-carving museum.

In addition to seeing the living Churches and Monasteries, we will enjoy the wonderful and varied landscapes on offer.

The itinerary below is our standard programme. For full details of the itinerary on this featured date click download brochure above.


  1. To Sofia

    Our British Airways flight BA890 to Sofia, departs Heathrow at 0805 and arrives in Sofia at 1315. We transfer to our hotel with time to check in and rest. There is a short walking tour to introduce the capital, followed by dinner with live music.

  2. Sofia

    Today we enjoy a full day walking tour in Sofia, with its rich and turbulent history.

    We shall visit the impressive Alexander Nevski Cathedral which dominates the city, the remains of Roman Serdica, St George's Rotunda (The best preserved Byzantine building), the National Archaeological Museum which is full of Thracian treasures, along with other churches, a market, synagogue, mosque, and the government buildings.

  3. Sofia

    We attend the liturgy at Alexander Nevski Cathedral, and then head to Rila.

    Rila is a 10th century monastery complex, and is the largest in Bulgaria. We visit the monastery church with its amazing frescoes and the monastery museum.

    We continue onto Sandanski for our overnight stay.

  4. Sandanski

    We enjoy a leisurely walk around the the spa town of Sandanski and Melnik, the smallest Bulgarian town with a population of 300. We visit the 17th century Kordopulova museum house and enjoy lunch with some local wine tasting (Included).

    We continue onto Rozhen Monastery, with its pretty courtyard and church. We head to the mountain resort of Bansko for an overnight, with local cuisine and dinner at a local tavern.

  5. Bansko & Dobarsko

    We take a short walk through the old town and visit the church of the Virgin Mary, as well as the museum house of Velyan Ognev. Lunch is included in Gorno Draglishte today, and then we drive onto the small village of Dobarsko to look at the plentiful and exquisite frescoes, some of the finest examples of religious art in Bulgaria.

    We continue through the mountains to Plovdiv for a two night stay.

  6. Plovdiv

    We start the day with a walk through the old town, with its Roman Ampitheatre, Ottoman and Revival architecture, which is an indication of Plovdiv's turbulent history.

    We visit the Ethnographic Museum housed in a 19th century merchant's house, the Roman Ampitheatre, the church of St Constantine and Helena, the house of Lamartin and the Jumaya Mosque. We drive out to Bachkovo Monastery, one of the largest and oldest Eastern Orthodox Monasteries' in Europe.

  7. Starosel & Kazanlak

    We head to the Balkan Mountains, stopping en route in the village of Starosel to see the Thracian Tomb.

    Continue to Kazanlak, Valley of The Thracian Kings and Valley of Roses where we visit a replica of the old Thracian beehive Tomb of Kazanlak, and a rose distillery including tasting rose jam and liqueur.

    Two night stay in the village of Tryavna.

  8. Bozhenci & Tryavna

    We start with a visit to the nearby village of Bozhenci, one of the few Bulgarian villages to have entirely preserved its revival architecture.

    En route to Tryavna, we visit a dairy farm to see how the famous Bulgarian yoghurt and cheese is produced, and in Tryavna we visit the local wood-carving museum and the town tower.

  9. Kilifarevo Monastery

    We visit the Etara open-air museum to see local craft making in traditional workshops (opportunity to participate in the craft making).

    We then visit Kilifarevo monastery, one of many in the area.

    Two night stay in Veliko Tarnovo.

  10. Arbanassi

    Veliko Tarnovo was the former capital of Bulgaria in medieval times. We visit Tsaverets Hill and walk through the cobblestone streets of Samodovska Charshiya.

    Continue to Arbanassi and the Konstancalieva House and Church of Nativity. Nearly every inch of the walls and ceilings here are covered in 17th century frescoes and paintings.

    Lunch is included in the medieval convent of St Peter and Paul built on the cliffs overlooking Arbanassi.

  11. Sofia

    We head back to Sofia, stopping en route to see the 16th century Troyan monastery on the river, surrounded by forest, and Glozhene Monastery built like a fortress on a rocky outcrop on the western part of the Balkan mountain range.

    We arrive back in Sofia, visiting the beautiful little medieval Boyana Church on the outskirts of the city.

    Free time to relax before dinner.

  12. Homeward Bound

    A leisurely morning before we depart for the airport and our return British Airways flight to Heathrow.

    Flight BA891 departs at 14:20 and arrives at 15:50.

Essential Information

The price you pay is inclusive

The only extras you need to budget for are some lunches, drinks and shopping.

We include gratuities to guide, driver and hotel staff.

2019 Price: £1,645, Single Supplement: £275, Travel Insurance Premium: £49/£74


Flights, Hotel accommodation, Breakfast and dinner daily, some lunches. Sightseeing programme, Entrance fees & guiding, Gratuities

Not included

Some lunches, Travel Insurance, Single Room supplement

Touring Information

There will be a fair amount of walking involved. This said, we are planning this pilgrimage to be accessible to all reasonably able-bodied travellers. If you are worried about the fitness element, have a word with the McCabe office.

Travel Insurance

The McCabe recommended insurance policy is designed for the older traveller. The premium for a Bulgaria pilgrimage is £49. Travellers over 75 pay £74 and we also recommend that older travellers obtain a note from their doctor stating that they are fit to travel. Do feel free to shop around as there are many suitable insurance options including annual policies on the market. We do insist that all travellers take out medical insurance.
A key feature of our recommended policy is that there is no requirement to call a Medical Help Line as most pre-existing conditions are covered.

You can read the full policy wording here.

Passports, visas and health

Check that your passport is valid beyond the return date of this tour. If you need a new passport apply early as there can be considerable backlogs at the passport offices. There are minimal formalities for British passport holders entering Bulgaria. A visa is not required by citizens of EU countries, USA and Canada. All other nationalities should check with the Armenian Embassy before travelling.

No inoculations are required. We do, however, advise you to consult your doctor regarding your own personal requirements.


Flights are from London Heathrow with British Airways


Bulgarian hotels have improved in recent years and we are happy that standards are now very acceptable. You can expect comfortable, clean accommodation during your stay and all rooms have private facilities.

You can click on the hotel websites below:

Anel Hotel, Sofia

Pirin Hotel, Sandanski

Grand Arena Kempinski, Bankso

Imperial Plovdiv Hotel, Plovdiv

Kalina Palace, Tryavna

Bolyarski Hotel, Veliko Tarnovo


A buffet breakfast with breads, meat, cheese, eggs, yoghurts, cereals and fruit well as fruit juices and tea and coffee will be served at your hotels. Dinners will generally be at the hotels or in local restaurants and will normally consist of a starter followed by a meat (usually lamb, pork or chicken: more occasionally beef) or fish course with rice or potatoes and vegetables. This will be followed by a pudding or some fruit. Coffee and tea will then be served. Vegetarian meals can be provided. Included lunches in monasteries or religious houses are likely to provide much simpler fare. Bottled water is provided at lunch and dinner.

Local beers together with wines can be ordered to accompany your meal. These are generally very reasonably priced. Usually when paying for drinks you should round up a little … say 5% or to the nearest round figure.

Practical information

Travelling Alone

Many of our passengers travel alone and object to expensive single room supplements. McCabe Pilgrimages will accept individual bookings on a 'guaranteed share' basis. We charge the basic price and accommodate you with a person of the same sex also requesting shared accommodation. If we do not find someone to share with you, you will be accommodated in a single room at only 50% of the usual single room supplement. For single travellers who do require single accommodation this should be requested when booking and, if available, the normal supplement will be payable.

The McCabe Educational Trust

For many, meeting the ‘Living Stones’ of The Land becomes a real highlight of their pilgrimage. The McCabe Educational Trust is an independent registered charity with the aim of helping inspiring people we meet on pilgrimage. On your pilgrimage you will meet some of these people. As ‘the haves’ encounter the ‘have nots’ the Trust has become a practical tool for one to help the other.

McCabe Pilgrimages invite all travellers to become partners in this work. A £15 voluntary donation to the Trust’s work is added to every pilgrim’s invoice and all money raised in this way is given in full to the projects the Trust supports. This scheme is voluntary and confidential with nobody put under any pressure to participate.

Full Financial Security

All money paid to McCabe is fully secure. Holidays including flights are covered by our ATOL license from the Civil Aviation Authority, and holidays without flights are protected by our membership of the ABTOT bonding scheme. If a pilgrimage is cancelled, for instance through lack of numbers or for political considerations, McCabe will promptly refund all monies paid.

AITO Quality Statement

McCabe Pilgrimages is a member of the Association of Independent Tour Operators. The Association represents Britain’s leading independent tour operators and encourages high standards of quality and service. McCabe abides by the Association’s Code of Conduct and adheres to the AITO Quality Charter.

You can read McCabe reviews on the AITO website HERE

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