Eastern Europe Express

9 Days | Explore from Eastern Europe's Romania and Bulgaria to Turkey

4.9 out of 5 based on 17 reviews submitted.
EUR €1,495
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Embark on a spectacular journey from Romania and through Bulgaria to Istanbul, discovering the architectural grandeur and quaint cultural enclaves that make this such an intriguing part of the world. Absorb Bucharest’s austere atmosphere on a guided walking tour, compare age-old places of worship in Sofia, breathe in crisp alpine air on a hike in the Pirin Mountains, and meander back in time in the Old Town of Plovdiv. and bask in the glory of transcontinental Istanbul. Relatively short in terms of distance travelled, this nine-day trip is a fascinating study in just how much regions can change as you cross national borders.

Trip overview

Map of Eastern Europe Express including Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey
Bucharest, Romania
Istanbul, Turkey
Romania, Turkey, Bulgaria
Physical rating
Indicates how physically exerting a trip is, and how fit you will need to be to enjoy it. More info on physical ratings
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 - Max 12
Trip code
This trip generates 24.93 kg of CO2-e per person per day.
We offset these emissions on your behalf. But we know that is not enough, so we also have a carbon reduction target.

Why you'll love this trip
  • Immerse yourself in the communist past and vibrant present of Bucharest, a city often underrated by travellers
  • Travel through the scenic Rila Mountains in Bulgaria, mingling with monks at the 10th-century Rila Monastery
  • Experience the romantic "time travel" back to the 20-th century by taking a trip on the last operational narrow gauge line in Bulgaria on route from Bansko to Plovdiv.
  • Explore the amphitheatre and Plovdiv's other significant sights on a guided walking tour.
  • Breathe the crisp air on a hike and take in stunning view in the Pirin Mountain.
  • Stand in awe of the exquisite architectual design of Selimiye Mosque and celebrate the end of your journey in the transcontinental Istanbul.

Is this trip right for you?
  • Summer temperatures can be extreme in many of the regions visited (over 40°C), which can be uncomfortable. It’s important to use sun protection, wear layers to combat the heat and drink plenty of water. Please carefully consider the time of the year you wish to travel and your suitability to that season.
  • Hotels in Europe often don't have double beds, but rather two single beds that can be pushed together/apart.
  • As you will have the opportunity to visit several orthodox churches on this trip, please ensure you cover your legs, shoulders and chest and show the appropriate respect. It's a good idea to bring a light scarf to cover your skin as needed.
  • If you have more time to explore the region you can extend your trip by starting your travels in Budapest, taking in the best of Romania before continuing into Bulgaria. Or start in Vienna to see the best of Central Europe before heading to Romania and then Bulgaria. Check out our trips 'Eastern Europe Explorer' (trip code WMSEC) and 'Journey through Central Europe & Romania' (trip code AMSCC). Most departure dates are designed to create these perfect combination trips.
  • On this trip you must pack as lightly as possible because you will be expected to carry your own bag and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we strongly recommend keeping the weight between 15kg / 33lb. Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps to accommodate the cobbled streets, uneven surfaces, stairs and steps you are likely to encounter while carrying your luggage. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.


This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2024 to 31 December 2024.

View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2023 - 31 December 2023

Map of Eastern Europe Express including Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey



6 breakfasts


Train, Public Bus, Private vehicle, Metro, Taxi


Hotel (8 nights)

  • Veliko Tarnovo - Tsarevets Fortress
  • Rila - Monastery Visit
  • Pirin Mountains - Hike
  • Rhodope Narrow-Gauge Railway
  • Plovdiv - Walking Tour with Local Guide
  • Edirne - Selimiye Mosque
Add on activities
  • Bucharest - Palace of Parliament Tour - RON60
  • Bucharest - Village Museum - RON30
  • Bucharest - Bike Tour - EUR25
  • Bucharest - Former Ceauşescu Residence - RON55
  • Bucharest - Romanian Athenaeum - RON10
  • Bucharest - Urban Adventures Bohemian Bucharest - EUR75
  • Veliko Tarnovo - Archeological Museum - BGN6
  • Sofia - National Art Gallery - BGN10
  • Sofia - Aleksander Nevski Church - Free
  • Sofia - National History Museum - BGN12
  • Sofia - The Red Flat - BGN18
  • Sofia - Walking Tour with Local Guide - BGN17
  • Bansko - Spa Visit - BGN40
  • Plovdiv - Bachkovo Monastery - BGN16
  • Plovdiv - Hisarya Hot Springs - BGN50
  • Istanbul - Hagia Sophia - Free
  • Istanbul - Archaeology Museum - TRY340
  • Istanbul - Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts - TRY390
  • Istanbul - Galata Tower - TRY650
  • Istanbul - Bosphorus Boat Cruise (Public Boat) - TRY150

Dates and availability

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Important notes

1. A single supplement is bookable for this trip, subject to availability. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.
2. You don't have a lot of time in Bucharest and Istanbul at the start and the end of the trip respectively, so if you're keen to explore these underrated cities in depth, we recommend you arrive a day or two before the start of the trip and/or extend your stay at the end.

Essential Trip Information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

Read Essential Trip Information


4.9 out of 5 based on 17 reviews submitted.
Reviews are from travellers who have completed their trip and want to share their experience. We show all reviews, but may remove any that include profanity or inappropriate content, are unrelated to the trip or reveal personal details.

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Ahsan · Traveled August 2023
My Eastern European tour with Intrepid, led by Sasa, was an extraordinary journey. Sasa's impeccable guidance, insightful knowledge, and warm camaraderie made every moment unforgettable. An enriching adventure that exceeded all expectations. Highly recommended
Review submitted 23 Aug 2023

Lawrence · Traveled August 2023
We visited interesting places, had a great guide, met lovely local people along the way, as well as having great travel buddies. We felt it was very good value.
Review submitted 22 Aug 2023

Allan · Traveled June 2023
This trip was a great introduction to Bulgaria and its surrounds. A good mixture of city and rural. I will definitely return to explore further.
Review submitted 19 Jul 2023

Laura · Traveled June 2023
Great quick trip to see highlights of Bulgaria! Nice variety of nature and culture. And the wine was lovely!
Review submitted 03 Jul 2023

Melanie · Traveled May 2023
The perfect way to explore more of Bulgaria! I had no idea how stunning this country was and really appreciated being led by a native Bulgarian through picturesque Veliko Tarnovo, historical Sofia, scenic Bansko and ancient Plovdiv with a grand finale in Istanbul. A wonderful itinerary that you should book asap.
Review submitted 10 Jun 2023
Eastern Europe Express
EUR €1,495