Map of Romania, Bulgaria & Turkey Discovery including Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey

Explore from Eastern Europe's Romania and Bulgaria to Turkey

Embark on a spectacular journey from Romania and through Bulgaria to Turkey, 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, bask in the glory of transcontinental Istanbul and travel to the Aegean Sea to soak up sun, salt and history in Kusadasi with a visit to the ancient city of Ephesus. Catch the overnight train to Central Anatolia and the fairytale landscape of Cappadocia, where hot air balloons dot the skyline and dwellings are cut into the cliffs - this 16-day trip is a fascinating study in just how much regions can change as you cross national borders.


Start
Bucharest, Romania
Finish
Istanbul, Turkey
Destinations
Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey
Style
Original
Theme
Explorer
Code
WMSIC
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 12

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

  • Breathe the crisp air on a hike and take in stunning view in the Pirin Mountain.

  • Discover the incredible ancient and modern history of Turkey as you explore thousands of years of history hidden within the remarkable ruins of Ephesus and discover Gallipoli on a guided tour that will teach you about the significant events that took place in this area.

  • Taste local fruit wines in one of the best-preserved Greek Ottoman villages in the country. Get to know the friendly locals with a Gozleme making demonstration and a home-made lunch at a local family in Cappadocia.

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.

Itinerary

Salut! Welcome to Romania. Bucharest, Romania's capital city, likes big things. It's home to one of Europe's biggest squares and its Palace of Parliament is the second largest building in the world. It's worth arriving into the city a few days early to explore. Perhaps take a tour of the Palace of Parliament (former dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu ordered the construction of this 12-storied monster, a building of staggering scale and opulence that includes 1,100 rooms and 4,500 chandeliers), or check out the Museum of the Romanian Peasant. You might even like to partake in one of our Urban Adventure day trips, such as the 'Home Cooked Bucharest' tour.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Bucharest - Museum of the Romanian Peasant - RON12
  • Bucharest - Palace of Parliament Tour - RON40
  • Bucharest - Village Museum - RON15
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Travel by train across the friendship bridge into Bulgaria and on to the picturesque town of Veliko Tarnovo. Veliko Tarnovo's history is incredible. Founded in 4500 BC by the Neolithic people, the Romans later built the first fortress walls and in the 6th century a Byzantine capital was established on Tsarevets Hill by Emperor Justinian. After the foundation of the second Bulgarian empire in 1185, it became the second most important and beautiful city in the region (after Constantinople) and trade and culture flourished for the next 200 years. In 1393 the town fell to the Turks who held the city until the Russians liberated it in 1877. Because of its importance during the second Bulgarian empire, the city was chosen as the place where the Bulgarian constitution was written in 1879 and where the official proclamation of Bulgaria as an independent state was made in 1908.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Today's travel time is approximately 6 hours.
This morning join your leader for a visit to Veliko Tarnovo's imposing Tsarevets Fortress which overlooks the city. This once-magnificent fortress was first built in the 7th century and the ruined citadel is a delight to wander through. The rest of the day is free for you to explore the City of Tsars. Wander through the Old Quarter with its preserved Renaissance houses and handicraft workshops before relaxing in one of the town's cafes or 'vinarnas' (wine bars).
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Veliko Tarnovo - Tsarevets Fortress
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
This morning, transfer to Sofia. Bulgaria's capital is a cosmopolitan city with wide tree-lined boulevards and pleasant parks. You've got the rest of the day to wander, so maybe begin with a browse around the cured meats and cheese of the Central Market Hall, then take a walk through the city and see the gold-domed Alexander Nevski Church. You might want to sate your cultural curiosity at the National History Museum, discover artefacts from the many empires of old that have occupied the city at the National Archaeological Museum, or get cultural at the National Art Gallery.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Sofia - National Art Gallery - BGN10
  • Sofia - Aleksander Nevski Church - Free
  • Sofia - National History Museum - BGN12
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Today’s trave time is approximately 4 hours.
Today journey into the Rila Mountains, where you'll visit the impressive Rila Monastery. Tucked away in a valley, this World Heritage-listed site is the largest and holiest of Bulgaria's orthodox monasteries. It was founded in 927 to keep Bulgarian spiritual and social life alive during Turkish rule. The entire monastery complex is a work of art in itself – check out stunning murals, the 14th-century Hrelyo Tower, the five-domed Birth of the Blessed Virgin Church and the original 19th-century monastery kitchen. Then onto Bansko. Set at the base of the majestic Pirin Mountains, Bansko is home to more than 150 cultural monuments. Down its cobbled streets, many of its stone houses have been transformed into charming ‘mehanes’ (taverns). Wander through pl. Vazrazhdane and check out the frescoes of the Church of Sveta Troitsa, or the paintings in the Rilski Convent. In the evening, you'll have the opportunity to indulge in some local cuisine. Try filet elena (spicy cured meat) or kapama (simmered meat, rice and sauerkraut), washing it down with some delicious melnik (dark red wine).
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Rila - Monastery Visit
Optional Activities
  • Bansko - Spa Visit - BGN40
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Today’s trave time is approximately 3 hours
This morning venture up into the Pirin Mountains. After a short ride on a chairlift stretch your legs with a hike into the eastern slopes of the mountains, with Mt Vihren, the range's highest peak at almost 3,000m, visible to the west. In the afternoon, hop on a couple of local train and continue to travel to Plovdiv. Situated on the Maritsa River, Plovdiv was once the meeting point of two ancient transportation routes. In the evening, make sure you indulge in the local cuisine, famed for its grilled meats and vegetables on skewers.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Pirin Mountains - Hike & Chairlift
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Today’s travel time is approximately 3 hours.
For today's hike it is recommended you bring comfortable walking shoes with ankle support. Please note that in case of adverse weather conditions the hike in the Pirin Mountains may have to be cancelled. If this should be the case we will visit the local spa instead.
This morning, join a local guide for a tour of the main sights and some insight into the town's history. The most remarkable sight is the ancient Roman theatre, accidentally ‘discovered’ after a landslide exposed the site in the early 1970s. Built in the 2nd century BC during the reign of Trajanus, the theatre seats about 6,000 people and is now back in use. From here, wander up to the site of the former hilltop fortress of Nebet Tepe, where you can enjoy excellent views of the city. Head back down to visit the 15th-century Dzhumaya Mosque, still in use today. Enjoy a free afternoon in this charming city.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Plovdiv - Walking Tour with Local Guide
Optional Activities
  • Plovdiv - Bachkovo Monastery - BGN16
  • Plovdiv - Hisarya Hot Springs - BGN50
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Get ready for a long day of travel that takes you from Europe to Asia. Stop at Edirne right after crossing the border and visit the magnificent Selimiye Mosque. Edirne was the first capital of the Ottoman empire and the exquisite Selimiye Mosque was built by order of Sultan Selim II over 400 years ago and represents the highest achievement of Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan’s work, arguably the most beautiful mosque in Turkey. Then continue onto the final destination of your journey, Istanbul, the continent-straddling metropolis that the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, and Ottomans have called home. Have some free time after arrival. In the evening, maybe join your new friends for an optional dinner and bask in the beauty of a real Turkish kebab.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Edirne - Selimiye Mosque
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Enjoy a free morning until your group meeting at 1 pm, followed by a guided tour of the Old City with your expert leader. Visit the scene of many a chariot race in the ancient hippodrome, check out the Blue Mosque, take a walk past the wares of the Grand Bazaar and marvel at the architectural masterpiece that is Suleymaniye Cami. If you're not too exhausted after all the exploring, join your new friends for dinner and bask in the beauty of a real Turkish kebab. While you might be familiar with the shaved meats and pita bread sensation that you may have come across at 2 am, nothing beats the kind they wrap up in Istanbul.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Istanbul - Old City Walking Tour (Half Day)
Optional Activities
  • Istanbul - Bosphorus Boat Cruise (Public Boat) - TRY50
  • Istanbul - Galata Tower - TRY175
  • Istanbul - Archaeology Museum - TRY100
  • Istanbul - Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts - TRY100
  • Istanbul - Hagia Sophia - Free
  • Istanbul - Topkapi Palace (entrance fee) - TRY285
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
As this is a combination trip, your tour leader and group composition may change today.
After breakfast this morning, hit the road enroute to Canakkale – a port city on the southern shore of the Dardanelles. You’ll stop along the way to explore Gallipoli on a guided tour that will teach you about the significant events and history embedded in this area. Your guide will take you to ANZAC Cove and major memorial sites like Brighton Beach and ANZAC commemorative Site. You’ll also take in the views across the Dardanelles Strait and the Gallipoli Peninsula. This evening, we’ll spend the night in Canakkale with free time to grab dinner and get ready for tomorrow’s adventures.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Gallipoli - Fully guided Gallipoli tour & visit to the Commonwealth graveyards
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Today’s total travel time is approximately 6 hours.
This morning, we’ll drive to Selcuk with a stop in Troy – where history and mythology sit side-by-side – along the way. You’ll wander the ancient city walls with your group leader and even get a chance to enjoy a photo op with a replica Trojan Horse. You’ll learn more about how this place has confounded historians and archaeologists alike before continuing on to Selcuk. In town, on the slopes of Ayasoluk Hill lie several historical buildings – you’ll visit the Isa Bey Mosque, a beautiful example of 14th-century Seljuk Turkish architecture, and the imposing Byzantine citadel of the Grand Fortress.Then drive out to the nearby picturesque village of Sirince and taste some locally produced fruit wines. This authentic Greek Ottoman village seems to have been overlooked by modern development and the unique local architecture nestled in the hills make for a photographer's dream. Continue onto the seaside Kusadasi and enjoy a breezy evening here.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Sirince - Village visit and fruit wine tasting
  • Troy - Archaeological site visit
  • Selcuk - Isa Bey Camii
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Today's total driving time will be approximately 7 hours.
This morning, take a private minivan to visit the ruins of the ancient city of Ephesus – one of the best-preserved Greco-Roman classical cities in the world. Once the capital city of Roman Asia Minor, the city has a fascinating history, which really comes alive with a local guide to enhance your experience. Considering their age, the ruins are in incredible shape, and it’s not difficult to imagine them in their full glory over 2000 years ago, equipped with running water, public toilets, a medical institute, a brothel and Roman baths. The theatre is well preserved and regularly hosts concerts, but it's perhaps the magnificent library that is the most striking. Later you will stop for lunch at a family-run restaurant, where you’ll feast on gozleme made fresh before your eyes. Then, head back to Kusadasi for a relaxed afternoon - you could take to the Aegean and explore the coastline on a gulet, a traditional wooden Turkish vessel, or there are plenty of beaches in town to relax on. Get ready for transfer to Izmir in the early evening - an overnight train, will be waiting to transport you through the night to the central Anatolian city of Konya.
Accommodation
  • Overnight train (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Ephesus - Archaeological site visit
  • Selcuk - Artemis Temple Visit
  • Selcuk - Gozleme making demonstration and lunch
Optional Activities
  • Selcuk - Sultankoy Village Carpet Weaving - Free
  • Selcuk - Basilica of St John - TRY50
  • Ephesus - Terrace Houses entry - TRY85
  • Selcuk - Ephesus Archaeological Museum - TRY50
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Special Information
Overnight travel this evening on the Mavi Konya: sleeping couchettes are two-berth and have excellent facilities including a washbasin, small fridge and plenty of luggage storage. Fresh bedding is supplied but you are required to make your own bed. Western-style toilets are located in each carriage, but we recommend bringing additional toilet paper. There is a dining car for breakfast in the morning and if you get hungry during the evening. You can even enjoy a local beer over a game of backgammon.
Wake up in Konya, a traditional Turkish city that's closely linked with the whirling dervish sect of Islam developed in the 13th century by Celaleddin Rumi, considered one of Islam's greatest Sufi mystics. Take an opportunity to visit the Mevlana Museum and stretch your legs in town before hitting the road to Cappadocia. Keep an eye out for the fairy chimneys, the hallmarks of Cappadocia's otherworldly landscape, as you drive across the Anatolian plains. Stop enroute at one of the underground cities that once provided a safe haven in times of war or persecution. Arrive in the Cappadocian town of Ugrup in the late afternoon and take a sunset valley walk before settling in for the evening. This evening, you'll be treated to a stay in a local cave hotel that Cappadocia is famous for here.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Cappadocia - Kaymakli Underground City
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Today's driving time is about 3 hours.
This morning you have the option to take a hot air balloon flight, a once-in-a-lifetime experience during which the sun illuminates a skyline dotted with balloons. Even if you'd prefer not to take a flight, it's still worth waking up for this truly incredible sight. Later this morning, enjoy a guided walk through one of the nearby valleys, possibly the Valley of Love, which features fairy chimneys, deserted rock-cut homes and churches. Your leader will know a number of fantastic scenic routes, and a good walk is by far the best way to experience this unique environment. In your free time today, maybe visit the UNESCO-listed Goreme Open Air Museum, a monastic complex composed of churches, rectories and dwellings cut into the soft cliff face. You could also hire a bicycle and ride to Avanos to check out the Red River or relax in a Turkish bath. This evening you’ll be warmly welcomed into a local cave home where the family will prepare a special home-cooked dinner for you and your group. Sit down to a feast made with passion, enjoy a friendly chat with your affable host and perhaps top off the night with some Turkish delight.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Cappadocia - Valley walk
  • Cappadocia - Dinner at Local Family Home
Optional Activities
  • Goreme - Hot Air Balloon, Cappadocia Regular Flight - EUR240
  • Cappadocia - Goreme Open Air Museum - TRY100
  • Goreme - Whirling Dervishes - Sema Performance - EUR25
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Without a doubt, one of the most amazing memories of this journey is a hot air balloon ride over the majestic landscape to see this otherworldly scene at sunrise. Those who are interested in this optional extra will have a truly awe-inspiring experience. The cost of this activity varies depending on what type of flight you choose. This activity can only be booked locally. Please speak to your trip leader on Day 1 to organise this.

Due to local regulations, sunrise hot air balloon excursion times do vary which may result in your excursion beginning just after sunrise. This is subject to the tour provider’s discretion and is not within our control.
Wave goodbye to Cappadocia and transfer to the airport for a flight back to Istanbul (expect to arrive between 1 pm and 4 pm), then grab your bags and jump on the metro as the group heads to the Sultanahmet District for the final evening of the trip. Meet up with your travel buds in the evening and take a stroll across the Galata Bridge to one of the city's trendiest neighbourhoods, a place of contradictions where tool-selling tradesman share space with chic cafes and galleries – this is the place to be seen. Perhaps, try a local favourite, balik ekmek (fish sandwich), for dinner, then cleanse the palate with a baklava. Maybe check out a few of the bars, or simply enjoy a farewell cay (Turkish tea) overlooking the Bosphorus.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Your Turkey adventure comes to an end after breakfast today, and there are no activities planned. However, if you'd like to spend more time in Istanbul, we’re happy to organise additional accommodation (subject to availability).
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

12 breakfasts, 1 lunch

Transport

Train, Public bus, Private vehicle, Metro, Taxi, Chairlift, Overnight Train, Plane

Accommodation

Hotel (14 nights), overnight train (1 night)

Included activities

  • Veliko Tarnovo - Tsarevets Fortress
  • Rila - Monastery Visit
  • Pirin Mountains - Hike & Chairlift
  • Plovdiv - Walking Tour with Local Guide
  • Edirne - Selimiye Mosque
  • Istanbul - Old City Walking Tour (Half Day)
  • Gallipoli - Fully guided Gallipoli tour & visit to the Commonwealth graveyards
  • Sirince - Village visit and fruit wine tasting
  • Troy - Archaeological site visit
  • Selcuk - Isa Bey Camii
  • Ephesus - Archaeological site visit
  • Selcuk - Artemis Temple Visit
  • Selcuk - Gozleme making demonstration and lunch
  • Cappadocia - Kaymakli Underground City
  • Cappadocia - Valley walk
  • Cappadocia - Dinner at Local Family Home

Dates & availability

Trip departures are unavailable.

There are currently no scheduled departures on our Romania, Bulgaria & Turkey Discovery trip. If you are interested in other trips in the region visit one of the links below.

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Important notes

1. A single supplement is bookable for this trip, excluding Day 12, subject to availability. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.
2. You don't have a lot of time in Bucharest, so if you're keen to explore it in depth, we recommend you arrive a day or two before the start of the trip.
3. As this is a combination trip, your tour leader and group composition may change on Day 9 in Istanbul.

Essential trip information

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