Now that my trip is complete, my touring and my conference over and I have returned home, I would like to thank you for masterminding my tour and organizing the Bulgarian section. The overall organization was a worry free, always a great relief.
The Bulgarian section was equally impressive, the itinerary somewhat different and the sites were well chosen and gave me a good overall impression. My guide was friendly and quite knowledgeable, he was obviously well-known wherever we went which helped facilitate the tour. My wish to take abundant photographs was honoured, now I have to process them.
Dr Peter Alberti
I just wanted to send you a quick note to thank you for the wonderful tours that you organised for us in Bulgaria and Romania. Out guide-drivers Phillip and Val were both great they looked after us very well and they really knew their stuff.
It was nice to meet you in Bulgaria after all our email communications.
Geoff & Michael
Just wanted to let you know that I wrote the review for Trip Advisor:
“A Magical Tour of Bulgaria”
After spending 3 amazing weeks in Bulgaria for the first time, my husband and I can safely say that Magic Tours has been very aptly named! This company is a husband-wife team who love their country and take pride in catering to their clients’ individual interests and needs. I am so glad we found them! The tour that Valentina planned for us was magical! Bulgaria has an impressive nine UNESCO Heritage sites and we saw 8 of them! Highlights of our tour were the Magura Caves with prehistoric paintings dating from 8,000 BC, the Belogradchik fortress and cliffs, hiking in the Pirin Mountains to the first glacial lake, a « socialist » tour of Sofia, seeing the oldest worked gold in the world in Varna, staying overnight at the Rila Monastery (Valentina worked hard to arrange this for us at our special request!), visiting the Villa Melnik winery, swimming in the Black Sea, attending the International Folklore Festival in both Veliko Tarnovo and Plovdiv, exploring Veliko Tarnovo, learning about the rose industry in Kazanlak and of course, discovering Bulgarian traditional cuisine! We loved every minute of our trip and this is due not only to the varied and personalized itinerary that Valentina planned for us, but also owes very much to the guide-driver we had, Stancho! We could not have had a better guide! For 3 weeks, we travelled around the country by car together. He was an excellent driver, was always considerate, helpful, flexible and patient, took great pictures, was knowledgeable and had a great sense of humour! More than that, he went above and beyond expectations. From the beginning, we felt like we were travelling around Bulgaria with an old friend, and by the time the trip was over, we knew we had indeed a new friend! In fact, we have three new friends!
Magic Tours is a very special company. They also exceeded our expectations. Valentina met us personally in Sofia for an orientation tour and ice cream at the very start of our tour. She prepared a folder for us containing a Road Scholar document of more than 100 pages of information, our itinerary and a map of Bulgaria. At the end of the first week, she called us to make sure everything was alright. For our anniversary, she and her husband arranged a very special supper for us and offered us a bottle of wine! We also met with them both at another time during our trip! I think it is important to mention as well that from the moment we decided to go with Magic Tours to Bulgaria, I loved working with Valentina. It was wonderful to be able to participate in planning the itinerary. She answered all of my questions, allayed my concerns and actively searched for information on musical performances for us. I don’t know many companies where you can correspond back and forth like that on a personal level!
Bulgaria is a fantastic country with a rich history that is continually being discovered through archaeological digs; it has a rich musical tradition of dancing and singing as well, and a diverse landscape including alpine mountains and beautiful sandy beaches. Its people are generous and friendly, and we were surprised at how much English there was in the main cities (for example, in shops or on restaurant menus). We have many wonderful memories of our first trip there. If you plan on going to Bulgaria, we highly recommend Magic Tours - you will not be disappointed!
Debra Madill and Douglas Simpson
To view full review on TripAdvisor please click here:
Our Kamen's name contains no "r,"
But he has been our guiding star,
From then to now, and far to near -
Our teacher of his country, dear.
antiquities of old,
Brave Thracians and their works of gold,
Icons and churches, ruins of Rome,
From womb to tomb this people's home.
Against the Turkish yoke arose
A flow'ring people, thus transposed
By Cyril and Methodius,
That learning then and now might bless.
Bulgaria with its waves of grain,
From Sofia to the sea contains
A beauty Kamen thus imparts
So thanks and love now fill our hearts.
Scott L. Barton
and a group of 23 praticipants from US
We thought we would enjoy our Bulgaria -Romania holiday with Magic Tours but we were still not prepared for the truly wonderful holiday we actually experienced. Our original idea was to discover somewhere interesting that would not be inundated with the usual tourist crowds and crushing exhaustion. We discovered two really beautiful countries with UNESCO world heritage cultural sites to rival anything we have seen on our previous travels.
Travelling out of Sofia, the Bulgarian capital with our guide Philip , we went from the 13th century world heritage Boyana Church to the National Museum of History which is housed in the palatial principle residence of the last Bulgarian Communist leader. Fittingly it is on the hill overlooking Sofia. The partially revealed and well protected Roman Serdica Fortifications in the central square in Sofia are striking. Serdica was a large spa city in its time however it is definely too comprehensive to see in one short visit.
On our way north from Sofia, we travelled via the ‘river of stones’ which is in the mountains. This was on our way to the UNESCO world heritage Rila Monastery which was beyond words to describe.
Plovdiv with a history dating back thousands of years is an artistic and architectural delight. In the old town, apart from the remains of the huge Roman Amphitheatre which is still used for concerts today, we explored a beautiful painted elegantly designed and stunningly furnished mansion originally built by a wealthy Basov merchant after we visited the modern workshops of two gifted local artists. Additionally we saw another beautiful Plovdiv original mansion which now houses the Ethnographic Museum which focuses on Bulgarian commerce and local customs over the changing times.
The entire craft village in Gabrova was amazing. Each workshop houses the artisan judged to be the best new man or woman of their field. On top of which one of the artisans taught me how to make decorative braiding.
Whilst we thought things couldn’t get better from there, we went on to Veliko Tŭrnova which has to be seen to be believed. Beautiful buildings throughout the town, an amazing complete old castle complex overlooking the river and the town. Everywhere we met lovely people. Veliko Tŭrnova, as with all of our experiences in Bulgaria was beautiful, romantic, safe and not too crowded for us as travellers.
With so much to experience it seemed a pity that our very next day meant the transfer to Bucharest to meet our guide for the Romanian part of our tour.
Romania, with our new guide Triain was a surprisingly different experience. Bucharest as a starting point in Revolution Square was also interesting. History viewed through the eyes of our guide who was there at the time of the overthrow of the Ceausescu regime, has taken on new meaning. Through Triain we began to understand the complexity of the Ceausescu period and what the improved economy initially brought to the Romanian people.
Our first day in Romania ended in Brasov after a really beautiful drive through the Carpathian mountains. The next day brought a visit to Peles Castle built at the direction of Prince Carol 1 Hohenzollen who later became the revered King Carol of Romania. To our thinking it is possibly the most beautiful Castle in Europe. It incorporates German Renaissance, Italian Renaissance, Gothic Baroque and French Rococo styles and every luxury finish imaginable in wood marble, stone, brick, carpet and fabric. The King’s bathroom was a modern marvel to rival that of King Ludwig of Germany; the Italian Stateroom; The Turkish Stateroom, The Chinese and all other special Staterooms must have left visiting Kings and official dignitaries quite overwhelmed.
Our afternoon began with a wine tasting and lunch at Halewood Sparkling Wine Cellars near the Sinaia Monastery.
After a restful evening in Casa Kranta our hotel in Brasov we set of to see Bran Castle and to learn a bit more about the legend of Dracula - really a fierce warrior called Vlad Tepes (known widely as Vlad the Impaler) who spent much of his life fighting against the Turks who tried to rule what was then called Transylvania.
From here we saw the Prejmer Fortified Church built in the Gothic style. One really has to see it to believe what a wonder it is. Here in the Central fortress all of the families from the surrounding area could retreat to secure accommodation in troubled times. Each family had their own private room and children could continue their education in complete safety. In its time this Church was truly a refuge and safe haven for the entire community. Later in the day we arrived at Casa Georgius Krauss which is a UNESCO certified building dating from 1600 inside the Medieval Citadel of Sighisoara. We stayed here overnight and really enjoyed being located just a 2-minute walk from the central square. Our room was a unique and romantic design. We ate in the terraced restaurant that night and returned for the delicious breakfast next morning before continuing on our exploration of this amazing country. Sighisoara is also interesting as a medieval citadel in that the majority of the old buildings are still functional and well kept. One can still see the Guild Towers – the Leather Dresser’s Tower, the Tinker’s Tower the Goldsmith’s Tower the Rope maker’s Tower and those of other Guilds as well. This was particularly interesting to me as I belong to a modern craft Guild and understand the importance of the original worldwide Guild movement in ensuring that skilled trades were supported and passed down the generations.
After leaving Sighisoara and passing though Jidvei where we saw a second fortified Church, we arrived at Castle Bethlen where we had a sumptuous lunch and a wine tasting of the delicious wines of the Tarnave vineyard. Castle Bethlen is unique and has to be seen to be believed,
There is just so much to see in Sibiu. Being a larger city we stayed two nights and spent two days really just getting an overview before going on the Bucharest where our excellent accommodation to date was even further upgraded and we spent our last two nights in the boutique Hotel Moxa which was both quiet and very comfortable and in the heart of the city . For us, whilst there was so much to see, there were really three highlights not to be forgotten in Bucharest. Seeing the magnificent George Enescu Opera House where the orchestra was about to prepare for a performance, touring the Palace of the Parliament which was built at the direction of Nicolae Ceausescu and lastly; spending our last afternoon wandering through the impressive central park. This has been a holiday we will never forget, thanks to Valentina of Magic Tours who organised it all as well as our two wonderful and considerate guides.
Pam and Hans Böres,
Anne and I had a wonderful time in Bulgaria! Highlights for us were the Rila Monastary, Nessebar and Veliko Tarnovo. I loved the old town in Plovdiv and the Roman ruins. I was thrilled to see the Philip Koetev ensemble and delighted to have the opportunity to folk dance in Sofia.
Our guides were fantastic. Please give them both our sincere thanks.
Katya was very knowledgeable and attentive. We especially enjoyed her expertise at the National Museum of History and Boyana church. She took very good care of us, even accompanying us the evening to the dance session and returning with us to the hotel.
Philip Stanimirov was wonderful. He is incredibly well informed about the sites and museums we toured. He was professional but also warm and friendly. I love languages and Philip was very patient in helping me to learn polite Bulgarian words and phrases and learning the Cyrillic alphabet. I learned quite a bit in 5 days! I had a package to deliver to the mother of a friend of mine in Indianapolis. Annie's mother lives near Varna and does not speak English. Philip helped make arrangements with Annie's mother, set up a meeting place and then acted as a translator when we met her. Anne and I appreciated all the extra effort Philip put into making the trip wonderful. He had wonderful restaurant suggestions. We both felt very well cared for.
Many thanks to both of you for all you did to make our tour so seamless. Everything was well planned and all went smoothly. The hotels we stayed in were well located and immaculate with excellent breakfasts. We especially liked the Hotel Niky in Sofia, well located, quiet and with an excellent restaurant, the charming Hotel Odeon in Plovdiv had a lovely terrace and excellent breakfast, Hotel St. Stefan in Nessebar was charming with iews of the Black Sea and the Hotel Gurko in Veliko Tarnovo had a spacious, charming room and lovely views, well situated in Veliko Tarnovo. Hotel Gurko also served an excellent breakfast.
Thank you, Boyan, for helping Anne and I get oriented our first night in Sofia. We were both so weary from traveling!
Anne and I would highly recommend Magic Tours to anyone planning a trip to Bulgaria. Our only regret is that we did not stay twice as long in Bulgaria! I would have loved to stay much longer in each city.
Janet Higgs and Anne McKinley
Last year we did a ten day private wine tour of Bulgaria organised by MAGIC TOURS BULGARIA & guided by Ivo a very knowledgeable & capable fellow who speaks a number of languages, it was such a wonderful experience we did a report for Trip Adviser.
We belong to a cultural exchange group( Friendship Force) based in Atlanta with 360 clubs around the world which arranges for clubs to visit one another where you are home hosted & then in turn host others in your home. www.friendshipforce.org
This year our club, Friendship Force of Sydney, was allocated hostings in Nuremberg & Gelsenkirchen, Germany ,as it is a long way to travel to Europe from Sydney for two weeks we decided to undertake a two week coach trip from Sofia (Bulgaria) to Nuremberg.
We had a group of 24 members aged between 60 & 80 to undertake the journey.
We contacted Boyan & Valentina of Magic Tours who asked where we wanted to visit on the way & they would organise a coach, two drivers & Ivo to manage the tour.
The plan was to follow the Danube & visit cities along the way, staying in boutique 3 star hotels close to the cities with local guides to show us Belgrade, Budapest, & Vienna & have an extra day for members to follow their personal interests.
Boyan & Valentina set about their task immediately & soon we had an itinerary & a number of hotels in each city for us to choose from. It was agreed that a 34 seater coach would be more than adequate for our purpose.
In Sofia we requested to stay at the Hotel Niky , a reasonably priced hotel very close ( 500 metres) from the main city mall, where we had stayed last year. We had 4 days in & around Sofia. During our stay we were visited by the principals of Magic Tours on three occasions to ensure everything was satisfactory.
Although our arrival times were different, Magic tours arranged pick up times to suit our members & transport them to the hotel.
Our sightseeing in Bulgaria was fascinating for many of our members who had not visited Europe previously. During our stay in Sofia we took in most of the city sights , visited a 1500 year old monastery, Plovdiv the 2000 year old Roman capital, a winery for a tasting & had a cultural night at a local restaurant.
In Belgrade we undertook a city tour & we were able to appreciate the extent of the local flooding, as well as the history & culture .
Our local guide in Budapest was able to not only show us both Buda & Pest but also much of the history, the visit to the magnificent parliament house, the Jewish Quarter, our night at the Gypsy restaurant & the night cruise on the Danube gave us a great appreciation of the city.
In Vienna we were able to visit Schonbrunn Palace & have lunch in the Vienna Woods before visiting a 900 year old Monastery , on the free day our people managed a multitude of activities including experiencing the Sacher Hotel for coffee & Torte , attending the Spanish Horse Riding school, or a concert & generally enjoying this wonderful city.
We continued our trip to Passau, our last Danube city, before continuing to Nuremberg.
Throughout the journey Ivo was very attentive to all our needs, by the time we had collected our luggage he would have the room keys ready to distribute,he would assist the drivers in arranging parking for the coach, organise the coach to be available to transfer us to venues during the day he would relate stories or sing local songs along the way, he became a friend. The drivers, although unable to speak English were excellent & patient & drove very safely ( as you would expect).
This tour was acclaimed by all as excellent borne out by lack of complaints & only compliments, a good effort for a coach load of older citizens.
I would commend Magic Tours to anyone planning a tour of Bulgaria either individually or as a group & ask for Ivo to help you on the way.
This tour was remarkably inexpensive for the value we were given.
ALEX & MARILYN STUART
Thank you for your gracious hospitality and amazing tour of Bulgaria. Though our time in your beautiful country was short, we are leaving with wonderful memories of your your rich history, great cuisine and welcoming people and hope one day to return to beautiful Bulgaria. Your professionalism and personal service made this a most memorable holiday. Please extend our gratitude to Valentina and Diana. It was a pleasure to meet with them and share in their knowledge of Sofia.
Paul and JoAnne,