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Romania, Bulgaria & Turkey Discovery Itinerary

Starting in
Bucharest, Romania
Physical Difficulty
2 / 5
Breakfasts included
12
Lunches included
1
Dinners included
1
Ending in
Istanbul, Turkey
Accommodation
Hotel (14 nights), Overnight Train (1 night)
Transport
Train , Public Bus , Private vehicle , Metro , Taxi , Chairlift , Overnight Train , Plane
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 soak up sun and history 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.

16 days

Bucharest
Veliko Tarnovo
Sofia
Bansko
Plovdiv
Istanbul
Canakkale
Selcuk
Ephesus/Overnight Train
Konya / Cappadocia
Cappadocia
Cappadocia to Istanbul
Istanbul

Day 1: Bucharest

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 visit his former luxurious residence where he lived with the family. You might even like to partake in one of our Urban Adventure day trips, such as the "Bohemian Bucharest tour".  Our adventure begins with a important welcome meeting at 6 pm, where you'll meet your group leader and fellow travellers. Afterwards, why not seek out some traditional Romanian fare with the group.

Day 2: Veliko Tarnovo

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.

Day 3: Veliko Tarnovo

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).

Day 4: Sofia

In a morning, take a public bus (3 hrs approximately) 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.

Day 5: Bansko

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).

Day 6: Plovdiv

In the morning, drive to Vihren Chalet (45 mins approximately) from where you start the moderate hike in the Pirin Mountains to a small but picturesque lake Okoto (2000m above the sea level). Enjoy the clear views over the stunning valley with Mt Vihren, the range's highest peak, visible to the west. Total walking distance is 2 km with 102 m elevation gain and it takes about one hour depending on fitness and trail conditions. Those who want to challenge it a bit more can continue to Banderitsko lake, your leader willl help with suggesting the route. If you don't wish to hike can stay in Bansko and visit it's thermal baths. In the afternoon board scenic and only operational narrow gauge line in Bulgaria - Rhodope railway from Bansko to Septemvri from where continue by another 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.

Day 7: Plovdiv

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.

Day 8: Istanbul

Get ready for a long day of travel that takes you from Europe to Asia today. Grab a window seat if you can and watch the scenery pass you by, or get stuck into a good book. You'll be travelling how the locals do, on a bus along the Tsarigrad Road. Also named the Road to Istanbul, this was one of the most important roads in the Middle Ages, widely used by travelling merchants. Arrive in Istanbul, the continent-straddling metropolis that the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines and Ottomans have called home. You'll have some free time to settle in, then in the evening, maybe join your new friends for an optional dinner and bask in the beauty of a real Turkish kebab.

Day 9: Istanbul

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.

Day 10: Canakkale

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.

Day 11: Selcuk

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. After arrival in the town, on the slopes of Ayasoluk Hill lie several historical buildings – you’ll follow your leader on an orientation walk, passing Isa Bey Mosque 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. Return to Selcuk and the evening is yours.

Day 12: Ephesus/Overnight Train

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, and Roman baths. The theatre is well preserved and regularly hosts concerts, but it's perhaps the magnificent library that is the most striking. Then enjoy a lunch after the tour and don't miss out the chance of peeking into their kitchen where the local ladies make the delicious gozleme. You'll some free time later before being transferred 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.

Day 13: Konya / Cappadocia

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. 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.

Day 14: Cappadocia

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. 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, or check out the Dark Church. 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.

Day 15: Cappadocia to Istanbul

Wave goodbye to Cappadocia and transfer to the airport for a flight back to Istanbul (expect to arrive between 1 pm and 4 pm), and get transferred to your hotel. Meet up with your travel buds in the evening and take a stroll 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.

Day 16: Istanbul

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).

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Included Activities

Veliko Tarnovo - Tsarevets Fortress

Rila - Monastery Visit

Pirin Mountains - Hike

Rhodope Narrow-Gauge Railway

Plovdiv-Private Transfer from Plovdiv Train Station to Plovdiv Hotel

Plovdiv - Walking Tour with Local Guide

Istanbul- Private Transfer from Istanbul Bus Station to Istanbul Hotel

Plovdiv- Private Transfer from Plovdiv Hotel to Plovdiv Bus Station

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 - Leader-led orientation walk

Ephesus - Archaeological site visit

Selcuk - Artemis Temple Visit

Selcuk - Gozleme making demonstration and lunch

Cappadocia - Kaymakli Underground City

Konya - Mevlana Museum

Cappadocia - Valley walk

Cappadocia - Dinner at Local Family Home

Tour Operator

Club Adventures partners with a variety of operators worldwide to bring adventure to AAA Members. Your departure will be operated by Intrepid Travel.

Highlights

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 home-made lunch at a local family in Cappadocia.

Essential Trip Information

Joining point

Hotel Central Bucharest by Zeus International, 13 Brezoianu St , Sector 5, Bucharest, ROMANIA, Phone: +40 21 315 56 35

Finish point

Manesol Galata Hotel, Azapkapı, Billur Sk. No:1,Beyoğlu , Istanbul, 34421, TURKEY, Phone: +90 2122450000

Important information

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.

Emergency contact

While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.

We recognise that there may be times when your group leader or local representative may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the group leader or local representative to speak to their direct manager.

You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. Please do be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is completed, so informing us while still travelling will give us the opportunity to resolve the issue in real-time.

For general contact details please use the following page: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/contact/

In case of a genuine crisis or emergency, you can reach our local office on the numbers below:





Intrepid's Local Operator: +49 8024 4679 540

Intrepid Turkey Office: +90 850 309 68 76

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 under 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.

Why we love it

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 home-made lunch at a local family in Cappadocia.

Group leader

All Intrepid group trips in Europe are accompanied by one of our local European group leaders. ’Local’ in this context means a leader who is European or lives in Europe. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders. Your leader takes care of logistics, will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects.

At Intrepid we also aim to support local guides in the individual cities or locations we travel to. If you are interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend an optional local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.

Safety

Most national governments provide regularly updated foreign travel advice on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all destinations and activities on your trip. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trips here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/travel-alerts

We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, flight tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.

Your group leader or local representative will accompany you on all included activities, however, during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests or relax and take it easy. While your group leader or local representative will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your group leader or local representative has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.

Intrepid's operational safety policies can be viewed on our website at the link below. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how safety is being managed on our trips., https://www.intrepidtravel.com/safety-guidelines, PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY
While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair or on the floor and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing., SCAMS
Common scams operating in Europe include ploys to get you fined on the metro without a validated ticket. Ensure that you always travel with a validated ticket (have your ticket stamped). Another common scam is used by children who distract you with a map or a newspaper and while you are attending to them, steal your valuables. You may also come across players offering you to participate in the so-called "shell game". This is a scam and you will most certainly lose your money., FIRE PRECAUTIONS:
Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms., BEARS
Romania and Bulgaria are home to some of the last remaining populations of European Brown Bear. These beautiful and endangered animals are generally nocturnal and feed mainly on berries, fruit, and small animals. It is not unknown for people to come across wild bears whilst hiking in the mountains. Whilst the danger to humans is minimal there are some simple steps you can follow to ensure your safety. Never stay out in the mountains after dusk, always stick to the path, make plenty of noise (for instance by talking or whistling) as you walk and never approach or take photographs of a wild bear. Take particular care around mothers with cubs or injured bears. Handled carefully, a chance sighting of a bear can be a highlight of a trip to Bulgaria or Romania, as long as these simple rules are followed., SAFETY IN TURKEY:
We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before your departure and that you ensure your travel insurance covers you for all areas in your itinerary. We have links to all major travel advisories and regular updates on issues affecting your trip on our safety page (link above).

The safety of our travellers and staff is our first priority. We continue to monitor the situation through official travel advisories and our local operations team, and we’re able to quickly change arrangements if for any reason we become concerned. If there should be any changes to the situation you will be advised immediately.

Whilst travelling in Istanbul before, after or during your tour we would recommend avoiding crowded areas like Taksim Square, Galatasaray and Kadikoy Meydan after 6.00pm especially on a weekend. If using public transport in the city please refer to http://www.iett.gov.tr/en for the latest updates and announcements.

Visas

PASSPORT
You’ll need a valid passport to travel internationally and most countries require your passport to have a minimum of 6 months validity, so remember to check the expiry date.

We need your passport information to get everything ready for your trip so it’s important that the information on your booking matches your passport exactly. Please take care to provide the correct details. We recommend carrying a copy of the photo page of your passport while travelling and leaving a copy at home with family or friends.

VISAS & ENTRY REQUIREMENTS
Many countries require a visa and obtaining the correct visa for your trip and any countries you may transit through is your responsibility. We recommend you check your visa requirements as soon as you have booked your trip. This will ensure you have time to prepare your documents and for your visa application to be processed. You can check the entry requirements for your nationality on your government's foreign travel advisories, consular websites or on our page here:  www.intrepidtravel.com/visa-entry-requirements

Last modified (date)

21 May 2024

Validity

Validity: 01 Jan 2024 to 31 Dec 2024

Additional Information

Health

GENERAL HEALTH
All travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. For the safety and wellbeing of yourself and others, if you are unwell prior to travelling, please stay at home and contact us to make alternative arrangements.

When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to manage and enjoy our style of travel. Please note that if in the assessment of our group leader or local representative a traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, we reserve the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.

You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements in their original packaging as they may not easily be obtained while travelling. If you are carrying medication, ensure you check your government's foreign travel advice for any local restrictions or requirements. 

Food and dietary requirements

While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader or local representative will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. If you have dietary requirements and/or food allergies, please let your booking agent know prior to departure.

BREAKFASTS
There are some continental breakfasts included on this trip which may simply include bread/toast or pastries, butter, jam, coffee/tea/juice (or similar).

VEGETARIANS
Vegetarians might find the menu selection in Europe less varied than they would see at home. Vegetarianism is not as common in this region and generally the choices are basic, involving vegetables, soups, salads, bread, cheese, fruit, yoghurt, eggs etc. Vegans and those on gluten-free diets may find this region very challenging and may need to supplement meals with their own supplies from supermarkets and markets. Wherever possible we will cater for dietary needs for any included meals, but there may be times when those with special requirements may need to provide their own.

Money matters

SPENDING MONEY
When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget an appropriate amount for things like optional meals, drinks, shopping, optional activities, and laundry. Make sure you have read the itinerary and inclusions thoroughly so you know what is included in the trip price and what you may need to pay for while travelling.

CURRENCY
The local currency in Romania is the Romanian New Lei (RON), while Bulgaria uses the Bulgarian Lev (BGN).

TURKEY
The Turkish Lira (TRY) is the official currency in Turkey. Most goods and services can be paid for using the local currency. Given the fluctuating value of TRY, we recommend reviewing the exchange rates as your trip approaches. The EUR is also acceptable as is the USD. For the supply of everyday services like meals and general shopping we recommend the local currency.

You can use your credit/debit card in ATMs, which are common throughout Turkey. Smaller venues take cash only. We recommend taking cash out in major cities before travelling to regional areas of Turkey. Before leaving home, check with your bank regarding fees you may be charged for using your card overseas.

Turkey is often misjudged when it comes to costs you might have as a tourist, eg dining out and shopping. Prices can also vary considerably between regions. Cities like Istanbul and Antalya are very European and as such the standard of restaurants and cafes is very high and the cost equivalent to its European counterparts. Eating in local restaurants, roadside stalls and markets is still inexpensive and lots of fun. Budgets are a personal choice but please bear in mind that you should not expect Turkey to be a budget destination.

TIPPING
Tipping can be an appropriate way to recognise great service when travelling. While it may not be customary in your home country, it is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many of our destinations and is greatly appreciated by the people who take care of you during your travels. It is always best to avoid tipping with coins, very small denomination notes, or dirty and ripped notes, as this can be regarded as an insult rather than the goodwill gesture it is intended to be.

OPTIONAL TIPPING KITTY
On Day 1 of your trip, your group leader or local representative may discuss with you the idea of operating a group tipping kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and your group leader or local representative distributes tips for drivers, local guides, hotel staff and other services included on your trip. This excludes restaurant tips for meals not included in your itinerary. The group leader or local representative will keep a running record of all monies spent which can be checked at any time, and any funds remaining at the end of the tour will be returned to group members. We have found that this is easiest way to avoid the hassles of needing small change and knowing when and what is an appropriate amount to tip. Participation in this kitty is at your own discretion, and you are welcome to manage your own tipping separately if you prefer. Please note the tipping kitty excludes tips for your group leader or local representative.


YOUR GROUP LEADER OR LOCAL REPRESENTATIVE 
You may consider tipping your group leader or local representative for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference however as a guideline 4-7 USD or EUR per person (in a currency relevant to your destination), per day can be used. Of course, you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length and involvement of your group leader or local representative on your trip.

COMMISSIONS
Intrepid understands that the receipt of commissions in exchange for recommending particular shops or services is ingrained in the culture of the tourism industry. For this reason, we have established a centralised fund for contributions from recommended suppliers so these can be collected and distributed back into the business. Actively managing the receipt of commissions helps us maintain the level of quality you expect on one of our trips. Travel is always an adventure so Intrepid cannot explicitly guarantee the quality of a product but we aim to provide the best value trips in the market. Please let us know via the feedback form completed after your trip if we are successfully meeting - or exceeding - this objective.

CONTINGENCY FUNDS
We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. We reserve the right to change an itinerary after departure due to local circumstances or a Force Majeure Event. In such emergency circumstances, the additional cost of any necessary itinerary alterations will be covered by you. Please note we are not responsible for any incidental expenses that may be incurred as a result of the change of itineraries including but not limited to visas, vaccinations or non-refundable flights. Make sure you have access to an extra US$500 for emergencies (e.g. severe weather, natural disasters, civil unrest) or other events that result in unavoidable changes to the itinerary (e.g. transport strikes or cancellations, airport closures). Sometimes these things necessitate last-minute changes to enable our trips to continue to run, and as a result, there may be some extra costs involved. The recommended amount is listed in USD for the relatability of universal travellers, however, local currency may be needed once in the country to cover these costs.

What to take

What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking, we recommend you pack as lightly as possible and make sure that you are able to carry and lift your own luggage and walk with it for short distances or up or down a flight of stairs. Our travellers usually find the smaller their luggage is, the more they enjoy the trip not having to worry about carrying heavy bags! Aim to keep your main luggage under 15kg.

Many travellers carry their luggage in a compact smaller suitcase or backpack with wheels. We recommend your bag has carry straps or handles so it is easy to lift and carry for the times you are unable to wheel it (ie. on rough surfaces or up steps).

If you are taking overnight trains, or primarily using public transport then the smaller your luggage the easier it will be to store under or above bunks. Large suitcases may not be able to be taken on board. A lockable bag or small padlock for your bag will be useful especially when travelling on public transportation as well.

You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water, camera, swimming suit, waterproof pouch/bag for phone, hiking shoes and jacket etc. when you’re exploring during the day.

Below we have listed the essentials for this trip:, https://www.intrepidtravel.com/packing-list, WATER BOTTLE
Please bring your own water bottle to refill along the way. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please use the water dispensers which are provided on some of our vehicles and at some of our accommodation. Your group leader or local representative will advise whether tap water is safe to drink in your destination and if it is you can simply refill with tap water. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day. If you are walking or trekking as part of your trip you will need to carry at least 2L of water with you., TRAVELLING ON LOCAL TRANSPORT
It's important that your bags can be locked, as on local transport it may be necessary that your luggage gets stowed separately (and unattended). The smaller your bag the better for you and other passengers. To ensure maximum comfort, try to pack small and light., IMAGES FROM HOME
During our trip, there will be many opportunities for you to meet and talk with locals. One way to start any conversation is with pictures. We recommend that you bring some photos/postcards of your family, home, city or country where you live, animals peculiar to your country, etc.

Climate and seasonal

SUMMER
Summer temperatures can be extreme in many of the regions visited (over 40°C/104°F), which can be uncomfortable. It’s important to use sun protection and drink plenty of water. Please carefully consider the time of the year you wish to travel and your suitability to that season.

SHOULDER SEASON
In contrast, weather in shoulder season can be unpredictable, and snow is not unheard of at higher altitudes. If you travel at the start or towards the end of the European season please pack accordingly with warm and/or waterproof clothes (preferably layers). The advantage of travelling during this time is that there are less tourists around.

RAMADAN
The important month of Ramadan will be in progress 10 March to 08 April 2024 and 1 March to 30 March 2025 and  and the Eid ul-Fitr festival will be held directly at its conclusion for 3-4 days. Ramadan is a festival of sacrifice where the devout refrain from eating or drinking during daylight hours. During Ramadan, business hours are shortened, including opening hours at some tourist attractions. Alcohol is not permitted during daylight hours and many restaurants will be closed. While you should expect some delays and inconveniences during this period, the month is a fantastic opportunity to travel in a Muslim country and witness this unique period, particularly the nightly celebrations when the sun sets and the fast is broken. Please note that although the Eid ul-Fitr festival can also be a fascinating time to travel it's a period of national holiday. Most government offices and businesses will be closed and some tourist site opening hours may be affected.

A couple of rules

Intrepid won't tolerate any kind of violence, harassment (whether physical, verbal or sexual), or disrespect toward fellow travellers, our teams or local communities.

To ensure the wellbeing of everyone on the trip, decisions made by your group leader are final.

Romantic relationships between travellers and group leader or local representative are not permitted while on trip.

Any behaviour that prevents your leader from continuing the itinerary as planned, breaks local laws or opposes any of these guidelines may result in Intrepid denying your booking or removing you from the trip.

If something concerns you during your travels, please speak to your group leader immediately. Alternatively, you can contact us on the emergency contact number detailed in the Problems and Emergency Contact Information section of this Essential Trip Information.

Accommodation notes

The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline only and may change. On some occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our preferred accommodation. In these cases, we will use a similar standard of accommodation.

Throughout the trip, we request that our properties prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However, this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination or on some trips, have use of shared day rooms until all rooms are available.



OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION
The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.

TWIN SHARE BASIS
Accommodation on this trip is on a twin/multishare basis. We pair up solo travellers with another traveller of the same gender as per the gender marker on each of their passports. Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than ensuite and rare occasions when you share a room with passengers travelling on different Intrepid trips than your own.

CHECK-IN TIME
Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.

PRE/POST TRIP ACCOMMODATION
If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.

FACILITIES
Your accommodation may not always have private en suite facilities or air-conditioning. European hotels generally don't provide kettles or fridges.

Transport notes

TRANSPORT IN EUROPE
Half the fun of travel is the travelling itself, that's why we like to travel the local way – whether that means mingling with commuters on a local train, watching the scenery roll by from the window of a long distance bus, arriving on a high speed train in the city centre of your next destination, or navigating each city's public transport system. In Europe, you are guaranteed to travel by genuine local public transport wherever possible, which puts you right in the centre of the action.

LONG TRAVEL DAYS
As we cover lots of ground on this trip, expect some long travel days on local trains and buses. This is an opportunity to mix with the locals and enjoy the scenery out the window. Travel schedules are known to change with little notice. Not all transport may have air conditioning.

Travel insurance

Travel insurance is compulsory on all our trips for those travelling internationally. We require that at a minimum you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. If you are travelling within your home country or region please confirm before travel that you are entitled to access the public medical system easily should an accident occur. We strongly recommend all travellers have a policy that also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage or personal effects. For international trips, you will not be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24-hour emergency contact number has been sighted by your group leader or local representative.

If you have credit card insurance your group leader or local representative will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number, and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and your credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.

For travellers who reside within the European Union, Switzerland or USA the requirement to purchase travel insurance cannot be compulsory. However the purchase of travel insurance is still highly recommended, and travellers from these regions who decline travel insurance when travelling outside of their home region must sign a Travel Insurance Waiver Form at the Group Meeting, recognizing personal responsibility for emergency medical and repatriation costs should they arise.

For assistance with travel insurance or other services, please visit the link below:


https://www.intrepidtravel.com/booking-resources/our-services

Your fellow travellers

As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons, we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure.

SOLO TRAVELLERS
The beauty of our style of travel is that it caters to travellers who are travelling solo and who want to meet and share experiences with like-minded people.

On our trips rooming is organised on a twin-share basis. We pair up solo travellers with another traveller of the same gender as per the gender marker on each of their passports.

As a responsible tour operator, we strive to create a safe and inclusive environment for everyone. In the case that your gender identity differs from what is indicated on your passport, please contact us so that we can discuss rooming options with you.

We also have an optional single supplement available on most trips for travellers who prefer to have their own room. Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour. Pre-trip and post-trip accommodation booked through us will be on a single room basis.

On a small selection of itineraries some accommodations are booked on an open gender, multi-share basis (for example on a felucca in Egypt or an overnight train in Vietnam). In those instances it will clearly be stated in our Essential Trip Information prior to booking and travelling.

Itinerary disclaimer

ITINERARY CHANGES
Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It's important that you review this information prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays, political unrest or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in-country. Your group leader or local representative will keep you up to date with any such changes once your trip is underway.

OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES
A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, are for entrance fees only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability, and maybe on a join-in basis. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your group leader or local representative know you are interested at the Welcome Meeting and they can assist.

Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high-risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and group leader or local representative are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.

MUSEUM VISITS & OPENING TIMES
Many sites, attractions and museums are closed on Mondays (and sometimes Tuesdays). We recommend checking the opening times of anywhere you're interested to visit and making reservations where required/possible.