Rhodope Mountains is a self-guided walking holiday in Bulgaria. Visit the impressive Buinovo Gorge, then hike to the Eagle’s Eye viewing platform offering spectacular views of the whole Rhodopean Range. Trace the footsteps of Orpheus through the mighty Devil’s Throat cave in the Tirgrad Gorge, said to be the mythical Hall of Hades, walk to Chaira Lakes and then take in the splendour of the Canyon of Waterfalls before moving to the comfort of your spa hotel. Accommodation is in hand-picked 3 or 4 star hotels (spa facilities available on Days 5 and 6).
HIGHLIGHTS OF RHODOPE MOUNTAINS
- The city of the seven hills – Plovdiv with its old town and ancient Roman amphitheatre and stadium; designated European City of Culture 2019
- Devil’s Throat Cave
- Yagodina Cave
- Trigrad Gorge
- Chaira Lakes
- Shiroka Laka
- Buinovo Gorge
- The Canyon of Waterfalls
Day 1: PLOVDIV
Arrive in the charming city of Plovdiv, visit the ancient Roman amphitheatre and stroll the beautiful streets of the old town. Ryan Air flies directly to Plovdiv; if you fly to Sofia, Plovdiv is easily accessible by train or bus (c. 2 hours, see travel notes).
Accommodation: a 3 star hotel close to city centre and old town.
Day 2: YAGODINA / EAGLE'S EYE
Morning transfer to Yagodina (115 km / 2.5 hours) – a small village situated in the picturesque Buinovo Gorge in the very heart of the Rhodopes. Visit the beautiful Yagodina Cave. Afternoon hike to the Eagle's Eye platform offering impressive views to the mountains (some sections are relatively steep but no scrambling required). During good weather, the entire Rhodope Range and even parts of Greece are visible from the platform. Overnight in Yagodina.
Walking for the day: 5.2 km (3 hours)
Accommodation: a family run hotel
Day 3: TRIGRAD
Walk from Yagodina through the picturesque Buinovo Gorge to Trigrad and then to Arkan Han Hotel near Trigrad. Overnight near Trigrad. Note: the hotel has a horse riding school (horse riding sessions not included in itinerary, for availability and prices ask at hotel).
Walking for the day: 10 km (3.5 hours)
Accommodation: a family run hotel
Day 4: TRIGRAD / CHAIRA LAKES
A circular walk from hotel to Trigrad Cliffs, then to the beautiful Chaira Lakes and back to hotel through the impressive Trigrad Gorge. Overnight in Trigrad.
Walking for the day: 23 km (8 hours)
Accommodation: a family run hotel
Day 5: SHIROKA LAKA
Afternoon transfer to the hotel in Shiroka Laka (40 km / 1 hour). Stop to visit the Devil’s Throat cave . The cave’s entrance resembles a devil’s head, and down its throat rushes a massive waterfall that from ancient times has captivated imaginations and given birth to numerous legends. The most popular of these is that Orpheus descended down this orifice to the subterranean kingdom of Hades, to seek his lost love Eurydice. Walk from Shiroka Laka to Gela, a small village situated in the picturesque valley of Oreshica river in the very heart of the Rhodopes. Walk through Gela to Lednistata Lodge and Lednitsata Cave, then descend using another route from Gela to Shiroka Laka through one of the most beautiful parts of the Rhodope Mountains. Overnight in Shiroka Laka.
Walking for the day: 24 km (8 hours)
Accommodation: a 4 star hotel with spa facilities
Day 6: SMOLYAN LAKES
Walk from Shiroka Laka to Smolyan Lakes through Prevala pass.
Walking for the day: 17 km (6 hours)
Accommodation: a 3 star hotel
Day 7: CANYON OF WATERFALLS / PLOVDIV
Morning transfer to starting point of Canyon of Waterfalls eco trail (5 km / 15 minutes). The trail goes up the river and crosses a number of water cascades forming a system of small and medium waterfalls that pour their waters from one to the other. The trail crosses metal and beautiful wooden bridges built over Elenska River. They are always followed by rest and picnic spots. Walk back to starting point. Transfer back to hotel (5 km / 15 minutes). Transfer to Plovdiv after lunch (95 km / 2 hours). Overnight in Plovdiv.
Walking for the day: 6.5 km (3 hours).
Accommodation: a 3 star hotel close to city centre and old town.
Day 8: DEPARTURE
End of Rhodope Mountains itinerary.
RHODOPE MOUNTAINS ACCOMMODATIONS
Rhodope Mountains includes 3 and 4 star hotels and family run guesthouses, as indicated in itinerary. Some of them will have spa facilities. All places have been carefully handpicked by us and their quality is regularly monitored. We have tried to choose accommodations that offer friendly service, clean and comfortable rooms and local flavour.
Breakfast is always included in the Rhodope Mountains itinerary. When no restaurant location is available on route lunches and snacks should either be bought from local shops, or packed lunch can be preordered from your hotel the night before. Dinner is available either from the restaurant in your hotel or from restaurants and taverns in the village near your hotel.
AIRPORTS AND AIRLINES
Our recommended arrival airport for this holiday is Plovdiv.
Alternatively flights are available from UK to Sofia. From London to Sofia there are 8 direct flights per day with Bulgaria Air, British Airways, Easy Jet, and Wizzair. There is public transport to/from all of them, or we can arrange a private transfer.
Flights To Plovdiv
Ryanair currently has direct flights to Plovdiv couple times per week from London Stansted.
Transfers to/from Airports:
i) Plovdiv Arrivals
Day 1- From Plovdiv Airport To Plovdiv Hotel
-Take a taxi from Plovdiv airport to the Old City of Plovdiv is around 10-15 BGN (6£) and you will reach in about 20 minutes.
ii) Plovdiv departures
Day 8 - From Plovdiv Hotel to Plovdiv Airport
From the Old City of Plovdiv take a taxi to Plovdiv Airport. It takes 20 minutes and about 10-15 BGN (6£).
Private transfers offer a very economical alternative to public transport in Bulgaria in some cases equivalent to cost of public transport in the UK. Private transfers can be arranged from/to airport to hotel for arrival and departure.
i) Sofia Arrivals
Day 1- From Sofia Airport To Plovdiv Hotel
-Take a taxi from Sofia airport to Sofia Central Bus Station, it will take you between 20-40 minutes 10-15 BGN (6£).
-Take a bus to Plovdiv Central Bus Station, the journey will be 2 hours 15 BGN (6£).
-Take a taxi from Plovdiv Central Bus Station to the Old City of Plovdiv, takes around 10 minutes and costs 5 BGN (2£).
ii) Sofia Departures
Day 8 - From Plovdiv Hotel to Sofia Airport
-Take a taxi from the Old City of Plovdiv to Plovdiv Central Bus Station, takes around 10 minutes and costs 5 BGN (2£).
-Take a bus to Sofia Central Bus Station, the journey will be 2 hours 15 BGN (6£).
-Take a taxi from Sofia Central Bus Station to Sofia Airport, it will take you between 20-40 minutes 10-15 BGN (6£).
Private transfers offer a very economical alternative to public transport in Bulgaria in some cases equivalent to cost of public transport in the UK. Private transfers can be arranged from/to airport to hotel for arrival and departure. Alternatively you can take a taxi from Sofia Airport to Plovdiv which costs £80 and takes 2 hrs.
Baggage transfer is included and your bags will be transferred by your current hotel (or by private transfer) to your next hotel. Baggage limit 25 kg per bag.
BULGARIA: COUNTRY INFO
Timezone: GMT +2
Language: Bulgarian/Cyrillic In big cities many people speak English, but in remote areas this might not be the case. However most of the hotel personnel where we stay speak English and are ready to help you. Road signs/markers are normally in both Cyrillic and Latin alphabet – and you can always call our 24/7 help line if there are any problems.
Electric supply and plugs: 220V, 50hZ, two pin round plugs.
Currency: Bulgarian Lev (BGN), pegged to the Euro (1 Euro equals 1.96 BGN) and therefore fluctuates directly with Euro/GBP rate. We strongly advise taking adequate cash for your daily requirements. Banks and ATMs are available and credit/debit card payments are widely accepted in towns and cities and in big petrol station chains, but might be limited at some of the villages we visit.
Cost of living: in Bulgaria is much cheaper than in the UK or Western Europe. Some sample prices follow:
• 3-course meal in a standard restaurant: BGN 10-30 pp (£4-12)
• A flask of mineral water from a street shop: BGN 1 (40 p)
• A cup of coffee: BGN 1.50 – BGN 3 (£0.5 – 1.5)
Up-to-date travel advice on Bulgaria is available here.
Detailed travel and country information is provided in your holiday information pack.
DIFFCULTY GRADE: MODERATE
Rhodope Mountains is appropriate for regular walkers. Requires reasonable level of fitness. The trip covers an average of 14 km (5.2 hours) of hiking per day, all of them on the mellow slopes and rolling hills of the Rhodope Mountains. Average daily elevation gain is 506 m. (read more)
During your Rhodope Mountains holiday you will walk mostly on unpaved timber roads and hiking trails; some sections may include walking on asphalt. Most of the trails are well marked and sign posted. Still, you will be provided with a detailed road notes, visual photo guide and map, and you will have a 24/7 help phone number. More detailed info will be included in your holiday information pack.
WHEN TO GO
Late spring, the whole summer and early autumn are beautiful in the Rhodope Mountains with colorful foliage in late spring, gorgeous sunsets in summer and warm panoramas in autumn.
The climate in the Western Rhodope Mountains is temperate continental with an average 200 days of sunshine a year. It is influenced both by the colder air coming from the north and by the warmer breeze from the Mediterranean. Depending on location and altitude, temperatures vary, but generally in the May-September period the daily averages are 20 - 25C. Spring and autumn are pleasant in the Rhodopes with cool nights and occasional rain. High summer daytime temperatures are rarely too hot as even though temperatures can occasionally reach 30C, the mountains and forests remain cooler, dropping at night to 12-18C. The Rhodope Mountains are recognized as having some of the purest air in Europe.
WHAT TO BRING
We recommend that you travel as light as possible - airlines might charge you an extra fee, and during ground transfers place might be limited. Ideally, you should bring one piece of luggage weighing not more than 25 kg (to be checked in) and a daily pack (15 – 20 l rucksack) for your daily essentials (snacks, drinking water, camera, etc). Below is a non-exclusive list of what you should bring to this trip. More detailed info will be included in your holiday information pack. If you need further advice, please contact us or a reputable outdoor retailer.
- Good hiking boots
- Hiking socks
- Several t-shirts (cotton or preferably breathable/fast drying)
- Packable Waterproof and windproof jacket with hood
- Synthetic mid layer or warm fleece
- Trainers and/or sandals – to relax and wear inside accommodation
- Sunglasses, sunscreen and lip salve
- Hat/Baseball cap
- Personal First Aid kit (wet wipes, flu remedies, stomach remedies)
This trip as available from May until October.
Weather is best in June - September. As July and August are the busiest months it is preferable that you book as early as possible.
The flexibility of self-guided holidays means that there are no fixed dates and you can start your holiday on any date in the season - so please indicate desired starting date when booking.
You will not be asked to make any payments to us before your trip availability has been explicitly confirmed.
PRICE: GBP 490 per person
(discounts applicable for parties of 4 or more)
- Detailed pre-departure holiday information pack including:
- gps-checked and regularly updated route descriptions and road notes
- detailed maps with daily routes and optional hikes marked
- visual day-by-day photo guide
- daily distances and approximate walking times
- daily vertical profiles and elevation gains
- transfer information (airports, bus stations)
- travel connection schedules for public transport (or private transfers can be pre booked)
- hotel locations and contact data
- destination information and background guide to destination’s history, culture and cuisine
- Accommodation for 7 nights in hand-picked 2 to 4 star hotels or family run guesthouses as listed in itinerary
- 7 Breakfasts
- Daily luggage transport to next hotel of 1 bag of up to 25 kg per person
- All internal ground transfers as listed in itinerary
- 24/7 assistance by phone
- Single room supplement: add 20% to standard trip price. Where solo travellers or individual members of a group require a single room, a single room supplement is applicable. (for further details of costs applicable to solo travellers see section below);
- You can rent from us a Garmin handheld GPS with preloaded tracks for all walks: GBP 20 for 7 days.
- Private transfers from Sofia Airport to Plovdiv hotel on Day 1 and from Plodviv hotel to Sofia Airport on Day 8 (£60 total per transfer for a group of up to 4 persons).
Solo Traveller supplement
Rhodope Mountains is available for solo travellers. As costs are not shared a 20% supplement is payable on the standard trip cost (including the single room supplement above) and also on any private transfers required which are not included in the trip price .
- On request, we can provide a private guide (£40 per day for a group of up to 6 persons)
• Flights and connecting land transfers to first / from last accommodation
• Lunches, dinners, drinks & snacks
• Travel insurance
• Personal expenses such as drinks, phone calls, extra transfers, tips, etc.
• Any items not specifically mentioned in the program
OTHER TRIP-RELATED COSTS
• Taxi from Sofia Airport to Sofia Central Bus Station: £10 (up to 4 persons)
• Bus from Sofia to Plovdiv: £10 pp
• Taxi from Plovdiv Airport to Plovdiv Hotel: £10 (up to 4 persons)
Booking and Payment details
- When you book (deposit payment):
No payment is needed when you book initially. Within 48 hours (72 hours on weekends and bank holidays) we will send you a confirmation email with deposit payment instructions (you can pay online by credit card, debit card or by bank transfer). Deposit is 20% of the trip price including options.
- Balance payment:
Four weeks before the trip, the full balance will be due for payment (we will send you a reminder email with payment instructions at least 7 days prior to this).
- Receiving Information pack and trip notes:
Upon confirmation of your balance payment you will receive the information pack and detailed trip notes (no later than 3 weeks before your trip).
A member of the Natural Adventure Team will always be available to answer any questions you may have right up to the time of your trip. During the trip you will also be able to call a member of our team any time (24/7).
For detailed information on payment and booking please see below links: