Overview for Bulgaria Walking and Spa Adventure
Our walking and spa adventures are specifically designed to allow you to reconnect with nature and experience the wilderness and great outdoors. Included in the majority of nights are some handpicked 4-star hotels with spas, so if you feel like a bit of pampering after your days hiking it’s all here too! The holiday also gives you the opportunity to experience the unique local culture and also try some traditional Rhodopean food and wine. As these hiking adventures are self-guided, maybe you’ll have the chance for a little self-discovery along the way.
The Bulgaria Walking and Spa Adventure itinerary starts in Plovdiv and then moves into the heart of Bulgaria’s stunning Rhodope mountains and the beautiful Canyon of Waterfalls, near Smolyan Lakes. The holiday continues with hikes around the forests of the unique village of Shiroka Laka, famous for its distinctive Rhodopean houses, and finishes in the spa town of Devin. The trip is mostly centre-based and features hand-picked accommodation in 3 and 4-star spa hotels on all days.
- The city of the seven hills – Plovdiv, one of Europe’s oldest cities, with its old town and ancient Roman amphitheatre and stadium; designated European City of Culture 2019
- Shiroka Laka village, an architectural and folklore reserve
- Gela village
- Devin – the spa capital of Bulgaria
- The Canyon of Waterfalls
Not the right holiday for you? Have a look at our other self guided walking holidays in Bulgaria here.
Itinerary for Bulgaria Walking and Spa AdventureGo to top of page
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).
Day 2: Smolyan Lakes
Morning transfer to Smolyan Lakes (95 km / 2 hours). After check-in and lunch, you will be transferred to the 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 the hotel.
- Walking for the day: 5-8 km (3-4 hours).
- Accommodation: a 3-star hotel with spa facilities (Mountain Lake or similar)
Day 3: Shiroka Laka
Optional morning walk to the Orpheus Rocks near your hotel. Noon transfer to the village of Shiroka Laka (20 km / 0.5 hours). Circular walk in one of the most beautiful parts of the Rhodope Mountains. Shiroka Laka is an architectural reserve, famous for its characteristic 18th and 19th century houses.
- Walking for the day: optional morning walk in Smolyan Lakes (2-3 hours, 5 km) and afternoon walk from Shiroka Laka to Varbovo (3-4 hours, 9 km)
- Accommodation: a 4-star hotel with spa facilities and a thermal pool (Shiroka Laka Spa Hotel).
Day 4: Shiroka Laka
You have several alternative walks to choose from:
- Walk through the Village of Gela, pass by Lednitsata Cave and return to Shiroka Laka on a circular route (24 km, 6-7 hours), or
- transfer to the village of Gela (8 km), then walk from Gela by Lednitsata Cave and return to Shiroka Laka on a circular route (16 km, 5 hours), or
- transfer to the village of Gela (8 km), then walk back to Shiroka Laka on the same route (8 km, 2 hours).
- Accommodation: a 4-star hotel with spa facilities and a thermal pool (Shiroka Laka Spa Hotel).
Day 5: Devin
Mоrning walks around Shiroka Laka. Afternoon transfer to the hotel in Devin (20 km /30 minutes). Devin, in the heart of the Rhodopes, is known as the spa capital of Bulgaria with many mineral springs and its own unique micro-climate. The four-star hotel has its own natural mineral water pools on-site, as well as a large spa centre.
- Walking for the day: no walking / optional walks around Shiroka Laka in the morning and Devin in the afternoon
- Accommodation: a 4 or 5-star spa hotel (Persenk, Devin or similar)
Day 6: Devin
The hotel is close to the trailhead of the beautiful Strulitsa eco-path. The circular path passes by waterfalls, through pine, oak and birch forests and reveals breath-taking views to the Rhodope mountains, then follows the meanders of the beautiful Devin river.
- Walking for the day: 7 km (3-4 hours).
- Accommodation: a 4 or 5-star spa hotel (Persenk, Devin or similar)
Day 7: Plovdiv
Transfer to Plovdiv (90 km / 1.5 hours). Overnight in Plovdiv.
Day 8: Departure or Onward Travel
Hotels for Bulgaria Walking and Spa AdventureGo to top of page
Quality 3- to 5-star hotels, as indicated in the itinerary. Most of them will have spa facilities (days 2-6). 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.
*Hotels are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation.
Breakfast is included. When no restaurant is available on route, lunches and snacks should either be bought from local shops, or you can pre-order packed lunch 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.
Travel for Bulgaria Walking and Spa AdventureGo to top of page
The closest airport is Plovdiv. Ryanair currently has direct flights to Plovdiv couple of times per week from London Stansted.
Alternatively, many more flights are available from the UK and many EU cities to Sofia. From London to Sofia there are direct flights 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.
Please note that only one airport transfer from the airport is included, though we can arrange additional transfers. It is advisable therefore that all party members arrive on the same flight or at least at a similar time.
Flight information can change rapidly and not all flights run daily. Please do check directly with the airlines’ websites or Skyscanner before finalising any booking with us. Please do not book your flights before we have confirmed your booking.
Transfers to/from Airports:
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.
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£).
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£).
-By 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£).
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£).
-By 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£).
They offer a very economical alternative to public transport, in some cases equivalent to the cost of public transportation in the UK. They can be arranged from/to airport to hotel for arrival and departure upon request (please indicate when completing the online booking form).
Please note that only one airport transfer per party is included, though additional transfers can be arranged. It is advisable therefore that all party members arrive on the same flight or at least at a similar time. Night transfer extra charges may be applicable on private transfers in case of late night arrivals.
Luggage transfer is included on all walking days, and your current hotel staff will transfer them (or by private transfer) to your next hotel. Baggage limit 20 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 staff 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 helpline 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 recommend 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 lower 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.
Trip Info for Bulgaria Walking and Spa AdventureGo to top of page
Difficulty Grade: Moderate
Appropriate for regular walkers. Requires a reasonable level of fitness. The trip covers an average of 14 km (5.5 hours) of hiking per day, all of them on the mellow slopes and rolling hills of the Rhodope Mountains. Average daily elevation gain is 440 m (read more about difficulty grades).
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 signposted. We strongly advise you to follow only marked trails and never try to shorten the path through the unknown and unmarked terrain. We will provide you with detailed road notes and maps and you can call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime. More detailed info on route navigation will be included in your holiday information pack.
When to Go
Late spring, the whole summer and early autumn are beautiful in the Rhodopes with colourful foliage in late spring, gorgeous sunsets in summer and warm panoramas in autumn.
The Bulgaria Walking and Spa Adventure holiday is 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.
The climate in the Western Rhodopes 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 place 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 Rhodopes 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 20 kg (to check 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. Therer will be more detailed info 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)
Included for Bulgaria Walking and Spa AdventureGo to top of page
- Detailed pre-departure holiday information pack including GPS-checked and regularly updated route descriptions and road notes; maps with daily routes and optional hikes marked
- Accommodation for seven nights in hand-picked 3 to 5-star hotels as listed in itinerary
- 7 Breakfasts
- Daily luggage transport to next accommodation of 1 bag of up to 20 kg per person
- All internal ground transfers as listed in the programme
- 24/7 assistance by phone
Single Room & Solo Traveller Supplements
- Where individual members of a group require a single room, a 20% single room supplement is applicable
- This holiday is available for solo travellers. As transfer and accommodation costs are not shared, a 30% supplement is payable on the standard trip cost (based on single room accommodation).
Options and Extras
- Private airport transfers from/to Sofia Airport or city: £90 per car one way (1.5 hours, 130 km)
- You can upgrade your accommodation to a boutique 4-star family hotel located in the heart of Plovdiv Old Town on Days 1 and 7 (The Renaissance or similar)
- Flights and connecting land transfers to first / from last accommodation
- Lunches, dinners, drinks & snacks
- Travel insurance
- Personal expenses such as phone calls, extra transfers, tips, etc.
- Any items not explicitly mentioned in the program
- One extra night in Plovdiv before or after the holiday (Standard or Upgraded)
Spend one additional night before the start of your vacation in a charming hotel in downtown Plovdiv, the city of the seven hills with its picturesque old town and ancient Roman amphitheatre and stadium; designated European Capital of Culture 2019.
- One extra night in Sofia before or after the holiday
Enjoy one extra night in a 3-star hotel located in the heart of the vibrant city of Sofia, walking distance from the main shopping and entertainment area.
- Spa Extension: 2 extra nights in a beautiful 4 or 5-star spa hotel in Devin
Treat yourself after the holiday with three more days of relaxation in a lovely 4 or 5-star spa hotel in Devin. If you still want to do some hiking, there are many eco paths and trails around this picturesque Rhodopean spa resort.
Gallery for Bulgaria Walking and Spa AdventureGo to top of page
Reviews for Bulgaria Walking and Spa AdventureGo to top of page
The walks were great, Bulgaria is such a beautiful country. On some days we had a range of optional walks which gave us much needed flexibility as we were with our kids aged 11 and 13. The last few days in the spa hotel in Devin were great to relax, and the spa facilities were just perfect, a great surprise to find such a place in rural Bulgaria. If we were staying in hotels of similar quality in Western Europe, the cost might have been triple. Highly recommended - and send our regards to Kotse, our friendly driver. The natural adventure managed to arrange a great holiday at a very short notice. Everything was in place with no hassle. Trip notes were very good, albeit a bit too detailed (50+ A4 pages1) which was an issue as we carried them each day. However they were separated in folders day by day, so probably we should have just brought only the daily notes with us and leave the other days' notes with the transferred main luggage - after the trip Alex explained this was the idea behind providing them in separate folders. I will be using the natural adventure again in future and would recommend to others. Spa hotels were amazing, great value for money.
The walks were great, Bulgaria is such a beautiful country. On some days we had a range of optional walks which gave us much needed flexibility as we were with our kids aged 11 and 13. The last few days in the spa hotel in Devin were great to relax, and the spa facilities were just perfect, a great surprise to find such a place in rural Bulgaria. If we were staying in hotels of similar quality in Western Europe, the cost might have been triple. Highly recommended - and send our regards to Kotse, our friendly driver.
The natural adventure managed to arrange a great holiday at a very short notice. Everything was in place with no hassle. Trip notes were very good, albeit a bit too detailed (50+ A4 pages1) which was an issue as we carried them each day. However they were separated in folders day by day, so probably we should have just brought only the daily notes with us and leave the other days' notes with the transferred main luggage - after the trip Alex explained this was the idea behind providing them in separate folders. I will be using the natural adventure again in future and would recommend to others. Spa hotels were amazing, great value for money.