Overview for Rhodope Mountains Discovery
A self guided walking holiday in the Rhodope Mountains in Bulgaria. Visit the impressive Buinovo Gorge, then hike to the Eagle’s Eye viewing platform offering spectacular views of the 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 during our Rhodope Mountains Walking Holiday is in hand-picked 3 or 4-star hotels (spa facilities available on Days 5 and 6).
- 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
Not the right holiday for you? Have a look at our other self guided walking holidays in Bulgaria here.
Itinerary for Rhodope Mountains DiscoveryGo 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).
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 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 the itinerary, for availability and prices, ask at the hotel).
Walking for the day: 10 km (3.5 hours)
Accommodation: a family run hotel
Day 4: Chaira Lakes
A circular walk from the hotel to Trigrad Cliffs, then to the beautiful Chaira Lakes and back to the 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 many legends. The most popular of these is that Orpheus descended this hole to the subterranean kingdom of Hades, to seek his lost love Eurydice. Walk from Shiroka Laka to Gela, a small village 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 the starting point of Canyon of Waterfalls eco trail (5 km / 15 minutes). The trail goes up the river and crosses some 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. Rest and picnic spots always follow them. Walk back to starting point. Transfer back to the 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
Hotels for Rhodope Mountains DiscoveryGo to top of page
Rhodope Mountains Walking Holiday
3 and 4-star hotels and family-run guesthouses, as indicated in the itinerary. Some of them will have spa facilities. All places have been carefully hand-picked by us, and we monitor their quality regularly. 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 to you exact accommodation details 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 restaurants and taverns in the village near your hotel.
Travel for Rhodope Mountains DiscoveryGo 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 numerous direct flights each 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.
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 Bulgaria in some cases equal to the cost of public transportation in the UK. We can arrange private transfers from/to airport to hotel for arrival and departure – please indicate that you want a private transfer when completing your online booking form.
Please note that only one 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.
Luggage transfer is included, and your bags will be transferred by your current hotel (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 sufficient cash for your daily requirements. Banks and ATMs are available, and credit/debit card payments are widely accepted in towns and cities and 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:
• A 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 Rhodope Mountains DiscoveryGo to top of page
Difficulty Grade: Moderate
The Rhodope Mountains Discovery holiday is appropriate for regular walkers and requires a 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 about difficulty grades).
During the Rhodope Mountains Walking 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 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
This trip 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 vacation on any time in the season – so please indicate desired beginning 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 location and altitude, temperatures vary, but, in the May-September period, the daily averages are 20 – 25C. Spring and autumn are pleasant in the Rhodopes with cold 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 recognised 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, the 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 everyday essentials (snacks, drinking water, camera, etc.). Below is a non-exclusive list of what you should bring to this trip. We will include more detailed info will be included in your holiday information pack. If you need further advice, please contact a reputable outdoor retailer or us.
- 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 Rhodope Mountains DiscoveryGo 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 2 to 4-star hotels or family-run guest-houses 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 and baggage transfers as listed in the program
- 24/7 assistance by phone
Single Room & Solo Traveller Supplements
- Single room supplement: add 20% to the standard trip price. Where individual members of a group require a single room, a single room supplement is applicable
- This holiday is available for solo travelers. As costs are not shared, a supplement is payable on the standard trip cost
Options and Extras
- Private airport transfers
- On request, we can provide a private guide (choose when booking)
- 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 the holiday
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 City of Culture 2019.
- One extra night in Sofia after the holiday
Enjoy one extra night after your holiday in the heart of the vibrant city of Sofia, walking distance from the main shopping and entertainment area – the pedestrian Vitosha Boulevard.
- Spa Extension: 3 extra nights at a beautiful four-star spa hotel in Devin
Treat yourself after the holiday with 4 days of relaxation in a lovely 4* 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.
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Reviews for Rhodope Mountains DiscoveryGo to top of page
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We had an absolutely brilliant time and thoroughly enjoyed the Rhodope Mountains which were a revelation to us! The best hotel from the point of view of setting and lovely staff was Mursal in Yagodina. Stunning views and beautiful room, very comfortable bed and delightful people. The best food was in Arkan Kan hotel. Monika was lovely once we had succeeded in warming her up and the chef there produced some fantastic food. [...]The walk from Jagodina to Trigrad was definitely the best walk, though we met a family on the way who took us on a short cut through the forest, away from the track) and this made for a very interesting and special hike, though it was probably much harder work than the planned route. Beautiful views. [...]The transfers were fine (very punctual arrivals and journey timings were spot on), Kotse was outstanding. The trails were fun and for us beginners quite challenging but do-able.
We had a fantastic holiday, Bulgaria is a stunning country and I loved it so much. That waterfall walk is just stunning [...]. Maybe, if its not too much trouble, just a few useful Bulgarian words such as tap water, yoghurt (for breakfast), packed lunch, hot water etc. etc. would help us and the hotel owners (who were all just lovely). Apart from that, thank you for hosting us in this beautiful country and I look forward to our next trip.
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