Our eight-day walking holiday in the Rhodope Mountains takes in some of Bulgaria’s finest natural heritage, as well as dipping into the country’s magnificent thermal spa hotels along the way. Our carefully crafted itinerary includes some of the Rhodope Mountains’ most spectacular walking trails, such as the 300m high Trigrad Gorge, the giant underground waterfall in Devil’s Throat Cave, Smolyan Lakes and the village of Shiroka Laka, with traditional Rhodopean houses set in tiers along the riverside. The trip covers an average of 14km of hiking per day.
- The “cultural capital” of Bulgaria – Plovdiv
- Devil’s Throat Cave
- Trigrad Gorge
- Shiroka Laka
- Buinovo Gorge
- The Canyon of Waterfalls
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Not the right holiday for you? Have a look at our other self-guided walking holidays in Bulgaria here.
Day 1: Plovdiv
Arrive in the charming city of Plovdiv, visit the ancient Roman amphitheatre and stroll around the beautiful streets of the Old Town.
Day 2: Yagodina / Eagle’s Eye | 8km
Morning transfer to Yagodina (115km / 2.5h) – a small village in Buinovo Gorge in the heart of the Rhodope Mountains. Option to visit Yagodina Cave. Afternoon hike to 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.
- Walking for the day: 8km, 3-4h, ↑410m ↓410m
- Accommodation: Family hotel Yagodina or similar
Day 3: Trigrad | 11km
Walk from Yagodina through Buinovo Gorge to Trigrad and then to your hotel. Once you arrive in the village, you will also be able to visit Devil’s Throat cave. The cave’s entrance resembles a devil’s head, and inside a massive waterfall rushes down its ‘throat’ creating, not surprisingly, 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.
- Walking for the day: 11km, 4-5h, ↑640m ↓620m
- Accommodation: Family Hotel Arkan Han or similar
Day 4: Circular walks around Trigrad village | 7-17km
A fine day of walking through some of the Rhodopes’ most wonderful sites. You have a choice of three walks to choose from:
- Walk to the village of Vodni pad and back on the same route (9.6km,2-3h)
- Walk to a panoramic peak above Trigrad on the same route (7km, 2-3h)
- A circular walk to Kesten village (17 km, 5-6h)
- Accommodation: Family Hotel Arkan Han or similar
Day 5: Shiroka Laka | 24km
Morning transfer to the hotel in Shiroka Laka (40km/1h). Walk from Shiroka Laka to Gela, a small village in the Oreshica River valley. 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.
- Walking for the day: 24km, 8h, ↑700m ↓700m (shorter options available)
- Accommodation: a four-star hotel with spa facilities Shiroka Laka Hotel
Day 6: Smolyan Lakes | 5km
Morning transfer to Smolyan Lakes (20km/30mins). After check-in, walk from the hotel to Smolyan Lakes and back. After (or before) the walk, you may have the chance to explore Smolyan town.
- Hiking for the day: 5km, 2-3h, ↑150m ↓150m
- Accommodation: a three-star hotel with spa facilities Mountain Lake or similar
Day 7: Canyon of Waterfalls / Plovdiv | 7km
Morning transfer to the starting point of Canyon of Waterfalls eco-trail (15km). The trail leads you up the river and crosses several water cascades, forming a system of small and medium waterfalls. The trail then crosses a series of metal and wooden bridges built over the Elenska River, which are also perfect picnic spots. Walk back to starting point. Transfer back to the hotel (15km/5mins). Transfer to Plovdiv after lunch (95km/2h). Overnight in Plovdiv.
Day 8: Departure
Departure (unless you have booked an additional overnight or transfer) after breakfast.
What to expect
Quality three and four-star hotels, as indicated in the itinerary. Most of the hotels in the mountains have spa facilities, and some have thermal pools. They have been carefully selected based on a variety of criteria including their location, warm hospitality, fine local food or commitment to responsible tourism. All rooms have en-suite or private bathrooms.
Click to view default hotels
Hotels are subject to availability. In the event of 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.
Breakfasts are included. When no restaurant is available on the 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.
Difficulty and terrain
The holiday is suitable for regular walkers and requires a reasonable level of fitness. The trip covers an average of 14km (5.2h) of hiking per day, all of them on gentle slopes of the Rhodope Mountains. Average daily elevation gain is 506m (read more about difficulty grades).
During the tour you will walk mostly on unpaved 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 shorten the path through 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, we recommend 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 at any time in the season – so please indicate desired start 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, between May-September, 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.
Click to view travel options
By train or bus
Day 1- From Sofia Airport to Plovdiv hotel
- Take a taxi from Sofia airport to Sofia Central bus station, it will take you between 20-40mins, BGN10-15 (£6).
- By bus to Plovdiv Central bus station, the journey will be 2h, BGN15 (£6).
- Take a taxi from Plovdiv Central bus station to the Old Town of Plovdiv, takes around 10mins, BGN5 (£2).
Day 8 – From Plovdiv hotel to Sofia Airport
- Take a taxi from the Old Town of Plovdiv to Plovdiv Central bus Station, takes around 10mins, BGN5 (£2).
- By bus to Sofia Central bus station, the journey will be 2h, BGN15 (£6).
- Take a taxi from Sofia Central bus station to Sofia Airport, takes between 20-40mins, BGN10-15 (£6).
Day 1- From Plovdiv Airport to Plovdiv hotel
- Take a taxi from Plovdiv Airport to the Old Town of Plovdiv is around BGN10-15 (£6) and takes around 20mins.
Day 8 – From Plovdiv hotel to Plovdiv Airport
- From the Old Town of Plovdiv take a taxi to Plovdiv Airport. It takes 20mins, BGN10-15 (£6).
- 7 overnights in three to four-star hotels or family-run guesthouses as listed in the itinerary
- 7 Breakfasts
- Daily luggage transport to next accommodation (one bag of up to 20kg per person)
- All internal ground transfers and baggage transfers as listed in the program
- 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 (a digital copy, provided before the tour)
- 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative
- Airfare and connecting land transfers
- Lunches, dinners, drinks and snacks
- Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
- Personal expenses
- Entry fees (payable on-site)
- Any items not explicitly listed as included
Options, extras and supplements
- If you’re travelling in a group, a supplement applies to group members who would like to have a single room
- This holiday is available for solo travellers; a supplement will be charged as accommodation and luggage transfer costs are not shared (we never mix and match – solo travellers will be accommodated in single rooms)
- Private airport transfers
- Extra nights in Plovdiv or Sofia, before or after the tour
- Spa extension: three extra nights at a beautiful four-star spa hotel in Devin