Veliko Tarnovo on the Yantra River in Bulgaria. Photo via Wikimedia Commons:Nikola Gruev

Nativity Church in Arbanassi - its vaulted ceiling is covered in frescos! Bulgaria. Photo via Flickr:archer10 (Dennis)

Balkan Mountains

Bulgaria Bike Tours

Cycling through the eastern fringe of Europe

Explore the unique biking opportunities along the north and central parts of the Balkan Mountains, famous for their unspoiled nature, green valleys with sheep peacefully grazing on lush grass, precipitous cliffs, and gentle, rolling hills. Bulgaria is mostly ignored by the typical tourist which provides the cyclist with a unique opportunity to truly experience an emergence of a culture from under the oppression of the "Red Star". The tour begins in the tiny village of Goliam Izvo, passing by the Central Balkan National Park and ending up in Veliko Tarnovo – the Old Bulgarian capital and one of the most charming of the Bulgarian towns. The narrow roads meander through picturesque villages that look as they did 200 years ago. You’ll see wooden carts pulled by a horse or donkey and villagers making hay the old-fashioned way, but you will also experience a country with renewed energy, a vison for tomorrow, and unsurpassed natural beauty.

Highlights on this tour are the Glozhene Monastery, Bozhentsi Village, the Etura Open Air Ethnographic Museum, and the Troyan Monastery.

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Where You’ll Stay

Family run hotels and guest houses unique to this area. No chain hotels!

What’s Included

  • 7 nights at family run hotels and guest houses with private facilities
  • Breakfasts and 5 dinners
  • Support vehicle with English speaking driver
  • Map and roadbook
  • Transfer from/to Sofia or Plovdiv Airport on Day 1 and Day 8 (9 am to 7 pm)
  • Hybrid bike rental equipped with water bottle cages, handlebar bag with map holder, rear rack on request, and repair kit. Pannier available for rental.
  • Helmet (please request)
  • All local transfers

What’s Not Included

  • Entrance fees
  • Dinner on Day 1 and Day 7
  • Lunches
  • Airport transfers if other than arrival and departure days and outside time frame
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Pannier rental (€10)
Length8 days
From540 Rates
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Tour Dates

April 16, May 14, June 11, June 25, July 16, August 6, September 17, and October 8, 2016

Additional trips can be organized for private groups

Skill Level

This is a moderate supported bike tour on mainly isolated village roads with little traffic. Road conditions are relatively good with some exceptions (bumpy sections, potholes, rough asphalt). There is no off road riding.

Day-To-Day Itinerary

Balkan Mountains Map

DAY 1: Arrival
DAY 2: Goliam Izvor - Glozhene monastery - Ribaritsa, 44 mi. (70 km)
DAY 3: Ribaritsa - Troyan monastery - Apriltsi, 46 mi. (74 km)
DAY 4: Apriltsi - Gabrovo - Sokolsky monastery - Etura, 34 mi. (55 km)
DAY 5: Gabrovo - Tryavna - Bozhentsi, 32 mi. (52 km)
DAY 6: Bozhentsi - Dryanovo monastery - Elena, 30 mi. (48 km)
DAY 7: Elena - Arbanassi - Veliko Turnovo, 27 mi. (43 km)
DAY 8: Transfer to airport

*All distances are approximate.

DAY 1: Arrival 
Arrival at Sofia/Plovdiv airport and transfer to Sofia/Plovdiv city center for accommodation. Plovdiv is the oldest continually inhabited city in Europe, with a history of inhabitation going back over 8000 years.

DAY 2:  Goliam Izvor - Glozhene monastery - Ribaritsa, 44 mi. (70 km)
There is a transfer in the morning to Yablanitsa where the cycling begins, leading through town and continuing to the village of Malak, starting point of a challenging 5 km uphill ride to the Glozhene Monastery. After visiting the monastery, it is downhill the same way, to continue further to scenic Teteven, located in a mountainous area, in the foothills of the Balkan mountains with the Vit River meandering through. There is opportunity for a walk and a visit to the local historic museum and church followed by a short bike ride and hike to a nearby eco trail with 2 beautiful waterfalls. Day's end is in the village of Ribaritsa well known as a mountain health resort. 

DAY 3:  Ribaritsa - Troyan monastery - Apriltsi, 46 mi. (74 km)
The morning begins with an ascent from Ribaritsa to the highest point for the day - Bogoi pass (1185 m). From this pass the road goes all the way down to the town of Troyan passing through the village of Shipkovo and an opportunity for a refreshing bath in the mineral water  pools. After lunch in the Troyan town center, there is a visit to The Pottery and Craft Exhibition "Oreshaka"  and the famous Troyan monastery. Overnight this evening will be in the village of Apriltsii.

DAY 4:  Apriltsi - Gabrovo - Sokolsky monastery - Etura, 34 mi. (55 km)
Cycling on isolated village roads from Apriltsi to Gabrovo, enroute you pass by numerous small villages set in green landscapes and river valleys. There will be a visit to the Batoshevo monastery and lunch in a local village pub. The town of Gabrovo is next on the agenda, after a ascent follow by a nice downhill ride. The route continues to the "Etura"- an open-air ethnographic museum, as well as the beautiful Sokolski Monastery. Overnight in nearby Etura. 

DAY 5:  Gabrovo - Tryavna - Bozhentsi, 32 mi. (52 km)
The support vehichle will provide a short transfer to Gabrovo where the cycling begins with first stop in Tryavna. After an ascent followed by a descent, you arrive in Tryavna. There you can spend some time on sightseeing and lunch in the center of this beautiful National Revival town. Ups and downs through open terrain will lead you to the final stop for today - Bozhentsi architectural reserve. 

DAY 6:  Bozhentsi - Dryanovo monastery - Elena, 30 mi. (48 km)
The day begins with a transfer to the Dryanovo monastery in the morning for a tour with the cycling beginning near Yalovo. There will be a short detour to the  Kilifarevo Monastery before continuing to the town of Elena passing by the blue waters of Lovkovtsi dam. 

DAY 7:  Elena - Arbanassi - Veliko Turnovo, 27 mi. (43 km)
From Elena, the route leads to the final destination of the trip – Arbanasi Architectural Reserve. The landscape includes meadows, pastures, cultivated lands, and finally a beautiful plateau over Veliko Tarnovo. After some free time for rest and walks among the old houses of Arbanasi, lunch will be enjoyed and a sightseeing tour in Veliko Turnovo - the capital of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom. In the afternoon, there is a transfer to Sofia or Plovdiv for the night. 

DAY 8: Departure
Transfer to airport. Departure.

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