Explore the unique biking opportunities along the north and central parts of the Balkan Mountains, famous for unspoiled nature, green valleys, precipitous cliffs, and gentle, rolling hills.
Bulgaria is mostly ignored by the typical tourist and this provides the cyclist with a unique opportunity!
The biking begins in the tiny village of Golyam 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 horses or donkeys and villagers making hay the old-fashioned way, but you will also experience a country with renewed energy, a vision for tomorrow, and unsurpassed natural beauty.
- Troyan Monastery “Assumption of Virgin Mary”, 3rd largest in Bulgaria, built in the style of the Bulgarian Renaissance.
- Etura Open-air Ethnographic Museum presenting Bulgarian customs, craftsmanship, architecture, and way of life during the Bulgarian National Revival period.
- Bozhentsi village - an architectural reserve consisting of some 100 houses from The Bulgarian National Revival period.
- Veliko Turnovo - the old medieval capital of Bulgaria
Want to see more bike tours in Bulgaria?
Day 1: Arrival in Sofia
Day 2: Golyam Izvor - Glozhene monastery - Ribaritsa, 30 mi. (49 km)
Day 3: Ribaritsa - Troyan monastery - Apriltsi, 49 mi. (78 km)
Day 4: Apriltsi - Gabrovo - Sokolsky monastery - Etura, 31 mi. (50 km)
Day 5: Gabrovo - Tryavna - Bozhentsi, 32 mi. (52 km)
Day 6: Bozhentsi - Dryanovo monastery - Elena, 30 mi. (48 km)
Day 7: Elena - Arbanasi - Veliko Turnovo, 27 mi. (43 km)
Day 8: Departure transfer to the airport.
Please note that the transfer takes place at 8 am and takes about 3 hours. Plan flights accordingly or request an extra night after your tour in Sofia.
All distances are approximate. Due to circumstances beyond control, weather conditions, or provisions issued by local authorities, the itinerary may be subject to some changes before and/or during your holiday.
Day 1: Arrival
Arrival at Sofia International Airport and transfer to Sofia city center for accommodation.
- Hotel Zdravets or similar
Day 2: Golyam Izvor - Glozhene monastery - Ribaritsa, 30 mi. (48 km)
There is a transfer in the morning to Yablanitsa where the cycling begins, leading through town and continuing to the village of Malak. From here, there is an optional detour, 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 an opportunity for a walk and a visit to the local historic museum and church or alternatively, you can enjoy 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. (B, D)
- Ascent: 620 m
- Descent: 510 m
- Hotel Zornitsa or similar
Day 3: Ribaritsa - Troyan monastery - Apriltsi, 48 mi. (77 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. There is a possibility to extend your cycling distance with a detour to Glozhen Monastery. This will add an additional 16 km. (B, D)
- Ascent: 970 m
- Descent: 1060 m
- Tihiat Kut Family Hotel or similar
Day 4: Apriltsi - Gabrovo - Sokolsky monastery - Etura, 38 mi. (61 km)
Cycling on isolated village roads from Apriltsi to Gabrovo, en-route you pass by numerous small villages set in green landscapes and river valleys. After an ascent followed by a nice downhill ride, you reach Gabrovo town and continue to Etura, an open-air ethnographic museum, where you add an additional 6 km of cycling reaching the nearby Sokolski Monastery. Overnight in nearby Etura. (B,D)
- Ascent: 700 m
- Descent: 800 m
- AEK Etura Hotel or similar
Day 5: Gabrovo - Tryavna - Bozhentsi, 36 mi. (58 km)
After breakfast, you start cycling from Gabrovo. After an ascent followed by a descent, you arrive in Tryavna. There you can spend some time sightseeing and enjoy 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. (B, D)
- Ascent: 1010 m
- Descent: 1000 m
- Parlapanovata Kushta guest house or similar
Day 6: Bozhentsi - Dryanovo monastery - Elena, 28 mi. (46 km)
A transfer in the morning brings you to the Dryanovo Monastery where you can also visit the local cave. You start cycling from Yalovo village to the town of Elena passing by several villages and the blue waters of the Lovkovtsi dam. (B, D)
- Ascent: 800 m
- Descent: 800m
- Eleni Palas Hotel or similar
Day 7: Elena - Arbanasi - 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 for the night. (B)
- Ascent: 600 m
- Descent: 730 m
- Hotel Zdravets or similar
Day 8: Departure from Plovdiv
There is an airport transfer included in your tour price that GENERALLY takes place at 8 am and takes about 3 hours. Please ask us before you make your flight details. (B)
Hotels & Bikes
You will be accommodated in family-run hotels & guest houses unique to this area. No chain hotels! On each day’s details you will find the name of the preferred hotel. Please note that final hotel list will be based on availability.
- Accommodation for 7 nights in family-run hotels & guesthouses with private facilities
- Breakfasts & 5 dinners (Day 2 - 6)
- Support vehicle with English speaking driver ( the guide with the supporting vehicle also provides the luggage transfer & checks several times a day if everything is okay with the group, waiting by crossroads, accompanying them for breakfast, lunch, & dinner & giving them information on the most interesting sites en-route.)
- Map & roadbook
- Transfer from/to Sofia on Day 1 & Day 8
- Scott Subcross bike rental with front suspension equipped with water bottle cages, handlebar bag with map holder, one pannier, &repair kit. Additional pannier is available for rental.
- Helmet (please request)
- All local transfers
What’s Not Included
- Entrance fees
- Dinner on Day 1 & Day 7
- Airport transfers if other than arrival & departure days & outside time frame
- Alcoholic beverages
- Extra pannier rental (€5)
- Bicycle protection
- Travel Insurance
Dates & Pricing
March 15, April 22, May 20, June 24, September 9, October 7, 2023
Departures require a minimum of 4 people to confirm. Less than four people will incur a supplement (see pricing).
Private tour dates are possible apart from the scheduled departures for a supplement. Please ask!
Twin/double: $ 1178 £ 675 $ 1,113 € 755 ₪ 2879 NZ$ 1289 NOK 8266 kr 8627 $ 837 Single supplement: $ 187 £ 107 $ 177 € 120 ₪ 458 NZ$ 205 NOK 1314 kr 1371 $ 133
Supplement for only 2 travelers: $ 156 £ 89 $ 147 € 100 ₪ 381 NZ$ 171 NOK 1095 kr 1143 $ 111 Supplement for only 3 travelers (single supplement still applies): $ 125 £ 72 $ 118 € 80 ₪ 305 NZ$ 137 NOK 876 kr 914 $ 89
Electric bike: $ 47 £ 27 $ 44 € 30 ₪ 114 NZ$ 51 NOK 328 kr 343 $ 33 Pannier (one) rental: $ 16 £ 9 $ 15 € 10 ₪ 38 NZ$ 17 NOK 109 kr 114 $ 11 Helmet rental: $ 16 £ 9 $ 15 € 10 ₪ 38 NZ$ 17 NOK 109 kr 114 $ 11
Skill Level — Moderate–Difficult
This is a moderate to difficult supported bike tour on mainly isolated village roads with little traffic. Because it is supported, it is difficult to rate in that there will be a van transferring luggage and stopping at certain points throughout the route to ensure that all is well. If you need a "sag wagon", you can hop on the van at any time, avoiding any significant climbing. Road conditions are relatively good with some exceptions (bumpy sections, potholes, rough asphalt). There is no off-road riding. This tour involves climbing, steep at times, and is designed for bikers in good physical condition. Daily elevation graphs are available.
Fly to Sofia International Airport (SOF), considered the main airport of Bulgaria.
Airport transfer from/to Sofia Airport is included on your tour start day and tour departure day. For arrivals at other airports such as Varna or Bourgas, a transfer may be possible for supplemental fee. Please ask us.
Please check local conditions prior to your arrival. Your tour takes place inland, in a mountainous part of Bulgaria. Below you will find average temperatures and average rainfall for the region. Please note that May and June are the wettest months so don’t forget your raingear.
Helmets are required.
Dress code in monasteries and churches - men are not allowed to enter in shorts and women should not expose their legs and shoulders.
Important to know
It is each traveler's responsibility to ensure that you are in compliance with the country or countries you plan to visit. This includes and is not limited to passport validity, visa requirements and acquisition, blank passport pages required for your destination (s), etc.
US citizens: A good website to research the requirements of the Schengen Agreement and entry into other countries is travel.state.gov.
Non-EU and EU residents: Please research the requirements of your country of residence for international travel and your destination country or countries.
*Important note: Please check on the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) status as once implemented, this will be required to visit any of the 26 Schengen-member countries for tourism, business, medical, or transit. This is an additional check on security rather than a visa.
Country Entry Requirements
Due to the changing requirements for entry, it is imperative that you stay up to date on requirements set by the country/countries that you are visiting. Please visit our Travel Restrictions Tool page and the country/countries government webpage for this information.
This tour is run by Penguin Travel.
We value the strong relationship we have with our local partners and the services we provide.
We are not a broker.
We do not inflate tour prices.
We are simply travelers helping travelers.