In 2022, this tour will only take place in Bulgaria rather than Bulgaria and Romania.
Day 1: Arrival in Pliska
Visit to the Garden of the Cyrillic Alphabet. Time for relaxation and preparation for the cycling tour.
We have tour details and safety instructions meeting at dinner. Depending on the time frame we may go on a sightseeing tour by bike to Pliska Archeological Reserve - the ruined capital of ancient Bulgaria from 7th to the end of 9th c. AD or plan a van trip to Madara Rider – a Bulgarian medieval rock monument from the same period, which is an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Overnight in Pliska
Day 2: Pliska to Isperih (31 miles, +1450 ft), moderate day route with several gradual hills
Transfer to the starting point of the cycling route which lays 15 miles away. On the way we stop at Carev Brod Winery to take with us a few bottles of the famous local ice-wine.
The bike route starts at the foothills of Voivoda Plateau and follows the slopes and valleys of Ludogorie Plateau. Our first day goes on quiet roads of the tranquil countryside, which is a perfect landscape to adapt to the terrain, to the road conditions and to feel the rural atmosphere. Most of the villages has Muslim population until we reach the town of Isperih. The town bears the name of the founder of the first Bulgarian state on the Danube established in 680 AD. After arriving in Isperih and a refreshing rest we will visit the nearby Alevi religious complex Demir Baba Tekke by van. The stonewalled tomb of the Alevi saint Demir Baba was built in 16th c. AD amidst the ruins of an older Thracian sanctuary.
We stop and hike to the miracle spring and cave of the Alevi Muslim saint Demir Baba – the place, where he lived and preached in 16th century. On the opposite site are the carved remains of medieval rock monastery, which were typical for the plateaus of Lower Danube. Again on the bicycles we continue our trip on flat dirt road to reach Dobrotica village. We stay in a family guest house, where local brand of wine is also produced. Enjoy homemade food and refreshing white wine for dinner.
Overnight in Isperih
Day 3: Isperih to Tutrakan (35 miles, +1000 ft, mostly flat)
Today we have an easier ride towards the Danube starting from 300 m and finishing at 50 m above sea level. After the first 3.5 miles we will enter one of the most enchanting UNESCO sites of Bulgaria – the Royal Tomb of Sveshtari, a masterpiece of the Thracian civilization dated back to 4th c. BC. In the village of Sveshtari we visit the Candle house, where to experience the traditional candle-making. The road to the Danube goes through a flat landscape of fields and forests. While approaching the final destination we stop at the largest war cemetery in Bulgaria, which commemorates the WWI battle of Tutrakan. Soon we reach the high Danubian bank of Tutrakan where reveals a great panorama to the vast river, the islands and the low plains on the opposite Romanian side.
In Tutrakan is easy to feel the magical Danube as once the town was a major fishing center between the Austrian borders and the Danube Delta. Here we can see well kept fishermen traditions, the Roman ruins of Transmarisca and the mixture of several Balkan ethnicities.
Just before we see the Danube we will discover one of its hidden gems – Srebarna Lake, UNESCO World Heritage Site, protected for the biodiversity and especially the breeding Pelican colony.
Overnight in Tutrakan
Day 4: Tutrakan to Popina (26 miles, +1500 ft, moderate route with 4 steep one-mile-long climbs)
Today we enter the historical region of Dobruja, which is bound between the Danube and the Black Sea. We will cycle the southern part of the vast region, while the northern portion is part of Romania nowadays. After traditional fish soup breakfast we take the road along the Danube. Breathtaking views, wooded islands and remains of the ancient Roman road are on our way to the beautiful Malak Preslavets Lake. The tough cycling on this challenging route is rewarded with a great hotel location at the end. Swimming pool by the river, rooms with a Danube view and open-air restaurant with a fish menu expect us in the village of Popina.
Overnight in Popina
Day 5: Popina to Silistra (30 miles, + 800 ft, mostly easy)
You encounter the only longer uphill just out of the village of Popina, which also can be skipped by a van transfer. The rest of the day goes on flat terrain where the dirt road sections would be an adventure. On the way we pass by apricot and cherry orchards and soon we reach Srebarna Lake. The lake is UNESCO World Heritage Site, a representative for the Lower Danube and important for its wildlife and Dalmatian Pelican colony. We ride around the lake, explore the birdlife and reach the nearby village of Aydemir. Keep on riding we enter the town of Silistra. The heritage of Silistra is concerned to the glorious Roman, Bulgarian and Ottoman past. The old Thracian village was turned to a strategic town by the Romans, called Durostorum. In Silistra was born the last great Roman general Flavius Aetius, who defeated Attila the Hun on June 20, 451 in Gaul. Durostorum was an important Christian Metropolitan center and a seat of the Bulgarian Church when in 927 it gained its first period of autonomy from Constantinople Patriarchy.
We’ll take a walk by the Danube and then go with the van to the well-preserved Ottoman fort Medjidi Tabiya lying on a hill overlooking the town.
Overnight in Silistra
Day 6: Dobrich to Topola (30 miles, +650 ft, flat terrain)
In the morning we have a van transfer to the town of Dobrich – the commercial and cultural center of southern Dobrudja. While we are preparing the bikes the rest of the group will have a time to wander for a while. The old neighborhood of Dobrich still reminds the live during the Ottoman period. Many craftsmen produce traditional hand-made stuff in their small workshops and there are places to drink a cup of Turkish coffee or a bottle of Bulgarian draft boza. We ride out of Dobrich, head towards the Black Sea coast following the easy road of the flat Dobrudja Plateau.
A great downhill dropped us to the beautiful hilly seaside town of Balchik, which can be called the Pearl of Dobrudja. Balchik is the ancestor of the Hellenistic Dionysopolis, the town of the ancient God of wine and wilderness Bacchus-Dionys. Once we reach the sea we’re going to visit the Balchik Palace of Queen Mary of Romania with its exotic garden, built in 1920s, which is a real jewel on the European coast of the Black Sea. We’ll have lunch in some of the cozy local restaurants. In Balchik we will immerse in the rich heritage of the old town, discovering the best-preserved Great Mother Goddess temple on the Balkans and the tiny streets with white limestone houses, churches, and mosques. Leaving Balchik we have another 5 miles section to ride and finish at the seaside resort close to Topola village.
Overnight in Topola village
Day 7: Topola to Tyulenovo village (31 miles, +750 ft, flat terrain)
The rest of the tour is marked by the flat landscape, easy cycling route and stunning views along the cliff coast of Bulgarian Dobrudja, full of natural, historical and archeological sites. The first site to reach by bike is the scenic Cape Kaliakra. This imposing 60 meter-high cape is located 2 km deep into the sea and is the most remarkable landmark on the European Black Sea shore. The ruins of antique and medieval fortresses rise directly from the red-colored rocks. On the way back from the cape we stop for lunch in the village of Balgarevo – famous for the melon fields and the Black mussel farms.
Then we pedal to Yailata archeological reserve, passing by cliff bridges and rocky pillars embraced by the sea waves. The spectacular rocky terraces of the ancient site, left by the Thracian culture, rise straight from the sea. This used to be a holy place with carved sanctuaries and grave chambers in the cliffs. After a short ride, we'll face the stunning landscape of Rusalka, where a coastal lagoon is stretched between the high cliffs and the sea.
In the afternoon we arrive at the village of Tyulenovo – the hot spot of the cliff coast, where we have an accommodation to stay.
Overnight in Tyulenovo village
Day 8: Tyulenovo to Varna (18 miles, +350 ft, flat terrain)
Cycling from Tyulenovo to the resort village of Krapec will take half a day and then comes a van transfer to the city of Varna.
Leaving Tyulenovo by bikes soon we reach the most eastern point of Bulgaria – Cape Shabla and its handsome lighthouse rebuilt in the times of the Ottoman Empire, when it prepared for the upcoming Crimean War. Cycling the scenic coastal dirt roads we approach the lively touristic and fishing village of Krapets. Our cycling route end is just next to the Cape of Krapec at one of the best beaches of Bulgaria. We’ll have a time to swim in the sea, mount the bikes and head to the city of Varna by van.
Varna (population 350 000) is the ancestor of the large Greek-Roman city Odessos. The discovery of The World Oldest Golden Treasure from Varna Necropolis shows the existence of Varna Civilization, which is dated back to 5000 BC. The monumental heritage of the city consist of spectacular Roman Baths, remains of medieval monasteries, the later Orthodox Cathedral and other smaller churches, old town architecture and the Public Baths from the dawn of the 20th century, the royal Euxinograd Palace along with one of the biggest Communist Bulgarian-Soviet monuments. Varna is famous with the lively beaches, crowded cultural events, fine restaurants and good sea food. Here by the sea we’ll have a goodbye dinner with tasty fish, fresh salads and delicious Bulgarian wine
Overnight in Varna
Day 9: Transfer to departure airport (Varna, Sofia or Bucharest)