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Bikin’ Bulgaria

Bulgaria as we have so often said, offers the perfect landscape for a wide range of activity holidays. Cycling has become a popular way of burning calories whilst getting in touch with nature and the possibilities in Bulgaria for this sport are growing. Quest Bulgaria takes a look at what is on offer for those who would like to get on their bikes and ride.

What’s on Offer

There are several options for getting your bike over to Bulgaria; you can drive over with it attached to the back of the car, fly take the train or hire a bike from one of the many companies now offering cycling holidays in Bulgaria. If you own a property here, you may decide to invest in bikes to keep at your villa permanently. The DIY store Praktiker sell good bikes for around 100 lv.

Cycling holidays in Bulgaria are often best taken in spring and autumn when temperatures are ideal for physical exertion. During the summer, the heat is really too intense to make cycling comfortable unless you choose a mountain route where air temperatures are cooler. In winter the snow makes the going twice as hard unless you choose a route along flat ground like the coast road from Durankalak to Obzor.
There are limited opportunities for cycling within Bulgaria’s cities due to the lack of designated cycling paths, so unless you are sure of your route through the city and are comfortable riding in traffic, they are best avoided. Lovers of extreme experiences should give mountain biking a try. This form of cycling is now extremely popular in Bulgaria and is a great way to exert yourself physically whilst enjoying the marvels of the Bulgarian countryside. Whatever you choose, make sure you bring the correct accessories like a helmet, gloves and if you are planning on long trips, some cycling shorts.

Challenges in the Sredna Gora

There are some great opportunities in the Sredna Gora Mountains for experienced cyclists. This is a mountain range, which guarantees to keep you in trim with some challenging climbs offset with beautiful scenery. There are plenty of options for accommodation including some quaint guest houses in old historic houses amidst some spectacular views. One route through Hisar will enable you to stop off and enjoy one of the country’s most famous spa towns. The town has over 24 spas and a wealth of ancient historic sites including a small Roman amphitheatre, the ruins of an old Roman fortress and army barracks and the foundations of two of the oldest churches in Bulgaria.

Vroom in the Vitosha

The Vitosha Mountains near the capital attracts many cyclists of varying abilities thanks to the diversity of its routes. Some can be completed in a couple of hours allowing you to spend the rest of your day visiting some of the nearby sites, whilst others require more skill and stamina. Some routes will allow you to cycle back into the city; if you start your ride at the Aleko hut and cycle around the 35 km distance track you will end up in the village of Zheleznitsa and directly on a simple route back to the capital. The route takes in the rocky terrain of the Cherni Vruh peak where there is a cafe serving much needed refreshment. Another great route in the Vitosha Mountains is the round trip from the Boyana to Tihia Kut. It covers around 10 km of paths and will take around an hour and a half. This route is of moderate intensity and will suite beginners. It starts at ends at the Boyana Inn and takes in the Zlatnite Mostove and the Byala Voda alley.

Riding in the Rhodope Mountains

The Rhodope mountain range is one of the country’s most picturesque. There are plenty of natural landmarks as well as awesome nature. Cyclists who crave extreme experiences should try the routes around Pamporovo and Shiroka Luka. There are plenty of places on these routes which provide good quality accommodation for the eco tourist.  The easiest region to cycle in this area is the route from the spa town of Velingrad to the Tsepina Peak. Not only can you relax in the warm spring waters of the spa town, but there are also many historic sites to visit. Other worthwhile cycle routes exist around Plovdiv and Assenovgrad, many of which lead you into Bachkovo where you can take in the old monastery and on to the Zdravets and Rouen huts.

Peddling the Plana Mountain

One of the most popular routes for citizens of the capital is the Plana Mountain. It has a large selection of cycling paths offering varying levels of difficulty with new paths being added all the time. The best starting point is the village of Pasarel onwards to the Piova Bouka hut. This path is of medium difficulty.

Roaming the Rila

The Rila Mountain has more designated cycle tracks than anywhere else in Bulgaria thanks to the ecological organizations that have helped in the construction of over 150 km of cycle paths. A good place to start is the village of Govedartsi, which has the greatest choice of paths and plenty of accommodation. More experienced cyclists may prefer to take the route from the Mousala hut to Borovets. It is a long trip covering some challenging terrain; sometimes the descent is tricky and you may need to get off your bike. You will however pass some amazing scenery as well as the Bistritsa Palace, a former country residence of the Bulgarian Tsars.

This photo courtesy www.bulgariaphotos.net

Lovely Lozenska Mountain

The Lozenska is also close to Sofia and offers many routes many of which are ideal for beginners. Most paths take around two to three hours to complete. A good starting point is the village of German, near to the Pancherevo Dam. You can cycle around the perimeter of the dam then take in the hunting hut in the nearby forest for a picnic or take the route to the Germanski Monastery. Another favoured route is the one that starts in the village of Dolni Lozen and takes you to the Polovrak Peak via the Lozen Monastery.

Be Prepared

Whilst cycling is a truly absorbing experience be prepared for all eventualities with enough food and water and waterproof clothing to cope with the lonely mountain tracks where the weather can be fickle to say the least! Make sure that you are in good physical shape and have a map of the route you have chosen. Take a mobile phone with you ensuring it has a Bulgarian SIM card should you need to contact the emergency services.

Best trails in Bulgaria

Best mountain biking trails in Bulgaria