III. C    South - Central Region






CONTENT

               1. From Pazardzhik (& Belovo) to Border Checkpoint Ilinden - Exohi (roads N84, 842 & N19);

                     1. 1  From Pazardzhik to Avramovo Line Station;

                     1. 2  From Avramovo narrow-gage Line Station to Eleshnitsa;

                     1. 3  From Dobriniste (Eleshnitsa) to Border Checkpoint Ilinden - Exohi;

                     1. 4  Border Checkpoint Ilinden: Approach from Greece (from Prosotsani);

 

               2. From Stara Zagora (& Plovdiv) to border Checkpoints Makaza - Nimfea & Zlatograd - Nimfea;               

                2. 1   From Stara Zagora to Haskovo;

                2. 2   From Haskovo to Kardzhali;

                2. 3   From Plovdiv to Kardzhali;

                2. 4   From Kardzhali to Border Ckeckpoints Makaza - Thermes & Zlatograd - Thermes.



1. From Pazardzhik & Belovo to Border Checkpoint Ilinden

(Roads N 84, 842 & N19)

 

Content:

     1. 1  From Pazardzhik to Avramovo Line Station;

      1. 2  From Avramovo narrow-gage

Line Station to Eleshnitsa;

      1. 3  From Dobriniste (Eleshnitsa) to

        Border Checkpoint Ilinden;

      1. 4  Border Checkpoint Ilinden:

      Approach from Greece from Prosotsani;

 

      It can be said, the best way to leave Bulgaria toward Greece by bicycle is this route (the food, water and overnight accommodation along this route are not a problem). No intensive traffic here, the countryside is one of the best in BG.

 

       For the route from Sofia to Belovo to Pazardzhik look into:

Chapter VI.

D. From Sofia to Plovdiv and Edirne (in Turkey)

      The route include Velingrad: it is very known spa centre - a lot of hotels&swimming pools of thermal water are available there. A nice places to relax for an afternoon&night here are Bansko, Dobriniste and Ognyanovo as well (there will be details about these places). 

 

      The route from Pazardzhik to Border Checkpoint Makaza is:

      From Pazardzhik to Lyahovo to Vetren Dol to Varvara to Velingrad to Yundola to Avramovo to Yakoruda (road N84) Eleshnitsa to Gotse Delchev to Border Checkpoint Ilinden (road N19).


Some initial tips having in mind when explore this route:

      A. Pazardjik as a base point to enter in Rodopi Mountain toward Border Checkpoint Makaza.

      B. Varvara as a base point to enter in Rodopi Mountain toward Border Checkpoint Makaza.

      C. The narrow - gage train: from Septemvri to Dobriniste.


A. Pazardzhik (Pazardjik)

as a base point to enter in Rodopi Mountain toward Border Checkpoint Makaza.

 

      According to me, Pazardjik is very appropriate to be regarded as an initial/end point, when explore just this destination.

 

      It is not as big as Plovdiv, and the most important: the traffic in it also is not as intensive as in Plovdiv, it is easy to orientate in it, as well as it is easy to find very nice hotel / restaurant in it at an acceptable price.

 

      In the link below more information concerning this town is available, I will not write about it here.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pazardzhik

http://www.guide-bulgaria.com/SC/pazardjik/pazardjik/pazardjik

 

      For accommodation in Pazardzhik, I would recommend Hotel Acropolis: http://acropolispz.com/index_eng.htm

Pazardjik, Boul. Hristo Botev 17, tel.: 034/45 10 45; cell tel: 0898 662 702,

e-mail: acropolispz@abv.bg     

     

     Everywhere in the city there are a lot of labels which will lead you to the hotel, you easy will recognize the place seeing the red bicycle lane in front of it.

 

      According to me it would be nice to stay and relax here for a night, because:

              - It is very easy to find out this spot ;

-                - The place can be recognized easily by the new red bicycle lane just in front of it the right side of the street going to North (the photos below);

-               - The place is clean, rooms are supplied by R-conditions, which is important in this town, where summer temperatures often are more than 40 deg C;

            - Opinions of the hotel guests concerning this place are very nice (bicyclists toured with me in BG some of them are on the photo below cooling with a glass of beer in the hotel restaurant - garden);

-                - The hotel restaurant offer nice dishes, the staff speak almost fluent English;

             - Wi Fi;

-                - There is an easy access to a free room for bicycle and pannier storage.

Several photos of Pazardzhik and its town garden.

 

 

B. Varvara (or Vetren Dol)

 

as a base point to enter in Rodopi Mountain toward Border Checkpoint Makaza.

 

 

     Varvara is even a better place to be used as a base point when enter in Rodopi Mountains there is a nice motel and swimming pool of mineral water there. Have only in mind that weekends in the summer time (June - August) this spot is overcrowded by relaxing tourists and there will be not free beds (Friday & Saturday nights) in the motel.

 

     Some information for Varvara and Vetren dol:

 

http://www.guide-bulgaria.com/SC/pazardjik/septemvri/varvara

 

http://www.guide-bulgaria.com/SC/pazardjik/septemvri/vetren_dol

 

      There are another possibilities for overnight accommodation in Varvara or Vetren Dol as well.

       http://www.guide-bulgaria.com/SC/pazardjik/septemvri/vetren_dol

     The left photo - a motel (" " : "Rodopsko Hanche") in Varvara (nice restaurant and small swimming pool are available here as well) - on the road coming from Septemvri (I recommend it);

      The right photo - a private home-hotel (" ": "Radovata Kasta") in Vetren Dol - on the road coming from Pazardjik.


C. The narrow-gage train Septemvri - Dobriniste

      As the traffic along the road N 84 between Varvara and Velingrad is intensive,  an appropriate way to enter in Rodopi Mountain is the narrow - gage train serving the line from Septemvri to Dobriniste.

      The red line on the map below shows places where the train line is not next to the road.

       More information concerning this amazing train can be seen here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Septemvri-Dobrinishte_narrow_gauge_line

 

      The narrow gage train can be taken on in Septemvri (at 8. 30 am), but my suggestion is to take it in Varvara (at 8.46 am). This place can also be used as an initial point to explore Rodopi mountains. There are several reason to use this amazing train when you begin exploring Rodopi mountains:

            - I think there are no many such trains in the world. Its velocity is 25 30 km/hours, the scenery of the area it is going is marvellous as it can be seen from the photos below; Each year I travel by it at least one time;

            - It is not a problem to load your bicycle in it (if bicyclists are more than 4 use different carts to load baggage (buy an additional ticket for the bike 1 EURO);

 

     There is a traffic from Varvara to Velingrad and never mind it is not so intensive it would be better this road segment to be travelled by the train;

            - Some climbing can be avoided: altitude of Varvara is 270 m., Velingrad 750 m., the highest point Avramovo line station almost 1300 m. My suggestion to tourists having a restricted time for touring is to take on the train and enter in the mountain. It will save some time which can be used later to visit more exciting places in the mountain;

             - Depending of the route you have decided to do in Rodopi mountain, you can take off the train in Velingrad or Avramovo train station;

              - The train can be used also for a route in Rila Mountain (see the Chapter for routes in Rila mountain);

             - In the opposite direction it would be unnecessary to travel by the train. The pedalling down the mountain along the line is very pleasant.

The train station in Varvara. The train from Varvara to Velingrad is here at 8. 46 am. Inside the cart - no problem to load your bicycle in it. The diesel engine - there are such engines made in Romania and former East Germany. At work since 1963.
Avramovo Line Station - the highest on Balkans - alt.1267. There are a lot of tunnels along the line. Inside the engine - some time I arrange tourists to travel inside it.
The visibility in the engine is much better than in the cart, but it is not easy to arrange to travel in it.
In the mountain there are several serpentines of the line.  Velingrad Line Station.
Old steam engines can be seen in Bansko Line Station. I am afraid now these steam engines are not there. Rocks on the line after powering rain. Some time in the mountain it happens

      There is one original steam engine still at work, it is used only when there is a group of tourists paying in advance for such a travelling; See the video - speaking in Germans:

       https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2JbJvinBQ8s

       https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0N2FfKQjvtg


 Sector III. C - 1. A

      1. 1  From Pazardzhik to Avramovo Line Station.

      Route b:

      From Pazardzhik to Mokriste to Leahovo to Bratanitsa to Vetren Dol to Varvara to Velingrad to Kostandovo Line Station to Velingrad to Yundola to Avramovo Line Station.

     Beginning from Pazardzhik, follow the route I point on the map above - so you will avoid the traffic between Pazardzhik,  Zvanichevo and Bratanitsa (road N84).

 

      From Pazardzhik to Mokriste to Lyahovo to Bratanitsa.

      Several photos for the countryside toward Vetren Dol, Bratanitsa, Lyahovo and Pazardzhik in different seasons.

 

     The road segment from Varvara to Kostandovo Line Station is a beautiful gorge, unfortunately traffic here is quite intensive, especially weekends, the climbing up the mountain is not pleasant definitely. If you tour the back   direction, this road segment is nice for bicycling - I pedalled it several times in the back direction. Your speed will be almost the same as the one of the trucks.

      Several words for Velingrad: the city is a place with a lot of thermal springs. Information for Velingrad:

       http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Velingrad

       http://www.visitbulgaria.

       net/en/velingrad/velingrad.html

       https://bulgariatravel.org/en/town-of-velingrad/

      The city a known spa resort not only in Bulgaria. There are a lot of hotels of different quality.

 

      A nice place to stay for a night in is Hotel Iv (the 3 photos below). It can be found out easy, there is a nice small swimming pool of thermal water next to it, the place is clean, inexpensive, and the hotel restaurant offers nice meals. The staff is friendly, they have an experience with touring bicyclists.

      http://hotel-iv.com

      The climbing from Velingrad toward Yundola (approx 18 km.) is relatively hard, have in mind it is a sunny place.   Water is available higher in the mountain near the crossroad toward St. Petka.

      Yundola is a little mountain resort placed just on the border between Rila and Rodopi Mountains, overnight accommodation is possible there:

 

http://www.bulgariatravel.org/article/details/178

      Three photos from Yundola toward Avramovo Line Station.



      ٭An Opportunity

      An excellent opportunity here, if you pedal in the back direction, is reaching Avramovo Narrow - Gage Line Station to hit a road toward Kandovi to Ablanitsa to Velingrad. You will enter in a different world, they paved the road in 2020, although between Kandovi and Ablanitsa

 

the road in the forest is still dirty. Because there is several dirty roads between them, do not be afraid, go only down, soon you will reach Ablanitsa. This opportunity is nice only when the weather is nice without raining.

      You will miss the climbing from Avramovo Line Station to Yundola as well.

Several photos of this area; needles to say it is perfect to camp here hear the river.



Well, back now again to Sector III. C - 1. A

      Route a: from Belovo  to Avramovo Line Station

      The stronger bicyclists can climb:

      From Belovo to Goliamo Belovo to Yundola rezort (E842) to Avramovo Line Station.

      The route is 26 km. permanent climbing, the traffic

 

here is negligible. Bring some food with you. Beginning from Belovo, springs of drinkable water are available approximately after 4 km (just after leaving Golyamo Belovo), 9 km, 19 km and 23 km.

      This route is very nice in the back direction, I recommend it!

     The climbing begin from Belovo. It is a little town, overnight accommodation is available in it.

http://www.guide-bulgaria.com/SC/pazardjik/belovo/belovo

      You easy will recognize you are in the town - a mountains of toilet paper are sailed in the town - the biggest in Bulgaria paper mill (Belana Plc) that produces

  toilet paper and other disposable paper products is in the town. I can not miss to mention the great story with the toilet paper in the spring of 2020  . . . still no reliable explanation of the world wide panic concerning the toilet paper .

Fore kilometers further is Golyamo Belovo - the last place you can find food.

      Leaving Golyamo Belovo, you ill see a nice water spring. From the other side next to the river is maybe the only nice place for camp in the wilderness all along the road to Yundola.

     So, after 20 km.  hard pedaling up the mountain, you will be in Yundola.



٭Opportunities:

       I have mention that the traffic along road 84 is intensive, next are opportunities to avoid it:

          - Route a: Bicyclists loving climbing can use also the next route:

      From Pazardjik to Glavinitsa to Debrastitsa  to St. Konstantin Resort to Batak Dam to Tsigov Chark Resort to Rakitovo to Velingrad.

      The route is extremely spectacular (photos below), no any traffic, the climbing is hard;

      - Route b: It is also possible to pedal road N37:

      From Pazardzhik to Glavinitsa to Radilovo to Pestera (road 37) to Batak to Tsigov Chark Resort to Rakitovo (road 376) to Velingrad,

      but the traffic is more intensive, especially Pazardzhik - Pestera and this route is not as spectacular as the previous one.

 

      Another very nice opportunity (I will not speak about it here) to reach Border Checkpoint Ilinden from Pazardzhik is given in:

   Chapter VII. Nice routes in mountains:

                    RODOPE Mountains

Route 2: From Pazardzhik to Velingrad to Dospat;

Route 3: From Pazardzhik to Batak to Dospat.

Route a (the map above)

      Three - fore km after Debrastitsa there is a nice spot - hotel and restaurant. Five km further again there is such   a spot, but it is not so nice to stay for a night there Nice drinkable water is available at both places.
      St. Konstantin Resort is located at the highest point of this route. Overnight accommodation is possible in it, restaurant is available as well. Because of there only one hotel is available, in the weekends problems with   the accommodation are possible (Friday and Saturday evenings).  If you need overnight accommodation, you can go further toward Tsigov Ihark Resort.

An especially scenic area is down toward Batak Dam.

     The Dam can be surrounded by the other side. Have in mind it is a dirty road and never mind it is beautiful area, pedalling the other side of the dam is a little   tedious, but there are nice spots for wild camping and places to enter and swim in the reservoir.

      And I can not forget a night we spent just before Rakitovo - August '21, when I was forgotten the tent

  frame . . . we counted the stars all the night . . . Fortunately this night mosquitoes were not active . . .

Route b

       From Pazardzhik to Glavinitsa to Radilovo to Pestera (road 37) to Batak to Tsigov Chark Resort to Rakitovo (road 376) to Velingrad,

      Here the climbing is not as hard as route a. The traffic from Pazardzhik to Pestera is relatively intensive, I would not say it is a dangerous road. Overnight accommodation is possible in Pestera.

      Overnight accommodation in Pestera is possible; information and several photos from the little city.

      http://www.guide-bulgaria.com/SC/pazardjik/peshtera/peshtera

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peshtera

      Next to the town are remains of mediaeval fortress, a little museum is available there - you can try some mediaeval weapons in it. 

      Further up in the mountain is Batak. The traffic here is much less, the road is going up in the mountain via scenic gorge. Information for Batak:

       https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batak,_Bulgaria

       http://www.visitbulgaria.net/en/batak/batak.html

      The history of this little town was quite unhappy in connection with uprising April 1876. Information for it can be seen here, my suggestion to more sensitive persons is to miss this information.

       https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/April_Uprising

       https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batak_massacre

       http://www.bulgariatravel.org/article/details/336

      The only photo I have from this region is in right - relax near the beautiful river up the mountain.

      Seven kilometers up in the mountain is Batak Dam, Tsigov Chark resort is placed near the reservoir.  In the little Resort Tsigov Chark  (at Batak Dam) there is a restaurant, hotel, little shops, it is a place to relax.

 

Information for the little resort and several photos: 

  

http://www.bulgariatravel.org/article/details/358

http://www.visitbulgaria.net/en/tsigov_chark/tsigov_chark.html



     

 

Sector III. C - 1. B

 

1. 2  From Avramovo narrow-gage Line Station to Eleshnitsa and a little further: (the crossroad of roads N19 & N1903 - point A)

 

 

          The next segment is one of my favourite ones all over BG. Always I have a time, I pedal and camp here in both directions. A perfect area (photos below). No problem to supply with water and food here.

 

        The road is just after reconstruction and it is in very nice conditions.

 

       Sometime in the weekends (Sunday afternoon) the traffic is more intensive.

 

      Overnight accommodation in Yakoruda is available, my suggestion is to go toward Bansko or Dobriniste. Information about Yakoruda:

http://www.visitbulgaria.net/en/yakoruda/

yakoruda.html

         Beginning from Avramovo Line Station, it follows very pleasant descending. The road is parallel to Mesta River, next to the road is the narrow gage line. The

  pedalling in the back direction is not hard and easy as well. The most scenic road segment is between Avramovo Line Station and Cherna Mesta. The road here is stepper.

      A bigger settlement here is Yakoruda, overnight accommodation in it is available. Information about Yakoruda and several photos:

      http://www.visitbulgaria.net/en/yakoruda/yakoruda.html

      Toward Eleshnitsa.  Along the road there are a lot of springs of fresh and cool mountain water, here is not necessary to buy mineral water.

     Several kilometers after the crossroad toward Eleshnitsa there is a spring of thermal water. (I point this spot on the map above).

     

 

 

      The place is easy to be recognized seeing a rope bridge over Mesta River, left, pedalling down the river stream. A little chapel is there and nobody will stop you to set up your tent next to it. You can enjoy of a little pool of thermal water there (36 deg C), usually nobody there.

 

 

 

 

     My FB friend, Dogaru Armin,  followed my instructions and May 2018 spent a nice night just here - the photo in right:

 

      "And your site is also very helpful. With a lot of useful information to plan a trip. Boris, I wanted to thank you. I followed your advice and I spent a night at Eleshnitsa. As you say on your site, I put my tent near the small chapel. The water there is amazing. So hot. Thank you and have a nice day".

     Eleshnitsa is a little village, you can find in it again very nice swimming pool of thermal water. Never mind the facilities there are old and does not look nice, the place in fact is very clean, the water is beautiful.

 

Overnight accommodation is available there too. The nature toward and after Eleshnitsa is very scenic.

     A little information for Eleshnitsa:

http://www.guide-bulgaria.com/SW/blagoevgrad/razlog/eleshnitsa

The last photo above shows the Point A in the map of  Sector VII. 1 - B; You will see this disposition coming from south.

٭Opportunities in the region

 

 

Sector III. C - 1. B - a

 

      Here I will increase the scale a little showing an opportunity in the region.

 

      If you have a time, my suggestion is to elongate the route a little to visit Banya, Bansko, Dobriniste, or Razlog.

 

      From Dobriniste or Bansko walks in Pirin mountain can be done, I have mentioned it in the:

      Capter VII.  Routes in Mountains,

      PIRIN Mountains

 

 

The next three photos illustrate the road toward Banya

      Banya is a nice place for overnight accommodation, it is also a place with thermal water. You can easy find out an appropriate place to stay for a night there.

      But I would suggest you to go further toward Bansko and Dobriniste.

      Information for Banya:

http://www.guide-bulgaria.com/SW/blagoevgrad/razlog/banya

      Pedaling from Banya toward Bansko you will enjoy of extremely exciting view of Pirin Mountain. You will see the highest part of it, the view is extremely impressive May - June, when the higher part of the mountain is still covered by snow.


      Bansko (next photos) is a winter resort, each winter thousands of tourists (most of them are coming from GB) spend their vacancy in it; as a skiing resort, COVID'19 came just from here February '20 and spread all over the country. More information about Bansko can be seen here:

       http://www.bulgariaski.com/bansko/

         http://www.banskoski.com/en

       https://bulgariatravel.org/en/bansko/

     Summer time the resort is not over crowded by tourists (except of several days on August, when there is several day jazz festival, I think they change dates each year) there are a lot of hotels you can stay for a night.

     

I can say that here people are masters of cooking of meat meals. Have in mind, that this place is more expensive than the next one I will describe further (Dobriniste: 7 8 kilometers east from Bansko).

      The view toward mountain in the night when the moon is thick is amazing, it must be seen. Next several photos are taken in the old part of Bansko.

      For the possibilities to explore Pirin Mountain from Bansko, please look in:

     Capter VII.  Routes in Mountains,

      PIRIN Mountains


      Dobriniste is 6 kilometers east from Bansko, again it is overcrowded by tourists winter time. My suggestion is to choose this place - comparing with Bansko it is much more inexpensive, especially restaurants, people here also are masters of preparing meal food.

      https://www.visitbulgaria.net/en/dobrinishte/dobrinishte.html

      https://bulgariatravel.org/en/dobrinishte/

      I love this place. Several are the reasons for it: there is very nice swimming pool of thermal water (I have never missed to stay there for an afternoon), there is a chair type lift to the higher part of Pirin Mountain, there are very nice local type restaurants offering very tasty meet meals (look for "Makedonska Krachma" - its place is well labelled), the overnight accommodation is not a problem at acceptable price, so I do not miss to stay here for a day or two I am touring.

       All that I am spiking about can be recognized in the photos below.

      For the possibilities to explore Pirin Mountain from Dobriniste, please look in:

      Capter VII.  Routes in Mountains, PIRIN Mountains


      In the region here is located Razlog. Information for Razlog can be seen here:

 

http://www.visitbulgaria.net/en/razlog/razlog.html

        The next three photos illustrate the road toward Razlog. The view toward Pirin Mountain is extremely impressive, although photos taken by my cell phone can not show it very nice.

      The last time just before to enter in it my speed shifter broke, fortunately in the centre of the town there

  was a bike shop, so I changed it without any problems. Several photos from Razlog.


 

 

 

Sector III. C - 1. C

 

 

 

1. 3   From Dobriniste (Eleshnitsa) to Border Checkpoint Ilinden

 

 

 

 

       Here is the long  Gorge of Mesta River:

 

      From Dobriniste (or Eleshnitsa) to Mesta to Gospodintsi to Gotse Delchev  to Border Checkpoint Ilinden.

 

      On your right side is Pirin Mountain, your left - Rodopi Mountain. Never mind it is an international road, the traffic is not intensive, the road is after reconstruction, it is wide enough. Yhe road in the long and scenic Mesta River Gorge. The pedalling here is a real pleasure in the both directions.

 

      Almost in the middle of this road segment there is a little restaurant. Along the road there are a lot of water fountains as well.

Next photos are the countryside down the stream of Mesta River.



 

 

 

٭Opportunities in the region

OGNYANOVO

 

sector III. C - 1.C - a

 

 

 

      Bicycling along road N19, my suggestion is to visit Ognyanovo in both cases - leaving BG or entering in BG from Greece.

 

      Because of the thermal springs in the region, it is very nice spa center perfect for relax. The last years August and weekends more tourists are available in the small resort.

 

      A lot of places for overnight accommodation in Ognyanovo are available. Information for Ognyanovo:

 

      https://bulgariatravel.org/ognyanovski-mineralni-bani/

      https://www.visitbulgaria.net/en/ognyanovo/ognyanovo.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

      The next several several photos show the approach toward Ognyanovo from Gospodintsi road N1905.

      Approaching to Garmen and Ognyanovo from Gotse Delchev can be seen remains of the ancient Roman fortress Nikopolis ad Nestrum.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicopolis_ad_Nestum


     I would recommend one very nice place to stay for a night here is hotel Elegance: the relation "price/quality" here is very nice. The hotel consists two buildings - a new and older one, both are in very good conditions (unfortunately the Site is in Bulgarian):

 

http://www.comunicatorbg.com/elegance.html

      I will not write about it, fortunately the hotel Home page is written in English you can see information concerning prices, rooms, restaurant, swimming pool, SPA procedures and so on.

 

      It is very easy to find out this spot. Simply look for signs on the street poles:

      - coming from North, the hotel is in the opposite end of the village;

      - coming from South, the hotel is to right, immediately after the bridge entering in Ognyanovo.

      I will mention only that it is a clean place having a nice restaurant and a swimming pool of beautiful thermal water. Guiding bicyclists, I always recommend them to stay here for a night, and they have never been disappointed.


      Overnight accommodation is possible in Gotse Delchev too. Information about Gotse Delchev:

      http://www.visitbulgaria.net/en/gotse_delchev/gotse_delchev.html



1.4   Border Checkpoint Ilinden: Approach from Greece

 

 

      For bicyclists coming from Greece:

 

      Reach of first Prosotsani - from Drama, or Serres, or Thessalonici.

 

 

 

      Just after Prosotsani (alt. 130 m.) it begins a long climbing (just after the crest you see on the photo) up to Granitis (alt. 815 m). It is very sunny and dry place - the photos in right illustrate it very well, so do not climb it in sunny afternoons and always have water with you.

 

 

 

 

      Hotel, restaurant, water can be found out in Granitis located on the highest point of the road.

 



      

      2. From Haskovo (Plovdiv) to Chernoochene to Kardzhali

  

 

      What about Point 2 I can say the roads are in very nice conditions and all that area is very nice countryside.

     

      Unfortunately the last several years the traffic on the roads E 85 and N5 toward Border Checkpoint Makaza - Thermes was increased considerably especially in the vacancy months July and August, when tourists from Romania are visiting the Aegean. So, in my next description I will give a lot of opportunities to avoid these roads.

 

 

      If you pedal the back direction, have in mind that immediately north after Kardzhali (toward Chernoochene) there is 7 - 8 kilometers long hill (road 5), the slope here is 12%, it is quite tough to pedal it in the hot summer afternoons.

 

 

Content of the point:

 

2. 1   From Stara Zagora to Haskovo;

2. 2   From Haskovo to Kardzhali;

2. 3   From Plovdiv to Kardzhali.

2. 4   From Kardzhali to Border Ckeckpoints

          Makaza - Thermes & Zlatograd - Nimfea

 

     For a comparison, next are the road profile charts for routes:

 

     - From Haskovo toward Border Checkpoint Makaza - Thermes to Komotini (in Greece), and

 

     - From Haskovo to Border Checkpoint Zlatograd - Nimfea to Xanti (in Greece)

Road profile from Haskovo to Border Checkpoint Makaza:

Road profile  from Border Checkpoint Makaza to Komotini (in Greece):

Road profile from Haskovo to Border Checkpoint Zlatograd:

Road profile  from Border Checkpoint Zlatograd to Xanthi (in Greece):


 

 

 

 

Sector III. C - 1

 

2. 1   From Stara Zagora to Haskovo

 

 

      The most important in this sector is to avoid road E85, where the traffic is intensive.

     

      From Stara Zagora to Elenino to Egrek to Kaloyanovets to Lovets to Borovo to Kozarevets to Dimitrievo to Dtransko to Zdravets to Bryast to Dimitrovgrad yo Haskovo.

     

 

 

 

      The route here is: the road is in the Thracian Field away from bigger towns. Here roads are "III and IV road class" according to our notification, so roads here are not numbered.

      You will travel several little villages, I remember food was available in Kaloyanovets. The traffic here is zero, you will see only several cars and some agricultural machines.

      The signing of the road is not nice, so GPS device would may be useful from time to time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

      The road profile chart shows that the route is easy to be pedalled in the both directions. I do recommend this route.

     The biggest city in this part of the country is Stara Zagora. Overnight accommodation in Stara Zagora is not a problem.

 

      Links with information about the city is here:

https://bulgariatravel.org/en/stara-zagora/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stara_Zagora

      The next pictures are taken on the 30th of March 2022. It was the last day of my 10 day beautiful tour in     

very nice early spring. Elenovo is a little  if left from the road. it is still a suburb of Stara Zagora. Food is available here.

The road after Borovo is in not nice condition, but for pedalling is very nice.
The entire area is very nice to camp in the wilderness.  
Next several photos illustrate the same area - from Stara Zagora to Borovo, two months later.

      Next town is Dimitrovgrad. A little information for it:

      http://www.visitbulgaria.net/en/dimitrovgrad/dimitrovgrad.html

 

       Overnight accommodation here is not a problem. The traffic from Dimitrovgrad toward Haskovo is more intensive, but the road here is wide enough, I think it is save to pedal here.


Sector III. C - 2

2. 2   From Haskovo to Kardzhali

 

      For the distance from Haskovo to Kardzali I will suggest the next three routes:

- route a:

      It is the main road N5: the distance from Haskovo to Kardzali is approx 50 km:

      From Haskovo to Konush to Kozlets to Chernoochene to Kableshkovo to Kardzali.

      As the road N5 is intensive some days, you can follow some of the next two routes:

- route b:

      For this route further I will show 2 alternatives:

            - route b, 1: the first one is only the road 5009:

      From Haskovo to Konush to Kozlets (road N5) to Zornitsa to Beli Plast to Stremtsi to Rani List to Skarbino (road N5009) to Kardzhali;

      - route b, 2: the second one - including road 5071.

      From Haskovo to Konush to Kozlets (road N5) to Zornitsa to Beli Plast to Stremtsi (road N5009) to Gorna Krepost to Murgovo to Chiflik (road N5071) to Zhinzifovo to Sedlovina to Kardzhali (road N507) .

- route c : (road N507)

      From Haskovo to Manastir  to Gorno Voevodino  to Maslinovo to Chernyovtsi  to Madrets to Zhinzifovo to Sedlovina to Kardzali.

      Haskovo is relatively big town, overnight accommodation is possible in it. Information for it can be seen here:

      http://www.guide-bulgaria.com/SC/haskovo/haskovo/haskovo

      On the map above I point a spot Mineralni Bani located 10 - 12 kilometers west from Haskovo, it is a nice local spa resort with very nice thermal water:

      http://www.guide-bulgaria.com/SC/haskovo/mineralni_bani/mineralni_bani

Sector III. C - 2,  route a:

      It is the main road N5: from Haskovo to Kardzali: As a mountain area, the route includes a lot of ascending and descending.

      From Haskovo to Konush to Kozlets to Chernoochene to Kableshkovo to Kardzali.

      The road from Haskovo to Kozlets  is relatively easy for pedalling. Food is available in both villages Konush and Kozlets.

     The distance between Kozlets and Pchelarovo I travelled only by a car. The next several kilometers

  between Chernoochene and Kardzhali include three not long hills of 10 - 12 % slopes.

      If you travel in the back direction - from south to north, after Kardzali you will pedal up six very difficult kilometers.

  Some days the traffic here is intensive, never mind the road is closed for trucks heavier than 3,5 metric tons.

Sector III. C - 2,  route b:

       To avoid the road N5 I will give two opportunities (I do not point it to the map above, but it is easy to be recognised):

- the first one is only the road 5009;

- the second one - including road 5071. 

            - route b, 1:

      From Haskovo to Kozlets to Beli Plast to Stremtsi to Rani List to Skarbino to Kardzhali (road 5009).

      After Kozlets you will pedal a road without any traffic. An interesting spot here on the highest point north from

 

Beli Plast is the place with the stone mushrooms near Beli Plast: http://www.bulgariatravel.org/article/details/401

      Next to Stremtsi is placed a little vacancy village "Vili Perpereshka Reka"; water, restaurant and

 

overnight accommodation are available there:

      http://www.visitbulgaria.net/en/kardjali/villas/perpershka

_river_villas.html

      - route b, 2: this route is little longer comparing with the previous one, but it is much more scenic:

     From Haskovo (road 5009) to Konush to Kozlets to Zornitsa to Beli Plast to Stremtsi (road 5071) to Gorna Krepost to Murgovo to Chiflik (road 507) to Zhinzifovo to Sedlovina to Kardzhali.

      If you pedal in the back direction, I would recommend this route to avoid the hard climbing north from Kardzhali.

      A place you can visit here (if you love rock remains)

 

is Perperikon. Information for it:

http://www.bulgariatravel.org/article/details/311

http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/perperikon

      Pictures from the megaliths in Perperikon:

Sector III. C - 2, route c:

      From Haskovo (roads 5, after 507) to Manastir  to Knizhovnik to Dolno Voevodino to Gorno Voevodino to Maslinovo to Most  to Madrets to Chiflik to Zhinzifovo to Sedlovina to Kardzali.

      It is the last opportunity I would suggest in this sector.

      The distance here is almost the same as of the other routes, but here there is not any traffic. Never mind that just after Haskovo you will see a sign directing heavier

  tracks to follow this road, you will not see here such a tracks. Especially after Manastir, you will be alone on the road.

      Food and water supply here is not a problem. Several kilometers south from Manastir there are 2 restaurants near the road.

      A lot of information for Kardzhali can be seen here: http://www.visitbulgaria.net/en/kardjali/kardjali.html

 

http://www.bulgariatravel.org/article/details/361

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kardzhali

      Several photos from Kardzali.


 

Sector III. C - 3

 

 

2. 3    From Plovdiv to Kardzhali

      From Plovdiv (road 86) to Asenovgrad (road 58) to Cherven to Novakovo to Komuniga to Chernoochene  (road 5) to Kardzhali.

 

      This route is nice to enter in Rodopi Mountain starting from Plovdiv. The road is in a nice condition, pedalling is save. There is springs of drinkable water and food.

 

      The road profile chart shows that the pedalling is in the mountain area except several kilometers in Thracian Field between Plovdiv and Asenovgrad.

     

      For more detail description, I will part it in two sectors.

Sector III. C - 3. a

      The route in this sector is:

      From Plovdiv to Asenovgrad (road 86) to Cherven to Dolnoslav to Topolovo to Novakovo (road 58).

      The road segment from Plovdiv to Asenovgrad is still in Thracian Field. the traffic here is quite intensive but the road is after reconstruction, it is wide enough, pedalling here is save.

      The climbing to Novakovo is almost 300 m., for this distance is not so much. A steeper hill is just after Asenovgrad.

      The last time I pedalled this route was a June Sunday afternoon 2019, the traffic between Cherven and Asenovgrad was intensive.

      Several words for Plovdiv: the city is a popular tourist destination in Bulgaria, so, never mind the intensive traffic in the town, many times I have seen bicyclists visiting it.

      In Internet there is a lot of information concerning Plovdiv, so I will not write here about it.

      Detail information for Plovdiv can be seen here:

 

       https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plovdiv

       http://www.visitbulgaria.net/en/plovdiv/plovdiv.html

       https://bulgariatravel.org/en/plovdiv-city/

 

 

      On the map I have shown the way to cross the city of Plovdiv by the green dashed line in order to avoid the tunnel under the hill with the Ancient Amphitheatre on it, although it is not a problem to pedal it.

 

 

     I have pointed the walking area in the Plovdiv city (the next several pictures) beginning with the walking bridge on Maritsa River by the dashed green line use it. (DO NOT PEDAL THERE !!!,  - it is forbidden, only walk !!!)

The History Hill of the Old Town and the Ancient Amphitheatre on it.
      The traffic from Plovdiv to Asenovgrad is quite intensive, but the road is after reconstruction, it is wide, I think it is save.

       The road toward Kardzhali in Asenovgrad is signed well, if you follow signs toward Kardzhali, you will not enter in the town center. Overnight accommodation in Asenovgrad is available.

 

      Information for Asenovgrad:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asenovgrad

http://www.visitbulgaria.net/en/assenovgrad/assenovgrad.html

      Several photos from Asenovgrad

    Above the town are remains of a mediaeval fortress:

http://www.bulgariatravel.org/article/details/19

     The church you see on the second photo is used as a

  label of exceptionally aromatic local type red wine named "M" (Mavrud). Try it, you will not regret, you can find it almost everywhere for 3-4 EURO/bottle.

      Leaving Asenovgrad you will start climbing Rodopi Mountain. The first village after Asenovgrad is Cherven:

http://www.guide-bulgaria.com/SC/plovdiv/asenovgrad/cherven

  where a huge tree can be seen, the overnight accommodation is available here as well - there is a big hotel placed just near the road.
In the next villages food is available except Novakovo. The entire area after Asenovgrad is nice to camp in the wilderness.
 

 

Sector III. C - 3. b

 

      It is extremely pleasant mountain area. The climbing after Novakovo is not hard and if you are earlier there, you will climb on the shade.

      The route is: more intensive traffic is available on the road N5.

      From Novakovo to Komuniga to Chernoochene to Kableshkovo to Zheleznik to Kardzhali.

Eight - nine kilometers after Novakovo there is a restaurant and cool water, a nice spot to relax.

Several kilometers further (again 7 - 8 km, again there is a restaurant and water.
The country side toward Komuniga and the main road N5

      The main road N5 is with more intensive traffic, but it is wide enough and I think it is save. Unfortunately no any shade here and summer afternoons are a little tough for

  pedalling here. After Kableshkovo there two not so long hills, where the slope is 10 %.

      Just before Kardzhali there is a steep 7 - 8 km descending. The slope here is even 12 %, and the

  pedalling of the back direction will be not easy, do it only early in the morning.

Sector III. C - 4

2. 4  From Kardzhali to Border Checkpoint Makaza - Thermes

      In the tourist season, July and especially August,  there are days when the road N5 is very busy. On the Border itself there is a tunnel as well, it is because

  I do not recommend this destination. Photos below are the Border Checkpoint Makaza, when tourists from Romania are visiting Greece Mediterranean.

      Route a. 1: It is the main road 5 from Kardzhali toward  Border Checkpoint Makaza - Thermes. As it can be seen from the road profile chart, all the area is extremely nice to be explored by a bicycle.

      It is a new built road in very nice condition. It is along Varbitsa River. I pedalled it only from Kardzali to the crossroad to Podkova. Never mind I did it August,   this day the road was without traffic. There are water springs and blackberry along the road.

      To avoid the traffic, as an alternative, you can use

      Route a. 2:

      Form Kardzhali to Momchilgrad to Progres to Podkova to Shoptsi to Domiste to Border Checkpoint Makaza.

     Comparing with the route a. 1, here you have to climb a lot. The great advantage is, that there is not any traffic   here, the countryside is beautiful. Leaving Kardzhali, be sure to find the road toward Momchilgrad.

      Very little information for Momchilgrad is in the next link; overnight accommodation in it is possible, you can find a hotel leaving the town toward Podkova

 

(the last photo below).

http://www.guide-bulgaria.com/SC/kardjali/momchilgrad/momchilgrad

      Several photos from the little town:

      Leaving Progres, you will climb a lot. The hill is not steep, there are a lot of water springs, but water is not

  so nice here. The area is beautiful to be explored May - June, then everything there is still green.

 

 

 

 

Sector III. C - 4

 

2. 4  From Kardzhali to Border Checkpoint Zlatograd - Nimfea

 

 

 

 

      Route b:

      The route is:

      From Kardzhali to Valkovich to Dzhebel to Rogozche to Samodiva to Hadzhiisko to Dryanove Glava to Benkovski to Dobromirtsi to Zlatograd to Border Checkpoint Zlatograd.

 

 

      It is extremely pleasant for exploring route. Along the road there are springs of water, no any traffic here. In villages there are food shops. The blackberries are everywhere along the road.

      Dzhebel is a little town, Google tells me there is a possibility for overnight accommodation in it, some information for Dzhebel Municipality information to put it here;

      http://www.guide-bulgaria.com/SC/kardjali/djebel

      Leaving the little town you will cross very nice clean river - a perfect place to relax near it and charge with

  energy because further there are 2-3 nice hills. On the top of the first one there is beautiful cool fresh water.
The entire area is very appropriate for a camp in the wilderness.

      . . . but if you do not love ants, beetles and insects at all, you can go in Benkovski. Before it and after it there are 2 places to relax. The first one is next to the road, for the second one there is a label.

An interesting rock formation of ancient volcanic rocks it follows further. There you can see so called "crocodile".
The pedalling from Zlatograd to Podkova is a real pleasure. The road is next to Varbitsa River almost all the distance.

      Zlatograd is a tourist place, but it is not overcrowded by tourists. There is a nice ethno complex in the town. Information about Zlatograd is available here:

 

http://www.bulgariatravel.org/article/details/56

http://www.visitbulgaria.net/en/zlatograd/zlatograd.html

      The Border Checkpoint is 5 kilometers up the mountain above the town.

     Each year in the early September it the town there is a festival. If toy love a crowd, noise, BBQ, it is your place.



Border Checkpoint Ivailovgrad.

      This checkpoint would be appropriate to be used, if some one leave Bulgaria crossing Rodopi Mountain from west to east. Information about this area (East Rodope Mountain) is available in:

      Chapter VII. Nice routes in mountains: RODOPE Mountains


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