III.  Crossing Bulgaria from north (Romanian border) to south

(Greece&Turkey borders)

         When the bicyclists begin planning a tour including crossing Bulgaria north south or south north, my suggestion is to follow the next algorithm:

-             - Define the point of entering in the country.

-             - Define the point of leaving the country.

-             - Choose the pass, where to cross Balkan I have given detailed information about Balkan passes in the chapter: I. Passes in Balkan.


 

Points where Romania Bulgaria border can be crossed (from west to east) are:

        1. Kalafat Vidin: bridge.

        2. Bechet Oryahovo: ferry.

        3. Turnu Magurele Nikopol: ferry.

        4. Zimnicea Svistov: ferry.

        5. Giurgiu Ruse: bridge.

        6. Oltenita - Tutrakan: ferry (still a project only).

        7. Calarashi Silistra: ferry.

        7.Constanta Silistra (Border Checkpoint Silistra).

        8. Negru Voda Kardam (Border Checkpoint Iovkovo).

        9. Mangalia Durankulak (Border Checkpoint Durankulak).

Points where Bulgaria Greece border can be crossed (from west to east) are:

10. Border Checkpoint Kulata (E79: Sofia Thessaloniki).

11. Border Checkpoint Ilinden (road N19: Gotse Delchev Drama).

  -   Border Checkpoint Zlatograd.

12. Border Checkpoint Makaza (road N5: Momchilgrad Komotini).

13. Border Checkpoint Ivailovgrad.

14. Border Checkpoint Kapitan Petko Voivoda (Svilengrad) - Ormenio (E85).

 

      Border Checkpoint Zlatograd: I do not number it on the map, I have never heard to be used by anybody, I know 

about it only that it is forbidden for trucks heavier than 3,5 metric tons, it means, it is very nice place to cross

Bulgaria/Greece border by bike.

Points where Bulgaria Turkey border can be crossed (from west to east) are:

15. Border Checkpoint Kapitan Andreevo (Svilengrad Edirne, E80, A4).

16. Border Checkpoint Lesovo (road N7: Elhovo Edirne).

17. Border Checkpoint Malko Tarnovo:

            - Road E87: Burgas - Malko Tarnovo - Kirklareli,  or 

            - Road N99: Burgas - Tsarevo Malko Tarnovo - Kirklareli.


          The logic of my next description will be a little different than my description concerning the crossing Bulgaria from west to east. There are a lot of variants available for crossing BG north south so further of first I will give the last part of routes to the Greece and Turkey borders (and numbering of the points will begin with point 10):

 

-              10. Sofia - Border Checkpoint Kulata (E79: Sofia Thessaloniki).

-              11. Pazardzhik - Border Checkpoint Ilinden (road N84 and road N19: Gotse Delchev Alexandrupolis).

-              12. Haskovo - Border Checkpoint Makaza (road N5 Momchilgrad Komotini).

               13. Nova Zagora - Border Checkpoint Kapitan Andreevo, or Border Checkpoint Kapitan Petko Voivoda.

               14. Yambol - Border Checkpoint Lesovo (road N7: Yambol - Elhovo - Edirne).

               15. Burgas - Border Checkpoint Malko Tarnovo (road N 9) and Burgas - Tsarevo - Malko Tarnovo (road N 99).

 

         Next, I will connect Sofia, Pazardzhik (and Plovdiv), Haskovo, Nova Zagora, Yambol and Burgas  with the Border Checkpoints on the Romania/Bulgaria border (points 1 - 9 respectively).

 

         More about routes concerning  Border Checkpoint Kapitan Andreevo (at Bulgaria/Turkey border) can be seen in Chapter II. Crossing Bulgaria from west to east (from Serbia to Turkey & Greece)


     

10. Sofia - Border Checkpoint Kulata

 

      The distance Sofia - Border Checkpoint Kulata is approx 210 km. I will divide this route into 3 segments:

 

      10. 1      Sector III.10 - A: Sofia - Simitli:

      Fortunately the motorway A3 Sofia Blagorvgrad (and the last 12 km to the BG/Greece border is in exploitation, so it is possible to pedal Sofia Pernik - Dupnitsa - Blagoevgrad (- Simitli) along the old road next to it - it was the old numbered road E79, now I see it is numbered as N1.

 

      10. 2      Blagoevgrad - Simitli - Kresna:

      The road segment Blagoevgrad - Simitli Kresna is a spectacular gorge, but it is one of the most dangerous segments in Bulgaria, Almost each second day here there is a heavy accident. There is one very dangerous tunnel in the gorge no any visibility in it, the road in it is narrow. DO NOT BICYCLE IN IT !!!

 

       If you explore this area, I would suggest you to take on the train in the segment Blagoevgrad (or Simitli) - Kresna. There are at least 4 trains a day in each directions (schedule is valid to Dec., 12, 2016):

 

        Blagoevgrad                       Simitli                          Kresna

                10.15                               10.34                            11.06

                14.24                               14.41                            15.10

                17.55                               18.14                            18. 50

                19.27                               19.43                             20.09

  

              Kresna                            Simitli                     Blagoevgrad

                07.45                               08.22                             08.41  

                15.12                               15.41                             16.00

                17.48                               18.17                             18.35

                20.12                                20.41                            21.00

 

 

      10. 3      Sector III.10 - B: Kresna -  Border Checkpoint Kulata.

 

      Some details about these 3 points now.


      10. 1      Sector III.10 - A

 

      For the route Sofia - Pernik I will not write here - details can be seen in:

Chapter IX.  How to leave Sofia by bicycle, Point 5.Toward/from Pernik (Border checkpoint Kulata).

 

      

 

        On the left map I have shown 3 possible routes between Radomir and Simitli.

 

 

      Route a:

      Radomir - Dren Dupnitsa - Blagoevgrad Simitli.

 

 

      Route b:

       Radomir - Konyavo Nevestino - Boboshevo - Blagoevgrad Simitli.

 

 

      Route c:

      Radomir - Bobovdol Dupnitsa - Blagoevgrad Simitli.

     

 


      Information for Pernik can be seen here:

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

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

 

      Several words for my native town Pernik - it is known with the mask festival. Each year in the end of January thousands of masked people rampage in the center of the town for 2 - 3 days. Last several years the festival is international, so the town is just as a loony bin.

      http://www.studyenglishtoday.net/kukeri-festival-pernik.html

      Route a:

 

      Radomir - Dren Dupnitsa - Blagoevgrad Simitli.

 

      As it can be seen from the road profile chart below, here there is not a significant slopes, I can say it is the easiest way to pedal this distance. The longest hill is just after Dupnitsa toward Sofia.

      The traffic Pernik - Radomir is relatively intensive, but the road is wide, it is nice for bicycling. The road in Radomir is signed well, no problem to find the road you choose to pedal.

      Information about Radomir:       https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radomir_(town)

      Next road segment: Radomir - Dren - Dupnitsa is very pleasant for pedaling in both directions. Going to the south, before you is Rila Mountains, the area is especially scenery in the late spring, when the Mountain is still covered by snow. Here you will cross several times the motor road A3. A restaurant is available close to Dren.

     

      When you come to Dupnitsa it is important to leave road N1 which surround the town. The crossroad for leaving road 1 is a little complicated (the last photo above), but is is signed well. As I have pointed on the left map, there is a dangerous tunnel, it would be better to avoid it, never mind the road is wide enough.

      Entering in the town , you can enjoy of a coffee place or some restaurant.

      If you are pedaling in the back direction, follow signs to the town center.

      Information about Dupnitsa:

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

 

      Further to Blagoevgrad the road is nice, no any traffic along it, in each village along this road segment there is a little restaurant.


      Route b (sector III. 10 - A):

       Radomir - Konyavo Nevestino - Boboshevo - Blagoevgrad Simitli.

      As an alternative of the route a, I can recommend another one : route b,  it is very scenery road, because it includes climbing of Konyvska Mountain, and a beautiful gorge of Struma River betwen Nevestino and Boboshevo.  

   

      The traffic between Radomir and Konyovo is not intensive, after Konyovo there is not any traffic. I would recommend it to stronger bicyclists, especially if they are pedaling the back direction - toward Sofia: beginning from Nevestino the hill on the southern side of the mountain is longer and especially after Konyovo it is steeper, as it can be seen on the road profile chart below. It is one of no many road segments in Bulgaria, where the slope is 12 - 13%. It would be better to avoid climbing here in the sunny summer afternoons.

 

       There is a lot of water springs along this route, I will mention only the best water spring, you will see it a mile to Konyavski Pass from the south mountain side. On the Pass there is a restaurant as well.

 

      Food and restaurants can be found out in each village between Izvor and Nevestino along the road.

 

      After Radomir the road is easy for pedaling, there is a restaurant and water near Izvor and 2 kilometers further. On the top of the Pass there is a restaurant as well (the 3rd photo below).

       Pedaling down the mountain, you have to be careful to turn left toward Konyovo. The slope here is big and your velocity will be 50 - 60 km/hour, it is easy to miss it. Unfortunately most of the signs to little villages are written in Cyrillic here, so simply DO NOT follow the road N6 toward Kyustendil (the last photo below). 

      Again the signs are written in Cyrillic - follow road N 621.  The most pleasant roast segment here is the one after Nevestino toward Boboshevo along Struma River. There you will see a little chapel - you can lit a candle in it and  pray to local Gods to give you an Angel to fly next to you and keep you to Bulgaria/Greece border.


       Route c (sector III. 10 - A):

 

      The last opportunity in this region is the route:

 

      Radomir - Bobovdol Dupnitsa - Blagoevgrad Simitli.

 

      Climbing here is not so much as in the previous route, no any traffic here, the road near Bobovdol was not in a nice conditions several years ago I toured this route.

 


      10. 2      Blagoevgrad - Simitli - Kresna:

      The road segment Simitli Kresna is a spectacular gorge (segment III. 10 - A), but it is one of the most dangerous segments, Almost each second day here there is a heavy accident. There is one very dangerous tunnel in the gorge no any visibility in it, the road in it is narrow. DO NOT BICYCLE IN IT !!!

        So, entering in Blagoevgrad it is easy to find out the line station and take the train toward Simitli. Again I will give the train schedule:

         Blagoevgrad                       Simitli                          Kresna

                10.15                               10.34                            11.06

                14.24                               14.41                            15.10

                17.55                               18.14                            18. 50

                19.27                               19.43                             20.09

  

              Kresna                            Simitli                     Blagoevgrad

                07.45                               08.22                             08.41  

                15.12                               15.41                             16.00

                17.48                               18.17                             18.35

                20.12                                20.41                            21.00

      Usually in the trains (in both directions there are no more than 20 passengers, so you will have not any problems to load your bicycle.

      You can take on the train in Simitli as well. Between Blagoevgrad and Simitli there is a local road next to the Road N 1, but in Blagoevgrad it would be a little hard to find it out.

      Information about Blagoevgrad:    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blagoevgrad

      Information about Simitli:     https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simitli

      If you pedal South - North, this local road it easy to be find in Simitli, so in this direction you can take on the train in Kresna (the first photo in left) and take off the train in Simitly (the next one).


      10. 3      Sector III. 10 - B: Kresna -  Border Checkpoint Kulata.

      The route here is:

      Kresna - Gorna Krushitsa - Kamenitsa - Mikrevo - Drakata - Valkovo - Struma - Ribmik - Border Checkpoint Kulata.

 

      Information about Kresna:    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kresna

      The road segment Kresna - Ribnik It is very pleasant for pedaling in both directions. In each small village there are food shops, There are a lot of water springs between villages. Pedaling down Struma River, at your right is Ograjden Mountain, at your left - Pirin mountain. The view is very impressive.

      When you take off the train, you have to be a little back to find a bridge over Struma River - look for Gorna Krushitsa. After Gorna Krushitsa (the 4th pic below) the road is in not nice conditions, but it is only 1/4 mile (there will be no mud there if it is raining), after it will be again asphalt. Pedaling here down to Ribnik you will see no more than 10 cars.

      I remember that pedaling back to Kresna from the Line station, you have to follow signs for a hotel (the first photo below) - they will lead you along the road you need - just behind the hotel is the bridge over Struma River.

      Reaching Ribnik, you have to turn left (the last pic above where is the sign to Sofia) and go on the Motor road to the BG/Greece Border Checkpoint Kulata. There is a possibility to avoid it - pedaling to Petrich,but I am not sure if it would be a nice decision, because there is a traffic toward Petrich. Go there if you need an overnight accommodation before leaving/ after enter in Bulgaria.

      Next opportunity is purposed for more adventurer explorers.

      Close to Ribnik is a place named Rupite (signed well along the road), it is formed like a park, there is a church there. A part of her life there spent one well known and popular Bulgarian clairvoyant, in fact she built the church.

      According to the geologist the place itself presents remains of ancient volcano crater. The only thing remembering this volcano is a hot 75 deg of C thermal spring. It forms a lot of pools of water & mud and people (me too) love to wallow in it for hours.

      You can choose a pool having appropriate temperature for you - as further from the spring, as cooler. Have only in mind there are leeches in cooler pools - I saw several. I can say they did not pay any attention on me maybe because of too much food for them in the pools, or they are addicted to rhesus factor & blood group of natives.

      According other specialists the place is special, it is an energy place.  After wallowing in the pool I camped next to this place. Really in the morning I felt recharged, I only am not sure if it was because of the special place, or because of my little bottle of whiskey I took before sleeping.

      Information about Rupite:

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

      http://www.bulgaria-guide.com/guide/Rupite/202816/

      http://www.twoheads.info/rupite/

      http://www.bulgariatravel.org/article/details/372

      But my idea is another. If you move a little further toward train line (just behind me next to the hill) you will see a line bridge. Cross the river below it - it is easy and go further along the off road next to the train line.

      After go up to the train line, there is the second bridge over Struma River. There is a track for walkers, use it to cross the river. After 1/4 mile along the railway, you will be in General Todorov. Pedaling ahead, you will be on the Motor road toward Border Checkpoint Kulata very soon.

      After General Todorov, you will see the sign, which will direct you toward Border Checkpoint Kulata. Well, that is all for this route. In the back direction my suggestion is to follow route a on the map in the beginning of this point.

Interesting places in this area

      If you are touring in this region it would be interesting to visit the next 3 places:

      10. 1 Rilski Monastery (the most popular touristy destination in BG among foreigners):  

Look in the Chapter: VII.  NICE ROUTES IN MOUNTAINS: RILA Mountains, point 5. Rilski Monastery and the Fish's Lakes;

      10. 2 Melnik (amazing place! DO NOT MISS IT !!!):  

Look in the Chapter: VII.  NICE ROUTES IN MOUNTAINS: Pirin Mountains, point 4. Melnik;

       10. 3 Sandanski (very nice spa center):  

Look in the Chapter: VII.  NICE ROUTES IN MOUTAINS: Pirin Mountains, point 3. Sandanski.


      11. Pazardzhik (Pazardjik in another maps) - Gotse Delchev - Border Checkpoint Ilinden (Road N 84 and Road N19) Drama (Road N57) 

 

      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. Comparing with the previous described route, here there is climbing in the mountains.

       For the route Sofia Pazardzhik see: Chapter II. Cross BG  west east, Point 7. Sofia Plovdiv Edirne.

      For accommodation in Pazardzhik look in the  Chapter VII.  Nice routes in mountains: RODOPE Mountains.

      It can be mentioned, Velingrad is very known spa center - 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 is:

Pazardzhik Bratanitsa - Varvara Velingrad Yundola - Avramovo - Yakoruda (road N84) Eleshnitsa Gotse Delchev Border Checkpoint Ilinden (road N19).

    

       Another very nice opportunity to reach Border Checkpoint Ilinden from Pazardzhik is given in the Chapter VII. Nice routes in mountains, 1. Rodopi mountain: Pazardzhik - Batak - Dospat (road N37) - Satovcha - Gotse Delchev (road N19).


      11. 1. Segment III. 11 - A:      Pazadjik - Yundola - Avramovo

 

      Here I will point 2 possible routes:

      Route a:

      Pazardzhik - Zvanichevo - Lozen - Belovo - Yundola - Avramovo Line Station.

      After Belovo it follows 26 kilometers permanent climbing up to Yundola along very nice river gorge. Bring food and water with you up the mountain. There is not traffic here.

      Route b:

      Pazardzhik Mokriste - Lyahovo - Bratanitsa - Vetren Dol - Varvara Kostandovo Line - Station - Velingrad Yundola - Avramovo Line Station.

      The route of this segment can be divided in two parts:

      11. 1. 1 Pazardjik (alt. 210 m.) Velingrad (alt. 750 m).  To avoid traffic along road N8, it would be better to reach toward Mokriste immediately after Pazardzhik. The road segment Varvara - Kostandovo Line Station (next 3 photos) is a beautiful gorge, unfortunately traffic here is quite intensive, the climbing up the mountain is not pleasant definitely, next I will suggest how to avoid it.

      If you tour the back route, this road segment is nice for bicycling. Your speed will be almost the same as the one of the trucks.

      Velingrad 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

      It is 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

      11. 1. 2 Velingrad (alt. 750 m.) Yundola (alt. 1380 m. - the pics below).

      The climbing here is considerable (approx 18 km.), have in mind it is a sunny place. Water is available higher in the mountain near the crossroad toward Sveta 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

      (Look in Chapter VII.  NICE ROUTES IN MOUTAINS: RILA Mountains, Sector VII. B, Point 3. Belmeken Dam for another route to reach Undola - it is very exciting route for bicyclists loving the hard climbing)

    11. 1. 3  Varvara, Vetren Dol and the narrow - gage train

 

     

 

       Both Varvara and Vetren Dol can be used as a bases 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.

         There are another possibilities for overnight accommodation in Varvara or Vetren dol (the map above). Several words about Varvara can be seen here:

      http://bgtourinfo.net/paz.html

      The left photo - 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.

      Never mind the scenery in the entire  area is perfect, as I have mention above, the traffic in the road segment Varvara - Velrngrad is more intensive and to climbing the gorge would be not a pleasure, my suggestion is to take on the narrow-gage train serving the line Septemvri Dobriniste. It would be much easier to take on the train in Varvara, rather than Septemvri (the first line station). The traveling by this train is spectacular; I think no many trains like this one in the world:

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

      As it can be seen on the map above, the difference in altitudes of Varvara and Yundola is more than 1100 m., it is another serious reason to take on the narrow - gage train serving the line Septemvri - Velingrad - Avramovo - Dobriniste.

      Septemvri               Varvara              Velingrad            Avramovo

          08.32                      08.42                 10.01                   11.07

          13.10                      13.21                 14.48                   15.52

In Varvara (pics. 1, 2, 3 down) is easier to take on the narrow gage train rather than Septemvri. 

      No problem to load 2 bikes in one train cart (pic. 6), buy only an additional ticket for it - 1 EURO/bicycle. If the bicyclist group consists more person - distribute bicycles in different carts.

      The train can be taken off in Velingrad, or in the highest point along this route Avramovo line station - the pics below. In the second case, the climbing Velingrad Yundola will be avoided.

          Several retro steam engines still can be seen at the Bansko Line Station. 1963 these steam engines were replaced with diesel ones which are still in exploatation.

      Alternatives:

 

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

      Pazardjik Glavinitsa - Debrastica  St. Konstantin Resort - Batak Dam Tsigov Chark Resort - Rakitovo  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:

      Pazardjik Glavinitsa - Radilovo Pestera (road 37) - Batak Tsigov Chark resort - Rakitovo (road 376) Velingrad,

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

 

 

      Route a

      3 - 4 km after Debrastitsa there is a nice spot - hotel and restaurant. 5 km further again there is such a spot, but it is not so nice to stay for a night there.

      Route b

      Here the climbing is not so hard as route a. Overnight accommodation is possible in Pestera and Batak. Information about Pestera and Batak:

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

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

      Next to Pestera are remains of an ancient fortress Peristera and small museum.

      St. Konstantin is a local resort, there is a nice hotel and restaurant in the resort.

      Tsigov Chark is a bigger resort located near Batak Dam, comparing with St. Konstantin Resort here are available more hotels and restaurant:

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


     

 

 

 

      11. 2. Segment III. 11 - B: Avramovo - Dobriniste

          The next segment is one of my favorite ones all over BG. Always I have a time, I pedal and camp here in both directions. A perfect area (photos below).

 

        The road is just after reconstruction and it is in very nice conditions. Sometime in the weekends (Sunday afternoon) the traffic is more intensive.

      Sector III. 11 - B. a:

      The route can be elongated a little if you decide to visit Bansko and Dobriniste, do it if you have a time.

 

      My suggestion is to stay and relax in Dobriniste for a day or afternoon (the next 6 photos down). B&B prices as well as  restaurants here are less expensive rather than Bansko, over more here there is a perfect swimming pool of mineral water.

 

      Banya also is a nice place for overnight accommodation, it is also a place with thermal water. I prefer Dobriniste - the swimming pool there is the best.

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

 

       Bansko is a winter skiing resort (photos below). A typical architecture of XIX century can be seen in the old part of the town and it is exciting to have a walk there.

 

            In all that region people are masters of cooking of tasty meet meals.

 

      From Dobriniste and Bansko walks in Pirin mountain can be done, I have mentioned it in the Capter  VII.  Routes in Mountains, 2. Routes in Pirin mountain.

      Information about Dobriniste and Bansko:

      http://www.bulgariatravel.org/article/details/414

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

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


 

      11.3 Sector III. 11 - C:  Dobriniste (Eleshnitsa) - Border Checkpoint Ilinden

 

 

 

 

 

 

       Here is the long Mesta River Gorge:

 

Dobriniste (or Eleshnitsa) - Gospodintsi - Gotse Delchev - Koprivlen - 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.

 

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

 

       OGNYANOVO

      Bicycling along road 19, 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, which is still not overcrowded by tourists.

 

 

       Down are 2 more detailed maps showing the approach toward Ognyanovo:

        - North - south (segment III. 11 - C. a): turn to the left immediately after Gospodintsi, a little more than 8 km is Ognyanovo (the road is well signed);

        - South - North (Greece border - segment III. 11 - C. b):  this spot is 26 km EASY BICYCLING from Border checkpoint Ilinden; a kilometer north after Sadovo head of first toward Hadzhidimovo.

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

      http://www.bulgariatravel.org/article/details/412

 

       A nice place to stay for a night here is hotel Elegance: the relation "price/quality" here is very nice:

       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


      11.4   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. 790 m.). It is very sunny and dry place - the photos down 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.


      12. A. Haskovo - Border checkpoint Makaza (road N5) Komotini (road N23)

 

      12. B. Haskovo - Border Checkpoint Zlatograd - Xantini

  

 

      What about point 12. A, I can say the road is in very nice conditions and all that area is very nice countryside.

Haskovo Kozlets - Pchelarovo   - Vazel - Kardzali Momchilgrad Border checkpoint Makaza (road N5) - Komotini.

      Unfortunately the last several years the traffic on the road N5 has increased considerably especially vacancy months July and August, when tourists from Romania are visiting the Aegean. So, maybe next route Point 12. B is better for pedaling:

Haskovo Kozlets - Pchelarovo   - Vazel - Kardzali - Dzhebel - Zlatograd - Xantini.

 

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

 

 

      I still have not explored routes south from Kardzali.

Road profile Haskovo to Border Checkpoint Makaza:

Road profile  Border Checkpoint Makaza to Komotini:

:

Road Profile Haskovo to Zlatograd to Border Checkpoint Zlatograd to Xantini:

      Information about Zlatograd is available here:

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

 

      Down are several photos from Haskovo, road toward Kardhali and Kardzhali. Information about Haskovo and Kardzhali can be find here:

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

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

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

      http://www.bulgariatravel.org/article/details/469

     As I have mention above, summer months July and August the traffic along road N5 is intensive, so I will give 2 possibilities to avoid it:

      Haskovo - Kolets - Karamantsi - Petlevo - Kardzhali.

      December 2016 I drove this road segment. The road is after renovation, I saw no more than 3-4 cars there. I would recommend it.

 

      Sector III. 12 - A

      Another opportunities to avoid the road N5 are shown on the map in left: 

      Route a:

      Haskovo - Kozlets - Beli Plast - Stremtsi - Kardzhali

      Route b:

      A little longer, but much more scenery is the road;

      Haskovo Kozlets Zornitsa Beli Plast Stremtsi Gorna Krepost Murgovo - Chiflik Zhinzifovo Kardzhali Makaza.

 

      I would recommend some of these routes to avoid the hard climbing north from Kardzhali.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

      Pictures from the megaliths in Perperikon and the stone mushrooms north from Beli Plast (almost on the highest point of the route) can be seen down.

      Two - 3 kilometers north from Stremtsi there is a motel and restaurant.        

      http://www.visitbulgaria.net/en/kardjali/villas/perpershka_river_villas.html

      The megalits in Perperikon:

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

      The stone mushrooms near Beli Plast:

      http://www.bulgariatravel.org/article/details/401

 

      

      The last opportunity in this region is the  route from Plovdiv to Kardzhali is:

 

      Plovdiv Asenovgrad Topolovo   Komuniga - Kardzhali.

 

      Have in mind the traffic near Plovdiv as well as Plovdiv Asenovgrad is quite intensive, although the road is wide. After Asenovgrad there is not any traffic. the area is mountain, I like it.

 

 

 

      Information about Asenovgrad:

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

 


      Border Checkpoint Ivailovgrad. This checkpoint would be appropriate to be used, if some one leave Bulgaria crossing Rodopi Mountain from west to east. I do not know anything about the region next to this border checkpoint.


      13. Nova Zagora - Border Checkpoint Kapitan Petko Voivoda (Svilengrad) - Ormenio (E85).

 

 

 

 

      The route is:

      Nova Zagora - Radnevo - Galabovo - Simeonovgrad - Lyubimets - Svilengrad - Border Checkpoint Kapitan Petko Voyvoda

      I recommend this route. As it can be seen from the road profile chart, the area is very flat and easy for pedaling. Overnight accomodation is possible in Nova Zagora, Radnevo - Galagovo - Svilengrad.

      Information about Nova Zagora and Svilengrad:

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

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

      The area near Galabovo is an industrial zone.

      There is not any traffic along this route. You will see there a lot of leaved fuel station, one of them I used as a hotel in August 2016 waiting for a night storm.


      Border Checkpoint Kapitan Andreevo (Svilengrad Edirne, E80, A4). Do not use this border checkpoint. The traffic here is terrible.


      14. A. Yambol - Border checkpoint Lesovo - toward Turkey (road N7):

 

      Yambol - Elhovo - Border Checkpoint Lesovo - Edirne.

 

       The Border Checkpoint Lesovo is a better place to cross from Bulgaria into Turkey rather than the Border Checkpoint Kapitan Andreevo., although I do not recommend it. The traffic increased considerably the last several years. The road Yambol Elhovo Lesovo along Tundzha river is in very nice conditions. The area is almost flat (the photos below).

      Information for Yambol and Elhovo (Overnight acommodation is possible in both towns):

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

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

 

 

      14. B. Yambol - Border Checkpoint Kapitan Petko Voyvoda - toward Greece (and Turkey as well):

      Towards Greece, from Yambol can be used Border Checkpoint Kapitan Petko Voyvoda (I recommend it instead the previous route, although it is longer and more climbing is available):

      Yambol - Roza - General Inzovo - Golyam Manastir - Topolovgrad - Balgarska Polyana - Izvorovo - Yerusalimovo - Lyubimets - Border Checkpoint Kapitan Petko Voyvoda.

      Information about Topolovgrad (Possible overnight acommodation in it):

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

 

      Next 3 photos are in the region near Golyam Manastir.


      15. Burgas - Border Checkpoint Malko Tarnovo (road E87: Burgas - Malko Tarnovo - Kirklareli)

 

       As mentioned previously, the border checkpoint at Malko Tarnovo  is a better place to cross Bulgaria-Turkey border rather than border checkpoint at Kapitan Andreevo, or Lesovo. I have pedaled only segments of this route, but I know that here the traffic is negligible.

 

 

      The route a:

      Border checkpoint Malko Tarnovo -Malko Tarnovo - Zvezdets - Krushovets - Marinka -  Burgas.

      The area around Strandzha Mountain is not a very popular area with locals so it can be rather quiet and isolated.

 

 

      The route b:

      A nice alternative route here is the road between Tsarevo and Malko Tarnovo - route b on the map (road 99):     

Border checkpoint Malko Tarnovo -Malko Tarnovo - Gramatikovo - Balgari - Tsarevo - Burgas.

 

      Make note: The traffic between Burgas and Primorsko in the touristy season can be very busy as can the road segment between Primorsko and  Sozopol. For details look also in:

- Chapter IV. Bicycling along Black sea.

- Chapter VI. Routes: A. Sofia - Burgas,  Sector V. 2 - B. 4 

      Most of this area is Strahdzha Nature Park. It is the largest protected area on the territory of Bulgaria that stretches over 1161 sq km. It was declared a protected area by virtue of Ordinance No. RD350 of 14 July 2000. It is located in the southeastern part of country, its southern border coincides with the Bulgarian sovereign border with Turkey, and it spreads as far as the Black Sea Coast to the east. The Nature Park lies on the territory of Strandzha Mountain which spreads in both Bulgaria and Turkey. More information for it can be seen here:

      http://www.bulgariatravel.org/article/details/95

 

      Information for Malko Tarnovo:

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

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

 

      Information for Malko Tarnovo, Strandzha Mountain, saved zones, accommodation:

      http://www.strandja.bg/en/info/57-Malko-Tarnovo-en

      http://www.discoverstrandja.com/

      http://www.strandja.com/index.php?lg=en

 

      The next pictures are at the bridge over Veleka River (route a - toward Malko Tarnovo).

      Sector III. 14 - A

      And my last suggestion is the off-road segment between Sinemorets (point C) and road N99 (point A - the map below). Google Map does not show the off-road section between these 2 points. Here is the route:

      Point C can be found right just before the iron bridge over Veleka river (going to the south before Sinemorets). (Point C is not easy to be found).

      Point A - bicycling along the road N99 down the hill north - east from Malko Tarnovo and reaching Veleka river, just before it, turn to right. I remember it was easy to find the off-road. Food and drinks can be found in Kosti and Brodilovo.

      The off-road section is only along Veleka river.

      All this area is absolutely safe, but the road is in very poor conditions, especially east from Brodilovo. There are many rocky segments, there are places where the bushes are taking more of the road, especially closer to the sea. All the area is full of turtles, lizards, snakes, deer, foxes, jackals.  The river is full of fish and water lilies.

      Then, there are the flies! Hundreds of them permanently follow any biker and when the speed of bicycling is less than 10 m/hour.  Do not attempt to stop and rest in the shade, flies are terrible there, too. Often along this road it is not possible to avoid the flies by pedaling faster. Have in mind mosquitoes, also. I have never seen such numbers in other regions of the country.

      On the other hand, the scenic beauty of the nature on this road may help justify dealing with the flies and mosquitoes.  It is your choice . . .


      In review, I have described routes from Sofia, Pazardzhik (Plovdiv), Haskovo, Nova Zagora, Yambol and Burgas toward Greece/BG and Turkey/BG borders, now I will connect these towns with border checkpoints at Danube River.



        A little back now. I have described routes from Sofia, Pazardzhik (Plovdiv), Haskovo, Nova Zagora, Yambol and Burgas toward Greece/Ulgaria and Turkey/Bulgaria borders, now I will connect these towns with border checkpoints at Danube River:

Points where Romania Bulgaria border can be crossed (from west to east) are:

1. Kalafat Vidin: bridge

2. Bechet Oryahovo: ferry

3. Turnu Magurele Nikopol: ferry

4. Zimnicea Svistov: ferry

5. Giurgiu Ruse: bridge

6. Oltenita - Tutrakan: ferry (still a project only)

7. Calarashi Silistra: ferry

7. Constanta Silistra (Border Checkpoint Silistra)

8. Negru Voda Kardam (Border Checkpoint Iovkovo)

9. Mangalia Durankulak (Border Checkpoint Durankulak)


      1. Kalafat - Vidin

     There is a newly built bridge between Kalafat and Vidin, which makes the crossing of Danube River here very convenient. Crossing of the bridge is free for bicyclists and walkers.

 

      A detailed description of routes from Vidin to Sofia is given in the Chapter II.  Crossing Bulgaria from west (Serbian border) to east (Turkey border - Edirne) and south (Greece border), Point 3. Border checkpoint Bregovo Sofia.

     

      From Romania, cross the border at the bridge Kalafat - Vidin. The traffic here is extremely intensive, but the road is wide and not dangerous to be pedaled.

 

      Vidin played an important role in Bulgarian mediaeval history. Information about the town can be seen in:

      http://wikitravel.org/en/Vidin

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

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

      http://www.bulgaria-guide.com/guide/Vidin/202268/

 

      Have in mind that near Vidin Danube River flows to South - West, not to the East, as it is in the people's mind.  It is very easy to lose orientation in this town, do not be surprised, if you see the sun is rising from West :) . . . Next several photos are from Vidin.

      Several photos from the bridge and Vidin.

    


      2. Bechet Oryahovo: ferry

 

      Ferry schedule and prices are available on the link:

      http://ferryboat.bg/en/

 

      My suggestion is to avoid road N15 from Oryahovo to Vratsa. Most of the traffic from Oryahovo to Sofia, including heavy trucks, is along the road: Oryahovo Mizia Borovan Vratsa (road N15) Mezdra Botevgrad (E 79) - Sofia (A 2) .

      Depending on the border checkpoint  where bicyclists intend to leave Bulgaria, bicyclists entering by the Bechet to Oryahovo ferry, have 2 nice possibilities to cross the country:

      2.1 Via Iskar river Gorge:

      Oryahovo - Cherven Bryag -  Roman Mezdra Iskar River Gorge Sofia Border Checkpoint Kulata;

      Information concerning the road segment between Mezdra and Sofia is available here Chapter I. BALKAN PASSES, point 2. Iskar River Gorge.

 

      2.2 Via Zlatishki Pass:

      Oryahovo Cherven Bryag - Roman Etropole Zlatishki Pass Zlatitsa Panagyuriste Pazardzhik Border Checkpoint Ilinden.

       This route I would recommend to bicyclists loving to explore mountains area as well as to avoid Sofia is:

       Oryahovo Roman Etropole Zlatishki Pass Zlatitsa Panagyuriste Pazardzhik Border checkpoint Ilinden.

       From Roman to Etropole: look in  Chapter VI.  2. The route 2  (Sofia - Varna: the route along the north side of Balkan); Sector VI. 2 - A: Sofia - Etropole; Route B (sector VI. 2 - A);

       From Etropole to Zlatitsa: look in Chapter I. BALKAN PASSES, point 4. Zlatishki Pass.

       From Zlatitsa to Panaguyriste to Pazardzhik: look in Chapter I. BALKAN PASSES,

- Sector I. D - 18.  Zlatitsa - Panagyuriste - Pazardzhik

- Sector I. D - 19.  Zlatitsa - Koprivstitsa - Strelcha - Pazardzhik

      Information for Oryahovo:

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

      You may look also in Chapter V. Bicycling along Danube River

      Sector III. 2 - A

      Optional routes, with far less traffic, and beautiful countryside, would be the following, never mind if you choose to head toward Sofia or Pazardzhik (the map in left):

route a: This route I would recommend to bicyclists loving to explore mountain areas, as well as a way to avoid Sofia:

Oryahovo - Selanovtsi - Knezha - Chomakovtsi - Cherven Bryag - Reselets - Kunino - Roman - Karash - Etropole  - Zlatishki Pass . . .

or

route b: (if you choose to explore Iskar River Gorge)

Oryahovo - Mizia Butan - Manastiriste - Rogozen - Malorad - Borovan - Gabare - Drashan - Kalen - Mezdra - Iskar River Gorge . . .

      Information concerning road segment between Mezdra and Sofia is available here Chapter I. BALKAN PASSES, point 2. Iskar River Gorge.

      The route really gets pretty between Cherven Briag to Mezdra (sector III. 2 - A. 1)

      Route a:

      Oryahovo - Selanovtsi - Knezha - Chomakovtsi - Cherven Bryag - Reselets - Kunino - Roman - Karash - Etropole  . . .

      Information for Knezha:

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

      Information for Cherven Bryag:

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

 

      More detailed information concerning sector III. 2 - A. a for altitudes and possibilities to explore in the area between Cherven Bryag, Reselets, Kunino, Roman, Strupets, Tsarevetsand Mezdra look in:

       Chapter VI.  Routes: B. Sofia - Varna:

Point 2. The route 2 (Sofia - Varna: the route along the north side of Balkan):

      - Sector VI. 2 - A: Sofia - Etropole;

      - Sector VI. 2 - A. 2;

      - Sector VI. 2 - A. 2. a;

and

Point 3. The route 3   (Sofia - Varna: The route along Danube River Valley):

      - Sector VI. 3 - A: Roman - Pleven.

      The next photos are the countryside between Cherven Bryag, Reselets, Kunino, Roman, Strupets, Tsarevetsand, and Mezdra (more photos of this beautiful area can be seen in Chapter VI.  Routes: B. Sofia - Varna)


      Route b : (if you choose to explore Iskar River Gorge)

      Oryahovo - Mizia - Butan - Manastiriste - Rogozen - Malorad - Borovan - Gabare - Drashan - Kalen - Mezdra - Iskar River Gorge . . .

       Next several photos are the countryside near Borovan and Ogosta River near Manastiriste.

      Overnight accommodation is possible in Oryahovo, Byala Slatina, Cherven Bryag, Knezha, Mezdra, as well as in Rogozen, where a friend of mine, Ferdy, have a guest house:

      https://www.facebook.com/rozenbedbreakfast/

 


      Please read the next 2 points - I will combine descriptions about routes from Nikopol & Svistov to BG/GR & BG/TU borders, I will avoid some repetitions.


      3. Turnu Magurele Nikopol: ferry

       Ferry schedule and prices are available on the link:

      http://www.brp.bg/services.html

      Unfortunately, the information concerning both ferry schedule and prices is not given in English. I will translate:

(Nikopol go)

(T.Mag. - go)

09:00  (h)

09:30

12:00

12:30

16:00
19:30

16:30
20:00

:
1. 12:00 . 16:00 . .
2. 60 .
3. - 20 09:00 . 20:00 ., 30 .

Notes:

     1.   Courses at 12:00 and 16:00 are auxiliary only if there are passangers;

     2.   For those who wish to cross the river out of the schedule 60 EURO;

     3.   TIR and Busses (more than 20 passengers) cross the river at each time between 09:00 and 20:00

 

-

Prices

Terminal

Ferry

 

EUR

EUR

(TIR)

7.00

60.00

/ (truck / buss)

4.00

35.00

/ (truck / buss & trailer)

5.00

40.00

(van)

3.00

30.00

(van & trailer)

3.00

35.00

(car)

1.00

10.00

(car & trailer)

1.00

15.00

    (motorcyclist)
(walker)

1.00
0.50

1.00
1.00

      Hmmmmmmm no price for bicyclists hhahh ... !!!

      Well, it is not easy for me to recognize, where would like to go a bicyclists entering in BG by this ferry, so I will recommend several routes to reach BG/GG border, beginning from west to east.


      Route A: Nikopol to Sofia.

      (via Iskar River Gorge)

      Nikopol - Gulyantsi - Gigen - Krushovene - Knezha - Cherven Bryag - Roman - Mezdra - Iskar River Gorge - Sofia

      This route would be appropriate, if you decide to pedal toward Greece living Bulgaria at Border Checkpoint Kulata. It is very easy area for pedaling (it is not necessary to show here the road profile chart), there is not any traffic along the route. The area between Nikopol and Cherven Bryag (Danube River Valley) is almost flat.

      The best road segment here is Chervan Bryag to Sofia, it is Iskar River Gorge. Here I will not give information about it, you can find a lot of details for the Gorge in

      Chapter I. BALKAN PASSES,

- Point  2. Iskar River Gorge (A. Sofia - Mezdra);

- Point 2. Iskar River Gorge (B. Mezdra to Cherven Bryag).

     Overnight accommodation is possible in Nikopol, Byala Slatina (several kilometers west from Knezha), Cherven Bryag, Mezdra, and Svoge.

 I did not take many pictures to illustrate the area between Nikopol and Cherven Bryag - I pedaled here in the years I sill did not know i will do this Guide. The left photo is the bridge ove Iskar River 2 - 3 kilometers west from Gigen. Down are 3 photos - the Danube River Field between Knezha and Cherven Bryag I took in the raining June '09 I and my daughter Maya wandered in this region.

 

      Information about Nikopol, Knezha, and Cherven Bryag can be seen in:

 

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

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

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


      Route B: Nikopol to Pazardzhik. (via Zlatishki Pass)

      Choosing this route, please avoid roads E83 and E 772 - the traffic there is terrible, so, the safest route here is the following:

      Nikopol - Gulyantsi - Dolna Mitropoliya - Dermantsi - Glozhene - Cherni Vit - Etropole - Zlatishki Pass - Zlatitsa - Panaguyriste - Pazardzhik

      This route would be appropriate, if you decide to pedal toward Greece living Bulgaria at Border Checkpoint Ilinden. Up to Cherni Vit (roads N118, N305, and N3701) you will pedal along Vit River (the next 3 photos I took near Dermantsi), it is extremely pleasant area, there will be not any traffic here. Further, comparing with the Route A, this route is harder for bicycling, as it can be seen from the next road profile chart. Here I will post the road profile chart only to Etropole.

      Overnight accommodation along this route is available in Pleven and Etropole, more information about you can see in:

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

      http://www.bulgariatravel.org/article/details/294

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

 

      For the road segment Etropole to Zlatitsa information can be found in: Chapter I. BALKAN PASSES, Point 4. Zlatishki Pass

      For the road segment Zlatitsa to Pazardzhik please look in:   Chapter I. BALKAN PASSES, Sector I. D, Point 18.  Zlatitsa - Panagyuriste - Pazardzhik


      The next three routes I describe below include ones via:

      - Troyanski Pass;

      - Shipka Pass;

      - Trevnenski Pass.

 

      I do not recommend the first two routes, traffic there is relatively intensive as well as the climbing is considerable, especially the one including Troyanski Pass, but some information maybe will be useful.

 

 

 


      Route C: Nikopol - Plovdiv

      (via Troyanski Pass)

 

 

Nikopol - Zhernov - Debovo - Pleven - Lovech - Troyan - Karlovo - Plovdiv.

 

      Bicyclists loving hard climbing will enjoy to climb Troyanski Pass, information about van be seen in Chapter I. BALKAN PASSES, Point 5. Troyanski Pass (Beklemeto)

 

      The traffic from Pleven to Lovech to Troyan is relatively intensive, and from Karlovo to Plovdiv - very intensive; more information concerning area Karlovo - Plovdiv is given in: Chapter I. BALKAN PASSES, Sector I. D - 20.  Karlovo - Plovdiv.

 

      Overnight accommodation is possible in Pleven, Lovech,Troyan, Karlovo and Plovdiv.

     

 

      I traveled the road Nikopol to Pleven to Lovech only by a car. The next chart is the road profile  between Nikopol to Troyan

      Three photos from Pleven and information about it:

      http://www.bulgariatravel.org/article/details/294

      http://bulgariatravel.org/en/object/294/pleven_grad

      Three photos from Lovech and information about it:

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

      http://wikitravel.org/en/Lovech

      Three photos from Troyan and information about it: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troyan

       Information about Karlovo can be found in: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karlovo


      Route D: Nikopol - Haskovo (via Shipka Pass)

      The route is:

      Nikopol - Zhernov - Debovo - Levski - Pavlikeni - Dryanovo - Gabrovo - Shipka Pass - Kazanlak - Stara Zagora - Dimitrovgrad - Haskovo.

      The next chart shows  the road profile between Nikopol and Gabrovo. More unpleasant road segment here is from Dryanovo  to Gabrovo (In the same direction), where more intensive traffic is available.

       Next three photos show the area between Levski and Pavlikeni

     Information about Pavlikeni (overnight accommodation is available in it) can be seen here:

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

 

      Information about Dryanovo can be seen in the link:

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

 

      Appropriate place to stay for an afternoon is area near Dryanovski Monastery (where overnight accommodation is available in it) several kilometers south from Dryanovo:

      http://www.bulgariatravel.org/article/details/26

     The monastery is placed in very spectacular deep river gorge surrounded by high Karst chains, there is a trail to walk around the place.

      (More information concerned the same place can be seen in: the Capter VI. Routes: B. Sofia - Varna; 2. The route 2 (Sofia - Varna: the route along the north side of Balkan), Sector VI. 2 - E: Gabrovo (Kievtsi) - Kilifarevo, Sector VI. 2 - E. 1)

      Information about Gabrovo (next 2 photos):

      http://wikitravel.org/en/Gabrovo

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

      Several kilometers south from Gabrovo is placed Etara which is an interesting architectural ethnographic complex - a museum at work. It is worth seeing:

      http://etar.org/index-en.htm

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etar_Architectural-Ethnographic_Complex

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fv40JmKEPJU

      http://go-lets.com/index.php/gabrovo-etara/

 

      (I visited it several times, but next photos are not mine)

      For the route segments concerning Shipka Pass and distance from Kazanlak to Stara Zagora can be seen in:

      Chapter I. BALKAN PASSES, Point 7. Shipka Pass.

      Chapter I. BALKAN PASSES,  Sector I. E, Point 22.  Kazanlak - Stara Zagora.

     Sector III. 3 - A

      Route D: Nikopol - Haskovo (via Trevnenski Pass)

      The last opportunity here is to cross Balkan via Thevnenski Pass, I recommend it. For this Pass look into Chapter I. BALKAN PASSES, Point 8. Trevnenski Pass

      Information about Tryavna and Veliko Tarnovo I will give in the next point of this Chapter  (Route E (Nikopol) Svistov - Veliko Tarnovo).

 

      On the map in left I have pointed the Pass of the Republic, my suggestion is to avoid it, the traffic there is crazy (Chapter I. BALKAN PASSES, Point 9. Pass of the Republic (Hainboaz).

      Sector III. 3 - B

      And in the end of this point, several words about distance from Stara Zagora to Dimitrovgrad to Haskovo. The area is easy for pedaling, be careful, as there is a little more traffic between Stara Zagora and the highway A1.

 

      Information about Stara Zagora, Dimitrovgrad and Haskovo (overnight accommodation is no problem in these places):

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

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

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

      My camp place and the sunset 15 kilometers north from Dimitrovgrad.


      4. Zimnicea Svistov: ferry

 

      Good information about this ferry can be found here:

      http://ferry.bg/ferry_en.php

      Good information can be gleaned from this site, too:

      Ro-Ro  ferry  across  river  Danube  between Svishtov /Bulgaria/ and Zimnicea /Romania/

     Svishtov - Zimnicea ferry is the shortest road in the route fromTurkey to Bulgaria - Romania - Central and Western Europe. Nearly 4 hours shorter and the weather - the route avoids the traffic in Bucharest. The ferry operates non-stop, around the clock. Svishtov - Zimnicea ferry served by two ships and crossed the river for 15 minutes.

      Conveniently, the map posted in the ferry site, shows the route used by  the transit traffic between Romania and Turkey, meaning it is exactly the route bicyclists MUST avoid !!! (be aware the section of the route between Hainboaz and Dimitrovdrad on the site map is not correct). There is an added traffic from Polski Trambesh to the bridge near the town of Ruse. 

      So, always avoid pedaling here, especially Polski Trambesh Veliko Tarnovo Hainboaz (or Pass of the Republic - road E85) Gurkovo Nova Zagora !!!

      Information about Svistov:

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

and 3 photos of the town

      On the left Map I have shown routes from Svistov toward:

- Iskar River Gorge: Route A (to Sofia);

- Zlatishki Pass: Route B (to Pazardzhik);

- Troyanski Pass: Route C (to Plovdiv).

 

      Derscriptions of these routes can be seen in the previous point of the same chapter: Point 3. Turnu Magurele Nikopol: ferry, you simply have to pedal the distance from Svistov to Nikopol.

     

      If you choose the Route C (to Plovdiv), My suggestion is instead pedaling toward Pleven, it would be better to head toward Levski to Letnitsa  to  Lovech.

     

      The road from Svistov to Lovech is along Osam River, it is very nice countryside, area is easy for pedaling in the both directions. No any traffic here.

      Sector III. 4 - A

      Now I will increase the scale in the road segment from Letnitsa to Alexandrovo (sector III - 4.2 - A - a). It is worth the effort to increase your mileage here and visit Krushuna and see waterfalls next to the village.  Overnight accommodations are possible here if needed.

      Further along the road is Devetashka Cave I have pointed its location on the map, along the road N301, and you should see the sign for the cave.

      Overnight accommodation is available in Letnitsa as well as in Kroshuna.

      The next 3 photos are on so called Devetashko Plateau I and Maya bicycled August 2013. The last one is just over Devetashka Cave.

      Devetashka cave is a magnificent one and the photos can not suggest  its impressive effect as well. Scenes of some Hollywood movie were made in it several years ago.

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

      http://www.bulgariatravel.org/en/article/details/355/Devetashka%20Cave

      Waterfalls next to Krushuna.  Information about Falls and many photos of this amazing place can be seen here:

      http://waterfallsbg.info/en/krushunski-waterfalls


      Route E (Nikopol) Svistov - Veliko Tarnovo

      As a Capital of the second Bulgarian Kingdom Veliko Tarnovo is a touristy destination, it is a popular among the tourists visiting Bulgaria. 

      To reach it from Nikopol, it is better to pedal of first to Svistov, the route further is:

      Svistov - Tsarevets - Kozlovets - Alekovo - Varzulitsa - Maslarevo - Obedinenie - Resen - Samovodene.

     This road segment is in Danube River Field entirely. The area consists rolling hills of sunflowers and wheat. There are a lot of villages where food and water can be found out. Hills are not steep and no longer than 2 - 3 kilometers.

      The road profile chart shows the typical lay of the Danube River Valley.

      The entire area is very pleasant and easy for pedaling, and next several pictures illustrate it. No any traffic here as well. Information about the second Bulgarian Kingdom can be seen here:

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

      The most unpleasant road segment here is between Samovodene and Veliko Tarnovo, sector III. 4. - B. It is one of the most dangerous road segments in Bulgaria.     

 

      Sector III. 4. - B

      Here is shown a way to avoid one of the most dangerous road segments in BG: In Samovodene turn a little back and find the road toward Gorna Oryahovitsa and Arbanasi. Yes, there will be a hill between  Gorna Oryahovitsa and Veliko Tarnovo, yes, there will be a traffic there, but this road is forbidden for trucks and it is much more save than E 85.

      When you are in Arbanasi, a great view toward Veliko Tarnovo and Balkan will reveal in front of you.

      A lot of information including overnight accommodation about Veliko Tarnovo van be found here:

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

      http://www.velikoturnovo.info/en/

      http://wikitravel.org/en/Veliko_Turnovo

 

      Arbanasi is also a touristy area, it is connected with Bulgarian history. There is a lot of hotels in it too.

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

      http://www.bulgariatravel.org/article/details/17

    

      Several photos of Arbanasi.

      There are a lot of monasteries in the region near Veliko Tarnovo. Here are several links supplying information about them:

      http://www.bulgarianmonastery.com/en/region/veliko_tarnovo_monasteries.html

      http://triciatct.blogspot.bg/p/monastries-of-veliko-tarnovo-region.html

      http://www.velikoturnovo.info/en/monasteries/

 

      Several photos of Veliko Tarnovo.

      In Veliko Tarnovo you have to decide where to cross Balkan, and opportunities for it can be seen in the next Map: via Shipka Pass, Trevnenski Pass, Tvardishki Pass, Vratnik Pass or Kotlenski Pass. Pedaling to south, leaving Veliko Tarnovo you will be on the road E85 to its crossroad with road N 55, unfortunately this dangerous road segment of several kilometers can not be avoided.

      Sector III. 4 - C

 

      The route via Shipka Pass

      The route Veliko Tarnovo - Gabrovo is relatively not so pleasant road segment especially in direction North - South. The traffic here is not as terrible as the one along road 55, but still there is a traffic. The climbing of the Balkan begins after Veliko Tarnovo (see the road profile chart below).

      An interesting place to visit here is Dryanovski Monastery - information about it I have given in Route D: Nikopol - Haskovo (via Shipka Pass) ( the previous point of this chapter).

      A detailed information about Shipka Pass can be seen in: Chapter I. BALKAN PASSES, point 7. Shipka Pass.

      Reference to Chapter I. BALKAN PASSES, Sector: I. E (Sector I. E - 21.   Pavel Banya - Rakovski) for routes south from Balkan as well.

     

      The route via Trevnenski Pass

 

      I recommend this route. No any traffic here. Tryavna still keep the architecture from XIX Century, it is worth to be seen:

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

      http://www.bulgariatravel.org/article/details/236

      https://en.wikivoyage.org/wiki/Tryavna

 

      A detailed information about Trevnenski Pass can be seen in: Chapter I. BALKAN PASSES, point 8. Trevnenski Pass. The road profile chart Veloko Tarnovo - Tryavna and several photos from Tryavna:

      The routse via Tvardishki and Vratnik Passes.

      I recommend both routes, information about Passes are given in Chapter I. BALKAN PASSES, Point 10. Tvardishki Pass, and Point 11. Vratnik Pass.

 

      Of first you have to reach Elena: this route is very nice, countryside beautiful, the pedaling will bring you a great pleasure. A detailed information about route Veliko Tarnovo (Gabrovo) - Elena can be seen in: Chapter VI. Routes: B. Sofia - Varna 2. The route 2 (Sofia - Varna: the route along the north side of Balkan),

       - Sector VI. 2 - E: Gabrovo (Kievtsi) - Kilifarevo

       - Sector VI. 2 - F: Kilifarevo - Elena. (route a, route b - Sector VI. 2 - F. 1)

 

      Information about Elena: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elena,_Bulgaria

      Here I will show only the road profile chart from Veliko Tarnovo to Elena

      The route from Svistov to Ruse   

 

      In the end of this item I will say several words about route Svistov - Ruse (I was asked about it in the years). AVOID road N85 - the traffic there is terrible! Follow the route:

      Svistov - Vardim - Novgrad - Tsenovo - Byala - Borovo - Dve Mogili - Ivanovo - Besarbovo - Ruse.

      Please do not try to find a road to Ruse along Danube River. In the Chapter V. Bicycling along Danube River, Sector V - C, I have explained why.

           

 

      Overnight accommodation is possible in Byala, very little information about it can be seen here:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Byala,_Ruse_Province    

      What about the road profile chart, I will only mention that from Byala to Borovo there is 7 - 8 kilometer hill, but the road is going up on the north hill side, there is a wool, so you will climb it on the shade.


5. Giurgiu - Ruse: bridge

 

      Ruse town is the biggest BG town at Danube River. Because of the bridge Ruse - Giurgiu, it is easy here to cross Danube River, although I am not sure enough if it is save for bicyclists. The bridge is old and narrow.

 

 

       

 

      Information for Ruse can be seen in the links below:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruse,_Bulgaria

      http://www.bulgariatravel.org/article/details/88

      http://wikitravel.org/en/Ruse

 

      As it can be seen on the next map, five are the  possibilities to leave/enter Ruse town:

      1. Towards Sofia, Veliiko Tarnovo and BG/TU & BG/GR borders:

      - road N5, or E85 an international road (1), which MUST be avoided because of the very intensive traffic along it. Bicycling along it is even dangerous. The route Ruse - Byala is one of the roads in BG I have never bicycled, as a rule, the traffic here always is terrible.

      - so my suggestion is always to pedal the next route road 501 (1) (in both directions). Road 501 can be used to leave Ruse in south direction, again towards Sofia, Veliko Tarnovo and BG/TU & BG/GR borders. Because it is not easy to find out this road in Ruse town, further I will pay more attention how it can be found out when leave Ruse town;

 

      2. Road N202 toward Popovo and BG/TU & BG/GR borders;

 

      3. Road N2, or E70 toward Razgrad Shumen Varna;

 

      4. Road N23 toward Isperih Dobrich Balchik;

 

      5. Road N21 toward Tutrakan and Silistra.


Because of the extensive review of this item, here is the short content of the next next description:

      5.1. Leaving/entering in Ruse

 

      5.2. Ruse - Turkey border

- Route A: from Ruse to Nova Zagora (via Tvardishki Pass).

- Route B: from Ruse to Yambol (via Vratnik Pass) to the Border Checkpoint Lesovo.

- Route C: from Ruse to Yambol (via Kotlenski Pass) to the Border Checkpoint Lesovo.

- Route D: from Ruse to Burgas (via Varbishki Pass) to the Border Checkpoint Malko Tarnovo.

 

      5.3  Ruse - the seaside

- Route E: from Ruse to Varna.

- Route F: from Ruse to Balchik

 

      5.4 Ruse - Silistra


     5.1. Leaving/entering in Ruse in south direction (road 501 - toward Veliko Tarnovo, Sofia and BG/TU & BG/GR borders).

      Further I will post several maps, I think it is easy to find the road 501 looking all them.

      Just after the bridge, you have to leave the transit road E85 (N2, E70) and enter into the town in its industrial zone.

      It will be very nice, if you find out and enter in the town garden.  You can use different park lanes, you can pedal closer to Danube River, it would be better, if you leave the garden in the point "C" I have shown on the map - it is the beginning of the town walking zone.

      There is a museum of old steam engines in the park.

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

National_Transport_Museum,_Bulgaria

     

      Pedaling further, you will enter in the town center. It is a walking zone. It will be nice to find the Catholic Cathedral - it is easy, it is located near the lane over the Coastline Park.

 

 

 

 

      Down are several photos of the city walking zone.

 

      From the town center, you have to head to Danube river, it is easy, simply turn to right and you will see the place on the photo - just before Hotel Riga . . . Many years ago I lived for an year in Ruse, I used to stay just here seeing the sun going down . . .  forgotten emotions are coming in my mind looking this place and writing about this town  . . .

      Soon you will leave Ruse. After a hill you will reach Basarbovo, pedaling up the next hill you will be high on the right riverside (Rusenski Lom River) - further there will be a photo on this riverside and my tent on it (X - on the map 6 above).

      The entering in Ruse from this direction is not a problem. Simply do not go up on the bridge of road E85 (N5) when you see it.  Enter in the Industrial zone and follow my line, or take "Struma" Str. on the map 5 - you will recognize this street easy, there are trolley wires along it, if my memory serves.


5.2. Ruse - Turkey border

 

       Depending on the pass in the Balkan, where you will decide to cross it, I will give several possibilities to reach BG/GR or BG/TU borders:

- Route A: from Ruse to Nova Zagora (via Tvardishki Pass;

- Route B: from Ruse to Yambol (via Vratnik Pass) to the Border Checkpoint Lesovo.   

      Have in mind that last years the traffic along Route B south from Sliven to Border Checkpoint Lesovo is more intensive, so I would suggest you the first one.

      Again here I will mention, that the road E85 Ruse - Veliko Tarnovo town is very dangerous because of the very intensive traffic here. So, the route I would suggest will be away from it.

 

      An information for passes can be seen in Chapter I. BALKAN PASSES, Point 10 Tvardishki Pass & Point 11. Vratnik Pass

 

      For more detailed description I divide this route in 2 sectors:

      Sector III. 5 - A

      Followind the previous description for leaving Ruse, the route is:

      Ruse - Basarbovo - Ivanovo - Dve Mogili - Borovo - Pet Kladentsi

      I can say that it is one of my favorite routes in BG. Many times I have bicycled here, but in the opposite direction. The countryside is beautiful, almost plane as it can be seen from the next road profile chart, no any traffic.  Have in mind that July and August temperatures here often are 38 - 40 deg above freezing.

      Overnight accommodation is possible in Ruse, Dve Mogili and Byala. The last one is not so convenient, it is placed down next to Yantra River - you have to climb toward Pet Kladentsi.

      Very little information about Dve Mogili and  Byala is here:

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

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Byala,_Ruse_Province

       Down are several photos of this area: the canyon of Rusenski Lom River and my tent on it, and the flat area between Ivanovo  and Lom Cherkovna. Bring water with you when explore this area.

      Sector III. 5 - B

      To reach Elena, follow the route:

     Pet Kladentsi - Lom Cherkovna - Strazhitsa - Dzhulyunitsa - Zlataritsa - Elena.

      Overnight accommodation is available in Strazhitsa, Zlataritsa and Elena.

 

      Information about Strazhitsa:  

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

 

      Information about Zlataritsa:      

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

     http://www.bestbgproperties.com/bulgarian_districts/Zlataritsa.html

 

      Information about Elena:

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

      http://www.bulgariatravel.org/article/details/41

 

      Next several photos are from Elena.

     As a Capital of the second Bulgarian Kingdom, Veliko Tarnovo is a touristy destination, it is a popular among the tourists visiting Bulgaria. Information about the second Bulgarian Kingdom can be seen here:

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

 

      On the map above I have shown a route to reach it:

    Pet Kladentsi - Nova Varbovka - Sushitsa - Draganovo - Dolna Oryahovitsa - Gorna Oryahovitsa - Arbanasi - Veliko Tarnovo. 

     

     A lot of information including overnight accommodation about Veliko Tarnovo van be found here:

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

      http://www.velikoturnovo.info/en/

      http://wikitravel.org/en/Veliko_Turnovo

 

      Arbanasi is also a touristy area, it is connected with Bulgarian history. There is a lot of hotels in it too.

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

      http://www.bulgariatravel.org/article/details/17

      Again, several photos of Veliko Tarnovo.

      There are a lot of monasteries in the region near Veliko Tarnovo. Here are several links supplying information about them:

      http://www.bulgarianmonastery.com/en/region/veliko_tarnovo_monasteries.html

      http://triciatct.blogspot.bg/p/monastries-of-veliko-tarnovo-region.html

      http://www.velikoturnovo.info/en/monasteries/

      From Veliko Tarnovo you can reach again Elena, but as a variant, after visiting Valiko Tarnovo, you can cross Balkan at Shipka Pass - look in the previous item  4. Zimnicea Svistov: ferry,  Route E (Nikopol) Svistov - Veliko Tarnovo (the same Chapter), you can see the route via Shipka Pass as well.

      From Elena you can pedal toward Nova Zagora, or Yambol via Tvardishki Pass or Vratnik Pass. An information for passes can be seen in Chapter I. BALKAN PASSES, Point 10 Tvardishki Pass & Point 11. Vratnik Pass.

     

      Next two routes toward BG/TU Borders Checkpoints Lesovo & Malko Tarnovo are given on the next map. Here is important to avoid the road E70, where the traffic is more intensive.

      - Route C: from Ruse to Yambol via Kotlenski Pass:

      Ruse - Straklevo - Nisovo - Opaka - Popovo - Svetlen - Aprilovo - Gorna Hubavka - Omurtag - Ticha - Kotel - Medven - Mokren - Yambol - Border Checkpoint Lesovo.

      - Route D: from Ruse to Burgas via Varbishki Pass:

      Ruse - Straklevo - Nisovo - Opaka - Popovo - Svetlen - Aprilovo - Gorna Hubavka - Omurtag - Kozarevo - Plastina - Varbitsa - Vezenkovo - Balabanchevo - Sungurlare - Karnobat - Aytos - Burgas - Border Checkpoint Malko Tarnovo.

      For more detailed description I divide this route in 2 sectors:

 

 

 

 

      Sector III. 5 - C

 

      Of first I have to say that I traveled the distance Ruse - Popovo only by car; the traffic here is not intensive, the countryside - scenic.

      Very little information for Opaka can be seen here:

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

I am not sure if overnight accommodation is available in it.

 

      Popovo and Omurtag are bigger towns, overnight accommodation is available in both places.

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

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omurtag_(town)

 

      Omurtag is named of the Khan Omurtag (the First Bulgarian Kingdom):

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

      This route segment is the same for both routes: Route C - toward Yambol and Route D - toward Burgas.

      On the road profile chart can be seen the ascending of almost 270 meters between Aprilovo and Omurtag. In the hot summer days it is not so pleasant. Next 3 photos are the countryside between Omurtag and Popovo. Unfortunately I can not point on the map wqater springs along this route.

      Route C - toward Yambol: look for information  in Chapter I. BALKAN PASSES, Point 12. Kotlenski Pass (Targoviste - Omurtag - Kotel - the Pentacle - Yambol)

      Sector III. 5 - D

 

     Route D: from Ruse to Burgas via Varbishki Pass. (on the map above you see several opportunities concerning this route)

      I recommend this route: the road via Varbishki Pass in closed for cars, no any traffic there.

      On the left map I have shown the road segment between Omurtag and Mengishevo.  In the moment I am updating this item the Google map does not permit me to mark the route toward Varbitsa, it means in the moment the road is closed for cars, but I am absolutely sure that bicyclists can use it.

      Last time I pedaled this area was August '10, next are 3 photos of the camp place next to Paliska River I and my daughter Maya spent a night.

      An information in details about Varbishki Pass you can see in: Chapter I. BALKAN PASSES, Point 13 Varbishki Pass

       Sector III. 5 - E

      Relatively intensive traffic here is available from Karnobat  to Aytos to Burgas, according to me the road is not dangerous.

      If you pedal in the back direction, the hills next to Sungurlare and the one between Karnobat and Aytos are tough in the hot sunny days.

      Sungurlare is a place where they produce very nice local type white and red wines. Very little information about it can be seen here:

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

      I am not sure if overnight accommodation is available there. Next three photos are taken just next to Sungutlare.

      Information for Karnobat abd Aytos is available here:

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

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

      A nice spot for overnight accommodation in Karnobat is hotel Mitage, in Aytos - an interesting ethno village Gender - both places can be found easy in the Google. Next three photos are in Karnobat and the hotel Mirage.

      Information about this area is given in the Chapter VI. Routes: A. Sofia - Burgas, Sector V. 1 - E: Sliven - Burgas

      Information about Burgas:

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

      http://wikitravel.org/en/Burgas

      About the region near Burgas I have posted in the Chapter IV. BLACK SEASIDE.

 

      If you choose the roure:

      Omurgag - Kotel - Medven - Sungurlare - Burgas,

have in mind that overnight accommodation in Medven is possible. Above the village there is a scenic canyon and waterfall. Information about Medven:

      http://medven.org/en/


      5.3  Ruse - the seaside

      - Route E: from Ruse to Varna.

      It is a main road and the traffic from Ruse to Shumen is relatively intensive. It is almost flat area very pleasant for bicycling including rolling hills as it is obvious from the next road profile chart. I love to pedal here especially in the end of May when wheat fields are still green.

 

      Ruse - Razgrad - Shumen -  Kaspichan - Novi Pazar - Neofit Rilski - Devnya - Varna.

 

      Overnight accommodation is available in Razgrad and Shumen. Next links are the Information about Razgrad and several photos of the same area:

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

      http://www.bulgaria-guide.com/guide/Razgrad/201368/

      Next links are the Information about Shumen:

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

      https://travelro.wordpress.com/category/shumen-bulgaria/

      http://www.bulgariatravel.org/article/details/75

as well as several photos of the same area - approach to Shumen and the plateau (Shumen Fortress) next to it, the town and my afternoon relax place in the town garden:

      Sector III. 5 - F

      After Shumen there is a motorway (A2), do not bicycle along it. The road segment Devnya - Varna (road N2) is with relatively intensive traffic.

      Route E.1:

      Shumen - Kaspichan - Novi Pazar - Vetrino - Neofit Rilski - Devnya - Varna

      Road profile chart for Route E.1

      Overnight accommodation is possible in Davnya, for Novi Pazar and Kaspichan I am not sure. If you search for a hotel in Novi Pazar, be careful, there is a town named "Novi Pazar " in Serbia as well.

      Information about Novi Pazar and Devnya:         

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Novi_Pazar,_Shumen_Province

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

 

      North from Kaspichan is located Pliska, the Capital of the first Bulgarian Kingdom. Archeology fans can visit it:

      http://www.bulgariatravel.org/article/details/39

      https://sco.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pliska

 

      Some information about the First Bulgarian Kingdom:

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

 

      Between Devnya and Varna is placed an interesting place, so called "Stone forest":

      http://varna-bg.com/museums/pobitikamani/st_f_uk.html

 

      Next photos are the area east from Shumen and the Stone Forest.

      Route E.2:

      A little longer is the route E. 2 includihng Provadia. I think it is very scenic place, an overnight accommodation is possible in it as well.

      Shumen - Kaspichan - Novi Pazar - Vetrino - Provadia - Manastir - Devnya - Varna

      Road profile chart for Route E.1

      Information for Provadia and its fortres "Ovech":

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

      http://www.bulgariatravel.org/article/details/340

      http://trakia-tours.com/provadia-guide-94.html

 

      Next several photos of Ovech Fortres and the road just behind Provadia toward Varna.

      An opportunity for the route from Provadia toward Burgas can be seen in the Chapter I. BALKAN PASSES, Point 15. Aytoski Pass (I reccomend this route).

 

      Details about Varna can be seen in the Chapters: VI. Routes: B. Sofia - Varna  &   IV. Bicycling along Black sea side.

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

      http://varna-bulgaria.info/


      - Route F: from Ruse to Balchik

      If you have decided to bicycle the route Ruse - the seaside, I would suggest you to head to Balchik, placed in one of the one of most scenery areas near the seaside.

      All the area is perfect for bicycling, no any traffic. The area is almost flat with rolling hills. Here you will cross many not deep valleys of dried rivers, as it can be seen from the next road profile chart. Bring water with you exploring this area. It is best to bicycle here May, June, up to 5 10 July, when the sunflowers make the field yellow.   Very little information for Kubrat and Isperih can be seen here:

      Ruse - Kubrat - Zavet - Isperih - Todor Ikonomovo - Karapelit  - Dobrich - Balchik.

      I am not sure if overnight accommodation is available in Kubrat and Isperih. Very little information for both little towns can be seen here: 

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kubrat_(town)

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

      Both towns are named of Bulgarian Khans Kubrat and Asparuh:

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

      http://www.wow.com/wiki/Asparuh

 

      Dobrich is a center of this region:

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

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

      Several photos of the region and Dobrich

      Many times I have explored this area and often I move further from village to village researching the map, often I have used shortcuts off-roads in the field between villages.

      Next several photos are the area between Dobrich  - Balchik (Photos and information for Balchik can be seen in Chapter IV. BLACK SEASIDE, Point 8. Balchik.


      5.4 Ruse - Silistra

      I have mentioned several words concerning this route in the Chapter V. Bicycling along Danube river .


      6. Oltenita - Tutrakan: ferry (still a project only).


      7. Calarashi Silistra: ferry.

      7. Constanta Silistra (border checkpoint Silistra).

Shedule & Fees

From BG

From Romania

01:30

04:15

07:30

10:15

13:30

16:15

19:30

22:15

 

Vehicle

Price (EURO)

Truck (more than 25 t.)

70,00

Truck 16 25 t.

60,00

Truck 16 5 t.

45,00

Bus (more than 44 passengers)

40,00

Bus (22 44 passengers)

35,00

Minivan

25,00

Trailer

15,00

Car

7,00

Motorbike

2,00

Passenger

0,50

      Calarashi Silistra: ferry.

      The available schedule for the ferry in English is not available, so I copy and paste it here.

      Obviously at this place nobody has ever seen bicyclists ... 

      The map shows that the ferry is only in Romanian area.

      Information for Silistra:

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

 

 http://www.bulgaria-guide.com/guide/Silistra/203776/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

       Another possibility to cross Danube river is the water taxi. If you enter in the town garden (next photo), pedal to Danube River, turn to right and bike until you see the private jetty label.

Schedule (each day)

from Silistra       from Calarashi

09.00                      10.00

11.00                      12.00

15.00                       16.00

17.00                       18.00

Traveling time in one direction - 15 minutes

Requests for traveling out of this schedule:

tel +359 86 812 200

or

e-mail: drusrtar@hoteldrustar.com

      Pointed routes on the map from/to Silistra are:

 

      7.1 To/from west:

           1. Toward Tutrakan and Ruse (I have mentioned several words about it in the Chapter V. Bicycling along Danube river);

 

 

 

      7.2 To/from south (BG/Turkey and BG/Greece Borders):

            2. Isperih, Razgrad, Targoviste;

            3. Shumen;

            4. Povadia;

 

 

      7.3 To/from Black sea side:

            5. Dobrich, Balchik;

            6. Constanta (in Romania).

      The altitude of Silistra is 20 m. and it is surrounding by a higher plateau.  So, to leave the town in the south direction you have to climb 5 6 kilometers.


  7.2  Routes from/to south (from/to Turkey and Greece borders).

 

 

      There are 3 routes to pedal towards Balkan from Silistra town:

      Route A: Via Kotlenski Pass:

Silistra - Alfatar - Dulovo - Isperih - Ludogortsi - Razgrad - Targoviste - Omurtag - Kotel - Yambol;

 

 

      Route B: Via Varbishki Pass, or via Rishki Pass:

Silistra - Alfatar - Venets - Izgrev - Shumen;

      I do not recommend the route via Rishki Pass. Last years the traffic is very intensive including heavy trucks.

 

 

      Route C: Silistra - Alfatar - Tervel - Vetrino - Provadia - Aytos - Burgas.

 

      For all the routes I can say that roads are in very nice conditions, the area itself is flat with not high rolling hills, countryside is perfect. Wild camping is possible everywhere. Have in mind that July and August high temperatures in afternoons are possible. Bring water with you.

 

    

      Sector III. 7 - A

      Here I will increase the scale for more detailed description.

 

 

      Route A:

 

      Silistra - Alfatar - Cherkovna - Dulovo - Chernik - Isperih - Ludogortsi  - Razgrad - Trapiste - Davidovo - Targoviste.

 

      This route is approx. 145 km., as if here there are more hills comparing with the others. Several kilometers of the road north from Razgrad are not so nice and narrow.

 

      Very little information for Dulovo is available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dulovo,_Bulgaria

 

      Very little information for Isperih is available here:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isperih  ;

The town is named of the Khan Asparuh established the First Bulgarian Kingdom in the second half of the VII century. A little history:.

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

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

 

      Information for Razgrad:

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

      http://www.bulgaria-guide.com/guide/Razgrad/201368/

 

      Information for Targoviste:

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

     Have in mind that in Romania there is a town with the same name, so take it into account when you are researching in GOOGLE for it.

 

      Overnight accommodation is available in Razgrad, Targoviste and maybe Isperih, what about Dulovo, I am not so sure. The entire area is very pleasant for exploring, there is not traffic here at all,  the next several photos illustrate it.

      Route B:

      Silistra - Alfatar - Cherkovna - Branichevo - Venets - Panayot Volovo - Shumen.

      This road is approx 120 km, the longest hill is 10 - 12 kilometers just after Shumen to north. I do not recommend so much this. Although the road is after reconstruction, last years the traffic here is intensive including heavy trucks. I am not sure if along this road there is a possibility for overnight accommodation, I explored it only bringing a tent with me.

      Next links are the Information about Shumen, and some photos for it can be seen in the previous item of the same chapter -  5.3  Ruse - the seaside

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

      https://travelro.wordpress.com/category/shumen-bulgaria/

      http://www.bulgariatravel.org/article/details/75

      Route C:

      Silistra - Alfatar - Tervel - Vetrino - Provadia - Aytos - Burgas.

      I recommend this route. It is an extremely pleasant for exploring area, the scenery is very similar to previous ones. Giving this opinion, please have in mind I was born and grew up in an mountain area, so I love fields. Overnight accommodation is possible in Tervel and Provadia.

      Information for Tervel:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tervel_(town) ;

      Again the town is named of the Bulgarian Khan Tervel, who saved Europe from Arabian invasion in the beginning of the VIII century. it is worth to have a look in the next link:

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

 

     This road is 120 km, it is the shortest road from Silistra to Burgas. The area here is the flattest comparing with previous 2 routes. The longest climbing (not so hard if you pedal it early in the morning) is from Provadia to Vetrino to Dobrotich. Next 6 photos (north from Vetrino) I took in the extremely winding morning of 25 June 2015 - as usual the date on photos is a little wrong..

     Provadia is placed in a a scenic canyon along Provadiiska River. Information for Provadia and its fortres "Ovech":

 

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

      http://www.bulgariatravel.org/article/details/340

      http://trakia-tours.com/provadia-guide-94.html

 

      Next several photos of the plateau above Provadia and Ovech Fortres.

Sector III. 7 - B (1)

      Here I continue with the 3 routes from the previous item.

 

      - Route A: I show two opportunities:

 

 a) Via Kotlenski Pass:

 

      Targoviste - Omurtag - Ticha - Kotel - Gradets - Mokren - the Pentacle - Zimnitsa - Veselinovo - Yambol.

      A detailed Information for Kotlenski Pass is given in the Chapter I. BALKAN PASSES, point 12. Kotlenski Pass (Targoviste - Omurtag - Kotel - the Pentacle - Yambol). Here I will mention only that the traffic in the road segment from  Targoviste  to Omurtag is intensive. the road is wide, but the pedaling there is not a pleasure especially in the same direction.

 

b) Via Varbishki Pass:

 

      Targoviste - Prolaz - Varbitsa -  Mokren - the Pentacle - Zimnitsa - Veselinovo - Yambol.

      A detailed Information for Varbishki Pass is given in the Chapter I. BALKAN PASSES, point 13. Varbishki Pass. I recommend this route, have only in mind that south from the Balkan divide down the mountain the road is not maintained, it is in very poor conditions. The Pass is closed for cars, no any traffic.

 

      Overnight accommodation is available in Omurtag, Kotel and in the little resort 3-4 kilometers above Varbitsa. Very little information for Kitel and Varbitsa can be seen here:

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

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Varbitsa_(town)

      - Route B: I will show here again two opportunities:

a) Via Varbishki Pass:

 

      Shumen - Veliki Preslav - Varbitsa -  Mokren - the Pentacle - Zimnitsa - Veselinovo - Yambol.

      Relatively intensive traffic here is available from Shumen to Veliki Preslav (overnight accommodation is available in it). Veliki Preslav was the second Capital of the First Bulgarian Kingdom, information for it:

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

      http://www.bulgariatravel.org/article/details/40

      Several photos of Veliki Preslav remains.

b) Via Rishki Pass:

 

      Shumen - Veselinovo - Prilep - Lozarevo - Sungurlare - the Pentacle - Zimnitsa - Veselinovo - Yambol.

      A detailed Information for Rishki Pass is given in the Chapter I. BALKAN PASSES, point 14. Rishki Pass. I do not reccommend this route, the traffic from  Shumen to Lozarevo is very intensive.

 

- Route C: Most of this route is along Kamchia River, it is a nice area appropriate for pedaling. The route is:

      Provadia - Dalgopol - Asparuhovo - Vishna - Prilep - Lozarevo - Sungurlare - the Pentacle - Zimnitsa - Veselinovo - Yambol.

      The next road profile chart is for the route from Provadia to the Pentacle.

      Overnight accommodation is availabe in Asparuhovo, a little further near Tsonevo Dam is the nature phenomenon "the Wonderful Rock"

      http://bulgariatravel.org/en/object/128/Chudnite_skali_zabelejitelnost

     Sector III. 7 - B (1) - a

     In the sector III. 7 - B (1) - a I have shown 2 opportunities for routes between Vishna and Prilep. The blue line is better - the climbing here is less rather the grey line.

      Next several photos are the rocks near Tsonevo Dam.

      I will finish Sector III. 7 - B (1) with several photos of the road segment from the Pentacle to Yambol, where more intensive traffic is available.

Sector III. 7 - B (2)

      In the end of point 7 on the map in left, you can see routes from Targoviste, Shumen and Provadia toward Burgas. The only thing I will say again is to avoid Rishki Pass because of the intensive traffic.

      Information for  Aytos is available here:

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

      A nice spot for overnight accommodation in Aytos is an interesting ethno village Gender, this spot  can be found easy in the Google.

 

      Information about the area from the Pentacle to Burgas is also given in the Chapter VI. Routes: A. Sofia - Burgas, Sector V. 1 - E: Sliven - Burgas

   

      Information about Burgas:

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

      http://wikitravel.org/en/Burgas

      About the region near Burgas I have posted in the Chapter IV. BLACK SEASIDE.

 

 

      7.3 Routes to/from Black sea side.

 

      If you decide to explore the seaside, my suggestion is to visit Balchik which is very scenic place. I have shown 2 possible variants on the map - both routes are easy for bicycling - the area is flat, no any traffic.  Along the road between Silistra and Karapelit there a lot of apricot trees, further to Dobrich - cherry trees, which maces pedaling in this area very pleasant from the end of May to the middle of July.

 

     Information for Tervel and Dobrich can be seen above in the previous items. Information for Balchik:

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

http://www.bulgariatravel.org/article/details/307

http://www.bulgariatravel.org/article/details/4

http://www.beachbulgaria.com/balchik/

       More detail for the seaside can be seen in Chapter IV. Bicycling along Black sea side.


   8. Negru Voda Kardam: Border checkpoint Iovkovo)

 

      I am not sure, if somebody would use this Border checkpoint, at least I have never seen any traffic bicycling in this region. The roads here a in nice conditions. Towards Burgas I can suggest the following routes:

 

 

      Route A

Border checkpoint Iovkovo - Kardam - General Toshevo - Dobrich - Odrintsi - Valchi Dol - Suvorovo - Vetrino - Dalgopol - Asparuhovo - Aytos - Burgas;

 

 

      Route B

(look the next map: sector III. 8 - A)

Border checkpoint Iovkovo - Kardam - Durankulak (road N 2904) - Kavarna - further along the seaside towards Burgas;

 

 

      Next three routes:

from Dobrich to Balchik (road N27);

 

from Dobrich to Albena rezort (road N71)

 

from Dobrich toVarna (road N29).

 

 

      All this area is flat and nice for exploring.

      Road profile chart for the route Border Checkpoiunt Iovkovo - Provadia


      9. Mangalia Durankulak: Border checkpoint Durankulak).

 

      Look in Chapter IV. Bicycling along Black sea side.

 

      For the routes Burgas - Turkey Border look point 15. Burgas - Border checkpoint Malko Tarnovo (road E87: Burgas - Malko Tarnovo - Kirklareli) in the same Chapter.


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