VIII.  EV 13 The Iron Curtain Trail



From Border Checkpoint Zlatarevo / Novo Selo to Edirne, Turkey.


      Again, the question now is about  sector II. C: from Bulgaria/Macedonia Border to Edirne, Turkey - look at the map in the beginning of this chapter. This route is only for bicyclists loving to pedal in mountains, here there will be steep and long hills.

      Here I will give routes:

      - to reach Edirne in Turkey: the route is:

      From Border Checkpoint Zlatarevo / Novo Selo to Petrich to Gotse Delchev to Smolyan to Kardzali to Border Checkpoint Ivailovgrad to Edirne

      - to reach Black seaside (sector II. C - 2 - toward Burgas at the Black Seaside). 


Sector II. C - 1

      Here I will suggest 2 routes:   

Route b

      From Border Cjeckpoint Zlatarevo - Novo Selo to Parvomay to Petrich to Vranya to Katuntsi to Gorno Spanchevo to Gotse Delchev.


      Maybe the hardest for climbing Pass (from west to east) in Bulgaria is Popova Laka Pass (you will see another names of the Pass: Popovi Livadi Pass, Papaz Chair Pass). The hard climbing starts from Gorno Spanchevo. To the top of the pass it is permanent and constant.


      Overnight accommodation is available in Petrich town. Some information for it and several photos.

      I have traveled this pass only by car, so I am not sure if there are springs of drinkable water between Gorno Spanchevo and Gotse Delchev. But I know, on the Pass there is a hotel, restaurant and water. Unfortunately I can not find available information for it. The road is in very nice conditions.

      Several photos from Popovi Livadi.

      From Popova Laka Pass toward Gotse Delchev follows a very nice descending. A beautiful view toward Rodopi Mountain will be revealed in front of you.

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

Route a

      If you explore this area, I suggest you to choose it. It includes Melnik and region nesr it.

      Melnik MUST be seen, you definitely will not regret if you do it. Follow the route:

      from Parvomay (on the map above) toward Kavrakirovo to Karnalovo to Hotovo to Melnik . . . to Gotse Delchev.

      Now I will increase a little the scale of the map shown in the previous point. Melnik is one of the places in Bulgaria, which is worth to be seen. it is incredibly scenic place. There are a lot of small private homes offering rooms and nice local type restaurants. The local type of red and white wines have to be mentioned as well. as Melnik is a tourists destination, in Internet is available a lot of information for it:

      Depending on where are coming from, there are 2 routes to pedal toward Melnik:

      - if you pedal from west to east:


      From Ribnik to Spatovo to Hotovo to Lozenitsa to Melnik.





      Just on the crossroad of roads N 1082 and N106 (Ribnik there is a little nice restaurant (the first photo below). Be careful 2 kilometers further, traffic here is relatively intensive.

      The climbing from Hotovo to Lozenitsa is relatively hard. The view form the highest point to Lozenitsa and Melnik is extremely exciting - the last photo below.

      - if you pedal from east to west:

      From Vranya to Harsovo to Vinogradi to Melnik

      The climbing here is a little more comparing with route a, the area again is extremely scenic. On the map above I point Vinary Chateay, If my memory serves overnight accommodation in it is not possible, I am not sure 100%. But I am sure there you can try some local types of wine typical only for this region.

And several photos from Melnik.

      My suggestion is to stay for an afternoon in Melnik. Overnight accommodation here is not a problem, there are a lot of local type restaurants offering perfect meals & local type wines.

      Leave the bicycle in Melnik and walk up to Rozhenski Monastery along the road (1h 50min - 2 hours very slowly walking):

        from Melnik to Karlanovo  to Pozhen to Rozhenski Monastery.

      In Rozhen is available very nice local type restaurant as well.

      Next several photos are the road toward Rozhen, Karlanovo and the sand pyramids above it, Rozhen and the  Monastery.

Some information for Rozhenski Monastery can be seen here:

      My suggestion is after visiting the monastery, to move a little up above the monastery along a narrow track (10 minutes walk) a marvelous view over all this place of sand pyramids will be revealed in front of you.

       Go back to Melnik along the narrow track between the sand pyramids (50 - 60 minutes walk). You will be not disappointed !!!  No possible to pedal there.

      Another place to visit is the area with remains of mediaeval monasteries just above the town in east direction. After walk of 30 minutes up the sand pyramids you will see Malnik from another point of view.


Another opportunity in the same region 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.

      Information about Rupite:

      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.

      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. Pedaling straight on, you will go to Melnik.

      From Gen. Todorov to Dolno Konomladi to Kapatovo to Kromidovo to Harsovo to Vinogradi to Melnik.

Gotse Delchev & Ognyanovo

      OK, we are in Gotse Delchev, it is a time to go further to east, before it I'd like to mention one more opportunity, this time in the region of Gothse Delchev. It is Ognyanovo, if you plan to spend a night in it you will not regret.


      Ognyanovo is a Place next to Gotse Delchev, I think it is worth to visit, of you explore this area. Because of the thermal springs in the region, it is very nice spa center perfect for relax, which is still not overcrowded by tourists.

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



      Just before entering in Garmen are remains of the ancient fortress Nikopolis ad Nestrum.

      As I have said above, a lot of places for overnight accommodation in Ognyanovo are available. I would recommend one very nice place to stay for a night here is hotel Elegance: the relation "price/quality" here is very nice. The hotel consists two buildings - a new and older one, both are in very good conditions (unfortunately the Site is in Bulgarian):

      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.

      The next distance:

      From Gotse Delchev to Dospat to Smolyan to Kardzhali to Krumovgrad to Ivailovfrad

is in Rodopi Mountain entirely.



      A very detail description of this route you will find in the Chapter:


      - Route 6: From Gotse Delchev (Ognyanovo) to Smolyan (Western Rodopi Mountain) and

      - Routes 7, 8 and 9: From Smolyan to Ivailovgrad (Eastern Rodopi Mountain)

Sector II. C - 2

From  Ivailovgrad to Edirne

      The next route is:

       from Krumovgrad to Ivailovgrad to Edirne.

      Although I point several places where a drinkable water is available, in my memories this place is very dry. Food is not available between Krumovgrad and Ivailovgrad as well, so be careful with your provisions just here.

      When you see the spring on the last photo above, it means you are very close to Ivailovgrad; it is a little border town, 5 hotels are available in it according to Google Map, again I can not find any English language information for it. Some information for Ivailovgrad:

      Go east, if you have to leave Bulgaria - the road toward Birder Checkpoint Ivailovgrad is signed well. Nobody there. I think this Border checkpoint is nice to enter in Bulgaria and explore Rodopi Mountain in direction east - west.

Sector II. C - 2. a


     This section is purposed for bicyclists entering from Macedonia (Border Checkpoint Zlatarevo - Novo Selo) intending to visit Bulgarian seaside (toward Burgas) crossing Rodopi Mountain.

      Here I will show 2 possible routes:

      Route a:

      From Ivailovgrad to Ivailovgrad Border Checkpoint to Kyprinos (in Greece) to Palli to Ormenio to Border Checkpoint Kapitan Petko Voyvoda to Svilengrad to Pasreogor to Hlyabovo toTopolovgrad to . . . Burgas.

      Route b:

      From Ivailovgrad to Svilengrad Pasreogor to Hlyabovo to Topolovgrad to . . . Burgas.

      The comparison between the road profile charts below would explain this my suggestion.  If you choose the first variant, you will avoid climbing.

      Several photos I took in Greece. In the villages you will pass by there is food and coffee. The road toward Bulgaria is signed very well. There is not any traffic here as well.

      Some information for Svilengrad  it is available here:

      And the last more detail map for the distance between Svilengrad and Topolovgrad. Here is the area of Sakar Mountain, one of the not many places in Bulgaria, where eagles can be seen. The climbing beginning from Svilengrad is long but not hard.

      The area is sunny without any shade. July and August along the road there are a lot of wild plums and black berry. 

      An interesting place just before Hlyabovo is Dolmen called "Nachovi Chairi". It is the biggest one saved in Bulgaria. If my information is true, there were more than 600 such objects in Bulgaria, unfortunately almost all of them were destroyed by treasure hunters.

      The road toward Topolovgrad is pleasant and easy to pedal. Very little information for Topolovgrad is available here:

      I am not sure if overnight accommodation is possible in the little town, but there is a nice coffee place in the shade and free wi fi. Near it in Google can be seen several such places. 

      A detail information for routes from Topolovgrad to Burgas can be found out in:

       Chapter VI. Routes: D. From Plovdiv to Burgas

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