Balkan () or Old Mountains ( )

      In my personal experience it is important to plan ahead and know all routes & passes where it would be best to cross this or that mountain.
      Here are some names you should know: Balkan ():  Is the name of the entire region of South - East Europe.  Old Mountain ( ), (or Balkan) is a mountain ridge stretching from the western BG/Serbia border to the Black Sea to the east. This mountain crosses the country and divides it into two almost equal parts: Northern Bulgaria and Southern Bulgaria. 

      In Internet can be found a lot of information concerning Balkan:





      The Old Mountain: The name of this mountain is deceiving.  Geologically it is a young folded mountain, formally consists 3 parts (almost as I have parted it in 3 sectors above):

      - West part (from Serbian border to Zlatishki Pass), Sector I. A.

      - Central part (Zlatishki Pass Vratnik Pass), Sector I. B - the highest part with its the highest pick Botev at an altitude of 2376 meters. Most of this area is a protected zone, so called "Central Balkan Park".

      - East part (Vratnik Pass Black sea), Sector I. C - It is a low and wider part of the mountain. I will list Balkan Passes in order, from west to east, giving a brief description of their features. I also will add photos I have taken on the tours I have done in the years.

      I will add two more sectors: sector I. D and sector I. E. This will illustrate how to cross Sredna Gora Mountain (parallel to

 Balkan), but not so high and long. This information will help bicyclists planning to cross the country in direction north - south or back.


     Sector I. A       Sector I. C
1. Petrohan Pass 12. Omurtag Kotel the Pentacle
2. Iskar River Gorge 13. Varbishki pass
3. Vitinia Pass (and Botevgradski Pass) 14. Rishki pass
4. Zlatishki Pass 15. Aitoski pass
5. Troyanski Pass (Beklemeto) 16. Dyulinski Pass
      17. Pomoriiski Pass
      Sector I. B       Sector I. D
6. Rusaliiski pass

18.  Zlatitsa - Panagyuriste - Pazardzhik

7. Shipka Pass 19.  Zlatitsa - Koprivstitsa - Pazardzhik
8. Trevnenski Pass 20.  Karlovo - Plovdiv
9. Pass of the Republik (Hainboaz)       Sector I. E
10. Tvardishki Pass 21. (Kazanlak) Pavel Banya to Plovdiv (Chirpan);
11. Vratnik Pass 22.  Kazanlak to Stara Zagora;
  23. Gurkovo to Nova Zagora;
  24. Tvarditsa to Nova Zagora;

Sector I. A

      1. Petrohan Pass

      Petrohan Pass is the west most pass in the Balkan mountains. Here is the road connecting Montana (alt. 150 m.) and Sofia (alt. 550m.), it is approx. 106 km. The road is marked on the map as the N81, in the moment it is in very nice condition.

      Petrohan Pass is one of the highest Balkan passes; the highest pass point has altitude of 1410 meters (although other maps shows it is 1440 m.) and it is approximately in the middle of the road Sofia - Montana (45 km. south from Montana). There are a lot of springs of nice drinkable water in both Pass sides.

       What about the traffic, I would say it is not so intensive (except the late Sunday's afternoons when people go back in Sofia after their weekend). The Pass is forbidden for tracks heavier than 12 metric tons.


      Petrohan Pass: MUST BE AVOIDED winter time. A nice time to explore  this area is May through the middle of October. I suggest you always check the weather forecast before exploring this area. It would be nice to have a winter equipment crossing the Mountain here as well. 


      The route is much easier pedaling  south to north, rather than in the opposite direction. Many times I have pedaled this Pass.  My personal experience usually was 6 hours  from Sofia to Montana and 10 hours  from Montana to Sofia. 





      Look also the chapter:

      IX.  How to enter/leave Sofia by bicycle

      Overnight accommodation in Montana is not a problem; information for Montana and several photos:



Sector I. A - 1.a

Route a


Starting from Montana (altitude 150 meters) to the south it follows Berkovitsa and Barzia.


Just after Barzia the actual ascent of the Pass is coming. The distance Barzia to the highest Pass point (where a little restaurant can be found out) is approx. 18 km. The slope is permanent and constant which is very obvious from the pic below, it is approx 9 - 10%. There are fountains with nice cool mountain water along the road. Seven - eight kilometers after Barzia there is a spring of water and little restaurant.


Never mind the nice beech forest and shade between Barzia and the Pass top, the climbing from north to south is relatively hard the vertical displacement (beginning from Montana town) is almost 1300 meters (to this climbing it must be added an additional climbing in the south Pass side as it can be seen from the south side path profile pic - the map below (sector I. A - 1. b). The road here is wide enough and comfortable for bicycling.

      Only strong and fit bicyclists, who love to climb long distances, should attempt to climbing this Pass from north to south. The north side of the Pass (in the mountain after Barzia) is not convenient for wild camping. But, the ride is very picturesque with its cool old beech forest.

      Overnight accommodation in Berkovitsa is possible, entering in it you will see a lot of signs pointing small  hotels and guest houses; information for Berkovitsa and several photos:


      You can miss Bercovitsa, pedaling up toward Barzia and the Pass.

      On the top you will see a little reservoir - equalizer collecting water driving 3 water power plants down to north; there is very nice little restaurant offering very tasty meals as well. A hotel on the Pass is available, there is a sign toward it (next I will point its location on the map: Sector I. A - 1.b, Route b).

      Sector I. A - 1. a, Route b

      If you decide to avoid the traffic, an opportunity is to follow the route b: from Bercovitsa toward huts in Balkan just below Kom pick.

      Several words concerning this place can be seen here:


      There are 2 huts - and old and a new one. In the early April 2017 I tried to explore this route in the back direction. Just on the Pass and a little further the road is signed well.

      Unfortunately further the road is not signed, so I lost it and after several hours walking down the mountain tightening bike brakes along very broken and steep off road used by wood cutters and spending a night in my tent in the mountain, next morning I was down in Barzia The bike was with a flat tire and 2 broken spokes. Never mind, I spent very nice time in the mountain. My intension is to repeat this attempt, let we see when it will happen.

      I believe in the back direction there will be not any problem to be on the right road.

      Bicyclists having time can visit the Klisyrski Monastery (the road toward it either from Berkovitsa or Barzia is signed well), overnight  accommodation is possible there, there is a restaurant as well.  information for the Monastery:




      Sector I. A - 1. b

      Route a     

      Climbing from the south begins immediately after Kostinbrod. There are several narrow road segments as well as 2-3 very short road segments having a slope of 12%, but climbing the Pass from Sofia (alt. 550 m.) is relatively easy. The south mountain side exposes excellent views of the Sofia field and Vitosha Mountain.

      There are nice wild camping places out on the southern slope of the mountain.  There are springs of fresh water as well.



      As a conclusion I would say that bicyclists loving mountain bicycling will be satisfied exploring this area. There are nice place to camp in the wilderness from this side of the Pass.









      On the map I have shown the altitudes of some specific points showing the road profile.


      (The South Pass side has more complicated road profile which makes it harder Pass pedaling in the direction Montana - Sofia).

      The several next photos are taken from the south side of Petrohan Pass.

      Restaurants can be found in Kostinbrod, Buchin Pass (the crossroad toward Godech - road 164), Gintsi, and on the top of the Pass.

      Wonderful opportunities in this area are both routes: 

      - from Buchin Pass (next 6 photos) to Iskrets to Svidnya to Svoge to down to Iskar River Gorge (to right on the map - road N164);

      - from Buchin Pass to Godech to Dragoman to  Sofia (to left) on the map above - road N 813).

      The road after Gintsi to the highest point of the Pass (9- 10 km) is a little bit steeper.

Sector I. A - 1. b, Route b

      To bicyclists climbing the Pass from Sofia to north who are wishing to avoid the traffic and loving the off road bicycling, I can recommend the route b, along so called "History Road". Have in mind, the first 2-3 km pedaling is not possible - the road is steeper and rocky.

      Taking the road toward Brakevtsi, in your left you will see a nice spring of fresh water, just after it take the road in left. It is pointed by a brown sign. After you can not be wrong. The road will take you on the highest point of the Pass. Once reaching the open area high in the mountain, you will enjoy of a beautiful view in each direction.

      Have a spray against dogs in this area.

      2. Iskar River Gorge

A. Sofia - Mezdra

      The Iskar River Gorge is one of my favorite destinations for bicycling I love to pedal it at least once a summer. On the map this road is signed as the N16. It connects Mezdra to  Sofia. (Look also: IX.  How to enter/leave Sofia by bicycle).

The Iskar River Gorge is a marvelous place and is easy bicycling in both directions, with excellent sightseeing are near Cherepish, Lakatnik, Tserovo. The hills here are not long and not hard to climb.

      Links to the Gorge and the area near Lakatnik:



      The road segment between Mezdra - Rebarkovo: 2-3 kilometers (the crossroad with E79) has very intensive traffic.  Be careful riding in this area.

      Better places for wild camp can be found between Mezdra and Svoge. On the last day of weekends, traffic on the road segment between Svoge to Sofia is high.

      West from Svoge is the road connecting Iskar River Gorge and Petrohan Pass. (road N164) - very pretty scenery and a nice bicycling route.

      Any time the opportunity exists, always explore Iskar River Gorge. You definitely will not be disappointed. Again, along the road there is a train line and must be used for winter crossing Balkans in this area.

      There are a lot of small villages along the river, with small food shops, and restaurants. Hotels are available: 2-3 km south of Mezdra (along road E79), in Zverino and also in Svoge.

      Information for Svoge and 3 photos from the town:



      I'd like to mention 2 places in this area, if you have a time, you can visit (the map above):

      - Cherepishki Monastery - it is placed along the road between Zverino and Lyutibrod:


      - Monastery "Sedemte Prestola" ("The  Seven  Altars" - an ancient monastery - X - XI century) - approx 11 km. from Eliseyna (the entire area is very scenic, the pedaling up to the Monastery is not hard):



      (Photos of the area near Lakatnik can be seen in the link above as well).

Road toward the Monastery

And several photos from the monastery

      Roads toward the 2 Monasteries are well signed. Overnight accommodation for unpretentious bicyclists is available in Monastery "Sedemte Prestola", but you must bring food with you. Restaurant and shop are not available there. 


      Several photos from Iskar River Gorge.

      There are 4 tunnels in the Gorge, one next to Eliseyna (the third photo above) and 3 tunnels south from Cherepish (the next 3 photos) which are very short and definitely not dangerous. All the roads from Sofia to Mezdra are reconstructed and are in very nice riding condition.  

      Sector I. A - 2. a


      I have a suggestion for bicyclists pedaling from/to Vratsa:


      As I have mentioned above, the road segment: Mezdra - Rebarkovo (to the crossroad of roads E79 & road N16 - almost 3 km) is narrow and very dangerous with intensive traffic. Here is a good alternative route:


      from Vratsa to Chelopek to Lyutibrod.


      The climb is a little more, but the road is without any traffic and the scenery is beautiful as it can be seen from the 3 photos below the road profile chart.

     Sector I. A - 2. b           Vratsa - Milanovo - Lakatnik (Iskar River Gorge)


      For fans of mountain & off-road bicycling I would recommend:


      Vratsa - "Vratcata" Gorge  - Zgorigrad - Ledenika Cave - Parshevitsa Hut (placed on the mountain ridge - away behind me on pic. 2 below) - Milanovo - Iskar River Gorge (Lakatnik).

      The route is in an area of the National Reserve:


the most scenic place here is the gorge named "Vratsata" (the first pic. below)  between Vratsa and Zgorigrad.

      In the mountain the off road section is not signed, but I believe it is easy to maintain your orientation in the area as it is an open area; no forest, the visibility is nice in each direction (the last two photos below show the highest place in the mountain, faraway down is Iskar River Gorge). 

      I have never bicycled this route in the opposite direction (Milanovo to Vratsa), I am not sure, if it is easy to find the road after Milanovo going up the mountain.

      Approx 15 km after Zgorigrad there is a remarkable cave "Ledenika", it is worth to be visited.                  


      Overnight accommodation is possible in Vratsa, Zgorigrad, near Ledenika Cave, Parshevitsa Hut.

      Information about Vratsa can be seen here:


      The town is placed just below the Balkans, is a scenic place, the History Museum in the town is worth seeing, and overnight accommodation in the town is easy to find. Information on the History Museum in the town can be found here:


      There are a lot of Thracian gold treasures in it: Valchedram Gold treasure:

      and more than 200 peaces of Rogosen gold - silver treasure:

2. Iskar River Gorge


B. Mezdra to Cherven Bryag


      Mezdra can be regarded as a/the point of the Iskar River Gorge.  But, I would expand a little my description further of the area along Iskar River.  The ride to Cherven Bryag follows inside an incredibly scenic canyon. The road is an area placed away from the traffic. I believe bicyclists, planning routes in Bulgaria, can use this information to plan a route in this wild area.  

      Map of Mezdra: It is not a big town. Be aware, the roads toward Dolna Kremena and Brusen are not signed well.

      Sector I. A - 2. c

      On the next map, I have shown the two possible routes (having almost the same mileage) from Mezdra to Roman:

      The Route 1:

      Mezdra - Dolna Kremena - Gorna Kremena - Kalen - Gorna Beshovitsa - Dolna Beshovitsa - Roman.


      Although there is more climbing, I prefer this route.  I think the scenery is better. There are beautiful views near Iskar River, Strupets, just before enter Roman.

      The Route 2:

      from Mezdra to Brusen to Tsarevets to Staro selo to Strupets to Roman.

      Crossing Iskar River between Staro selo and Strupets you can visit Strupetski Monastery (never mind I explored this area many times, I have never visited it):



       Sector I. A - 2. d

      Toward Cherven Bryag here two routes are possible:

      Route a:

      from Roman to Kunino to Karlukovo Rail Station to Cherven Bryag.

      I recommend this route only to cyclists loving off road bicycling.

      The road segment Roman to Kunino is very nice. After Kunino, the ride  turns to off road conditions with very rocky sections, some sections are over the old rail way, and some sections contain big dirty puddles. Mosquitoes and flies can be a problem in this area. Because of the road conditions, you can not pedal fast enough to escape their bite. In August '16 my partner and I explored this road, she was not so happy at all at the end of this section.

      Heavy loaded bikers and recumbent should avoid this section. In the raining season it is better to avoid this area as well.

      But ... the reward, if you follow the dirt road, is experienced at a place near Karlukovo: The Lord Eyes Cave, you will truly enjoy a visit to this remarkable place.

       Several photos now following described sequence above:

      - from Roman to Kunino: The road is nice, and easy for pedaling. There is a nice water spring in Kunino. The scenery is great with the huge rock just next to the village.

     - Kunino:

      Be careful in Kunino to find the road, it is not so easy, ask for "Karlukovo" if necessary.

      Near a school further and dogs in his yard. They are not dangerous, but they are very noisy and love to attack bicyclists. In such cases, I have never hesitated to use my spray against dogs. It works perfectly!

      I know someone who uses a portable klaxon horn on dogs. He prefers short blasts from the klaxton, aimed at the dog/s, and verifies that it really works at 'frightening' dogs.

      from  Kunino to Karlukovo Rail Station:

      The off road (the photos in right). As I have mentioned above, it is rocky, there are a lot of pool, mosquitoes and flies will bite you, having in mind the dogs I have mentioned above, I think this route is only for experienced vagabonds.


      Approximately 18 km. past Kunino, on the rocks (your right) you will see a building (see picture). It is a hotel. If you have the time, stay there for a night and walk in the region. The scenery is the best, a cave (named the Lord Eyes) is a 20 minute walk from the hotel - there is a signed track to  the cave entrance (the 4th photo below). Below are several photos of this area, photos and information about the cave can be seen in the link:


      When I pedaled this region in August '16, I wandered in this area on a very hot and strenuous day of pedaling. I chose to stay at the hotel that evening.  At the hotel balcony, I enjoyed having a gin and tonic and ice and lemon before me ...  Maybe it will be not repeated, but who knows.

      The road toward the Hotel is not signed well, but I think the scheme works, over more it is visible form the gorge.


      Below are several photos of this place and the cave.


      - from Karlukovo Rail Station to Cherven Bryag:

      Again off road toward the road from/to Reselets.

     Route b:

      If you do not want to pedal dirt roads, you can pedal to the cave following:  Sector I. A - 2. d):

      from Kunino to Reselets to Cherven Bryag (road N 1031)

      Several photos of the road from Kunino to Reselets - I explored this area in April '12 just after the chilly and snowing February and March.  It was a beautiful ride.

      Overnight accommodation is possible in  Cherven Bryag:


       3. Vitinya Pass and Botevgradski Pass


      Vitinya Pass connects Botevgrad and Sofia (64 km). The road is marked on the map as N1. As it can be seen from the map, it follows the motorway (A2). Leaving Sofia, just after the ring around Sofia take the road toward Dolni Bogrov - Gorni Bogrov - Yana (Look also: IX.  How to enter/leave Sofia by bicycle).

      The old road (N1) parallel to the motor road (A2), is the designated bicycle road. The highest point of the pass has an altitude of 950 meters, where a small restaurant and a nice fresh water spring are located.

      As it can be seen from the road profile chart below, beginning from Borevgrad, the steeper segment of the road (approx. 12 km) is just after Bebresh Dam. I am not sure if in this steeper part drinkable water can be found. Appropriate places for camping are between Botevgrad and the wall of Bebresh Dam.

      The climb from Sofia to the north is longer, but a much easier climb. Camping places are available, but the motorway is very close and the noise level can be high due to the intensive of the traffic.


      More detailed map of the road just after Sofia ring (sector I. A - 3. a).

      Overnight accommodation is possible in Botevgrad. Some information about it can be seen here:



      Another option for crossing of Balkan here is Botevgradski Pass. Very often the motor road A2 is in a reconstruction and the traffic is directed along the old road crossing Vitinya (road N1). In the moment for example (2018 - 2018) one of the tunnels on the Pass is in a reconstruction and the heavy trucks are driving along the old road. It happen also when there is a heavy accident as well. It is because here I show an alternative from Sofia to Botevgrad via Botevgradski Pass:

      from Sofia to Dolni Bogrov to Sarantsi to Gorno Kamartsi to Botevgrad 

      This road is not maintained well, so here there is not any traffic. As I have traveled this route only by a car, I do not know if there is a drinkable warder in this area.

      The road profile chart shows that this Pass is little higher than Vitinya Pass. Down are several photos of the pass I took in gloomy April afternoon 2017. I recommend this route.

     4. Zlatishki Pass

      Zlatishki Pass connects Etropole (alt. 536 m.) and Zlatitsa (alt. 690 m), the distance is 28 km. It is marked on the map as N37. The pass elevation is 1382 meters, it is 17 km from Etropole and 11 km from Zlatitsa.  I feel it is one of the best routes to cross the Balkans. Presently, the road is in very poor condition, there are off-road segments, so drivers avoid it, with some of the road closed for cars. The Pass is closed in the winter.

      There are nice places for wild camping. Winter time the Pass is closed. A little history:



      Etrople is a small town, a great place to relax for a night before climbing the Pass.  Overnight accommodations at the hotel is not a problem.  There is a small museum in Etrople, as well as a few restaurants.


      East from Etropole is a monastery, with a scenic waterfall just behind it:



      Beginning from Etropole to south, climbing is permanent and long - 17 km. Have in mind that there is not any taps of drinkable water up to the highest Pass point.

      Leaving the town, you will see a sign that the pass is closed. If a police patrol is present you will enjoy of very pleasant climb because there will not be any traffic up the mountain. But if you do not see the police presence, drivers usually ignore the sign and use the road. Because the road is in very poor conditions, in the dry season/s the road can be very dusty (as can be seen in the last photo below), and I would not recommend to climb the Pass from this side.

      Except a little monument, there is nothing else on highest point of the pass. In the North direction, the Cupper Metal open mine can be seen. A kilometer further (from the south Pass side) a hut called "Kashana" is available. I did not visit it, but I believe coffee and tea can be found there, you can stay in it if the weather is not good.

      The climbing from Zlatitsa to north is pleasant and relatively easy. The scenery here is much better than the North Pass side. Higher in the mountain there are nice places for camp in the wilderness. (overnight accommodation in Zlatitsa and Pirdop is available too, both little towns are appropriate to relax in before Pass climbing).

      Leaving Zlatitsa again you will see a lot of signs pointing that the road is closed for cars; just after the train line a little hostel & restaurant is available.

      A little hotel is available in Tsarkviste, it can be seen from the road just before entering  the mountain. The first several kilometers of the road are paved and nice.  Higher in the mountain you are pedaling on off road conditions. There is a nice little river along first 5-6 km of the road.

      Here there are 2 springs of nice drinkable water: 3 - 4 km. after Tsarkviste and a kilometer or two before the Pass peak (the last picture below). Better places for camping are available higher in the mountain.

      Routes in the the region:

      - East from Etropole: from Yamna to Teteven  . . . to Varna;

      - West from Etropole: from Pravets to Botevgrad to Vitinia Pass to Sofia;

      - North from Etropole: from Laga to Djurovo to Vidrare (along Malak Iskar River) to Kalugerovo to Svode  . . . to Roman it is one of the best routes to pedal in BG, I recommend it.

      In Chapter VI. Routes: B. from Sofia to Varna,  Sector VI - 2 - A: from Sofia to Etropole, Variant 2. there are more details concerning these routes.

      Zlatitsa is located on the road E 871 To the West you can pedal toward Sofia, to East - Burgas. Information concerning this route can be seen in the Chapter VI. Routes: A. from Sofia to Burgas. Very little information for Zlatitsa is here:


      There are 2 opportunities in the South Direction toward Pazardzhik, look further in the same chapter (sector I. D).

      5. Troyanski Pass (Beklemeto)




      Troyanski Pass, (or Beklemeto), is one of the highest passes in the Balkans. The road connects Troyan and Karnare. It is marked on the map as N35. I would recommend this Pass only to stronger bicyclists loving to climb long distances.

      The highest of the Pass point has altitude 1526 meters, although other maps show it is 1560 m. I have climbed it only one time from south to the north and I intend to tour there as soon as possible again.

      Make sure you have something to use against dogs. On the mountain divide can often be found flocks of dogs. I always bring with me dog spray and never have hesitated to use it.  And do not forget to have a lot of water with you, as there isn't any available in the area. 

      The road is in very nice conditions. I would say the traffic is not intensive. Because of the turns and slope, car speed is not high, drivers are careful. Winter time this pass is closed. A nice period to bicycle there is May through the middle of October.


      I would recommend this Pass only to stronger bicyclists loving to climb long distances.

      Overnight accommodation is available in Troyan, information about it can be seen here:




      Several photos from Troyan

      Several kilometers east from Troyan is placed Troyanski Monastery. It is a touristy place, there is hotel next to Monastary as well as in Oreshak - just to the Monastery. Information for the monastery and several photos:


      Sector I. A - 5. a



      Beginning from Troyan to the south the climb is long and permanent, although there are no slopes steeper than 10%. The area is attractive and woody.  Three to four kilometers before the highest point there is a small restaurant. Fill water bottles here as I am not sure if drinkable water is available up the mountain.


      Between kilometers 15 and 20 there are several hotels.


      More information concerning Troyan and area near it can be seen in the Chapter  VI. Routes: B. from Sofia to Varna, Sector VI. 2 - C: from Teteven to Troyan, Sector VI. 2 - D: from Troyan to Gabrovo (road N44).



      Next photos were taken 21st April 2017. My suggestion is always when you pedal Balkan to bring with you winter equipment never mind of the season. Several minutes after I was on the top of the Pass there was a snow storm in the mountain.

      Sector I. A - 5. b






      Beginning from Karnare the southern side of the Pass is long and steep (It is permanent and less than 10%). To climb it in the sunny summer afternoons is not a good idea (do it only early in the morning); no shade and no drinkable water (the first water fountain is 3-4 kilometers to the pick - I pointed it on the map).


      As a compensation of the hard bicycling, the perfect view to the south must be taken into account. When you see the monument on the divide, it means your suffering soon will be over.


      Higher in the mountain there are nice places to camp in the wilderness.


      Reaching the peak in the end, you are rewarded with a beautiful downhill ride to the town of Troyan.

... drops of yellow water ... still away from the real spring high in the mountain ...


The monument on the top of the Pass.

Sector: I. B

      6. Rusaliiski Pass


      The pass crosses a saved area - "Central Balkan Reserve"


      Sector I. B - 6. a


       The Pass is placed between Apriltsi and Tazha. Almost all the distance is off-road rocky off-road. Rusaliiski Pass again is one of the highest in Balkan its altitude 1520 meters (1550 was the altitude according to an other map).

  I will give a little more detailed description of this Pass, because I have seen maps, on which it is pointed like a nice road, in fact the true is quite different.


      Beginning at Apriltsi (point A) the road will lead to Ostrets (point B). Immediately after Ostrets, the road conditions deteriorate to 'off road' conditions. Initially,  the climb is pleasant (up to point C), with road conditions becoming more difficult with conditions at times leading to walking your bicycle up the grade. The road surface turns to something close to scree conditions, but the scenery is perfect all the area is very nicely wooded. Fresh water is available everywhere. The road is not signed, but you cannot be wrong pushing your bike up the mountain. Two to three kilometers before the mountain divide, the road's angle of assent starts to taper off, but bicycling again will be not possible because the road is too rocky.    


    Once the ridge is reached (Point D), you will have a perfect view in any direction. There you will see a primitive mountain hut Tazha, as it is named on the Google map, also "Taja", as I have seen on other maps. I believe tea is served to passers by in the hut.  When the weather is bad, the hut can be used for a night. The area on the ridge is perfect for camping.  You need to bring your own food.  

    For more information about Apriltsi, and the area: Chapter  VI. Routes: B. from Sofia to Varna,  Sector VI. 2 - D: from Troyan to Gabrovo (road N44).



      Sector I. B - 6. b

      Down the mountain you will find 3 - 4 kilometers of nice off road conditions, which are not too steep.  But the next road segment to Tazha is rather steep and rocky, making bicycling a bit of a challenge. Plan on taking 4 hours to go down to the village of Tazha.

      The climb from the south mountain side begins just after the village at Tazha. I have never climbed the Pass from its southern side (and I will never do it). The road is steep and rocky.  I think bicycling here is not possible. You will need at least 6 hours to walk a bicycle up to the mountain ridge. But, if you decide to give it a go,  the best views are to the south and will be your best reward for the suffering, while pushing your bike up and up the mountain.

      I do not recommend to climb the Pass from south to north, but if somebody decide to do it,  the best view to the south all the time will be the best reward for the suffering, while pushing your bike up and up in the mountain.


      The period between May and September is the best time to walk in this area. I believe it would be best to bring winter equipment and to have your own food supplies. The weather in the mountain is very changeable, snow always is possible, and all that area is considered no-mans land by the locals. There is nobody to help you if assistance is needed. My suggestion:  Avoid this Pass without an experienced guide.  But if you are a real adventurer - do it!

       There are aggressive dogs in this area. Carry dog spray for your protection.

      The link below is a photo album of a bicycle tour I and my daughter Maya did in the rain in June 2009. In the beginning of the album there are a lot of photos in Iskar River Gorge, a part of the album is our climb over this Pass.



7. Shipka Pass

      Sector I. B - 7. a

     Shipka Pass (altitude; 1200 meters) is one of the base Balkan passes signed on the map as N5 or E75. The pass is closed to trucks heavier than 12 metric tons; traffic on this road is relatively intensive, although the car velocity is not high because of the turns and restrictions. August 2015, I pedaled this section from south to north, I would say, it was not an unpleasant ride.

      The north side of the Pass (woody place) is longer, especially if you are coming from Veliko Tarnovo. The road passes a very nice beech forest up the mountain, making for a nice ride any time of the day. I have noticed 3 springs of drinkable water to the divide.

     For information about Gabrovo:



      Several kilometers south from Gabrovo is placed Etara which is an interesting architectural ethnographic complex - a museum at work. It is worth seeing (There are several photos for it in the Chapter VI. Routes: B. from Sofia to Varna, Sector VI. 2 - D: from Troyan to Gabrovo (road N44), Sector VI. 2 - D. 1).





Below are several photos of the north side of the Pass:

      On the mountain divide there are 2-3 restaurants, a small hotel, it is also a place connected with our history:



      There is interesting monument and a stairway having approx 900 steps up to the monument. The view from the top of the monument is remarkable - photos below:



      Sector I. B - 7. b

      Climbing the Balkan from its south side begins after Shipka village (the first photo below). The road slope is permanent, approx 9 - 10% up to the mountain divide. Comparing with the north Balkan side, here the road is better and wider.

     If you can begin climbing the Pass no later than 8:00 8:30 am, you will pedal in shade. My suggestion is to avoid climbing of the Pass in the hot summer afternoons.

      Nine km. after Shipka village, up in the mountain, there is a spring of nice drinkable water.

      You can use route A, B or C depending on your general route.

      I want to suggest a visit to the Shipka Memorial Church next to Shipka village:


     The first 3 photos below are along route A (The route A in Shipka village is not signed well) - in the first picture Maya is pointing to the Monument on Shipka Pass.


      I have posted information for Kazanlak in the Chapter VI. Routes: A. from Sofia to Burgas, Sector V. 1 - C: from Kalofer to Gurkovo

Information for Kazanlak:



      Next, I want to mention an alternative road to cross Balkan:


      from Gabrovo to Zeleno darvo to Hotel Hlebna (on the mountain divide) to down to Iasenovo.


      From Gabrovo, up to the hotel Hlebna (it is on the divide), the road is very nice and not hard for bicycling.  After that, follows an off-road section. After the Hotel Hlebna, the road is not signed and very easy to lose your direction. There are too many off-roads used by the wood cutters no signs, nobody to consult, the area is woody, and no visibility.

      August 2013, Maya and I were lost there (photos below). We started pedaling from Tranito (west from Gabrovo)  - Gabrovo  - Smirnenski - Zeleno Darvo, up the mountain. We had a lunch in the hotels "Hlebna" restaurant at the highest point of the pass. Late in the afternoon we were strongly surprised to be back in Tranito. All the time I did not know we are bicycling to the wrong direction down the mountain. Even on Google Maps I cannot find out the road we were on. It didn't help that it was a very cloudy day; we never saw the sun.

      In short, I do not recommend using this route, although Hotel "Hlebna" (the first photo below) is very pleasant place to relax, and enjoy a meal at the restaurant. 

      I mention here this route because I have heard that GPS devices shows this road as very appropriate to overcome Balkan. NO! This road is not appropriate. Often cars and tourist bus drivers have been mislead and must drive back to Gabrovo town from the highest point of the Pass.

8. Trevnenski Pass



This Pass is an amazing area and I recommend warmly to cross Balkan just here in both directions. It is between Tryavna and Dabovo. NO ANY TRAFFIC !!! On some maps the road, I have signed on the map as off-road (between Borustitsa and Krastets train station), is even not shown.


The Pass altitude is 960 meters. The north side of the road is:

 from Tryavna to Plachkovtsi to Krastets Railway Station.

      Climbing is not hard, yet, not so easy.  The road is asphalt, and in a nice condition.

      To reach Krastets Railway Station, you must be careful to find the off road further down the mountain simply follow the railway immediately after the  Railway Station (the right side of the train line). I am not sure if there are water springs up the north mountain side I have always climbed the south side of the Pass. Have food with you, although in Raduntsi there is a little food shop.

      Climbing the south Balkan side begins from:

      from Dabovo  to Yavorets to Raduntsi  to Borustitsa  to Krastets Railway Station.

      As it can be seen in the road profile chart, the climb is long and pleasant, and not steep. The road segment Borustitsa Krastets Railway Station is off-road (some maps do not even show the road). Needless to say, there is very little traffic. The area is very nice, with comfortable places for camp in the wilderness at higher elevations. No way to be wrong along this road it is next to the railway (the south part of the pass). Bring water and food. Water is available at springs higher up the mountain.

      The train offers an opportunity to cross Balkan by this pass. It serves the line from  Gorna Oriahovitsa to Stara Zagora. Traveling by train, especially when the train is in the mountain, is truly spectacular. Usually in the train there are not many people, so handling with the bicycles and baggage is not a problem.


      The left photo here is the off-road between Borustitsa and Krastets Railway Station along the river - I was in the train on one cool and raining afternoon.

Tryavna it a touristy spot, overnight accommodation here is not a problem there are several nice restaurants as well; for information about Tryavna:




9. Pass of the Republic (Hainboaz)


      One of the basic Balkan passes (altitude: 700 meters). The pass is a segment on the international road E85

      from Turk border to Nova Zagora to Gurkovo to Pchelinovo to Raikovtsi to Vaglevtsi to Kilifarevo to Veliko Tarnovo to Byala to Ruseto Romania.

      Because this route is heavy with tourist traffic, there are a lot of hotels, motels, restaurants along the road.

      The pass is very easy for bicycling in both direction, but it would be better to avoid it as the road can be busy with a lot of heavy, industrial truck traffic in both directions. Also, there are no restrictions concerning truck tonnage. AVOID IT !!!

      Most of the next several passes I explored in August '15. Unfortunately, near the end of this tour, I lost my camera. So, I am not able to display photos (here are photos of tours I took 5-6 years ago). In addition of that, I lost the map I used to point out springs, restaurants, and food shops. That said, I have to depend on my memory to point out features I remember along the route. I hope, in the summer '17, I will have the opportunity to repeat this tour, and have pictures to post ... well, I pedaled the next Pass summer '17.


10. Tvardishki Pass



      Tvardishki Pass (altitude: 1050 meters) is one of the best ways to cross this part of the Balkans. The pass connects Elena and Tvarditsa - road N662 which (last time I explored this area was August '17) was in very nice condition, and still should be.

      The pass has very little traffic, I would be surprised if you see more than 5 - 6 cars here. It is closed to trucks heavier than 10 metric tons, so I recommend to cross Balkan just here. The entire area is very scenic, almost all the time you will pedal in the wood.

      Drinkable water is available at the both sides of Balkan.

      August there are a lot of beautiful blackberry along all the road - the last tine I explored this area I lost a lot of time to eat it. On the top of the Pass there are 2 huts, next I have posted pictures and details about huts.





      Elena is a touristy spot, architecture of XIX century is saved. There are overnight accommodation and nice restaurants in the town. Information of Elena can be seen here:




      Several photos from Elena:

      The road south from Elena to the top of the pass begins at the center of Elena, is a steep grade up to Shubetsi, and is very pleasant pedaling after that in the perfect mountain area. The route is very scenic and there are nice places for camp in the wilderness.

      Drinkable water is available approximately 7 and 13 kilometers from Elena up in the mountain.

The Mountain divide - there is no big flat open area nice for camp in the wilderness.

      Just after the mountain divide (pedaling to South) are two huts.  To right is the first one is "Bukovets" Hut, the road toward it is labeled, unfortunately using Cyrilic.

      It is a little primitive for overnight accommodation, but coffee and food is available there.

      A kilometer further down the mountain is the crossroad toward the next one (to left): "Haidushka Pesen" Hut. Here is much comfortable (and more expensive) for overnight accommodation, but food & coffee is not available. The road again is signed using only Cyrillic.


      From the south side the Pass climbing begins from the center of Tvarditsa - the road toward Elena is signed well. Unfortunately there is not an English language information site of this small town. No problem to find overnight accommodation in it - look for labels attached to the poles.

      Climbing the south pass segment (north from Tvarditsa) is harder, as seen from the road profile chart above. There is a beautiful view to south as well. Two - three kilometers up the mountain the re is a nice place for camp in the wilderness.

      Along the road there is very nice cool river; nice springs of cool fresh water can be found 8, 10, 16 kilometers after Tvarditsa up the mountain. Area here is woody, I recommend to begin climbing no later than 8.30 am.

11. Vratnik Pass


      Another very nice road (N 53) to cross the Balkans. The road connects Elena and Sliven. The highest pass point has altitude 1100 meters, although the Google map shows me 920 meters. The entire road is in very nice condition, there is very little traffic. In addition the pass is closed for trucks heavier than 10 metric tons.

      Beginning from Elena to east, the next villages are Maryan, Berovo, Konstantin, Maisko, and Stara reka.

      The south side of the pass is steeper and harder for bicycling (especially just after Sliven). No wooded areas or shade, so it would be better to avoid climbing here in the sunny, hot summer afternoons. Bring water with you; I am not sure if there is water here.

      Sector I. B - 11. a

      Beginning from Elena to east, next villages are Maryan, Berovo, Konstantin, Maisko, Stara reka.

      I can say this is one of my favorite areas in this region.  Each village has food and water available. I point on the map the only the water spring I remember. Unfortunately, last year I saw more and more cow farms in the region. So, if you camp in the wilderness you have to be more careful, you might wake up early in the morning surrounded by hundreds of caws - it happened to me August '16.

      Sector I. B - 11. b

      Climbing of the pass begins after Stara Reka. It is very nice countryside. The north Balkan side is a nice wooded area. Climbing is long but not steep and very pleasant. Carry water when climbing the mountain.

      The last time I was in the area, August '16, at the top of the pass, there is a little restaurant, which wasn't open.

      Unfortunately I haven't photos of this beautiful countryside - I lost my camera  climbed in the area in August '16. Let's hope, some nice day, I will be not so absent - minded.


      Sector I. B - 11. c


      The south side of the pass is steeper and harder for bicycling (especially just after Sliven). No wooded areas or shade. Again, it would be better to avoid the climb here in the sunny and hot summer afternoons. Food can be found in Banya.

      The only photo I have of this road segment is taken just after Banya, climbing a hill toward Sliven, I took it August '08, I toured there together with 2 couples from Belgium, it was an amazing 3 week tour.

      High on the horizon can be seen a lot of wind electro generators. The region near Sliven is a windy area.

      Overnight accommodation in Sliven is not a problem. Information about Sliven can be seen here:




      In the north end of the town there is a chair type lift up to "Sinite Kamani Natural Park" - the Blue Stone Nature Park. The view to the plane low down is great


Sector: I. C

       Sector I. C includes the east part of the Balkans. The mountain in its eastern part  is getting wide, it is not so high and the road profile include several shorter ascents and descents. This part of the mountain is easy to access, and easy for bicycling, riding either from the north or the south. I will give more detailed descriptions of the passes here.

      12. Kotlenski Pass

(from Targoviste to Omurtag to Kotel to the Pentacle to Yambol)

      The road segment, Targoviste to Yambol, is one of the shortest roads, when the country is crossed from the Romanian border (Silistra or Ruse) to the Turkish border (Border Checkpoint Lesovo).

      This section of road is relatively easy for bicycling in both directions, is in very nice condition, and there is some traffic on it. 

      The road segment from Targoviste to Omurtag can have heavy traffic. Even though the road is wide enough, I do not like it and do not recommend bicycling of this road segment, especially north to south (up the hill). It would be better to pedal:

from Targoviste to Veliki Preslav (road N74) to Varbitsa (road N7) ,

and to cross the mountain using Varbishki Pass (the next one in this Chapter).


       Sector I. C - 12. a


      The crossroad on the south most point on the map on the left is known in Bulgaria as "the Pentacle".

      This route includes, from south to north, 3 passes: Marashki Pass (alt. 225 m.), Mokrenski (Avramovski) Pass (alt. 470 m.), and the highest one Kotlenski Pass (alt. 700 m.).

      All the three passes make for easy climbing in the south to north direction. There are several water springs along the road, but the water is not very tasty. I recommend you bring your own water. Food can be found in villages along the road.

      Below are several photos from the Pentacle to the highest point of Kotlenski Pass. The area is nice for wilderness camping.

      The next three photos illustrate approach to Marashki Pass from the Pentacle. Usually at the beginning of some passes you will see a Open, indicating the pass is clear of snow and passable.

       Mokren, and the hill toward Mokrenski Pass.  Climb it earlier in the morning, as there isn't any shade here.
      Toward Gradets and Kotlenski pass. The entire area is nice for wild camping.

      Overnight accommodation in Kotel is possible. Information for Kotel: 



      Close to this route is Zheravna - an architectural - historical reserve:


      I still did not find a time to visit it. Overnight accommodation there is possible, it seems it would be nice to spent a night there.

       Sector I. C - 12. b


      Beginning at Targoviste, to the highest point of Kotlenski Pass, I have pointed on the map altitudes of several specific points; the map indicates  that the area is not easy for bicycling, but that is not the case.

      The most unpleasant road segment is between Targoviste and Omurtag, especially in the hot July and August days. Here the traffic is intense (this road is a segment of the road from Varna to Sofia), although the road is wide enough (below are 3 photos of this road segment). Bicycling here is not dangerous, but the noise of the heavy tracks is not so pleasant. There are several springs on the route.

      This road segment can be avoided (look the next point):

      from Targoviste to Veliki Preslav to Varbitsa to Varbishki Pass to the Pentacle.

      Notice that Ticha is placed in a low place it makes this route harder in both directions of bicycling.

      The traffic Targoviste - Omurtag can be seen on the first photo below.

      The country side between Omurtag and the Pass: very nice mountain area, roads without any traffic.

     Some information about Targoviste:



      Some information about Omurtag:


      The town is named on Khan Omurtag, a little history:


    13. Varbishki Pass

       Varbishki Pass is the one of the passes and roads in Eastern Balkan connecting both north and the south parts of the country. Because it is not maintained regularly, the road is in very bad condition, especially its southern part (the last photo below).

      The traffic here is forbidden, so the Pass is excellent for bicycling I recommend it. If you see here a car, you have to be sure, that its GPS device has misled the driver that the road is nice. Just being the crossroad of roads N7 and N 7006 you even will see 2-3 sand heaps on the road N7 and many signs pointing that the Pass is closed: go ahead, it is for cars.

      The Pass can be used for crossing Bulgaria north south (or vice versa) as follows:


from Ruse (Silistra) to Targoviste to Veliki Preslav to Varbitsa to the Pentacle to Yambol to Turkey/BG border (Border Checkpoint Lesovo),


from Ruse (Silistra) to Targoviste to Veliki Preslav to Varbitsa to Sungurlare to Madrino to Karnobat to Aitos to Burgas to Malko Tarnovo to Turkey/BG border (Border Checkpoint Malko Tarnovo).

      The road segment from Shumen to Veliki Preslav can be used to cross Balkan here as well.



      Information for Shumen and Veliki Preslav can be seen in the Chapter VI. Routes: B. from Sofia to Varna, Point 2. The route 2         (from Sofia to Varna: the route along the north side of Balkan), Sector VI. 2 - H: from Ticha to Shumen

      Sector I. C - 13. a

      The highest point of the pass has an altitude of 880 meters. It is the last relatively high pass in the East Balkans. Enjoy the ride in either direction.

      Carry water as this pass is very dry.

      The pass can be pedaled from Sungurlare and from Medven as well. As it is obvious from the road profile charts, both route a and route b are similar. After Sungurlare (to north - the first photo below) the road is not signed well, but it is easy to figure out.

      There are nice places for wild camping, especially on the Divide.

       It is necessary to have food and water with you, although between Varbitsa and the top of the Pass (4 - 5 km south from Varbitsa) there is a nice restaurant and fresh water, it is a small local resort.

      Very little information for Varbitsa can be seen here:


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

      On the divide there is a meteorological station and nice places for wild camping. August '16, I spent a nice night there beneath the full moon.

      14. Rishki Pass


      On the maps this road is signed as N73, it connects Shumen to Karnobat. The highest pass point has an altitude of 420 m. (pointed on the map below), it is not a problem to be bicycled in both directions.

      The road is in very nice condition, but the traffic is relatively intensive (comparing with the traffic on the previous 2 passes). But, it is convenient and is wide enough, truck speeds are safe because of the slopes and turns in the route.


      The route is convenient to cross the country north - south (or vice versa).

      from Romanian/BG border to Silistra to Alfatar to Dulovo to Zagoriche to Kliment to Venets to Kapitan Petko to Panaiot Volovo to Shumen to Smiadovo to Veselinovo to Prilep to Lozarevo to Karnobat to Burgas to Malko Tarnovo to Turkey/BG border (Border Checkpoint Malko Tarnovo).



      Information for Karnobat can be found in the Chapter VI.Routes: A. from Sofia to Burgas, Route 1, Sector V. 1 - E: from Sliven to Burgas

      The mountain area of this route is between Smyadovo and Lozarevo. On the map I have shown altitudes of some high and low points.

      All this area is beautiful countryside. There are nice places to wild camp. Food can be found in Veselinovo, Prilep and Lozarevo.

      A part of this route I pedaled August '16. I was disappointed with the amount of traffic.  I really did not expect it. Three months later a friend of mine told me that there is not any traffic along this route.  But, this was an opinion of car driver.

       Because there are no restrictions with respect to truck load tonnage I think it would be better to avoid this route. 

      The first 6 photos are taken between Shumen and Sungurlare.

My camp place next to Alexandrovo and up to the Pass.
Toward Prilep
Toward Lozarevo and after it.

      15. Aytoski Pass

      This route should be strongly considered to cross the country north - south (or back), rather than the previous one. It connects Provadia, Dalgopol and Aytos. The highest point here has altitude 400 meters (several kilometers north from Aytos), so this Pass is nice and easy for bicycling in both directions, over more this area is very nice countryside as well as there is not intensive traffic.

      This would be a great area to take time and tour. There are villages along this road, no problem finding food and water. Many times I toured in this area and wild camped.

      The route can be used to cross country north - south:

      from Silistra to Alfatar to Tervel to Kochmar to Vekilski to Kaloyan to Vetrino to Provadia to Dalgopol to Asparuhovo to Daskotna to Yabalchevo to Aytos to Burgas to Malko Tarnovo to Turkey/BG border (Border Checkpoint Malko Tarnovo).


      Turning to the right (approx 10 km north from Aytos) towards Ruen, 20 kilometers further is the next pass in the Balkan - Dyulinski Pass.

      Overnight accommodation is available in Aytos, Asparuhovo and Provadia.


      Information for Aytos:



      Information for Provadia and its fortres "Ovech":




      Crossing Tsonevo Dam you will see a very pretty place: The Wonderful Rocks.


    16. Dyulinski Pass

      Dyulinski Pass (altitude: 440 meters) is located west from Obzor. The Pass is between Dyulino, and Gyulovitsa. (The first photo below is point A on the map).  The pass is an easy ride in both directions. The pass is closed for cars heavier than 3.5 metric tons.

      I recommend this route to cyclists intending to visit the seaside.

      No traffic here, in addition the pass is closed for trucks heavier than 3,5 metric tons. It would be better to use this pass, instead the last pass (Pomoriiski Pass) between Pomorie and Obzor  at the seaside. 

      Carry water with you because the Pass is a dry area. On the map above I have shown 2 possible routes:

      - I prefer route a in the both directions - the descent towards Obzor is longer - I enjoy of the scenery;

      - the ascent is easier than one in route b, as it can be noticed on the road profile charts below.


      Information for Obzor:



The entire area is nice for camp in the wilderness, my last night there was August '16.

      17. Pomoriiski Pass


      Pomoriiski Pass is on the road E87 connecting Varna and Burgas.

      The pass is located between Sunny Beach Resort and Obzor. Year round the traffic here is quite intensive, especially summer time (June and August), in the tourist season it is even terrible. The road has many turns, narrow segments, the south side of the mountain is steeper. Drivers are very nervous because of the traffic, and often heavy accidents occur.


      Although I bicycled this pass many times, my suggestion is ALWAYS AVOID THIS ROAD! It is dangerous signed as forbidden for bicycling. Need I say more?

      On the top of the pass there is a little restaurant and fresh water.

      More about this area and how to avoid this road (the green line on the map above) can be seen in the Chapter IV. Bicycling along the Black seaside:

- Segment IV- C. from Varna to Emine cape, Points 16. Irakli and 17. Emona;

- Segment IV- D. from Emine Cape to Burgas, point 18. from Emona to Nesebar.  

Sector: I. D

      Sredna Gora Mountain is the one parallel to the Balkans. It is not so high and not so long, here I will show appropriate roads to cross it on bicyclists planning to cross the country in the direction north - south, or back it will be useful.

      The routes in the sector I. D  are as follows:

      18.  from Zlatitsa to Panagyuriste to Pazardzhik;

      19.  from Zlatitsa to Koprivstitsa to Strelcha to Pazardzhik;

      20.  from Karlovo to Plovdiv.


      18.  From Zlatitsa to Panagyuriste to Pazardzhik

      This is a really nice area to explore. More climbing is available north after Panaguyriste. There is minimal traffic between Panagyuriste and Zlatitsa. At the top of the pass there is a little local resort, with both food and water. I am not sure if overnight accommodation is possible there. A little further you can see remains of leaved copper mine and the picture is like a moon area.

      Panaguyriste is connected with the history of Bulgaria. Information about the area can be seen here:



      Overnight accommodation is possible in the town. Several photos:

      In the town center you can visit the Museum of History. It is divided into exhibitions dedicated to Archeology, Ethnography, Bulgaria from the 15th to the 19th centuries, Contemporary Bulgaria, and Natural History.


      In a basement of the museum is exposed a Thracian Gold Treasure, estimated to be worth more than $200,000,000 USD. The exhibition is quite impressive, it is worth to be seen. Look here for information:


      In Bulgaria are found out a lot of Thracian treasures, information about it is in the next link:


      Road segment between Panaguyriste and Pazardzhik is easy for pedaling, the traffic here is a little bit more intensive, but is not dangerous for pedaling.

       Sector I. D - 18.a

     A nice opportunity nearby this route is Banya and the best swimming pool of thermal water there. I love to visit this place at least one time a year.

      I can not recommend the hotel next to the swimming pool, but if you need an overnight accommodation, in Banya center there is a better placer for it, as well as not bad restaurant.

      To avoid the trafic between Panagyuriste and Pazardzhik, you can use some of next routes:

      - Route a:

      from Panagyuriste to Strelcha to Dulevo to Smilets to Blatnitsa to Ovchepoltsi to Chernogorovo to Pazardzhik,

      - Route b:

      frim Panagyuriste to Popintsi to Svoboda to Tsar Asen to Rosen to Chernogorovo to Pazardzhik.

      The only thing I can say is that the entire area is more than beautiful for exploring. Next 3 pics are taken between Tsar Asen and Popintsi.

      In the next point I will give more information about the route including Strelcha.

      19.  From Zlatitsa to Koprivstitsa to Strelcha to Pazardzhik

      Another really good route for pedaling in this region. Pedaling east from Zlatitsa, you climb what is referred to as "Koznitsa" Hill. Just before the end of this climb, you have to turn right toward Koprivstitsa. The road is well signed. The traffic here is not bad, and the road is wide as well.

     After leaving the main road, you will find very little traffic all the way to Pazardzhik. The next several photos were taken along the local road toward Koprivstitsa.

      Koprivstitsa again is a place connected with our history. The architecture from XIX century is saved, it gives to the place a specific feature. Overnight accommodation is not a problem there. A lot of information about it can be seen here:



      Next several photos were taken from Koprivstitsa.

     The steepest road segment here is between Strelcha and Koprivstitsa, the view in each direction there is quite impressive.

     Another small spa resort is in the next little town Strelcha. Overnight accommodation in it is not a problem, it is worth spending an afternoon near swimming pool of thermal water:



      The last beautiful road segment without any traffic is segment between Strelcha and Pazardzhik. As a rule, each early spring  (the end of March or beginning of April) my first bike tour is to Strelcha and back.

      Road profile: Strelcha - Pazardzhik

      20.  from Karlovo to Plovdiv.

      Because of the high volume of traffic I do not recommend pedaling this road.

      Information for Karlovo can be seen here:


     Banya is a little spa resort, with overnight accommodations and a thermally warmed swimming pool.


        If you decide to cycle in this region, it would be better to choose route b - you will avoid the traffic and you will visit Hisarya, which is much better spa resort surrounded by the best saved roman fortress in Bulgaria - the main door of the fortress is the symbol of the place. Here you can find hotels of different qualities, according to your wish.



      A lot of information for Hisarya can be seen here:







      The entire area is easy for pedaling in both directions.

Sector: I. E



      21.  (Kazanlak) Pavel Banya to Plovdiv (Chirpan);

      22.  Kazanlak to Stara Zagora;

      23.  Gurkovo to Nova Zagora;

      24.  Tvarditsa to Nova Zagora;


      21.   Pavel Banya - Rakovski

      Here I put a little more expanded map showing routes toward Plovdiv (route a) and Chirpan & Dimitrovgrad (toward Bulgaria/Turkey border - routes b and c).

      Sredna Gora Mountain, placed between Brezovo and Pavel Banya, is a very nice area for pedaling. You may experience heavy traffic between Plovdiv and Rakovski.

      Pavel Banya is a nice spa resort. There are a lot of nice spots - hotels and swimming pools - nice to relax after a hard bike day. A link for Pavel Banya (the last 2 photos below):


      A link for Rakovski:


      Sector I. E - 21. a 

- Pavel Banya - Rakovski (route a);

- Pavel Banya - Bratya Daskalovi (route c).


      These are roads in very nice conditions without any traffic. There is a shortcut between Brezovo and Bratya Daskalovi as well. Routes b and c on the map in left are very nice for bicyclists crossing the country, either traveling north or south.


       22.  Kazanlak - Stara Zagora;


      This road can have a lot of traffic, but is wide enough (2 strips in each direction) if you choose to pedal it.  Usually I avoid this road. I do not even have not photos of this area.

      To avoid it to some extent, use the route:

      Kazanlak - Rozovo - Kanchevo, Razhena - Yagoda - Zmeyovo - Stara Zagora.


      In the fields near Kazanlak there are rose plantations - it is known as the "Rose's field", in the end of May when roses are flowering the fields are amazing. Unfortunately I have never visit this area in the period rouses are flowering.

      There is an interesting Thracian tomb near Kazanlak, unique frescos can be seen in it, I think it is under UNESCO protection. It is not possible to visit it, but in the local history museum there is a copy of it.  Several times I have mention Thracian in my Home Page - they were the ancient population living in the east part of Balkans, most of all they loved the war, wine and women.

      Information about Kazanlak and thy tomb can be seen here:




      Information about Stara Zagora:



       23.  Gurkovo - Nova Zagora

   This is an easy area for bicycling, unfortunately the traffic here can be a challenge because it is a segment of international road from Turkey to North Europe. It would be better to avoid it.


     24.  Tvarditsa - Nova Zagora

      I recommend this route.  The area is very scenic, and the traffic is minimal. I need to find some photos to put here.

       Information for Tvarditsa is available here:



      Information for Nova Zagora is available here:


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