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Bulgarian countryside is patch worked with lavender, rapeseed and sunflower fields, rugged ridges hang over winding roads and friendly locals wave from nearby houses. Experience a rawer version of the country by choosing among the best cycling routes in Bulgaria.
Shabla Lake and Durankulak Lake
The northern part of the Bulgarian Black Sea coast is lesser known to both locals and foreigners but it has preserved more of its pristine and unique nature. Shabla Lake is a wetland bursting with life (perfect for bird watching), while the nearby Durankulak Lake has the remains of several ancient cities on an island in it. Visit the Shabla Green Center to rent a bike and get information about the area.
The Belogradchik Rocks are one of the most amazing rock formations in Bulgaria. The imposing, quirky-shaped rocks change colors during the day and have the majestic Belogradchik Fortress perched on them. For the best cycling in the area, stay at Madona Inn in Falkovets village, where you can rent a bike, get GPS and maps and try delectable local meals. You can both stay at the inn or camp in their yard.
Beglika Reservoir is a legendary mountain biking spot in the Rhodopes Mountains where you can experience real mountain adventure. Chatama area is located by the reservoir and is a focal point where many bike adventurers gather and hold summer camps, adventure tours, and organized trips.
Although the cycling infrastructure of Sofia is illogical and almost entirely missing, it is one of the greenest capitals of Europe and along with it’s many the cultural and architectural landmarks, it’s worth visiting its parks and gardens. You can join the bike tour organized by Sofia Green Tour to have a local guide introduce you to the city’s stories. If you don’t have a bike, you can rent one from them.
Cycling Veliko Tarnovo’s steep streets is quite a challenge. As the local joke goes: there are only three directions in Veliko Tarnovo – up, down and ‘take the stairs’. Although the city is probably better experienced on foot, the area is full of low-traffic roads leading from village to village with an occasional waterfall (Hotnitsa Waterfalls are simply stunning with their emerald water) on your route.
Plovdiv is the Bulgarian city with the most extensive cycle lane network and you will gain a brand new perspective of the city if you navigate it just following the lanes to the outer neighborhoods. Keep in mind that cycling along the main pedestrian Knayz Alexander I Street is forbidden and you might be fined. There are places where you can rent a bike if you haven’t brought yours or book a guide.
Burgas is the only city in Bulgaria with a local bike rental system. Velo Burgas lets you rent a bike from one of the bike stations in the city so you can discover the coastal city following your own route at your own speed. A stunning destination close to the city is the Atanasovsko Lake with its pinkish pools of curative lye and rich bird life.
Vidin is a border city in northern Bulgaria stretching along the Danube River. The city has a long riverside bike lane (filled with many pedestrians though) where you can enjoy a view of the Romanian shore across the river. You can cycle to the main attraction in the city too – the impressive Baba Vida fortress, the best preserved building of this type in contemporary Bulgaria.
Iskar River Gorge
The main road from Sofia to Svoge passes through the picturesque Iskar River Gorge, winding left and right following the snake-like river bed. The route (less than 40 km) offers stunning views of rock formations, trains passing and villages perched on the surrounding hills. If you are not used to road cycling, it’s good to know that the road is quite narrow and can have heavy traffic at times.
Downhill enthusiasts will appreciate the trails in Vitosha Mountain, just a 30 minute drive out of the capital, Sofia. There are a few adrenaline trails snaking among the trees, one starting from Kopitoto area and another from Dragalevtsi neighborhood. Take the chairlift from Dragalevtsi and when you arrive at the final station, just follow the cycling signs.
If you are not into downhill, however, you can try the Vitosha100 Race route. This is a mountain ultra marathon and MTB race circling the bottom of Vitosha Mountain. It takes place every year and you can download the GPS tracks of the race from its website.
Sopot is a historical village at the south foot of Stara Planina (Balkan Mountains) with scenic ridges hanging above it. The area is famous for its difficult downhill trails with sharp turns, steep routes and big drops. There’s a chairlift that will take you and your bike up in the mountains.
One of the most recent downhill trails is located in the beautiful Rila Mountains, close to the Seven Rila Lakes. The trail follows the route of the chairlift to the lakes offering a few options for various level of difficulty (including easy). At the end of the ascension you will be rewarded with the stunning view of the lakes.