Bulgaria Rhodope walk

Bulgaria: the Black Sea Coast and the Rhodope Mountains

The mountain ranges of Bulgaria offer fine highland scenery and excellent walking opportunities. Old-fashioned farming methods and a lack of industry result in unspoilt landscapes rarely seen in Western Europe.

Further east Thracian horsemen galloped through the great plain extending to the Black Sea coast and Greeks and Romans played their parts in defining the architecture of our destination. Painted and sculptured chamber tombs provide an insight into the lives of the Thracian warriors.

Late summer is the perfect time to make our 13-day comprehensive tour of this little-known land, walking in richly diverse natural habitats of Sredna Gora, Balkan and Rhodope mountains; exploring ancient history mixed with more recent historic episodes of rebellion; visiting frescoed Byzantine churches and well-preserved Roman ruins; discovering the pleasures of Balkan cuisine and excellent Bulgarian red wines and seeing the recently unearthed finds of Thracian gold.

D included
We meet at Sofia airport in the early evening with a 30 minute transfer to our boutique hotel in the leafy diplomatic district of Bulgaria’s capital.

B, L, D included
On foot, we visit both the National Museum of History, with its stunning displays of Thracian treasure and the 13th century Boyana church, a World Heritage site with outstanding Byzantine frescoes. A 2-hour drive takes us to the small town of Koprivshtitsa in the Sredna Gora mountain range. On our walk through this centre of the 1876 uprising against Ottoman oppression, we encounter many half-timbered buildings in the Bulgarian National Revival style of the 19th century.

B, L, D included
Driving further east through the Balkan range, we follow the Valley of the Roses and visit the remarkable replica Thracian tomb at Kazanlak, thought to represent the grave of a tribal chieftain of the early 3rd century BC. The vivid Hellenistic wall paintings are of exceptional quality, depicting the deceased with his favourite horses and servants. We cross the historic Shipka Pass and then explore the museum village of Etar. Traditional crafts – everything from pottery and knife grinding to bread making and woodcarving – are practised in old wooden houses, entirely powered by waterwheels, and dippers are often on the stream.

B, L, D included
Our walk takes us to the dramatically sited mediaeval fortress of Tsarevets at nearby Veliko Tarnovo. We approach by a stone causeway leading to the ruined citadel of the Second Bulgarian Empire which flourished from 1185 to 1396. In the afternoon, we visit Arbanassi’s richly frescoed 17th century churches with their intricately carved wooden iconostases and wander through the village with its picturesque stone and wooden architecture, once the homes of wealthy merchants who traded regularly with Venice, Constantinople and Dubrovnik.

B, L, D included
Travelling north and east today, we descend from the mountains onto the vast rolling plain that was once the Thracian stronghold and visit one of their most celebrated monuments: the Madara Horseman, an enormous eighth century Thracian rock carving depicting a mounted figure spearing a lion and followed by a dog. In the afternoon, we walk on Cape Kaliakra, a dramatic headland on the Black Sea with remains of an ancient Greek fort.

B, L, D included
Further south along the Black Sea coast, we stop in Varna to see the remarkable collection of 6th century BC Thracian gold objects in the Archaeological Museum. Our destination is Nesebar, an ancient Greek settlement and Roman port on the coast, where our hotel is ideally situated for exploring the narrow lanes between wooden houses and fine Byzantine churches.

B, L, 
D included
We spend the day in this atmospheric historic town placed on a small rocky peninsula. Following a guided tour, there is time to visit the archaeological museum and the small ethnographic museum.

B, L, D included
We head next for 3 days walking in the eastern Rhodope Mountains, one of Europe’s most important regions for wildlife where continental, temperate and Mediterranean influences combine.

DAYS 9 and 10
B, L, D included
The scenery in this area ranges from rugged gorges and peaceful river valleys to broad upland meadows and extensive undisturbed forests. Visitors are very few, preserving an environment minimally impacted by pollution. We walk through remote rural valleys and investigate a megalithic complex of standing stones, rock altars and, according to legend, the tomb of Orpheus. We also visit the “vulture restaurant”, established by dedicated local ornithologists to entice back the near extinct Black vulture.

DAY 11
B, L, D included
The transition into the western Rhodope Mountains is marked by a wilder landscape with huge cliffs and deep rocky valleys. Our goal is Perperikon, the recently rediscovered second Oracle, once as famous as that of Delphi, and later lost for millenia. We clamber steeply up a stony path, emerging to stand at the altar where Alexander the Great received the prophecy that he would conquer the world.

Driving on, we visit the splendid Bachkovo monastery, founded in 1083, as we travel north to Plovdiv, Bulgaria’s second city, with a well-deserved “must see” reputation.

DAY 12
B, L, D included
From our hotel, we set off to explore the intact historic centre on foot, following cobbled lanes past restored wooden mansions, Byzantine churches, art galleries, mosques and tree-filled small squares to reach the highlight, the magnificent Roman theatre. Built during the reign of Trajanus in the second century AD, it was rediscovered after a landslide in 1972 and carefully restored.

DAY 13
A 2-hour transfer to Sofia airport concludes our journey through Bulgaria.


September 2024
Trip Price, per person sharing:
£3,228.25 until 16th December 2023
£3,315.50 until 16th March 2024
£3,402.75 until 16th June 2024
£3,490 after 16th June 2024


£500 deposit per person
£430 single supplement

April 2025
Trip Price, per person sharing:
£3,228.25 until 6th July 2024
£3,315.50 until 6th October 2024
£3,402.75 until 6th January 2025
£3,490 after 6th January 2025


£500 deposit per person
£430 single supplement

Please note that the single room supplement is imposed by the hotels and not by Kudu Travel. If you are willing to share but no other suitable guest books on the trip, we regret that the supplement will be payable. We endeavour to obtain double rooms for single occupancy, whenever possible.

Price Includes

  • Accommodation for Days 1 through 13, on a twin shared basis
  • Meals, with wine and beer at dinners and restaurant lunches, as listed in the daily notation
  • Land transportation in a private vehicle as described, except during free periods
  • Entrance and sightseeing fees as described, except during free periods
  • Services of specialist local guides and a Kudu tour leader throughout

  • Gratuities for hotel and restaurant staff and the driver (appreciation for your Kudu tour guide is at your discretion)
Price does not Include

  • Flights to and from Sofia airport
  • Trip cancellation, medical or other insurance
  • Immunisations, prescriptions or other medical requirements
  • Passport, visa and health documentation
  • Personal expenses (laundry, alcohol besides wine and beer with group meals, free time activities, etc.)
  • Transport and transfer of excess baggage
  • Bulgaria departure taxes, if any

On Kudu trips, you will only need money for postcards, presents to take home, the odd G & T or an irresistible ice cream. Festival and opera tickets, museum and gallery entrances, National Park fees, all meals (with a very few exceptions specified in individual itineraries), wine with lunch and dinner, access to specialist books carried by the guides, gratuities for porters and hotel and restaurant staff, boat rides, train trips, internal flights, wine tastings, 4WDs with drivers, the services of skilled local guides and trackers etc are ALL INCLUDED in the cost of your holiday.

We are confident that, like previous very satisfied guests, you will discover that our tours give you excellent value for money.

  • 1 night in Boyana
  • 1 night in Koprivshtitsa
  • 2 nights in Arbanasi
  • 1 night on the Black Sea coast in Balchik
  • 2 nights in Nessebar
  • 3 nights in the Eastern Rhodope
  • 2 nights in Plovdiv
Visa and Health Requirements

Visitors from the UK, EU, USA, Australia, Canada and New Zealand currently require a valid passport, but not a visa, for entry to Bulgaria. If you are a national of any other country, please check visa regulations with your nearest Embassy of Bulgaria.

Normally there are no specific and compulsory health requirements for entry to Bulgaria. You may wish to check the advice given to travellers by the Department of Health and the FCO

It is essential, and a condition of booking, that you protect yourself with a suitable travel insurance policy as soon as you book a trip. We can arrange comprehensive cover for UK residents. Follow this link for a quote for a policy available to UK residents.

If you are already insured or a non-UK resident, please inform us of your policy at the time of booking.

Size of Party
This trip will run with a minimum of 4 and a maximum of 14 guests.