The idea is during a long weekend (4 days together with Saturday and Sunday) to visit the most interesting places in the Eastern Rhodopes. Groups can leave from Sofia or Varna, as we will first stop in the village of Mezek, to visit the famous winery producing Mezek wines. We will visit the fortress Mezek, and then we will continue to Ivaylovgrad. Before our accommodation in the hotel we will visit the tahini workshop in Ivaylovgrad, which manufactures sesame tahini using an old traditional technology. In the surroundings of Ivaylovgrad we will see villa Armira, the fortresses Lyutitsa and Rodostitsa, which we will reach by SUV and helped by a local guide. We continue to the valley of Byala Reka and the unique old sericulture houses in the villages of Odrintsi Mandritsa and Dolno Lukovo. We keep travelling towards the village of Plevun with the local dairy, where we will learn about all the processes usually developed in dairies. (depending on the season). We will learn about the cultivation of sesame (depending on the season). We will visit the herd of Karakachan horses near the village and the small tahini workshop in the village of Kondovo (if open). Last in the program will be Perperikon and the stone mushrooms north of the village of Beli plast, and after that we travel back to Varna/Sofia.
Type: a guided tour or a self-guided tour;
Duration: 3 nights/4 days;
Price: Please send us your enquiry! If you would like us to contact you with a proposal for this tour, please complete the form at the end of the page or use e-mail/phone or other communication channels, providing as much information as possible. We specialise in tailor-made travel to Bulgaria and our travel suggestions are individually designed to suit your personal requirements, so the more detail you can provide us with, the better. One of our specialist Travel Consultants will then contact you in order to provide you with a personalised proposal and quotation;
The guided tour includes: group transportation in a tour van/microbus; fuel/road taxes/parking fees; tour guide/driver (English); an accommodation depending on your preferences; entry fees; any additional services, excursions or places to be visited depending on your requests; extensive pre-arrival information and services.
The guided tour does not include: international air fares; airport transfers (can be arranged depending on your arrival and departure time and the place of arrival ); lunches and dinners; personal medical or travel insurance; any expenses of a personal nature.
Our self- guided tours offer a flexible touring experience that allows you to discover Bulgaria in its diversity at your own pace.
Typically a self-guided tour includes: hotel reservations depending on your preferences; maps and detailed itinerary description + GPS coordinates of the places/hotels; information for places of interest; car rental depending on your preferences and car insurance; extensive pre-arrival information and services.
Typically a self-guided tour does not include: flights to/from Bulgaria; airport transfers (can be arranged depending on your arrival and departure schedule and the place of arrival); fuel, lunches and dinners; personal medical or travel insurance; any expenses of a personal nature.
Tour dates: all year round;
Tour mileage: ca 1100 km;
Minimum number of travelers: 2
Day 1 Varna/Sofia – Mezek – Ivaylovgrad
We leave from Sofia at 8AM (Vasil Levski Stadium) or from Varna (Antim I str.) to village of Mezek (near Ivaylovgrad), where we arrive at noon.
In this village we will visit the winery Mezek, where we will have wine testing and will get familiar with the production process. Here you may buy wine. We will make a short tour of the Mezek fortress.
Mezek fortress is a medieval Byzantine fortification, built between the 11th and 12th centuries. The defences functioned as border sentinel fortification. It safeguarded territories between Maritsa and Arda rivers.
We continue toward Ivaylovgrad and Eastern Rhodopes. Before our accommodation in the hotel, we will visit the sole working tahini workshop in Bulgaria. Karakehayovy family uses the entire old production process of the sesame tahini, which we will have the chance to see. Overnight stop in the town.
Day 2 Ivaylovgrad (villa Armira) – villages around Byala Reka (Odrintsi, Mandritsa)
We will start with Villa Armira, a 1st-century suburban Roman villa, located in the proximity of Ivaylovgrad. Discovered in 1964 during reservoir construction, it is a primary historical attraction to the Ivaylovgrad area. It is classified as a monument of culture of national importance.
In these southern lands is established the first in the country sericultural micro-region. Favourable combination of Mediterranean climate and fertile soils in the valley of the river Byala foreordain the excellent conditions for thriving of mulberry trees, used for feeding of silkworms. Sericulture remained here until about 1980. Today, the big sericulture houses remained as desolate witnesses of the effervescent days of these rich families of the beginning of XX century.
In the village of Odrintsi live 22 Germans and two Africans who are recovering some of the sericultural houses. While walking around the village, we will definitely meet some of them, we will talk with them and learn the reasons why they have chosen to live in this wonderful village.
Mandritsa is the sole Albanian village in Bulgaria, and a part of the population still speaks Albanian. In the village, the big, old, three-storied adobe and brick Greek styled houses are preserved, being excellent representatives of the Thracian region’s architecture, with carved ceilings, wrought-iron balconies and colonnades. In the village we may see the oldest church in the Eastern Rhodopes (1708) – “Sveta Nedelya”.
Overnight stop at hotel, in the village Mandritsa.
Day 3 Mandritsa – Dolno Lukovo – Plevun
After the breakfast we continue our journey to the village of Dolno Lukovo, where we will see the 200-year-old church “St.St. Constantine and Helena”, built in 1806 by the Christians in the village. In the women’s section, there are neither frescoes nor altar, while the men’s section is decorated with carvings and frescoes, made by unknown carvers and painters. Frescoes themselves are very interesting and certainly remarkable.
Next is the village of Plevun. Here we will stay for the night in the local guesthouse. The owners have their own dairy farm, where, depending on the season, we will learn about the various stages of the processing of milk, and also can participate in some of the processes. Here you can buy local milk products.
Traditional for this region is the cultivation and the treatment of sesame, and depending on the season we could observe some of the phases. Sowing is manual. Elderly people say that from a handful of sesame seeds must be made at least 36 throws in the field. Sowing has to be made at sunset in the late spring. Harvest is collected in autumn. Plants are dried, and the seeds are separated manually. The rest of the seeds is separated from plants through winnow using a strange machine from the beginning of the last century – the “winnower”, which we will see how it works. Treated seeds are purchased mainly by the tahini workshop in Ivaylovgrad, which is busiest in the late autumn and winter months, when it is processing the collected feedstock.
We will visit the tahini workshop in the nearby village Kondovo (if open) and the herd of Karakachan horses in the village Kostilkovo. We will visit the church and the village museum in the building of the former school, where there is a permanent museum collection (costumes, artefacts, and historical data).
Day 4 Plevun – Perperikon – Stone Mushrooms nearby Beli plast – Sofia/Varna
After Rhodopes breakfast in the guesthouse, we head north, along the dam lake Studen Kladenets towards Perperikon.
The ancient Thracian city of Perperikon is located in the Eastern Rhodopes, 15 km northeast of the present-day town of Kardzhali, Bulgaria, on a 470 m high rocky hill, which is thought to have been a sacred place. The village of Gorna Krepost (“Upper Fortress”) is located at the foot of the hill and the gold-bearing Perpereshka River flows near it. Perperikon is the largest megalith ensemble in the Balkans.
The stone mushrooms of Beli Plast are just a little larger than your average shroom. The biggest is over three meters in height and they were formed thousands of years ago. They are made from lime stone which can be eroded by water. Over many centuries the water of a lake or a river can undercut limestone – and sometimes it can have bizarre results, especially when the water responsible for the erosion has disappeared. Alone like mushroom shaped islands it is little wonder that supernatural tales spring up around them.