Hiking in Europe – Rhodope Mountains, Bulgaria

Hiking in Europe: Plovdiv, Bulgaria

A week ago we arrived to the Bulgarian city called Plowdiw/ Plovidv.
Two weeks ago I didn’t even know anything about a city called Plovdiv. I wasn’t even thinking about going to Bulgaria. But a woman I knew from a Facebook group recommended it, and when I googled I found out that it is European cultural capital of 2019, and the pictures looked very appealing. So we booked. 

We traveled all the way from Zagreb to Plovdiv by train. But I will write about that on another blog post.

We weren’t disappointed when we arrived…

Such an interesting city. One of the oldest European cities. Older than Rome. And you will find traces of history everywhere. Old town is on a small hill and the architecture is beautiful. 

You will find a pedestrian shopping street and close by a hip area with a lot of small cafes, bars, restaurants… The people we met so far were all very friendly and helpful.

Plastic free shopping is also possible (farmers markets, organic stores, bulk options) so, yes, I am very happy that we decided to stay here for a month.

Old Town Plovdiv
Historic sites and traces everywhere

Day hike in the Rhodope Mountains

As much as I like cities and walking around small streets, discovering history, architecture, etc. I love to be in nature even more. So yes, whenever I can and whenever I have time I am looking for possibilities to go hiking.

Mostly, it is easy to get somewhere by public transport or rental car to go on a hike by yourself, but I heard from a lot of people that the trails here are not very well marked. So if you don’t really know the area it would be hard to find nice trails. 

When I saw a post in a Facebook group about a hiking day trip from “Slow Tours Bulgaria”, for a decent price, I booked two spots straight away.

We were a group of 6, and Irina, the Tour Guide, picked us up in town. I liked her immediately. She is also very interested in sustainable tourism, and you might know by now, that this is something I like 😉

She is only doing small group tours, working together with small villages and local owned guesthouses on her multi day trips. So if I ever come back I will definitely book one of the multi day tours! 

But this time we went on a day trip to the Rhodope mountains. Just a 30 minute drive from Plovdiv, above the city Asenograv.

Rhodope Mountains (Photo Credit @Slowtoursbulgaria)
The wild tulips blossoming along the trail

We got picked up at 9:30 and I think we started to hike around 10:15-ish.

We went at the right time of the year. Spring time, everything fresh and green and so many flowers were blossoming!

The weather was perfect, and I was happy that I decided to wear my 3/4 leggings (still looking for a good hiking leggings? Click here for my blog post about how to find the right hiking leggings).
 It was very hot in the sun but also a little chilly in the shade and wind so always be prepared for the mountains. The weather can change quickly. (If you are new to hiking: Check my “Best packing list for hiking”)

Here in the Rhodope mountains you can find wild, endangered tulips. People tend to collect them in the past, so now they are protected and listed in the red book of Bulgaria, and you`ll get fined if you pick them.

Good luck, little beautiful tulip!

We also spotted different kind of wild Orchids. Like “lady in a dress”, and we saw a lot of bees, bugs and butterflies. And listened to the songs of different kind of birds.

Nature seems to be in good condition up here!

On our way up we passed a small chapel and there were a bunch of volunteers sitting having lunch. On our way down they enjoyed a few glasses of wine and invited us to have a taste. They offered homemade wine and even though I only drink alcohol like twice a year or so, I accepted, and we all had a sip and laugh before we continued our way down. 

I only had to pick up very few litter on the trail. Happy me;) And the only smoker in the group (I must admit I am always a little bit nervous when I see hiking smokers, but I had no reason to be this time….) collected his butts in the side pocket of his backpack! Yes, easy solution! 

Around 6:30pm, we arrived back to the car and drove home. Tired but happy. 

18km, 700m elevation and so much beautiful nature and fresh air can only make happy 😉

(Click here to read why I appreciated that we had hiking poles for the steep way down to the car.)

Irinia talking about the protected area
Wild Orchid: Lady in a dress

Slow Tours Bulgaria

If you ever go visit Bulgaria and Plovdiv I would recommend booking a tour with Irina. 

They do authentic Plovdiv City Tours, different half day and full day hiking tours in the Mountains around Plovdiv (some have local food included) and you can also hire a privat guide if you like to have a privat tour.

The main goals of “Slow Tours Bulgaria” are:

  • Create travel experiences that benefit both travelers and local people
  • Showcase the unique cultural heritage and natural resources of Bulgaria, the city of Plovdiv and the Rhodope Mountains
  • Support the development and growth of green, sustainable tourism in Bulgaria.
  • Support and development of Leading Quality Trails – Best of Europe for Bulgaria

You can find all the informations about her and her business on her website: 

Or follow her on facebook or Instagram or Youtube and stay updated on her tours…

Sustainable travel is important for all kind of regions and countries. The travel industry is the biggest industry and growing and sadly noone is regulating it… (yet?)… 

A lot of regions have nothing else than tourism to earn money, so if you are traveling and you can support small local businesses it`s the best you can do.

(This is not a sponsored post. I paid for the trip myself and all my opinions are my own and 100% honest.)


Happy hiking!

Have you been to Bulgaria too? If yes, how did you like it? If not, would you like to go one day?

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