If you ever plan a road trip in Bulgaria, Rhodope mountains will be the perfect place to do so. There’s plenty of natural and architectural sites, picturesque villages, breathtaking viewpoints and many hiking and biking trails.
I’ve been to Rhodope mountains many times and still haven’t seen everything on my list. That’s why I asked a few other travel bloggers to share their favourite place in the mountain and put together this article for you.
Keep reading and let me know which of the places in on top of your list.
1. Devil’s Bridge
Devil’s Bridge is a massive stone bridge near Ardino village built in the beginning of 16th century. Devil’s Bridge is 56 meters long and 12 meters high.There is a parking in the beginning of the path leading to the bridge. It takes around 35 minutes walking from there to reach the bridge. You can also try to go with the car if you’re brave enough. The bridge is a famous point for picnic and pictures.
2. Fotinski Waterfalls
Located just 2 hours from Sofia, Fotinski waterfalls are a group of three waterfalls hidden inside the Rhodope mountains near Fotinovo village. The path towards the waterfalls is not long but a bit steep so prepare some good hiking shoes. You can visit all three of them and also reach a viewpoint where you can see them all from afar. A great idea for a weekend day trip from Sofia or Plovdiv.
3. Devil’s Ecopath
Devil’s path is a picturesque ecopath following a river near Borino village. The path is famous for its extreme wooden stairs built on the side of high steep rocks. It is a nice walk which takes around 2 hours (but you can stop and come back at any time).
The start of the hike is near Borino village. You have to take the road to Chala village (at the beginning of Borino if you are coming from Yagodina cave). Then, there is a sign to the path and a parking where you can leave your car and start your hike.
4. Karadzhov Kamak
Karadjov Kamak is another interesting phenomenon – a huge stone stuck between two rocks. You can reach it from Krastova Gora, it takes around 40 min hiking. There is a slightly dangerous wooden ladder that allows you to climb under the rock and see the stone from a different perspective. It’s definitely one of the most interesting and memorable places I’ve been to.
5. The Horseshoe Bend of Kardzhali Dam
If you’re from the U.S., you’ve certainly seen the Horseshoe bend in Arizona, at least on photos. Well, did you know that Bulgaria hides a very, very similar meander as well? It’s in the region of Kardzhali and it’s absolutely breathtaking! Just type in “Horseshoe bend of Kardjali dam” on Google maps and drive to that location. I highly recommend seeing it at sunset – it’s unforgettable
Recommended by Rosie, Trips with Rosie
6. Asen’s Fortress
Asen’s Fortress is located 2 km south from Asenovgrad and is one of the best preserved medieval fortresses and most visited places in Bulgaria. The fortress dates back to Thracian times and existed until 1410, when it was conquered by invading Ottoman troops.
Today, you can see its ruins, as well as the well-preserved church next to it, which is one of the most impressive examples of the medieval school of architecture and art. From the top of the cliffs there is an incredible panoramic view over Asenovgrad and the beautiful Rhodope mountains.
Recommended by Lyubomira, Bulgarian On The Go
7. Gluhite Kamani (The Deaf Stones)
This Thracian ancient sanctuary is really impressive. The niches which are cut into the rocks are 459 in total. No one knows the purpose of this particular area in the Eastern Rhodopes, where the rocks look like ‘bee combs’. There are lots of assumptions about what they were really used for.
The most widespread idea is that they were used as memorial complexes and each niche itself represents funeral chamber where the dust of the dead was placed in. Another theory says that they were sacred containers where the Thracians put gifts for the Great Mother Goddess. Beside the ritual niches you can also see two tombs, rock stairs and an ancient water reservoir.
Recommended by Victoria, My Traveling Self
8. Sheitan Dere
Sheitan Dere, also known as The Devil’s Canyon, is located under the wall of Studen Kladenets Dam. Viewed from above the natural landmark visualizes a landscape from another planet through which the Arda River passes. The canyon has volcanic origin and has frozen lava from the long extinct volcano St.Ilia. The steep cliffs that hung over the canyon with deep black water are called “Abrasive wells”, as after the way that they were formed. It is believed that Sheitan Dere is one of the most beautiful places in this area.
Recommended by Dario, Exploring beyond Sofia
9. Stone Mushrooms
The stone mushrooms is a rock phenomenon, located east of the village of Beli Plast, Bulgaria, at the road between Kardzhali and Haskovo. The rock formations have the shape of natural mushrooms – so that’s the origin of their name. They are about 2.5 meters tall and their colour is pink-ish with green caps. The “mushrooms” are formed by erosion of water and wind over years and years. The area is around 3 hectares and it’s a natural resource.
Recommended by Giorgia, Saveti.bg
10. The Village of Gela
Gela Village is the charming heart of the Rhodope mountains. It enchants you with its pure magic and captures your soul forever. We are the kind of travelers who can’t stay long in one place. Six days later our dream was never to leave Gela. It’s one of the places on earth where you don’t need to do anything to have a great vacation. We didn’t feel the need to travel around. It was just enough for us to go out on the porch. What you see around is expanse, silence, and a deer crossing your garden.
Recommended by Nadya and Panayot, Family Travel Spirit
11. Orpheus peak
Orpheus peak is like the middle of an endless green ocean. The curves of the Rhodope mountains surround you in every direction. There are many ways to reach it and all of them are like a walk in a fairy tale. You step through deep forests, picturesque meadows, rambling streams, and your sight is full with amazing 360° panoramic views. It’s also very likely to encounter with the wildlife in the Rhodopes. I knew the way to Orpheus but I wished somehow I got lost In there because I knew that I would be lost in the right direction.
Recommended by Panayot, Trips Journal
12. Snezhanka Tower & Viewpoint
The TV of Snezhanka is the symbol of Pamporovo and is 156 metres high. There is a restaurant on the top of it with a breathtaking 360 degrees view towards the Rhodope mountains. You are not obliged to stay at the restaurant if you don’t want to. There is a huge terrace where you can just observe the beautiful surroundings. If the weather is clear they say that you can even see the Aegean Sea in the distance. Actually, the tower is named after Snezhanka peak (1928m).
Recommended by Stanislava, Sun and Sany
13. “Kaleto” Cave and Fortress
Cave “Kaleto” is located in the vicinity of Koshnitsa village, Smolyan district. A picturesque trail takes you to this magnificent site in thirty minutes or less. The beginning of the trail is marked by an information board on the road between the villages Koshnitsa and Smilyan.
“Kaleto” is a word of Arabic origin which means fortress. The remains of a medieval fortress are awaiting you on the other side, after passing under the huge stone arch of the cave. The fortress “Kaleto” is standing on a panoramic hill (1006 m.) with breathtaking views of the Rhodope mountains and Koshnitsa village. Based on archeological research in the area the site used to be a rock shrine, whereas the stone arch of the cave served as a naturally fortified entrance gate to the fortress.
Recommended by Lyubomira, Ogledaloto na Mira
14. Gradishte Historical Park near Dolno Dryanovo
Gradishte Landscape Historical Park is a little known, but really compelling place located in Rhodope Mountains. It is a prehistoric rock sanctuary occupying a high ridge, accessible only from the northwest. The rocky hill is surrounded by precipices and a beautiful canyon.
The site is located in the Gradishte area near the village of Dolno Dryanovo, 20 kilometers east of Gotse Delchev town. Various natural stone formations can be seen there – shaped almost like human heads, turtles and other animals. If you go down in the canyon, you can see other rocks with strange forms, a roman bridge, and several beautiful waterfalls. You can walk in the park on a quite pleasant and well-maintained eco-trail.
Recommended by Elena, Drumi v Dumi
15. Ortsevo village
Ortsevo is a very small village in West Rhodope mountains. It is the highest populated place on the Balkan Peninsula. Once reaching it, there is a significant danger to fall in love. There is nothing but views. And smiling, supportive people. Amazing views to all Pirin peaks to the south, Rila mountain to the west and the rest of Rhodopes in all other directions. Just stay for some days and recharge. Or explore the region by bike or foot. Maybe you do both!
Recommended by Radoslav, Kids in the mountain
16. Mechi Chal
My favorite place is Mechi Chal, which means Bear’s Peak. That is why there is a huge bear monument where you can take a photo. Mechi Chal is actually at the top of a ski slope of Chepelare resort, which makes it so popular during the winter. Mechi Chal is perfect for all seasons and it has a great panoramic view.
There is a cosy guest house which is the highest shelter at this part of the mountain, located at 1830 m. If you are hungry – try the homemade meals. You can reach Mechi chal by car, lift and of course – by hiking.
Recommended by Georgi, Guide to Greece
17. Eagle’s Eye Viewpoint (Orlovo Oko)
To those who plan to visit the Rhodope Mountains in Bulgaria and are up for an extreme adventure, I would recommend to not miss out Orlovo Oko (Eagle’s eye) viewpoint. Orlovo Ok is located at the top of Yagodina village. It’s a viewpoint from where you can get a 360 panoramic view over the mountains.
There are two ways of getting there – by hiking and by off-road jeep ride. If you have the chance, I would recommend doing both. The view from the Eagle’s eye is breathtaking – you see the endless woods and the mountains in front of you. Highly recommend putting Eagle’s Eye on your radar if you visit the Rhodope Mountains.
Recommended by Julia, Orphee Way
18. Smilyan village
I’m in love with Smilyan from the first time I visited this Rodopian village. Undoubtedly my top 3 favourite things about this small village in the heart of the mountain are:
- nature, breathtaking views and the plenty of tasty homemade food specialties
- the unique for our country Museum of beans and the traditional Beans Festival
- the whole look and feel of the village and its symbol – the clock tower, which is over 10 meters high and its clockwork continues to work to this day.
Recommended by Nadezhda, Traveller’s Diary
Check out all the places on the map:
So… where are you headed next?