Lower Danube Heritage and Wine
Cycling vacation in Lower Danube and local wines tasting program
Cycling vacation in Eastern Europe uncovering the rich heritage of the cultural crossroad situated between Danube and the Balkan Mountain. Bike routes passing through the wildlife areas of two nature parks, one is the highest plateau of Danubian Plain and the other is the most wonderful canyon in Lower Danube, enter medieval churches, carved on the rocks and richly painted with icons, like those in Ivanovo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, take a glimpse of three unique golden treasures of Bulgaria and find some of the most beautiful mosques and Ottoman architectural remnants in Europe. We cater accommodation close to the nature, especially chosen for its relaxing environment, fresh food and tasty traditional cuisine. The tour’s wine tasting program emphasizes on a wide range of local wines which definitely satisfy our guests’ expectations and feature the sentimental spirit of the journey.
HERITAGE AND WINE
|LENGTH:||255 km (158 miles)|
|NIGHTS:||6 nights + 1 bonus|
|LOWEST POINT:||22 m (72 feet)|
|HIGHEST POINT:||360 m (1181 feet)|
Day 1 Arrival
Arrival and transfer to Shumen. We have tour details and safety instructions meeting at the hotel. Take a short walking or cycling trip in the city.
Day 2 Cycling from Shumen to Ticha Lake (distance 39 km; elevation +430m/-630m)
In the morning we visit Tombul Mosque complex, a masterpiece of Ottoman Tulip Baroque, and some other architectural sightseeing of Shumen, while cycling in the streets of the city. Leaving Shumen we pedal the roads through the spectacular forests of Shumensko Plateau Nature Park. The ruins of the medieval stronghold of Shumen are situated on the edge of the plateau high above the modern town. The plateau marks the highest point in the whole Lower Danube Plain. Lonely hills and vineyards beneath dominate the landscape while we cycle downhill the plateau. Next stop is the historical town of Veliki Preslav at the foothills of the Balkan Mountain – the golden capital of Bulgaria from X century and a cradle of the Cyrillic alphabet and literature. We pay special attention to the beautiful park where are the ruins of medieval Preslav and the museum where Preslav golden treasure is exhibit. Another highlight in Veliki Preslav is the unique wines and brandies made from the excellent local grapes and the rich taste of the Balkan cuisine. The final lap for the day is signed by the beautiful weaving road along the gorge of Golyama Kamchia River. We spend the night on the bank of Ticha Lake in village .
Day 3 Cycling from Ticha Lake to Ostrovche (distance 65 km; elevation +790m/-760m)
The road we cycle from Ticha Lake to Targovishte crosses Gerlovo - a vast hilly fertile valley locked between the ridges of the Balkan mountain. Old Muslim villages alternate with traces of an antique culture on our way. We pedal through the woody Straja Pass, leaving Preslav Mountain back and enter the Danubian Plain at the town of Targovishte. The main attractions in Targovishte are Saat Mosque, the old fountain, Varosha quarter, Thracian treasure from Kralevo and the local restaurants offering the delicious wines from renowned Targovishte winery. Pedaling through a lovely rustic landscape we are going slightly uphill to reach the top of the Razgrad Hights where are the sources of Beli Lom River.
Day 4 Cycling from Ostrovche to Pchelina (distance 34 km; elevation +250m/-440m)
Take a short walk in the Ostrovche vicinities to admire the wild nature and the source of Beli Lom River. Next few days we’ll cycle along Lom River till its confluence in Danube. Again riding on the bikes we cross the alternating woody hills. En route we pass the exciting village of Poroishte and if there is enough time we may walk to the St Marina healing spring. At noon we enter Razgrad. The town shelters well-preserved ruins of the roman city Abritus, where co-ruling Emperors Trajan Decius and his son Herennius Etruscus found their death in a battle with the Gots in 251 AD. Here was discovered the largest in Bulgaria gold coin treasure of 835 units or 4 kg from the Late Antiquity. Another remarkable sightseeing are 16th century Ibrahim Pasha Mosque and Ottoman-style Varosha quarter . We’ll spend the night among the wonderful forest and lakes of Pchelina recreational area 10 km away from Razgrad.
Day 5 Cycling from Pchelina to Nisovo (distance 60 km; elevation +360m/-740m)
Today we bike deeper in the valley of Mali Lom River which finely turns into the most beautiful canyon in the Lower Danube. Admire the amazing nature, the tasty traditional cuisine and the lively villages. The vineyards of Nisovo welcome us at the heart of Rusenski Lom Natural Park. This fabulous village is popular with its legends of Knights Templar, Jews, Bulgarian boyars, Hesychast monks and the best way to learn about them is with a glass of fantastic wine in the Nisovo winery. On our way to Nisovo we may try to find a breathtaking overview to medieval ruined town of Cherven sprawling in the picturesque carved valley of Cherni Lom.
Day 6 Cycling from Nisovo to Lyulyaka Island (distance 36 km; elevation +390m/-500m)
The steep hill which stands between Nisovo and Ivanovo Rock Monastery is a serious cycling challenge. Once we reach the deep canyon near Ivanovo the notorious rock hewn churches on the cliffs are in our sight. This UNESCO World Heritage site preserve astonishing medieval religious paintings and the whole monastic complex represent essential example of the Hesychast architecture and way of life. Got some more of the scenic landscape on the way to Bozhichen where we’ll take a rest for a delicious lunch based on Lomovete Protected Designation of Origin food. Pedal amidst fertile cornfields to reach the vineyards on the high river bank, facing the Danube. Our cycling day ends at a romantic hotel placed just in front of the wonderful woody Danubian island, called Lyulyaka.
Day 7 Cycling from Lyulyaka Island to Rousse (distance 21 km; elevation +240m/-270m)
Welcome the morning sun with a cup of coffee or tea at the great European river. Again on the bikes we take the picturesque road to Basarbovo. Here is the only one inhabited rock monastery in Bulgaria. The Orthodox rock hewn Monastery of St. Dimitar is a late medieval masterpiece of the monastic tradition. The last lap of the tour runs along the final part of the remarkable valley of Rusenski Lom which ends in Danube at the city of Rousse. This is the most beautiful city in the whole Lower Danube, granted with the European Heritage Label, inspiring everyone with its Vienna Secession architecture and multicultural atmosphere. The tour's Wine tasting program finishes in Leventa Winery at the Ottoman fort Levent Tabia. Then delighted by the wine tasting we continue our city bike tour in the charming quarters close to Danube River remembering not to miss the Thracian Borovo Treasure, a luxurious drinking set, which belonged to the Odryssaean king Kotys I some 24 centuries ago. At last take a rest in some of the class restaurants and choose something from the fish menu.
- Transfer from/to Varna airport to your accommodation at the day before and the day after the tour. Transfers in two directions from/to Burgas airport will cost 35 € per person and from/to Bucharest airport 85 € per person (min 3 persons). One way transfers will cost respectively 20 € and 45 € per person
- 24-gear lightweight trekking Bike without helmet (Helmets at your disposal by renting - 20 Euro per tour)
- English/Russian speaking ride leader with local knowledge
- Accommodation during the tours at family run hotels and guest houses, spa and other hotels at the quality of 3 stars including breakfasts
- Entrance fees
- Wine tasting program at local wineries
- Refreshing drinks (non alcoholic) during the cycling time
- Support vehicle and luggage transfer
- Permanent technical bike support
- Medical insurance for Bulgaria
- Bonus for direct booking on our site after-the-tour accommodation in the itineraries and cost-free transfers to/from Burgas Airport
TOUR DATES: 16 April 2018; 16 July 2018
PRICE: 700 €