Formerly UniCycle50, as featured by the BBC, ITV, the Guardian, the Independent, the Times and the Daily Mirror

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Short Cycling Guides to Everywhere in Europe and Nearby

NEWS! I've had enough of hiding from COVID and so, from October 11th, I'm back on my travels again, this time attempting an experimental cycle ride from northern England to the south of Spain WITHOUT A MAP OR COMPASS (and not cheating by sticking to the coast or using a previous route or anything). I'll navigate by the sun, if I can see it, and other natural features if I can't (natural features that, erm, I've yet to learn about, but don't worry, I've got a book to teach me along the way). You can find more details on my Primrose-Smith.com site and follow my ride and find out the places I've visited (even if I won't know where those places actually are) on my Europe By Bicycle Facebook page.

This ride's for charity. Samaritans help those who are lost in a different sort of way, an especially useful service for those suffering during these difficult times. If you want to be lovely and donate to them, please visit my JustGiving page.

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Cycling in Bulgaria

Bulgaria In A Nutshell

There was something about cycling in Bulgaria that I absolutely loved. It could have been that beer was only 60p a pint, but I'm hoping it was something more. I met some lovely (and weirdly lovely) people, the countryside south and west of Sofia is unassumingly appealing and I enjoyed Sofia very much. Or maybe I liked it because it came immediately after Turkey, and after six weeks I was utterly sick of Turkey. Did I mention beer was 60p a pint?

Where and When I Went

Map of Bulgaria

11th - 17th August 2012
Edirne (Turkey) - Harmanli - Plovdiv - Banja - Sofia - Tran - Vranje (Serbia)

Bulgaria-specific Issues

I'm not the first to notice that cycling through some villages and smaller towns attracted what felt like threatening glances. I suspect this is just curiousity rather than genuine resentment. It may even be the infamously intimidating Balkan Stare. Whenever I stopped to ask for help or directions, everyone was entirely friendly. (In one village, a local bike repairman even repaired a spoke for free.)

Bulgaria's Scenery

The hilly bits are beautiful as are hilly bits in most places. The towns were more hit and miss. Sofia is a vibrant modern city, as is Plovdiv. Some smaller towns (Harmanli, I'm looking are you) are complete shit holes. The south east is flatter and duller. Stick to the hills or the larger towns.

Scenery

Bulgaria's Road Quality

The roads are surprisingly good.

Road

Bulgaria's Accommodation & Costs

Bulgaria has a few campsites scattered about. The only camp site sign I saw looked like it had been closed down for a very long time. I stayed in cheap hotels whose rooms ranged from adequate to really quite nice. The prices ranged from €15-25 outside of Sofia. I found a room for €29 in the capital (at the on-the-tip-of-your-tongue Hotel Slavyanska Besseda).

Restaurants were good value and beer was almost free.

Language

Bulgarian is an oddball language to learn just for a few short days' tour. Getting to grips with Cyrillic might be useful if you plan to use restaurants. Some people speak English but you can hardly count on it.

Neighbouring Countries

Bulgaria has a diverse range of interesting neighbours: Serbia, Romania, North Macedonia, Greece and Turkey.

Reasons To Go To Bulgaria

Nice countryside (and I've also heard good reports about the parts I didn't see), good value, if you believe Nigel Farage (which personally I don't think you should) then it's a chance to explore an entirely empty country now that everyone's moved to the UK.

Where Have You Written About Cycling In Bulgaria?

No Place Like Home, Thank God

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