Duration: 4 days
Distance: ca 530 km
Car accessibility: very good. Recommended
Accessibility by public transpot: bus from Sofia to Belogradchik, taxi from Belogradchik to Magurata cave and to Venetsa cave, bus from Belogradchik to Vidin. You would have to skip Ledenika cave and the Klisura monastery
Leaving from Sofia: relatively early. We left at about 8.30 in the morning
- Stop: Klisura monastery – Клисурски манастир – arrival about 11am. Approximately 86km away from Sofia. Day 1
One of the most beautiful and less known monasteries of Bulgaria, I was surprised to find such a hidden gem, given that we saw a roadsign for it at the last possible moment and almost drove past it. We impulsively decided to visit it. I highly recommend it! The yard is beautiful and so is the view. There is also not quite as many people as in the more famous monasteries such as the one in Bachkovo for example.There is a restaurant at the entrance of the monastery and a cute little shop from which we bought custom-made raspberry wine. There were other delights too! 🙂
- Stop – Belogradchik. Arrival early afternoon. Approximately 100km away from the Klisura monastery. Day 1
At Belogradchik, we stayed at the Castle Cottage family hotel. The house is really nice and somewhat of an architectural wonder and it’s very close to the fortress and the rocks. The host family is also friendly and well-mannered. As soon as you get settled in, there’s the option of going to see the remains of the Roman fortress, it’s close to the house, but don’t mistake it for the fortress, which embeds the famous rocks in it. Right next to it is the Observatory, which you can also visit – either see the stars at night, or the telescopes during daytime.
For dinner I strongly recommend restaurant Мислен камък (Mislen kamak) meaning “Contemplated stone” (doesn’t make sense in Bulgarian either :D). There is an amazing view over the rocks and since they are not lit up at night, also try to go there at least once during the day. The menu is nice and it’s not expensive.
On the next day (Day 2) spend the morning walking around the Belogradchik fortress called Kaleto – Калето. It has an interesting story, so try and get a tourguide. The cliffs are stunning, so take your time walking around and don’t shy away from climbing to the higher parts. The views are unique.
3.Stop (still Day 2) – Magurata cave. Arrival about 3pm. Distance from Belogradchik ca.23km.
April 1st to Oct 30th: Every day from 10am to 5pm. Entrance at every hour with a tourguide.
Magurata cave – Магурата, is unique because it contains the oldest and most well-preserved cave paintings in Bulgaria, but it is also full of intriguing formations. Furthermore, it is used for the production of champagne wine, you can get a bottle at the exit, not bad quality at all 🙂
At the entrance you can also see the Rabisha lake – Рабишкото езеро, the largest inland lake in Bulgaria. After that return to Belogradchik to spend your second night.
4.Stop (Day 3) – Vidin. Arrival: depends on when you get up :). Distance from Belogradchik is about 60km.
The road to Vidin – Видин, is interesting because to an extent it meanders alongside the Danube river, so if you like, you can stop at one of the many road restaurants and have some freshly caught fish. There is another curious sight alongside the road, that I called Bird City – a large sand formation, about 15-20 meters tall, full of holes inhabited by birds. They keep flying in and out of the holes, it’s very exciting, very much like watching the National Geographic channel live 🙂
A major sight in Vidin is the Baba Vida Fortress – Баба Вида.It is very well preserved and interesting to enter.
Oct 1st to March 30th: Mon to Fri 9:00 – 17:00, on weekends: 10:00 – 17:00
April 1st to Sept 30th: Mon to Fri 8:30 – 17:30, on weekends: 9:00 – 17:30
Vidin also has a couple of interesting churches dowtown, like St. Petka so a short walk around the center is going to be worth your while.
5.Stop: Venetsa Cave – Венеца. Arrival at about 3pm. Distance from Vidin: 55km. (Day 3)
Many people call this newly opened to public cave the most beautiful one in Bulgaria, I can imagine why. It truly is amazing with its fantastic formations, many of which are moutain crystal, and its artsy lights. The ride back to Belogradchik is also pretty picturesque with many cliffs peaking among the thick forests around.
6.Stop: Ledenika cave. Arrival about noon. Distance from Belogradchik – ca 120km. Day 4
Travel the road to Montana and right before the Vratsata pass (before the huge rocks start) you have to take the exit to the left. From there it’s about half an hour drive to the Ledenika cave – Леденика, with a serious ascent to the top of the hill, the views are gorgeous.The cave is compelling with its enormous stalagtits and at the end of a not too long tour, you can stay and enjoy a very creative light and sound show inside. It is definitely worth the wait!
April 1st to Sept 30th: 9am to 4pm. Last group enters at 4pm with a guide.
After leaving the cave, head back to the main road. You will go through the magnificent pass called Vratsata – Вратцата. I am certain that you won’t be able to help it and you will stop to take some pictures of the breath-taking scenery and/or the climbers that are usually out there making their way on the gigantic rock faces.
From there the distance to Sofia is about 125km on road E79 and A2. Without hurrying you should be in Sofia in the early evening.
A bonus tip: On the way to Sofia, close to Mezdra and not far from the main road, is the archeologial complex Kaleto – Калето. If you are a history enthusiast, you could stop and check it out and then head back to Sofia.