The Rhodope Mountains is the most extensive mountain range in Bulgaria and spread over nearly one-seventh of the country. Its about is 220-240 km long and about 100 km wide. The total area of the mountain is approximately 18,000 square kilometers, around 13,000 of which are on Bulgarian territory. The Rhodope Mountains is the largest part of the Macedonian-Thracian massif and represent a complex system of various height, length, width and direction of ridges, deep river valleys, narrow gorges and internal mountain valleys.
The Rhodopes offer superb opportunities for tourism, thanks to the diverse nature of the region, beautiful forests and unique biodiversity, rich cultural
heritage and local traditions.
With its unique nature and biodiversity the Rhodopes offer numerous opportunities for specialized activities such as caves studying and bird
watching. The latter in particular attracts many people in the region. The mountain is famous also with its ancient forests and with its green lawns conserving extremely wide variety of rare and beautiful plants that are of interest for both tourists and professionals.
Hiking and mountain biking:
With its gentle slopes and numerous hiking trails, the Rhodopes are attractive for mountaineers and for mountain bikers. These forms of tourism are conductive to the many chalets, family hotels and private homes in many villages, especially in the Western Rhodopes. Availability of suitable housing options for makes this type of tourism increasingly popular in recent years.
Cultural tourism and wellness:
Favorable natural and climatic conditions are one of the reasons for the settlement of the mountains since prehistoric times – which is evidenced by numerous archaeological remains from the Neolithic period, the Thracian civilization, Bulgarian Kingdom I and II. Centuries of Ottoman domination also left their mark on the culture and traditions in the area. In many villages and towns can be seen architectural examples of National Revival period (18. – 19. Century). Today in the Rhodopes live together different ethnic and religious groups, preserving their ancient traditions and culture. The area is also rich in mineral springs; many of these springs are used in balneological tourism. Among the most famous balneological resorts are Velingrad and Narechen’s Mineral Baths.
Hunting and fishing:
The Rhodopes offer many opportunities for fishing tourism with its numerous lakes and rivers filled with trout. Furthermore, Western Rhodopes accommodate several hunting farms which offer impressive trophies such as deer, bears, boars and other game species.
One of the main tourist attractions during winter period is the winter resort Pamporovo (1600 m altitude) near Smolyan. Pamporovo is the southernmost European ski resort, which with its good conditions for winter sports attract many Bulgarian and foreign tourists. Conditions for skiing are present near the town of Chepelare. Currently, two major projects for construction of sports and tourist complexes are under negotiation in the Rhodope region: ‘Syutkya’ near to Velingrad and ‘Perelik’ near to Smolyan.