Traveling through the Balkans by bike with a dog

7 posts in this topic

Hi people! Im new here.

My name is Joaquin, and Im a bike traveler from Chile.

I have been the last 4 months in Serbia, and Im planing to leave in march. My final destination is Turkey, but im not sure of what route I should take. 

I have 3 options:

1- Follow the Danube until the black sea, and then head south through Bulgaria until Turkey.

2- Head south through Serbia, and the cross to Bulgaria and Turkey.

3- Go to the west, maybe go to Bosnia and then head south, maybe by the coast till Greece, and then Turkey.

So what may be problematic is that Im traveling with a puppie, so I dont know how strict are the borders with this subject. He has the chip, pills for the worms and vaccine for disseases. But he is like 3 months old, so no rabies vaccine (and the certificate takes to long to do it before entering the EU). 

And I only travel by bike.

I have a german passport, so no problems with visa.

I dont know what else I should consider, so please help me!

I started biking in France, so far around 4.500 km, best time of my life! 

Thanks people! good vibes to all.

Joaquin

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Hey Joaquin,

What a coincidence, just today I read about your story in the news:

http://www.021.rs/Novi-Sad/Vesti/FOTO-Cileanac-u-Novom-Sadu-upoznao-najboljeg-prijatelja.html

Now, I don't have a clear answer for you - the route 2) (Belgrade-Niš-Sofia) is the standard one for travelers to Turkey, and many folks from this forum passed it by hiking, car or maybe even bike, so they could probably offer some better advice. I wouldn't bet on anybody's experience with pets though.

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Hahaha yes, thats me.

Maybe not info about pets, but maybe info about where I'm going to find more hills or mountains, more lakes and rivers and nore forests. That info can help me a lot.

Thanks

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In that case definitely the option 3: go southwest, cross into Bosnia, then Montenegro, Albania, Greece.

Much nicer and wilder countryside than along the boring old "Corridor 10" to Sofia.

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I don't have much personal experience on the area, so I can only combine what I know (about Serbia, mostly) with what I found by googling.

Your Danube route looks more attractive, if slightly longer. The part through Serbia is even drawn at http://www.opencyclemap.org/. After Pančevo, it leads to Kovin, and from there you can cross the Danube at the Kovin bridge, through Požarevac and Veliko Gradište, or use the ferry Stara Palanka-Ram as suggested on the map. From there on, the road is curvy but leads through beautiful Iron Gate (Đerdap) gorge. You exit to Bulgaria between Negotin and Vidin. From there on, the road runs through lowlands along the Danube. I don't know much about that area except that it's flat. However, it is mapped as a Eurovelo route ( http://danube-bike.eu/bul/en/index.php ), so you could follow it all the way to the Black sea, or turn south in Ruse. These guys described the section between Ruse → Razgrad → Shumen → Karnobat → Malko Tarnovo on Turkish border, so you can ask them about more details.

The route 2) would go, like, Belgrade → Niš → Pirot → Dimitrovgrad → Sofia → Plovdiv → Edirne. From Belgrade to Niš, you would go by side roads (e.g. Belgrade → Smederevska Palanka → Jagodina → Paraćin). From Niš to Pirot, there is narrow but nice Sićevo gorge, carrying the highway; I don't know about side roads in this area. Again, I don't know much about the Bulgarian part.

The route 3) is hardly manageable by bike, as it leads through way too many mountains.

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Well, after reading what Duya posted, and the links, Bulgaria dosent looks like a nice option.

Maybe some comination between option 2 and 3? Like going south of Serbia, and then cross to Albania maybe? or Macedonia?? Or this is also with high mountains?

Thanks a lot for thaking your time to help me!

Joaquin

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I think everything to the southwest is too hilly to be passable by bike. I understand Raymond's suggestion about going there, as the mountains are really beautiful, but I think that everywhere you go in that direction will have to navigate one or more passes of ~1000 m altitude. Just take a glance at the relief map at http://www.opencyclemap.org how rugged the terrain is. Plus, count on narrow shoulders on the roads and a lot of tunnels. Hard to do unless you're a hard-core cyclist.

The routes I suggested are also main corridors, and they broadly follow river valleys (Danube, Morava, Nišava, Vardar). The route through Macedonia to Thessaloniki, then along the Aegean is also passable, but of course you must look to avoid the highways. And I don't think it's particularly nice, at least until you reach the sea.

Googling yesterday, I found this guy's blog, who also cycled a similar route (browse previous and next pages):

https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/page/?page_id=349220

He opted for a combination of 1) and 2): follow the Danube to Vidin, but then turn south to Sofia, and then through central Bulgaria (Rozino-Sliven), along the southern edge of the Balkan mountain chain. He was thrilled by that central Bulgaria route, so you might consider it. Plus, you can take a couple of days rest in Sofia, about halfway. I think it would be a decent compromise between navigability, road safety (you don't want highways) and natural beauty.

Edited by Duya

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