Melnik & Rozhen
Мелник in Bulgarian
MELNIK is the smallest town of Bulgaria (population ca. 385) in Southwestern part of the country, not far from the Greek border. The town is situated among picturesque Sandstone cliffs (up to 100 meters high) on the Southern slopes of the Pirin mountains. It has been declared a cultural-historic reserve as 96 of the buildings in Melnik are cultural monuments. Most of the buildings are very well taken care off and some of them are open for public or used as restaurant or museum. It is an easy town to walk around (no big differences in height), beautiful and cosy. You can visit the wine museum or Kordopulov House (build in 1754, specially for wine production), visit one of the many small shops or just sit down and relax at one ot he many terraces.
Summers are very warm, dry and sunny. In summer average day temperatures in July and August will be around 35c. Until deep in November the temperatures are like spring. 20c in the end of November is very normal. The spring starts early April.
WHAT TO DO AND SEE
There are a few nice hikes in and around Melnik. One of the hikes leads up to the top of the Sandstone cliffs. This short hike is towards Monastery "Virgin Bogoroditsa Spileotisa" and is steep up, but not difficult, with fantastic views on Melnik. Especially with sun rise and sun set, the cliffs become reddish of colour. The other beautiful hike is from Melnik to Rozhen Monastery. This hike is 7 km (one way) and takes 2-2,5 hours. On the way it gives you great views on the cliffs, especially around Rozhen Monastery. In the summer it can be very warm, so bring enough water with you.
Dug into the Sandstone cliffs there are many wine cellars in and around Melnik. This is one of the reasons that Melnik and surroundings (Rozhen) is very well known for: WINE. This area around Melnik and Rozhen is the area where the best Bulgarian wines are coming from. Because of the soil, the warm weather and wind coming true the valley (Struma Valley) from Greece, this is perfect area to grow grapes and produce wine! Its an absolutely must to visit on of the wineries in this area and ask for a tour and taste some of the fantastic wines. You will be very much positively surprised about the taste and the quality of the wine.
As explained before, in the surrounding there are many wineries. The quality of the wines is on a very high level, they can compete easily with the well-known wines from countries like France, Spain and Italy. One of the best wines (our personal taste) is named Melnik 55. But many other good wines are produced here also. Just have a visit to the wineries “Villa Melnik” and “Zlatan Rozhen winery” and discover yourself. Of course, you can also visit one of the other wineries.
An absolutely must is a visit to Rozhen Monastery. This Monastery is located 1.5km outside the town of Rozhen (6km from Melnik). You can drive all the way up until the parking, but you can also park your car in Rozhen (just a few houses) and take the walk up true the forest with some great views. The walk takes around 15-20 minutes on a trail. The first part of the trail can be a bit slippery when it is wet, so please be aware of that.
Lots of guests want to visit the Greek border towards Kulata, because it’s so close. We advise you not to visit this border because when you are unlucky you get into a big traffic jam from trucks waiting for the Greek border from Bulgaria. The area around the border is not the best area in Bulgaria. A better border crossing is south of Gotse Deltsjev via road 19, towards Drama and Kavala. But remember; check always your car (rental) papers if you are allowed to drive to Greece.