Route of the Septemvri – Dobrinishte narrow gauge railway

Do you love the adrenaline rush? Want to try something unique and different? If your answer is yes, then read on because you are in for an unusual journey. But you won’t visit an ordinary destination, you’ll experience it from the inside. Treat yourself to unforgettable emotions and breathtaking views with the Septemvri – Dobrinishte narrow gauge train.

”Родопската теснолинейка”

The history of the narrow gauge railway

The narrow-gauge railway is one of the greatest engineering achievements in Bulgaria since the beginning of the 20th century. It is the result of the Bulgarians’ desire to connect the different parts of the country, especially those that are difficult to access due to the geographical and topographic features of the Rhodopes. The purpose of the narrow gauge railway is not only to stimulate economic growth in the region, but also to attract tourists.

The project for the construction of the narrow-gauge railway was approved after long discussions and analyzes of the region near the valleys of the rivers Yadenitsa, Eli dere (now Chepinska) and Vača. A year later, the decision was made and in 1920 its construction began. The difficulties of the route refused two engineers then, but the engineer Stoyan Mitov, who had returned to Germany, tackled this difficult task.

The construction of the line was a challenge due to the difficult topography of the area. Without the availability of modern technology, many tunnels were dug in the process, bridges and viaducts were built to overcome natural obstacles. Every kilometer of the narrow-gauge line tells the story of the perseverance, innovation and vision of the Bulgarians who participated in its construction.

On August 2, 1926, at 11 a.m., the first narrow-gauge train set off. After Saranbey (September), the train stops at a number of stations and ends at Lajene-Kamenitsa station, the journey lasting 3 hours and 22 minutes.

On July 30, 1939, the section to Belitsa station was opened, and the total length of the line as of September is already 101 km. On this occasion, Tsar Boris III took part in the festive train journey, which remains in the history of the local population.

On December 9, 1945, the 6-kilometer section from Bansko to Dobrinishte station was opened. This is the last section of the narrow gauge line, which has not been extended to Gotse Delchev to this day.

”Теснолинейката Септември - Добринище”

Route of the Septemvri – Dobrinishte narrow gauge railway

For 125 km, the Rhodope narrow-gauge railway passes through diverse landscapes, from the Maritsa River lowlands, through the rocky gorges of the Chepinska River, to the high mountains of Rila and Pirin, and discovers picturesque views that are worth seeing.

To get there, you can use a train, car or bus, getting off at any stop in the larger cities – Septemvri, Velingrad, Yakoruda, Razlog, Bansko and Dobrinishte. There are 4 trains per day in each direction.

The route itself passes through cities such as Varvara, Avramovo, bends, tunnels, some of which are half-destroyed, Milevi skali canton. There are 35 tunnels along the entire road, and the longest is the one on the border of Rhodope and Rila. The narrow-gauge train provides a unique experience, crossing diverse landscapes and connecting important points such as Velingrad – famous for its spa centers and natural features. The route offers breathtaking views, combining cultural and natural attractions.

Schedule and tickets

If you have decided to go on this journey, it is advisable to check the timetable and buy tickets in advance. The narrow gauge train is extremely popular with tourists, so it’s a good idea to plan ahead. You can check online on the BDZ website by selecting a start and end destination as well as a date. There you will also see the most accurate ticket prices. Usually, for the entire Septemvri – Dobrinishte section, the price is BGN 6.50 one way and BGN 11.70 round trip.

Sights along the Septemvri – Dobrinishte narrow-gauge route

The journey is exciting and enriched with natural beauty. Check out the nearby attractions:

  1. The ancient Roman city of Emporion Pistiros

The ancient Roman city of Emporion Pistiros is located in the area of the village of Vetren. Archaeological excavations began in 1989, with parts of the walls, tower and bastion uncovered. Of interest is the discovery of a drainage channel and possible remains of homes.

2. Archaeological Museum “Professor Mechislav Domaradski”

In Septemvri there is a museum that traces the history of the region, from the ancient Thracians to Emporion Pistiros. The exhibits include artifacts from the ancient Thracians and other interesting finds. In addition, the museum has an educational role, organizing various clubs and activities for children.

3. Narrow gauge museum

At a distance of 15 km from Septemvri, at Tsepina station, there is a museum dedicated to the history of the narrow gauge railway. Opened in 2017, it presents 100 years of railway history through photographs, documents and an authentic timetable board from 1985. A must visit.

”Теснолинейката Септември - Добринище”

4. Cepina fortress

23 km from Septemvri, in the Western Rhodope mountains, stands the Cepina fortress. It was probably a Thracian sanctuary. Over the years it belonged to Byzantium and Bulgaria, being the residence of despot Alexius Slav. Because of its unique location, it is known as the “impregnable fortress”. Be sure to check it out.

5. Milevi Skali peak

Do you love nature? Then you should visit Milevi Skali peak in the Western Rhodopes. Despite the difficult road and the climb, the view from 1593.5 meters high is amazing. From here you can see the Rhodope Mountains, Dorkovo and Cepina fortress. The place is also historically significant because of the battle of September 4, 1944.

6. Pliocene Park in Dorkovo

A place that will impress both children and adults. In addition to the mastodons and other paleontological finds, the park also offers a panoramic view. It is located only 90 km from Dobrinishte.

7. Kleptuza Park in Velingrad

The heart of the spa capital of Bulgaria offers relaxation, walking and the opportunity for various activities. Don’t miss the karst spring Kleptusa.

8. Vela Peeva Museum in Velingrad

Get to know the rich history of Velingrad through the interesting expositions in the museum.

9. The Kalyat fortress near Yakoruda

Touch the history of this late antique and medieval fortress, which reveals the traces of the past. It is only 30 kilometers away from Dobrinishte.

10. Kazanite waterfalls

A natural wonder that offers unique views and tranquility. It is located about 30 km from Dobrinishte.

11. Park for dancing bears near Belitsa

Visit the bears’ home and learn more about their natural environment and lifestyle. It is located about 25 km from Dobrinishte.

12. Ecopath Demyanishka Reka

Very close to Dobrinishte, about 10 kilometers away, you can discover the beauties of Pirin and enjoy nature.

13. Gin Kladenets in Bansko

Take a look at this unique wooden well that holds the world record for age. The wood it is made of is 7,275 years old.

14. Obidim monastery of Saint Pantaleimon

End your trip with a spiritual experience at this newly built but significant monastery. It is located 6 km from Dobrinishte.

As a well-deserved rest after the long narrow-gauge ride, you can end up amidst quiet and peaceful nature, spa and other entertainment in Dobrinishte. Ruskovets Resort offers a 4-star experience where you can indulge in a real vacation, enjoy amazing cuisine and swim in a mineral pool with a water temperature of 30-33 degrees. Welcome!

Picture of Vanya Grancharova

Vanya Grancharova

I actively participate in the cultural life of the tourist destination Bansko and I’m a member of the patriotic association "Dedo Lazko". I combine my commitments to the tourism business with teaching at the high school in Bansko. I am part of the author's team for the adaptation of „Slavic Bulgarian History“ for students. My favorite projects that I develop with passion and enthusiasm are: "Art Idea Bg" company for design, the internet portal for culinary tourism and the "Taste of Bansko" project as entirely my author's spaces.