Day 1st: Bakhchisaray
Independent arrival at the «Start» hotel of the tour, in the suburbs of Bakhchisaray. Our hotel is one kilometer from the historical center of the city.
Bakhchisaray (Bakche Saray) means «garden palace» in Crimean Tatar (bakhcha/bağça – garden, shed/saray – palace). This is the former residence of the Crimean khans Girs, who ruled the Khanate during its entire existence, more than 350 years from 1420 to 1783.
We recommend arriving at the airport in Simferopol as early as possible, so you can spend as much time as possible to see this extraordinary city. It is quite tiny. The old narrow streets will remind a seasoned traveler somewhere of Italy or even Sicily. In any case, the town is fascinating. Start your tour with the Khan's Palace, and then go to the «Russian Village», passing through which you will get to the cemetery of the Crimean War and the first defense of Sevastopol in 1854-1855. It is not only the history that fascinates here, but also a tiny chapel of Archangel Michael, opened on June 15, 1895.
During your entire walk, you will observe the intricate rocky mountains looming over the houses of the suburb. Continue along the forest path, it is sure to lead you to the famous «sphinxes». These natural stone sculptures, up to 20 meters high, located in the valley of the Churuck-Su river (in translation from the Crimean Tatar this name means «rotten water»), were formed naturally by centuries of weathering of rocks, consisting mainly of limestone rock. This whole area around Bakhchisaray was declared a natural monument of regional importance back in the 1960s. Standing on the top of the ridge, you can admire the breathtaking view on Bakhchisaray and the whole valley in front of you.
When you come back to the city remember that there are two other sights that you have to visit, and it's better to do it on foot instead of by bicycle. Therefore, our advice – spend another day in Bakhchisarai in the gorge Maryam-Dare (Gorge of St. Mary) visit the cave of the Holy Dormition Monastery, also called «Crimean Athos». And then, having climbed to the top of the plateau of the mountain spur, dominating the three valleys, not less than 2 hours to tour the ancient cave city-fortress Chufut Kale. We recommend that you always use the services of a guide, it will give the opportunity to deeply penetrate the history of not only this city, but also the entire peninsula of Crimea.
Then, climbing up the valley of Jehoshaphat, you will come to the ancient Karaite cemetery «Balta Tiymez». The mystery and beauty of this place, lost in the shade of tall trees, the southern bluffs, the mountain panorama and almost biblical view of Chufut Qale and Jehoshaphat valley has long attracted not only ordinary travelers, but also great artists. The Crimean Jehoshaphat Valley was named so by analogy with the valley of the same name in the vicinity of Jerusalem, which is repeatedly mentioned in the Bible.
Overnight at Boutique Hotel in Bakhchisaray, breakfast is not included in the tour price.
Overnight at the hotel in Bakhchisaray, Boutique-Hotel 4*
• Transfers from the airport are not included in the tour price.
• Lunch and Dinner in Bahchysarai or in the hotel's restaurant not included in the tour price.
Day 2nd: Bakhchisaray – Chufut-Kale – «Karaim cemetery» – Bakhchisaray / ~ 8 or 11 km / total climb ~ 300 m
• Trekking tour: soil ~ 80%, asphalt ~ 20%
After breakfast at the hotel ((breakfast is not included), an interesting route awaits you, a walking route. You will travel east to the Maryam-Dare gorge (St. Mary's gorge) to explore the cave Holy Dormition Monastery, founded here by Byzantine monks over a thousand years ago. This monastery is called «Crimean Athos», as thousands of pilgrims, from all over Russia and not only, come here every year to worship Orthodoxy.
Next, you will find a short, but rather difficult climb along the Maryam-Dere gorge to the foot of the Chufut-Kale mountain plateau and to its ancient city. You will see that Chufut-Kale is much more than just a «cave city»! First of all it is a fortress city and most of the ancient buildings are located on the plateau. You will need at least 2 hours to spend to look into every corner, walk along all the ancient stone paths. And this will not be enough, since in its content Chufut-Kale is comparable, perhaps, only with ancient Syracuse, on the island of Sicily. Exactly there you will feel Inimitable, deep and subtle, soul of the Crimean peninsula is and its rich history.
Further, passing through the Jehoshaphat Valley, you will reach the ancient «Karaim cemetery». Local guides claim that this is the oldest cemetery in all of Europe... We will not say this, but the mystery and beauty of this place, lost in the shade of tall beech trees, southern cliffs, panoramic view of the mountains and an almost biblical view of Chufut-Kale and Jehoshaphat Valley has long attracted not only ordinary travelers, but also great artists. The Crimean Valley of Jehoshaphat is named so by analogy with the valley of the same name in the vicinity of Jerusalem, which is repeatedly mentioned in the Bible. After capturing beautiful panoramas, you will descend back to Bakhchisaray.
Before going back to the hotel, we recommend you to stop for lunch break at the Crimean Tatar Cultural and Ethnographic Center, where the restaurant serves excellent dishes of national cuisine. And next to it, you can visit Bakhchisaray Park of Miniatures.
Overnight at the hotel in Bakhchisaray, Boutique-Hotel 4*
Day 3rd: Cycling route: Bakhchisaray – «Martian Lake» – Bashtanovka village / ~ 40 km
• Traffic is minimal, country roads.• Primer ~ 80% , asphalt ~ 20%.
• The total altitude of 600 m.
• The total descent of 650 m.
After breakfast at the hotel (breakfast is not included in the price of the tour) or in one of the many cafes, you will go east, along the river bed Churuk-Su, and after leaving Bakhchisarai, a few kilometers to your right will be accompanied by the giant walls of Chufut-Kale. Then the forest and field paths will lead you to the valley of the Bodrak river. Stronger bicycle tourists can go to the cave city of «Bakla». It is located on the cliffs 300 meters above sea level near the place where the Bodrak flows into the Alma. There is evidence that the Byzantine Empire used Bacla to convert the local population to Christianity in the first millennium AD. The plateau of Bakla offers an impressive panorama of the surrounding mountains.
As standard, there is a long descent to the village Rocky, to the «Martian Lake». This is a former quarry for extraction of snow-white Inkerman limestone. The water body was formed when the workers accidentally found a very powerful spring while working. Martian Lake is only a few meters shallower than the Azov Sea, its maximum depth reaches 12 meters. White, sparkling in the sun limestone and azure color of the water of Martian Lake in the photo and in reality wonderfully harmonize, creating a striking, unforgettable contrast. The water here is crystal clear, which is a compelling argument in its favor, making swimming especially appealing. Then, along a rural, low-activity road, you will return to Bakhchisaray, and after passing through it, the last 10 km, you will drive in the direction of the Kacha Valley. Already from afar, you will be delighted by the view of overhanging ancient cliffs. Behind the village of Preschelnoye, where the valley narrows sharply, the gorge of Kaminskie vorota is formed. Near the road, on the left, overhangs Kaczynski Gorge. It was found the parking lot of man who lived here in the late Paleolithic era (40-10 thousand years ago).
A little further on, you will see the Kachi-Kalon rock, resembling the prow of a ship. In its upper part, the cracks will remind you of the image of a cross. Hence the name of the rock, which translates as «Cross ship». The settlement under the rock appeared in the 6th century, and the monastery a little later, in the 13th-14th centuries. Almost opposite Kachi-Kalon, before reaching Bashtanovka, you will stay overnight in a beautiful manor house, which has a pool and a restaurant. The view from the window will be mesmerizing.
Overnight at the guest house in the village Bashtanovka.
Day 4th: Bashtanovka village – Kachinskaya valley – Verkhorechye village – Bashtanovka village / ~ 30 km.
• Light traffic, country roads and asphalt roads 50% / 50%.
• Total climb, soft and gradual climb approx. 250 m.
• Descent, approx. 250 m, as gentle as the climb.
After breakfast at the hotel, you will take a bicycle trip through one of the most beautiful and ancient valleys of the Crimea – the Kacha Valley, some call it a canyon. The first part of the trip will pass along the Kacha river bed and further along the Marta river bed. All the villages you will pass: Bashtanovka, Kudrino, Mashino, and Verkhorechye proper – they are all sparsely populated and located in the valley of the Kacha River – from its source to its middle course. It is hard to imagine that this river, modest in appearance today, in distant geological times could literally cut the Inner Ridge. Interesting is the very name of the river, which translates as «Cross» – probably due to the fact that the Slavs and Greeks have lived here since ancient times, and there have always been many monasteries and churches.
You will come to Verkhorechye, which, as it was always believed, used to be called Biya-Sala. Archaeological excavations in the village have revealed traces of a settlement of the 4th-5th centuries. Here is one of the oldest Orthodox cemeteries in Crimea, where you can see a part of the ancient Church of St. John the Baptist of the 8th century. On another hill, there is a mysterious and most ancient monument of Verkhorechye – the so-called «Gothic cemetery». The views from there are beautiful: on one side, the snow-white walls of Kachi-Kalon, on the other, the triangular cliff of Syuryuryu-Kai... The tower of Crimean Astrophysical Observatory completes the natural harmony.
The river Marta will lead you to Lake Finaros, where you can enjoy peace and tranquility. Around stretched untouched by man nature corners: pines, firs, oaks, glades with berries, mushroom places. Here starts the Crimean mountain nature reserve. After resting, you will return to your hotel the same way, with the difference that part of the way you can go on the road is not busy, but an excellent asphalt road. Periodically, the winding path and overhanging cliffs on one side, and growing green mountain ranges on the other, will remind you of Italy, Switzerland... But no! This is the Crimea, and your bike ride takes place precisely in the valley of the Crimea.
After returning to the hotel, taking a short break you can go (we recommend to do it on foot), to explore the cave monastery Kachi-Kalon, Alimovu Balka or, near the village Predschelnoye - Tash-Air Gorge...
*Alternatively, you can also visit a modern winery in the village of Mashino, to taste the local wines.
Overnight at the guest house in the village Bashtanovka, breakfast is included in the price of the tour.
Day 5th: transfer from Bakhchisaray to Ai-Petri, approx. 1 hour.
Cycling route: Ai-Petri Plateau – Big Canyon of the Crimea (trekking - 2 to 6 km) – Sokolinoe / ~ 27 km
• Minimal traffic, paved road, mostly former asphalt road.
• Total elevation gain of approx. 50 m
• Descent, approx. 1.100 metres, 1/2 of it serpentine.
Today you have a busy programme, one of the highlights of the cycling tour!After having breakfast, you will be transferred to Ai-Petri plateau (1253 m above sea level). The plateau abruptly drops in front of the Black Sea coast. Almost steep wall, formed by it, is about 600 m high. From the observation deck you will see a vast panorama of the Black Sea (the sea is seen from here for 135 km), Yalta and a large part of the Southern Coast of Crimea. After enjoying the views, you will start cycling along Yalta Yaila, a mountain range belonging to the Main Ridge of the Crimean Mountains.
Yalta Yaila is a hilly upland plateau, covered with mountain (alpine) meadows with an abundance of herbs and flowers and occasional sparse forests. Above the cliff of Ai-Petri Yaila rise like huge fangs of a giant dragon, the Teeth. There are four especially large (up to 12-15 m high) and many small peaks among them. There is a flag-raising spire on one of the peaks, but the ascent to the peaks is accessible only to climbers (!).
After driving along the plateau, you will make a spectacular 25-kilometre descent to the village of Sokolinoye (280 meters above sea level). But before reaching our Guest Farm for about 6 kilometers, we recommend stopping for lunch at the Three Gudgeons Tavern. You'll enjoy a lot of aesthetic and gastronomic pleasure! Leave your bikes with your hostess and set off on a trekking tour of the Grand Canyon. This true natural wonder - the height of the steep canyon walls is 320 m, its length is about 3.5 km, and the width in its narrowest part does not exceed 2-3 m. How much time you want to dedicate to this route is up to you. If the daylight hours are long, make your way to the Bath of Youth, and after a swim in the magical water, return to the Sandpiper.
Then, still descending an easy serpentine route, the bikes will bring you to Sokolinoe, and with a short climb, you will arrive at our family-run Guesthouse. Everything is surrounded by mountains, and the small plateau is well maintained and fragrant. The places that surround you carry incredible spiritual power, which is exuded by ancient palaces, mosques and ruins of forts. This amazing place is covered with legends and is rightfully considered a tourist capital of mountain Crimea! The hotel where you will spend the night has a swimming pool, a restaurant with excellent local cuisine, Russian and even Japanese baths. In Sokolin (supposedly founded by light-eyed Goths back in the 3rd century), explore its attractions – the «Hunting House» of Count Yusupov (early 20th century), historic mosques and several fountains (chesme).
Overnight at the Guest House in Sokolinoe, breakfast included in the tour price.
Restaurant, swimming pool, sauna - everything for a comfortable holiday for cyclists.
Day 6th: Transfer from Sokolinoe to Orlinoe village, approx. 1 hour.
Cycling route: Orlinoe – Rodnikovoye, Skelska Cave – Rossoshanka – Peredovoye – Shirokoye – Orlinoe – Podgornoe / ~ 27 km.
• Minimal traffic, paved roads.
• Total ascent, gentle and gradual approx. 200 м.
• Descent, approx. 200 m, smooth and long downhill from Peredovoe.
In fact, today, you will drive along a beautiful route around the Chernorechensky reservoir in the Crimea, through the famous Baidar valley, which is called the «Crimean Switzerland». This corner of South-Western Crimea gives you a chance to see the diversity of nature of the peninsula – forests, mountains, canyons and rivers. In these places even 4 thousand years ago there were people, as evidenced by the ancient monuments – Skelskie Menhirs (stones, like Stonehenge), near the village Rodnikovoye. Most likely, most settlements should have been located near the Chernaya riverbed, but in 1949, to ensure water supply Sevastopol, it was decided to make an artificial reservoir in Baidar valley, which should accumulate water from the Crimean mountains. In 1956 the construction of a 28-meter high dam was completed and the history of Chernorechensky Reservoir began. The reservoir is surrounded on all sides by mountain ranges covered with forest, as if admiring their reflection on an undisturbed, mirror-like surface.
Leaving the centre of Orlínoe, the first thing that awaits you is an extraordinary adventure when you visit the Skelská cave. It is located between the villages of Rodnikovoye and Kolhoznoye (Uzhundzha). The cave was discovered in 1904, and was equipped for excursions by Yalta speleologists 100 years later. Here you can visit the marvellous kingdom of stalactites and stalagmites.
In Predovoye if you want to lengthen your cycle track a little, take Magsumova Street. You can ride up to the Bichinni-Chokhrakh viewing point, created by nature, where you can enjoy a beautiful view of the Baidar valley and reservoir. Here you can stop for a picnic and then, descending to the village of Shirokoe, enjoy the beautiful downhill slope and the view of the huge artificial lake (reservoir) and the valley.
Overnight at the Guest House in the village of Podgornoe or Orlinoe, breakfast included in the tour price.
* A visit to Skelska Cave must be booked in advance.
Day 7th: Podgornoe – Baidar Pass – Foros – South Coast of Crimea – Orlinoe – Podgornoe / ~ 40 km.
• Little traffic 70% of the way, 50% down the serpentine and the rest of the route along the pavement along the South Coast.
• Total altitude gain, approx. 800 м.
• Descent, approx. 800 м.
Today is the final day of your cycling tour. It will be very interesting and eventful.
The cycling track will take you to the ancient Foros. There you will ride through the Baydarsky pass (500 m above sea level) along the old road built in the 19th century which connects Yalta and Sevastopol. To commemorate this event, the «Baydarsky Gates» were built on the pass in 1848. From the gate, you can admire a breathtaking view of the Black Sea, the Resurrection Cathedral, known as one of the wonders of the Crimean Peninsula, and Foros. Then go down to the coast, where the second stop is the same Cathedral, built in the Byzantine style in the late 19th century in honor of saving the royal family of Emperor Alexander III, the merchant Kuznetsov near Borki.
Foros (meaning «lighthouse») was so named by the Greeks in the Middle Ages, but was founded by them much earlier, as early as the 5th century BC. Today it is famous for its park, which was laid out back in the 19th century by the same merchant, Alexander Kuznetsov. In the 20th century, Foros was a favorite place in the Crimea among the creative Russian intelligentsia. Here stayed and created Fyodor Chaliapin, Maxim Gorky, Rachmaninov and Chekhov.
Along the path through the park go down to the sea, on the shore there are some nice cafes, where you can have lunch. Nearby is a pebbly beach, where you should stop to enjoy the gentle sun and the gentle waves of the Black Sea.
Then, returning to the main road, you will drive west towards Sevastopol. For about 10 km the route will take you along the pavement, along the main road. Fascinating scenery of mountains descending to the sea, slight drops in elevation, flowering alleys – all these will be your companions on today's cycling trip. If you have enough time and energy, you can stop by the famous Laspi bay which is one of the most amazing spots of the whole south coast of Crimea. It is the wildest and virgin land. Mountain terrain of the bay is full of relict trees, 300-year-old juniper groves, and there are about 20 species of Crimean magnolia! Return to the main road, and through the villages of Tylovoye, Orlinoe, on the country road you will return to your Guest House (swimming pool, sauna) in the village of Podgornoe.
Overnight at the Guest House in the village of Podgornoe or Orlinoe, breakfast included in the tour price.
Day 8th: Podgornoe or Orlinoe
This morning after breakfast, your cycling trip in the Southwest Crimea is over. But we recommend staying for a few more days and continuing to explore the Crimean peninsula or simply relaxing on our Black Sea coast. Be sure to visit the hero city of Sevastopol and the ancient Chersonese, Balaclava and the palaces of the Southern Coast of Crimea.
The city Balaclava is famous for its harbor, the entrance to which is not visible from the sea, take a walk along the Nazukin`s promenade, which is adorned with tracery mansions of the 19th century. Be sure to visit the Maritime Museum Complex (a secret Cold War military site built between 1957 and 1961). Then you can climb to the ruins of the Genoese (14th century fortress) and look inside the Balaclava St. George Monastery (10th century), founded by the Greeks. After walking along the promenade, dine at one of the many fish restaurants.
Near Balaclava, visit a degustation hall in one of the oldest Russian sparkling wine production factories «Gold Balka», which was founded by Prince Lev Golitsyn in 1889. The picturesque valley of the «Golden Balka» is spread over 2,700 hectares of land in the Balaklava district, at the junction of the mountains, Black Sea and the endless steppe.
Sevastopol, it was founded in the late 18th century as the main base of the Russian Navy in the Black Sea. However, there are layers of history far more ancient: as a witnesses there is the famous HISTORICAL and ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM-RESERVE of CHERSONESOS , was founded by ancient Greeks in 424/421 BC.
In Sevastopol, go up the «Sinop» stairs to the top of the «Central» which reveals in front of you amazing views of the city and its sights, on «the Sevastopol raid» with giant cruise liners and the scenic bay. Going down to the Primorsky Boulevard, which is decorated with mighty plane trees, you can see a symbol of the city – Monument to the scuttled ships. And then, after passing along the promenade of «South» bay, you can visit a few famous memorial complexes, which are devoted to «Defense of Sevastopol in 1854-1855» – The historical local War, when the Russian army skillfully reflected the onslaught of British and French troops, greatly exceeded them in force. Be sure to visit this museum complex! Here you will learn about the heroic deeds of Soviet soldiers and local residents who defended Sevastopol during the Second World War.
Fortress, bastions, forts and coastal batteries ... and glorious history – «Sevastopol, Sevastopol, a city of Russian sailors...», you will get closer to it and it will leave a mark in the hearts of all of us. A majestic warships, young and in good way cunning sailors in beautiful uniform, smiling to them girls – all of this will give us an extraordinary atmosphere of this glorious Russian city.
About palaces of the Southern coast
Vorontsov Palace. Now this place hosts a museum, surrounded by a beautiful park, It was built in the style of English architecture in the early 19th century, for prominent Russian statesman, Governor General and Count Mikhail Vorontsov.
Famous «Swallow's Nest» – «like a post card». It has the same meaning as a city Halshtadt in the Austrian «Salzkammergut». In the castle you can use the famous «Swallow's Mail» and surprise your friends or relatives with your news from here to any corner of the world. It's very romantic!
Livadiysky Palace. Exactly here passed the historical «Yalta Conference», 1945 with the participation of Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill. Take a walk around the park, listen to the story of the Palace and make a short walk along the famous «of the Solar» trail. Cut from Livadia to O«reanda, also called «Tsar's path». The trail was built to connect the estates in Livadia and Oreanda belonging to the royal family, and was used for hiking and horse riding. Smooth trail passes through the green corridor formed by the forest thickets, and leads to the rotunda, where in front of us will open wonderful views at Oreanda, the coast and the sea. Amazing landscape of these places, scenic coastal cliffs, natural caves have always attracted Russian artists and writers.