Bulgaria has a rare form of wealth: about 200 locations of 520 registered mineral water springs. You will hardly find another place in the country, however, where this impressive natural resource brings such pleasure, as in Velingrad.
Created in 1948 with the unification of three old villages in the Chepina Valley, today Velingrad is the modern centre of spa treatment in Bulgaria and a spa capital of the Balkans. It deserves visiting year-round. The pleasure of its mineral springs does not depend on the changes of the seasons, and the options for cosmetic or healing procedures are so many that you will need several trips to the town only to find out which of those you like best.
Velingrad has the pleasant tranquility of a resort city where stress is forgotten, people enjoy life and tasty Rhodope food, and the air is clean. The Western Rhodope with their magnificent peaks and dense forests are stretching around you, and the feel for total seclusion from the troubles of the wider world comes before you even realise it. When you sit by Kleptuza, Bulgaria's largest karst spring, you discover that you have lost count of the time, busy contemplating the play of the water.
Close to the spring is another geographical rarity: the crossing point of the 24 meridian and the 42 parallel.
Velingrad, however, wins the heart of the visitor with a lot of other things. Although the town itself is new, the region around has been inhabited at least since the ancient Thracians, and in the Middle Ages nearby rose the strong Tsepina Fortress. Its impressive ruins can still be seen and visited, a couple of kilometres from Velingrad, together with the modern museum of the Pliocene paleontological deposit by Dorkovo village. The Yundola locality, for its part, brings together the various options for mountain activities. In summer it is a wonderful starting point for mountain treks, while in winter it is an excellent place for skiing.
You shouldn't miss as well the opportunity to ride at least for a few stations on Bulgaria's only narrow-gauge train. The whole route links Septemvri, in the Thracian Plain, and Dobrinishte, near Bansko; Velingrad is located by one of its most picturesque parts.
The narrow-gauge train