The region is famous for its traditions of cultivating Smilyan beans. The combination of hard work and natural resources, which are typical for the valley, leads to that culinary delight. Smilian beans are sown alongside low crops – potatoes, cabbage and beets. The local community successfully defended this tradition and got a patent in 2007. The ethnographic collection “Smilyan Beans and Traditional Rhodope slippers” is a candidate for the Guinness Worlds Records with an enormous wall of beans, created by the hands of more than seventeen thousand visitors.
The Arda river upper valley is well known as a destination for hiking trips and caving experiences. In the village of Mogilitsa you can dive into the secrets of needle felting, while in the village of Arda you can organize a transition to the “Arda springs”. You can also go to Geranitsa, which is an area, located near the border with Greece. For those who are adrenaline lovers, the site offers a wide choice of opportunities – entry into a cave, alpine trolley, Via Ferrata or iron road in the rock.
The latter is a rock climbing route, located in the Garga dere area. It is equipped with metal steps, grips and metal ropes, where the tourist walks alone, equipped with an alpine seat and safety ropes. Uhlovitsa Cave has a good infrastructure and is open for tourists visits. It is among the emblems of the region.
For the Arda upper valley the Smilyan bean is a trademark. There are various options to cook it – in a soup, to add it in meat sauce and it can also be found in pastries. In the past few years, some places have become favorite for tourists. In Smolena Restaurant try beans in pumpkin or pizzas. The specialty in the tavern “Aida” is Smilyan beans with bananas. At the “Geranitza” complex it is good to try the lamb barbecue (as it called “cheverme”). The guest houses in Mogilitsa also have pleasant surprises waiting for you. We recommend a guest house “Rossi” in the upper part of Smilyan, where you will be spoiled with home-made cuisine – a patеtnik (it’s made with potatoes) and a wedge, a hot domestic pastry and delicious sweets for breakfast. And if you are obsessed to feel the local folk spirit, we recommend “Artel-13” arts and crafts center in the village of Kiselchovo.
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When it comes to The Arda upper valley, many people also think about the “The Milk House Milkana”. This is not just the dairy cream with blueberries, or the collection of cows in the dairy store. There you can enjoy traditional dainty delicacies and discover the magic of those authentic recipes. Тhe chief technologist of the dairy products Veneta Peteva is proud owner of the prize for reviving authentic cultural tradition from the UNESCO World Heritage Organization. Everything is done with a lot of devotion and love for nature. Each product is prepared only with fresh milk from a typical breed – “Bulgarian Rhodope bovine”.
The Arda upper valley is a special place – the singer Valya Balkanska was born in one of the neighborhoods just below the Arda river springs. She performs a folk song, which is a part of the Voyager Golden Record and it can be heard at cosmic space. In the first weekend of the summer, you can join the Wildflowers Festival, related to the tradition of Eniovden ( 24-th of June).