Much Better Adventures

Adventures / Wild Hikes

8-Day Hiking through the Bulgarian Mountains

Explore Bulgaria’s most spectacular scenery on an 8-day guided hike, with nights in comfortable family-run hotels.

Location

Bulgaria

Fly To

Sofia Airport

Difficulty

Challenging

The beautiful Pirin and Rila mountain ranges in southwestern Bulgaria are considered the Alps of the Balkans. The ranges contain the highest peak in the Balkan Peninsula (Mount Musala, 2925 m), countless glacial lakes, pristine alpine meadows, and rare flora and fauna. You’ll spend your days hiking through this remarkable landscape with a knowledgeable English-speaking guide, and spend your nights at local family-run hotels. Your hassle-free trip includes:

  • 8 days of guided travel through Bulgaria, including 6 full days of alpine hiking
  • 7 nights of accommodation at comfortable family-run hotels
  • All breakfasts and dinners
  • Round trip transfers between Sofia Airport and the hike
  • All transportation during the hike, including cable car tickets
  • Luggage transfers between accommodations
  • All local taxes

**Perfect for: **
Hikers keen to get off the beaten path in Bulgaria’s rugged mountain landscapes, and rest up in friendly local villages.

What's Included

Accommodation

Airport Transfers

Meals as described

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Itinerary

The Plan

Day 1: Sofia Airport to Bansko (2.5 hours driving)

Your guide will pick you up at Sofia Airport and drive you to the town of Bansko at the foot of Mount Pirin. There you’ll check into your hotel (where you'll stay for the first 4 nights), eat out at a restaurant, and discuss the week’s details with your guide.

Day 2: Polezhan Summit (5 hours hiking, 1 hour driving)

In the morning you’ll take a cable car to Bezbog Hut, the start of your hike to the summit of Mount Polezhan (2851 m). From the peak you’ll enjoy a panoramic view of 17 blue alpine lakes. Hike back down to the start for dinner. (8 km, 650 m gain and loss, moderate/difficult.)

Day 3: Banderishki Lakes Cirque (6-7 hours hiking, 40 min driving)

Today you’ll hike among breathtaking glacial blue alpine lakes. The trail will first take you over Todorina Porta (2702 m) into Yulen Nature Reserve, then past Todorini Ochi (“Todora’s eyes”) lakes. You’ll then descend through groves of fir trees past and finish with a walk along a shady riverside path. Enjoy a traditional Bulgarian meal before returning to your hotel. (16 km, 700 m gain, 1000 m loss, difficult.)

Day 4: Mount Vihren (6-7 hours hiking, 40 min driving)

Ascend through the dramatic Golem Kazan (“Giant Cauldron”) area beneath the sheer face of Mount Vihren (2915 m). Your guide will point out endangered edelweiss, rare wallcreeper, and hopefully some shy Balkan Chamois. Enjoy the spectacular views from Mount Vihren, then return to your hotel in Bansko for your last night in the Pirin range. (9 km, 1000 m gain and loss, very difficult.)

Day 5: Rila Monastery (3-4 hours hiking, 3 hours driving)

Today you’ll leave the Pirin Mountains and head for the Rila range. Along the way you’ll visit the Rila Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with exceptional frescos. Afterwards, finish your drive to Panichiste and check into your guesthouse, then take an optional hike to Skakavitsa Waterfall (70 m), explore the woods, or simply relax. (7 km, 300 m gain and loss, easy.)

Day 6: Seven Rila Lakes Cirque (7 hours hiking)

Take a cable car to the base of the Seven Rila Lake Cirque, then hike all day through a landscape of crystal lakes, jagged ridges, and alpine meadows. Ascend Malyovitsa Mountain (2729 m) and drop into Malyovitsa Valley, where you’ll spend the night at a guesthouse in the village of Govedartsi. (18 km, 800 m gain, 1200 m loss, difficult.)

Day 7: Musala Mountain (6 hours hiking, 1 hour driving)

Today you’ll climb the highest peak in the Balkans, Musala Mountain (2925 m). Begin with a cable car ride from Borovets Resort to the trailhead, then ascend past rivers, lakes and mountain huts to the summit. Enjoy the impressive views and take a moment to appreciate all you’ve accomplished this week! Descend back to your hotel in Govedartsi. (13 km, 750 m gain and loss, difficult.)

Day 8: Govedartsi to Sofia Airport (1.5 hours driving)

Enjoy a leisurely breakfast in scenic Govedartsi before your guide drives you back to Sofia Airport to catch your flight.

Please Note

All our adventures take place in wild places. Things can go wrong in wild places. Your perfectly planned itinerary may change a bit (or a lot) if the weather turns, someone gets hurt, or a volcano erupts. Usually though, changes make it all the better.

Accommodation

You will stay in small, three-star, family-run hotels and guest houses in the mountains. These guesthouses typically feature ensuite rooms with private balconies, an onsite restaurant serving traditional Bulgarian food, wireless internet access, and stellar mountain views.

Solo travellers automatically stay in their own single room. If you're travelling as a couple / with other people and would like to share a twin/double room please let us know when booking - especially if you do not book on together.

Location

The Rila Mountains are the highest in the Balkans. The name refers to its high number of beautiful mountain lakes — more than 200! The rugged, glacial mountains are home to the Rila National Park and four nature reserves, protecting such wildlife as hedgehogs, martens, foxes, bears, deer and ibex. Eagles and falcons often soar overhead. Local points of interest include the UNESCO-listed Rila Monastery and the small town of Sapareva Banya, popular for its hot mineral spring water and geyser located right in the heart of the town.

The Pirin Mountains are similarly high with 40 peaks over 2500 m. They are famous for their heavily glaciated landscape including numerous dramatic cirques full of glacial lakes. Snow sticks to the high mountains year round. A large portion of the Pirin Mountains have been preserved as a national park and as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Towns in the Pirin Mountains include Bankso, the largest ski resort in Bulgaria; Melnik, a tiny village known for its wine, architecture, and sand pyramids; the hot springs towns of Dobrinishte and Sandanski; and Razlog, a supremely scenic town situated between three high peaks.

Meeting Point

Start Point

Sofia Airport - 15:30

Your adventure begins at Sofia Airport (SOF) with your airport transfer at 1530. You are free to book any flight that lands up to 30 minutes earlier. Your host and fellow adventurers will be waiting for you in the arrivals area.

If you have the option to arrive earlier, you can get a 15 minute taxi into Sofia and your host can pick you up from your accommodation in Sofia (if staying overnight) or a city centre location, and bring you to Sofia airport to meet your fellow adventurers. Just let them know when booking.

Finish Point

Sofia Airport - 09:30

Your adventure ends at Sofia Airport at 09:30. You are free to book any flight that departs after 11:30.

Frequently Asked Questions

The following are not included in the tour price:

  • Flights to and from Sofia
  • Travel insurance
  • Tips for your guide
  • Lunches
  • Extra food and drink beyond the included dinners and breakfasts
  • Museum entrance fees
  • Mountain maps (optional)

Due to the long days of constant hiking with significant elevation gain, this tour is recommended for fit and experienced hikers only.

The high peaks in the Rila and Pirin Mountains see high temperatures reaching just 6 – 10 °C in the summer. The valleys are much warmer with high temperatures around 18 - 22 °C. Nights are significantly cooler. Monthly rainfall amounts range from 47 – 121 mm, but an average of just 6 – 9 days each month are rainy. June is the wettest month of the summer.

Bulgarian food has a strong Mediterranean slant. Popular dishes include shopska salad (like a Greek salad), moussaka, pastries, stuffed vine leaves sausages, cured meats and hearty stews. Common ingredients are yogurt, cheese, legumes, and a variety of vegetables. You will be dining at a variety of restaurants, hotels, pubs and wineries at the recommendation of your guide. All dinners and breakfasts at these establishments are included in the tour price.

Absolutely! Just let us know at booking.

You will need to provide all of your own equipment, including hiking clothes for all temperatures and weather conditions, a small backpack, trekking poles, sturdy hiking boots, and sun protection. Your host will be shuttling your luggage from hotel to hotel, so you can also pack a normal suitcase for traveling. Trekking poles can be rented through your host; inquire at booking.

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Dates & Prices

Bespoke trips only

There are currently no planned group departures. Please contact this host to request a quote for a custom trip.

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