Much Better Adventures

Adventures / Wild Hikes

Hike the Lakes and Mountains of Bulgaria

Explore the rugged Pirin and Rila mountains on this guided hiking trip, staying in local family-owned hotels. 2 ½ days off work.

Location

Bulgaria

Fly To

Sofia Airport

Perfect for

Beginner and experienced hikers with good fitness levels, able to hike for up to 6 hours a day.

Difficulty

Moderate

Why it's much better

  • 4 days hiking in the 'Alps of the Balkans'
  • Hike past glacial lakes, along jagged ridges and through alpine meadows
  • Marvel at the epic scenery and panoramic views of the Pirin and Rila mountain ranges
  • Summit Mount Vihren (2915m) and Mount Polezhan (2851m)
  • Soak up the wild landscape which is home to bears, ibex, martens, eagles and falcons
  • Stay in family owned independent hotels in between hikes

What's Included

  • Guides Expert, English-speaking local guides
  • Accommodation 4 nights of accommodation at comfortable family-run hotels
  • Meals All breakfasts and dinners
  • Transfers All airport transfers
  • Permits All permits and entry fees
  • Happiness Guaranteed We're so confident that your holiday will be your best yet, we actually guarantee it
  • Feel Good Vibes We mitigate 4x the carbon emitted by all our travellers and support important conservation projects

Itinerary

Friday: Arrival

Your host will meet you at the airport in Sofia. Transfer into the city to check into your B&B.

Spend the evening exploring the city, taking in the sights and experiencing your first taste of Bulgarian cuisine.

Saturday: Hike the Malyovitsa Valley

Your host will pick you up early in Sofia and drive you to the Malyovitsa Resort in the Rila Mountains where your adventure begins.

You'll hike through spectacular alpine landscapes, through clusters of glacial lakes and flower-filled meadows, and past Strashno Ezero ("Scary Lake").

Descend to Yonchevo Lake and complete the loop back to Malyovitsa Resort. From there you'll drive to the nearby village of Govedartsi where you'll stay in a friendly family-run pension and dine on delicious traditional food.

2 hours driving

Hiking distance: 6km - Elevation ascent/descent 900m - Duration: 6 hours hiking

Sunday: Hike the Seven Rila Lakes Cirque

In the morning drive to Panichishte and take a cable car to the base of the Seven Rila Lake Cirque. There you'll spend the day hiking through a landscape of crystal lakes, jagged ridges, and alpine meadows.

The famous glacial lakes will take your breath away with its magnificent scenery, especially when you reach the highest lake with views looking back down on all the lakes you've just hiked past.

Back at the trailhead, you'll drive to the town of Bansko in the Pirin Mountains where you'll spend two nights at a family-run hotel.

3 hours driving

Hiking distance: 6km - Elevation ascent/descent 500m - Duration: 4 hours hiking

Monday: Hike Mount Vihren

Drive to nearby Vihren Hut, then ascend through the dramatic Golem Kazan (“Giant Cauldron”) area beneath the sheer face of Mount Vihren (2915m).

Your guide will point out endangered edelweiss, rare wallcreeper, and hopefully some shy Balkan Chamois. Enjoy the spectacular views from Mount Vihren, then descend to your hotel in Bansko.

40 minutes driving

Hiking distance: 9km - Elevation ascent/descent 1000m - Duration: 6 hours hiking

Tuesday: Hike Mount Polezhan and return to Sofia

In the morning you’ll transfer to Dobrinishte Resort and take a cable car to Bezbog Hut, the start of your hike to the summit of Mount Polezhan (2851 m).

Your hike will take you along the classic northeast ridge, a route that is not very difficult or steep until the last 15 minutes of the ascent.

From the peak you’ll enjoy a panoramic view of 17 blue alpine lakes contained within three dramatic cirques.

Hike back down to the trailhead for your transfer back to Sofia or the airport.

3.5 hours driving

Hiking distance: 8km - Elevation ascent/descent 650m - Duration: 5 hours hiking

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 double or twin rooms with private balconies, an onsite restaurant serving traditional Bulgarian food, wireless internet access, and stellar mountain views.

In Sofia your accommodation will be in the 3-star B&B Hotel Sofia Place (or similar) in the centre of town. The hotel features a restaurant serving local and international cuisine, a cozy lobby bar, free wifi throughout the building, a sauna and a fitness centre. Breakfast is included.

You will be staying in single rooms by default on this trip. If you're travelling as a couple or with other people and would like a twin/double room please let your host know when booking.

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; Sapareva Banya, a hot mineral springs with a modern public bath; and Kalin Dam, the highest--and most scenic!--dam in the Balkans.

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 the 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

Your trip starts at Sofia international airport. Transfers are included if you arrive on the start day, so please let your host know your flight times.

Finish Point

Your trip ends back at Sofia international airport where your host will drop you off at approximately 18:00pm on the final day of the trip. You are free to book any flight that departs after 20:00pm

Frequently Asked Questions

The following are not included in the tour price:

  • Flights to and from Sofia
  • Travel insurance
  • Tips for your guide
  • Lunches, snacks and drinks

You'll be hiking over complex terrain for several hours a day, so this trip is recommended for hikers with good levels of fitness.

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 is very Mediterranean in flavour. Popular dishes include shopska salad (similar to Greek salad), moussaka, pastries, stuffed vine leaves, cured meats and hearty stews. Common ingredients are yogurt, cheese, legumes, and a wide range of vegetables. You will be dining at a variety of restaurants, hotels, pubs and wineries. All dinners and breakfasts at these establishments are included in the tour price, except the first night where you're free to experience the city's many restaurants for yourself.

Sure can! A lot of people do, it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.

Absolutely! Just let us know at booking.

This trip will run with a minimum of 2 people, and a maximum of 14.

Bags

  • Soft overnight duffel bag or rucksack
  • Daypack
  • Waterproof liner for rucksack or drybags

Clothes

  • Down jacket
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Waterproof trousers
  • Breathable wicking layers
  • Fleece jacket or similar
  • Thermals (merino is best)
  • Warm hat
  • Buff or neckscarf
  • Lightweight trousers/shorts/skirts
  • T-shirts
  • Underwear & socks
  • Swimwear
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunhat
  • Something to sleep in
  • Hiking boots (worn-in)
  • Sandals

Other

  • Padlock for left luggage
  • Universal travel plug adapter
  • Power bank or solar charger
  • Spare camera batteries
  • Passports (and visas)
  • Travel Insurance documents
  • Ear plugs
  • Insect repellant
  • Suncream
  • Personal first-aid kit (inc. blister treatment)
  • Personal items (biodegradable toiletries, sanitary wear etc)
  • Toilet kit (toilet paper, biodegradable bags to carry out)
  • Quick-dry towel
  • Alcohol hand-gel
  • Headtorch or torch
  • Reusable water bottle x 1 ltr
  • Quickdry towel
  • Biodegradable wet-wipes
  • Energy bars and snacks
  • Water purification tablets/treatment system

Our group adventures are adult only. However, if you would like to bring children along this can be arranged by requesting a private trip with the host. This trip is suitable for children from age 15 only.

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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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