Hike the Lakes and Mountains of Bulgaria

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

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REF: 08554

Hike the Lakes and Mountains of Bulgaria

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

  • Bulgaria
  • May—September
  • Sofia Airport, Sofia (SOF)

The beautiful Pirin and Rila mountain ranges in southwestern Bulgaria are considered the Alps of the Balkans. There you’ll find the highest peak in the Balkan Peninsula (Mount Musala, 2925m), 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:

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

Perfect for:
This hiking tour is perfect for active adventurers wanting to experience the best of Bulgaria’s rugged mountain landscapes with the assistance of a knowledgeable guide.

What to Expect

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, 6 hours hiking (12km, 900m gain and loss)

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 their magnificent scenery, especially when you reach the highest one and can look down on them all.

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, 4 hours hiking (6km, 500m gain and loss)

Moday: 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, 6 hours hiking (9km, 1000m gain and loss)

6 hours hiking, 40 min driving.

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, 5 hours hiking (8km, 650m gain and loss)

Accommodation

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

In Sofia, 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 international cuisine in buffet or plated style, 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 / with other people and would like a twin/double room please let us know when booking and we will reduce your quote.

Dates & Prices

Please note: Flights are NOT included and must be purchased separately.

Optional Extras

Make your life easy. Once you have reserved your space, your host can help you arrange the extras you’ll need. Here are some guide prices which can be confirmed with you during booking.

Hiking Poles Payable Before Departure
Hiking Poles £15.00
Extra night + private transfer Payable Before Departure
single room in 3* Sofia hotel incl. breakfast and transfer to the airport. £70.00 Per Person
twin/dbl room in 3* Sofia hotel, incl. breakfast and transfer to the airport, £50.00 Per Person

Trip Photos

Location

View map

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.

Start point?
You will be met at Sofia airport on Friday. Transfers are designed to meet any flight that lands on Friday. Your host will be in touch before the trip to finalise details.

Finish point?
You will be dropped off at Sofia Airport around 18:00 on Tuesday. You are free to book any flight that departs after 20:00. Your host will be in touch before the trip to finalise details.

Getting there and away?
Sofia is served by regular cheap flights throughout the year, including well-timed direct flights from London on Wizz Air and Ryanair. You can get any flights that suit you, but make sure they fit the times above to take advantage of the included transfers. The airport is just a 1 ½ hour drive from Borovets, so you won’t waste time getting to your destination. We will contact you before you leave to check your arrival and departure plans.

For extra financial protection against unforeseen circumstances such as erupting Icelandic volcanoes, we recommend you book your flights using a credit card.

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
  • Mountain maps (optional)

Can I book on my own? Sure can! A lot of people do, it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.

*How big will the group be? This trip will run with a minimum of 4 people, and a maximum of 8. Please note, if there are not 4 people booked the trip may be rearranged or cancelled.

Due to the long days of hiking over complex terrain, 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 is very Mediterranean. 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, except the first night where you’re free to experience the city’s many restaurants for yourself.

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 are available to rent through your host; inquire at booking.

The minimum age for this experience is 15 years old.

Start point?
You will be met at Sofia Airport (SOF) on Friday. Transfers are designed to meet any flight that lands on Friday. Your host will be in touch before the trip to finalise details.

Finish point?
You will be dropped off at Sofia Airport around 18:00 on Tuesday. You are free to book any flight that departs after 20:00. Your host will be in touch before the trip to finalise details.

Getting there and away?
Sofia is served by regular cheap flights throughout the year, including well-timed direct flights from London on Wizz Air and Ryanair. You can get any flights that suit you, but make sure they fit the times above to take advantage of the included transfers. The airport is just a 1 ½ hour drive from Borovets, so you won’t waste time getting to your destination. We will contact you before you leave to check your arrival and departure plans.

For extra financial protection against unforeseen circumstances such as erupting Icelandic volcanoes, we recommend you book your flights using a credit card.

We’ve teamed up with the guys at World Nomads to offer insurance designed for adventurous travellers across 140 countries that includes overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities. To get yours sorted, click here.

Your local host for this trip does not pair up solo-travellers who do not know each other and therefore the price includes a single room supplement.

If you’re travelling as a pair or in a group, and you’d like a twin/double room, let your host know when booking and you will receive an €85 refund per person.

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