Mountains of Bulgaria
Hiking in Bulgaria is possible nearly all the year round – depending on the season different parts of the mountains or mountain ranges are suitable for hiking. Bulgaria has a lot to show – from the high rocky peaks of Rila and Pirin, suitable for hiking mainly in summer, to the large green pastures of the Rhodope Mountains.
Hiking in Bulgarian countryside is facilitated by a huge network of marked tourist trails. Main hiking regions are Rila, Pirin, Balkan and Rhodope mountains – each of them has its own charm and beauty. Each is also suitable for hiking in a different part of the year. While Rhodopes are lower and loose their snow cover earlier, there is still some snow drifts in the high parts of Rila and Pirin even in July.
Balkan Mountains are popular mainly with their long distance trekking route to the seaside – 20-30 days of hiking. It is called E3 and is part of the network of the European Long Distance Routes that cross the mountains of the whole continent.
In Rila Malyovitsa, Musala, The Seven Lakes and the Rila Monastery are some of the most interesting destinations for hiking. Bulgaria hosts the highest mountain on the Balkans – Mount Musala, which is actually more or less easy accesible, because of the gondola lift at Borovets.
Hiking in Bulgaria’s second highest mountain – Pirin Mountains is best between July and August, when the snow is completely gone. Its high main ridge – the so called Marble Ridge – is the main attraction.
Rhodope Mountains offer easier conditions for hiking. Bulgaria is covered by a few mountain ranges, but this one is the largest, although not the highest. The terrain is more gentle and there is a lot of small neighborhoods on the way.
Ski Touring Rila & Pirin
Hiking in Bulgaria
Walking has strong traditions in Bulgaria because of the country’s great nature resources that attract visitors, from one side, and the patriotic connotations that were associated to this outdoor activity from the late 19-th century, from another. At this period walking in the country’s wild ranges become a way to show love to the motherland. This viewpoint is expressed in the words of one famous Bulgarian writer, Aleko Konstantinov, who is considered as the founder of the organized mountain tourism in Bulgaria. “Get to know your motherland to love it”, he said, and walking and trekking was the way “to get to know”. Later, during the Communist period, this ideology took even greater place in people’s life, because it was officially encouraged. Many huts were built and many trails were traced in that time, many people spent their holidays trekking in the mountains, organized together in trekking clubs with their colleagues, neighbours and so on. For the last decades the number of foreigners who discover the opportunities for walking, that this small country with the highest mountains in southeast Europe offers, is increasing constantly.
There is a lot of reasons for the people to become interested in walking and trekking in Bulgaria – from the severe alpine-like rocky landscapes of Pirin Mountains to the “green sea” of hills and meadows of the Rhodope Mountains. Totally counted as 37, the mountains of Bulgaria are suitable for a day walking or long treks – on foot or with snowshoes – in every season. Best time to go trekking in the highest parts of Rila, Pirin and Balkan Mountains is between July and September, when the weather is dry and warm and even the thickest snow drifts has already melted.
In Winter, between December and March-April, a pair of snowshoes on your feet gives a great chance to see completely different views of the all covered in white mountains. Spring is a good time for walking in the lower ranges – like the Rhodopes and Strandja Mountains – they’ve already lost their snow cover, the weather is cool but not hot and the views are in all shades of green. In Autumn red, yellow and brown paints dominate in the Balkan Mountains which are said to offer the best “autumn” views, but this change of the colors is also impressive in Rila and Vitosha Mountains, partly covered in broad-leaf forests. A walking trip in Bulgaria may include a visit of a nature landmarks like caves, rock formations and glacial lakes, but also it is always more or less touch to a different culture, represented by the inhabitants of the mountain ranges that we meet on our way.
If you want to do some walking and trekking in Bulgaria, researching about the right mountain range and route according to the season, your preferred level of difficulty and interests is the key for a good walking holiday. This, along with some practical questions that are discussed in this website, is the necessary minimum of information you need before starting to plan a biking or walking holiday in the mountains of Bulgaria. It can be arranged entirely on your own, you can join a bigger group, organized by a tour company, or hire a local guide to accompany you during your walking trip in Bulgaria, setting the program according to your own pace and interests.