2023 up to date information on the working hours and operating schedule of the main lifts of Rila, Pirin, Vitosha and Balkan mountains in Bulgaria. These provide access towards the high parts of the mountains and are good starting points for the multiday hiking routes, as well as for day walking ventures.
*All the provided information might be a subject to change, so please use the links and phone numbers below to confirm it. If you have any last minute info, do not hesitate to comment below the article.
The Seven Rila Lakes chair lift (Rilski Ezera lift)
The chair lift provides excellent access to the Seven Rila Lakes area in Northwestern Rila Mountains. It is a good starting point for hikes around the lakes, towards Ivan Vazov Hut, The Rila Monastery and Malyovitsa area. The lift is located above the Panichishte settlement and connects Pionerska Hut (1520 m above sea level) and the Rila Lakes Hut (2150 m asl). The access to the lift is via asphalt road from Panichishte to Pionerska hut, where a paid parking lot is located.
The lift operation is vulnerable to strong winds and thunderstorms, so check the forecast before approaching.
Currently (May 2023) the lift is shut for technical inspection and is expected to start working back in June. Link to the lift operators website for relevant information on the prices of the lift tickets and the current status of operation: https://rilskiezera.bg/en/lift-working-hours/
The Rila Lakes lift operating hours in summer are usually from 8 or 8.30 (low/high season) until 18/19h which gives a good amount of time for hiking in the area.
Important point to consider is that on Mondays the chair lift starts operating from 12h due to regular technical checks.
Another issue are the huge queues of enthusiasts to enjoy the lakes in July/August, mainly during the weekends, but not only. In order to avoid, be there well before the opening time.
The Borovets to Musala gondola lift
The gondola connecting the ski area of Borovets with Yastrebets Hut, as high as 2369 m above the sea level is the perfect access option to climb the peak of Musala in a day.
It is good to know that the lift usually starts summer operation from July, depending on the year could be 1st or 15th of July. The season will end in September. Another point is that the lift is off for technical inspection on Mondays and Tuesdays, so not taking people up the mountain before Wednesday. The working hours are 8.30 to 18h, but check with the operators before using it.
For up to date info follow the “News” section of the Borovets ski area website: https://www.borovets-bg.com/en/news-list
Kartala gondola in Southwestern Rila
The Kartala gondola serves to the ski area of Kartala, located above the town of Blagoevgrad, some 27 kms away. The access is along and winding asphalt road up to the bottom lift station and next to the Kartala hotel complex.
The gondola takes passengers up to 2100 m and near the main ridge of this part of the mountain. This is an easy walking distance from the magnificent views towards Rila and Pirin ranges, and also a good start point for walking towards Macedonia Hut, Dobursko village, Predela Pass, or just climbing some of the peaks on the ridge and back.
The lift operates every day during the high summer season, 8.30 to 16.30, except Mondays until 12h But for up to date info, definately check their website or phone call: link before planning your venture.
Bezbog Chair Lift in the Pirin Mountains
The lift is located above the small town of Dobrinishte, next to Bansko, in the foot of the Pirin. A 12km asphalt road leads up to the bottom lift station near Gotse Delchev Hut. The two section line takes passengers up to 2250 m which is a good start point to climb the peaks of Polezan and Bezbog, or to approach Tevno Lake Hut, Demyanitsa Hut or Pirin Hut.
It operates all year round with a gap in May. Disadvantage is the early shut down hour during the day – 16/16.30, as this puts a limit on the walking hours available for day trips. Monday morning is technical check time, so the lift is not in operation. The line starts at 8.30 am. Up to date info on ticket price and current operating hours: Bezbog Chair Lift
Simeonovo – Aleko gondola lift on Vitosha Mountains
Currently the lift is in operation but is not reliable after a couple of accidents with the gondola last year, so we do not recommend using it.
The Bansko ski area gondola lift
The only lift you could use during summer in Bansko is the gondola lift from the town up to Bunderishka Polyana area, where a bunch of restaurants and some summer attractions for kids are located. The top station provides access towards Bunderitsa Hut and Vihren Hut, as well as to the Century old pine tree – Baykusheva Mura, which is a local natural sight.
The top station is at about 1600 m which is a low starting point. For ascents of Mount Vihren and the other high peaks in the area it is better to use the shuttle bus that goes up to Vihren Hut in summer. Please note that in 2023 the asphalt road is under reconstruction and it is still not clear how will the car access work this summer.
Sopot chair lift in the Balkan Mountains
the line connects the town of Sopot situated in the foot of Central Balkan National Park, and the area of Dobrila Hut (30 min walking). Dobrila Hut is placed on the main ridge of the mountain, along the E3 long distance walking route and is a starting point for the Dobrila – Botev traverse, a route that crosses this famous section of the main ridge. Nearby huts are Dermenka, Vasil Levski and Ambaritsa.
The lift also serves a bike park and is popular among paragliders. Outside of the high season (July-August) it operates only on weekends (8.30-17.30) or if there is a request from a bigger group (10+ passengers), so contact in advance before heading to the lift. Webpage currently only in Bulgaria, needs to be google translated: https://www.lift-sopot.com/
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/LiftSopot
Sliven chair lift in the Balkan Mountains
The town of Sliven is located 300 km east of Sofia, 180 km east of Plovdiv and 100 km west of Burgas. The most visited geographical location and attraction in the city is the area called Karandila. It is a hilltop 1050 m above sea level, with great sights overlooking the city. Karandila is in the nature park Sinite Kamani (http://dppsk.org/en/), whose peak Bulgarka (1181 m.) is the highest in the eastern Balkan Mountains. There are interesting rock formations in the area, as well as rapids and waterfalls.
There is a chairlift starting from an area in the town called “Kaptaja” and going up in the mountains to an area called Sluncheva poliana. The lower station is near the National Park Sinite Kamani Info Center. Near the top station are located Karandila hut and Karandila hotel (30 min walk).
The chairlift “Sliven-Karandila”: operates Tue – Sun 8:30 – 16:30 (17.30 in the high season).
Website: Sliven chair lift (in Bulgarian only).