Overview: This is a classical 8-day hiking route in the two highest and most popular mountains of Bulgaria: Rila Mountains and Pirin Mountains. The trip is suitable for hikers with like to spend 5 to 8 hours/per day walking in the mountains. The daily hikes are moderate to strenuous, but totally doable for active people with some experience in the mountains.
The trip starts with a few hikes in the Pirin Mountains, whereas the highlights are the hikes to Mount Vihren (the highest in Pirin) and the panoramic Mount Polezan. During your hikes in Pirin National Park (a UNESCO site) you will enjoy hikes through century-old conifer forests, numerous glacial lakes (Todorini, Vasilashki, Bunderishki, Bezbog) and rare flora and fauna species.
Crossing from Pirin to Rila Mountains the trip includes a very special cultural visit to the world famous and iconic Rila Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In Rila Mountains a must do are the hikes to Mount Musala – the highest on the Balkan Peninsula and to Mount Malyovitsa – the symbol of the Bulgarian mountaineering and alpinism. Rila National Park also guards many glacial lakes and beautiful scenery.
Best period: June – October
Difficulty level: moderate to strenuous
Day 1: Arrival day
Transfer from Sofia or Sofia airport to the town of Bansko at the foot of Pirin Mountains. Bansko is a charming calm town during summer and a bustling ski resort during winter. You will be accommodated for 4 nights in this little town so it is worth a visit to the ancient stone houses and the church, the little exhibition halls and the exuberant fundamental square with mountain views. Welcome dinner in Bansko.
Day 2: Hike to Mount Polezan
The first day up the mountains starts with a 40-min transfer to Gotse Delchev Hut at around 1400m above the sea level. There is a chair lift service up to 2240m near Bezbog Hut, that is the starting point of the hike for today. The highest point for today is Mount Polezan, the forth highest peak in Pirin. It is a very panoramic peak, with views towards the main mountain ranges in the region – Rhodopes, Rila, Pirin and some Greek mountains are clearly unmistakable in good climate. Lift back down and transfer to Bansko, some free time to look around the town.
Hiking time: 4:30hrs ↝6.3km ↑595m ↓595m
Day 3: Hiking to Vasilashki & Bunderishki Glacial Lakes
A short morning transfer will bring us to the starting point of today’s hike in the heart of Pirin National Park. The route goes through a couple of valleys, where you will see quite a few of the numerous glacial lakes. The hike starts on a large walking trail follows the crystal clear river of Demyanitsa through the forest until you reach Demyanitsa Hut near the border of Yulen Reserve. Next we head to Vasilshki and Todorini Lakes. The descent from Todorka col will lead us down to another valley, Bunderitsa Valley at the foot of Mount Vihren. The hike ends at Vihren Hut with a deserved rest for a beer/tea.
Hiking time: 7:30hrs ↝14km ↑1150m ↓650m
Day 4: Hike to Mount Vihren (2914m)
Short morning transfer will bring us back to Vihren Hut from where we start the ascent of the highest peak of Pirin Mountains – Vihren Peak, the stone kingdom of the Balkan Chamois and the Edelweiss flower. The route is short in km but steep and rocky and the final part requires little scrambling (secured by a metal chain). The hike is a loop walk so we will descent from the top on the other side of the mountain back to Vihren Hut and get our transport back to Bansko.
Hiking time: 7:00hrs ↝8km ↑1000m ↓1000m
Day 5: The Rila Monastery (UNESCO)
Today we move further North from Pirin to the Rila Mountains. In the middle of the transfer we will stop for a special visit to the world famous UNESCO heritage site in Bulgaria – the Rila Monastery. The visit includes not only a cultural visit to the monastic church but also a pilgrimage walk to the chapel and the grave of Ivan Rilski – the Founder. After lunch, 1:45h drive to the village of Govedartsi and accommodation in a family-run hotel for 2 nights.
Hiking time: 2:15h ↝3km ↑50m ↓300m
Day 6: Hike to Mount Malyovitsa (2729m)
Morning transfer to the starting point at 1760m, at the border of the Rila National Park. We are heading today for the most prominent peak in the Rila Mountains – Mount Malyovitsa. The walking trail follows Malyovitsa River and for about an hour we reach Malyovitsa Hut. From there the route goes to Elenino Ezero Lake and the panoramic Malyovitsa Peak, with clear views towards the Rila Monastery, the Pirin Range and Musala Peak. After we reach the peak, we would walk back on a similar path and drive back to the hotel in Govedartsi.
Hiking time: 7:00hrs ↝13.7km ↑1000m ↓1000m
Day 7: Hike to Mount Musala (2925m) – The top of the Balkans
The final walk of our classical hiking adventure will be the climb to the crown of the Bulgarian Mountains – Mount Musala. A 30-min morning transfer will bring us to the ski resorts of Borovets, where we take the Yastrebets gondola lift up to nearly 2400 m. From there we head to Musala Hut and Musala Lakes, next we reach to Ledeno Ezero Hut, located in the foot of Musala. The descent from the top to the resort is on the same trail. Next: 1.30-hour transfer from Borovets straight to Sofia. Hotel and dinner not included in Sofia.
Hiking time: 6:30hrs ↝14.4km ↑650m ↓650m
|Hiking in Pirin and Rila National Parks||Price per person:|
|1 pax||1500 EUR|
|2 pax||870 EUR|
|3 pax||680 EUR|
|4 pax||660 EUR|
|5 pax||580 EUR|
|6 pax||530 EUR|
|7 pax||490 EUR|
Price includes: accommodation for 6 nights in a family 3* hotels, on a double/twin en suite room basis; meals – 6 breakfasts and 5 dinners; chairlift tickets; all the transfers according to the itinerary; certified mountain guide and all his expenses for food and accommodation during the trip; local taxes.
Not included: international flights and taxes; entrance fees for museums and places of interest; lunches; other personal expenses; drinks; travel/mountain insurance; tips.
– high hiking boots that support the ankle
– rucksack (35-45 l)
– trekking poles
– quick dry type long sleeve pants
– thin pair of fleece gloves
– warm thin fleece hat
– a thin down jacket or a fleece layer
– water and windproof jacket with a hood and trousers
– rain protection: rucksack cover and raincoat
– sun protection: sun hat, sun lotion, sunglasses
– mosquito repellent
– water bottle (1-1,5 liter)
– personal first aid kit – any medicines you take, etc.