Northern Pirin Mountains – info on how to get by public transport to the main starting points for hiking or trekking in this mountain range.
The easiest and quickest way to get to the Pirin Mountains is to catch a bus from the Sofia city – this is also the way most visitors follow. If you are arriving at the airport, you can take the underground metro to the Sofia Central Bus Station and take a bus to the town of Bansko (at 8.30; 9:45; 11:25; 14:00; 16:45 – check the timetable here*). It is possible to buy a ticket on-line, but not for all of the hours. It’s a 3h journey and 160km distance.
Another place to take a bus from Sofia to Bansko is the Ovcha Kupel Bus Station (at 7:00, 9:20, 11:50; 12:30; 13:05; 14:30; 15:10; 15:49; 16:20; 16:30 – check the timetable here*). The price of a one way ticket is 15-16 BGN.
*All the timetables are subject to change so we cannot guarantee 100% accuracy.
From the city of Plovdiv there is a bus to Bansko departing from the Rhodopi Bus Station (located next to the train station) at 14:10h. The journey takes 3.5 – 4h through the Rhodopi Mountains. There is also a train: Plovdiv – Septemvri – Bansko 3 times a day, the first one starting at 7:15h, with a switch at Septemvri (from the regular Plovdiv-Sofia line to the narrow train towards Bansko/Dobrinishte). The journey takes 5.43h as from Septemvri to Bansko it is on a narrow gauge railway – a unique line that follows the border between Rila and the Rhodopes (read more about the narrow gauge line). The price is 8.60 BGN. You may check the timetable here.
The narrow gauge is also a tourist attraction as it travels through the mountains and is the connection between the ranges of Rhodopi, Rila and Pirin. The train line website.
Bansko is the main starting point for all the major hiking routes in Northern Pirin Mountains.
From Greece: Thessaloniki – Bansko – (221km, 3h); Kavala – Bansko (162km, 2.15h)
In Bansko you can find a variety of accommodation – from 15 to 150 BGN per bed. There are small family hotels, guest houses, chalets, apartments, luxury SPA hotels. Busiest time is New Year, February and August, when you need to book in advance. There is also a camping site with a restaurant above Bansko up the mountain road, if you fancy using your tent or camper/caravan.
If you’re off for hiking in the summer, you can head straight to one of the nearest huts: Yavorov Hut, Vihren Hut, Demyanitsa Hut and Bezbog Hut.
- Yavorov Hut (1740m asl): If you are heading straight for a night in Yavorov Hut, to take the route to the hut, you need to get off the bus from Sofia at the turning for the golf course, which is some 10 km before Bansko (a km after the Shell gaz station on the left side of the road, signposted for Betolovoto and Pirin Golf). It’s a 3,5 hours walk first ly following the asphalt near the golf complexes and further on a marked path/trail up to the hut. From Yavorov Hut there is a route to Vihren Hut along the most famous ridge in Pirin – “Koncheto” and the highest peak of the Pirin Mountains – Vihren (2914m). This is one of the longest (10 hours) and hardest walks in this mountain range. There is a route to another hut called “Predela”, about 6-7 hours walk through the forests (in the lower parts of the mountains at 1740 – 1050 m altitude). The hut is located on the Predela Saddle, the highest point on the border between the Rila and the Pirin mountains – the border line is followed by the asphalt road Blagoevgrad-Bansko-Gotse Delchev. The E4 route crosses Predela on the way from Macedonia Hut in Rila towards Yavorov Hut in the Pirin Mountain Range.
- Vihren Hut (1950m asl): Located above the town of Bansko and bellow the eastern face of Vihren peak, 16km up on an asphalt mountain road. If you are heading straight for a night in the hut, you can use a transport from Bansko – there is a shuttle bus from the Bansko Bus Station, that operates from 1th of July to 15th of September. Schedule: Bansko to Vihren: at 8.30; 13.20; 17.00h. Vihren to Bansko: at 9.30; 14.20; 18.00h. Please note that vehicles are not allowed above the ski area up to Vihren Hut between 9.00 and 16.00 during the high season. There is a shuttle bus to cover this last part, departs regularly, when full with passengers. Another option is to take the gondola to Bunderishka Poliana and walk 1,5-2 hours to Vihren Hut. This hut is a starting point for various routes in the higher mountain. In the Vihren valley are situated 5 glacial lakes (Bunderishki Lakes): Okoto, Jabeshkoto, Ribnoto, Dulgoto and Muratovo. The routes to the top of Vihren peak starts at Vihren Hut. There are marked routes to Demyanitsa Hut passing by the Vasilashki Lakes Cirque, to Tevno Lake Hut, to Sinanitsa Hut, to Spano Pole Hut. Please heck the summer timetable of the gondola.
- Demyanitsa Hut (1895m asl): Located above the town of Bansko. It is a 4.30h walk from the town to the hut on a marked route. From the hut there are marked routes to Bezbog Hut passing by the Valiavishki Lakes Cirque, to Tevno Lake shelter, to Vihren Hut.
- Bezbog Hut (2236m asl): It is situated in the mountains above the town of Dobrinishte (5km from Bansko). From Dobrinishte there is a marked route (2.5h) as well as 11km tarmac road to Gotse Delchev Hut, where the chairlift to Bezbog Hut starts. The most popular one-day walks from this hut are to Popovo Lake, to Bezbog Peak and to Polejan Peak. The operating hours of the chairlift for the period 17/04/2017 – 31/10/2017 are 8:30 – 16:30 every day. One way ticket costs 10 BGN, return – 15 BGN.
Southern and Central Pirin Mountains – info on how to get by public transport to the main starting points for hiking or trekking in this mountain range.
The town of Gotse Delchev is a start point for walks in the Southern and Central Pirin. It is located 210 km away from Sofia (4h by bus) and only around 25 from the Greek border, on the road to Kavala in Greece. There are frequent buses from Sofia and Blagoevgrad.
Popovi Livadi Pass (1424 m) is located above Gotse Delchev, on the GT – Petrich (Melnik) – Kulata (the other check point with Greece) asphalt road. The saddle is on the E4 international long distance walking route that follows the ridges of Pirin in this part. It is also considered as a border between Central from Southern Pirin Mountains. It is a start point for routes in both as well as towards Slavyanka Mountains. The routes in Pirin would be heading to: the highest point of Central Pirin – Mount Orelyak; Mutorog and Sveshtnik in South Pirin, Malina Hut and Pirin Hut, Paril Saddle that separates southern Pirin from Slavyanka Mountains. Together with the many holiday villas and a couple of small hotels, there is a hut at the saddle – Popovi Livadi Hut. A marked trail (around 4h hike) leads from the town of Gotse Delchev up to the hut, if you prefer a walk instead of a drive (no regular bus line on this road).
Sofia – Melnik (181km, 2.5h), there is a bus from Sofia Central Bus Station.
Thessaloniki – Melnik (143km, 1.5h);
Melnik is the smallest town in Bulgaria and was declared a museum-town in 1968. It is famous with its family wine making, which has been prospering for centuries. There are guest houses, apartment and SPA hotels, mostly built in the traditional for Melnik Revival style.
Melnik is a starting point for hiking routes in Northern Pirin Mountains. (or Pirin Central via Pirin and Malina Huts). The nearest huts are Pirin (1640 m above sea level, 5-6 h walk from the town) and Malina (1674 m above sea level, 8 h walk from the town). There are marked routes from the town to the huts and from the huts to the higher mountain and other huts. The tourist info center is in the Municipality. Other popular destinations are the nearby Rhozhen Monastery and the Melnik Pyramids – interesting sandstone formations above the town. Because of the hot climate and low elevation, walking around Melnik is most pleasant during Spring and Autumn – in summer the temperatures often reach well above 30 degrees during the day.