8 days

  Explore the mighty Rila mountains of south-west Bulgaria

  Hike among shimmering glacial lakes and stunning alpine pastures

  Walk to the top of the Balkans’ highest summit, Musala (2925m)

  Discover the magnificent Rila monastery, World Heritage Site

  Indulge in delicious, hearty home-cooked food— local salami, cheeses and wines

Hiking the Rila and Pirin mountains

Self-guided walking holiday in Bulgaria

Enjoy Bulgaria’s most picturesque alpine treks, climbing the Balkans’ highest peaks: Musala (2925m) in the Rila mountains and Vihren (2914m) in the Pirin mountains. You will trace dramatic ridges, hike past glacial lakes and stunning alpine pastures, as well as visiting the world-famous UNESCO-listed Rila Monastery.

This is the ideal trip for experienced hikers looking for an alternative to the high Alps or Dolomites. Panoramic views will take your breath away as you trek high above the tree line, amongst some of the wildest mountains to be found in Europe.

8 DAYS / 7 NIGHTS €770 per person sharing*

*A single supplement charge will apply for solo walkers.

ACCOMMODATION family-run pension including breakfast and dinner (Day 1 to Day 3) and 3*** hotel on bed & breakfast basis (Day 4 to Day 8; there are numerous options to have dinner in the taverns and restaurants of Bansko); en-suite rooms everywhere.
AVAILABILITY This tour is available to start from mid-June until mid-September. Starting on a Tuesday-Saturday only; as the cable car to Mt. Musala doesn’t operate on Monday or Tuesday.

If you wish to start this tour on different days of the week (i.e. Sunday to Monday) it may be possible to rearrange the program and visit  Pirin before Rila—please contact us for a tailor-made itinerary.

7 nights in selected hotels
7 Breakfasts
3 Dinners (in Govedartsi)
Luggage transport as per itinerary
People transfers by car as per itinerary on days 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 & 7
Return airport transfers from/to Sofia Airport
Detailed route notes and maps
Pre-departure information pack
24/7 telephone support
Flights & travel insurance
Lunches, dinners (except for at Govedartsi) & snacks
Cable cars and chair lifts mentioned in the itinerary; payable locally – around €20 total per person.
Taxi transfers or public transport should you need to skip a stage
Anything else not mentioned in the “included” section
Additional nights before, during or after the walk
Single Room Supplement(s)
DIFFICULTY  This tour is meant for well-trained hikers with experience of dealing with bad conditions in the mountains and for people used to walking over rocky slopes with steep ascents and descents. Patches of snow may still be present on some of the trails until the end of July (although the trails are passable from mid-June and perhaps earlier).

Day 1: Arrive in Govedartsi

You will be picked up at Sofia Airport and transported to the village of Govedartsi, where you will have three overnight stays.


Day 2: Musala summit walk

Distance: 14.5 km | Ascent & descent: 700 m | Time: 5½ hrs approx.

Your exploration of the Rila mountains starts with a walk to the top of the Balkans’ highest summit, Musala (2925m). The day begins with a transfer from Govedartsi to Borovets resort, where you board the cabin lift to the trailhead. The path is not particularly arduous, yet is incredibly panoramic, with the rocky face of Musala visible the whole time as your trail takes you past cirques, glacier lakes and mountain shelters. The vistas from the summit to the surrounding uplands and peaks makes the effort worthwhile, as you survey the view from the top of the Balkans.

Overnight: Govedartsi


Day 3: Cirque of the Seven Rila Lakes

Distance: 16 – 18 km | Ascent & descent: 1,100 – 1,300 m | Time: 6-7 hrs approx.

A shaded path through the Rila’s ancient spruce forests gradually gives way to alpine terrain as you ascend to the Cirque of the Seven Rila Lakes, located at between 2100 and

2500 metres above sea level. As you reach the edge of the highest lake you are rewarded with a magnificent view over these shimmering glacier lakes surrounded by the peaks of the Rila mountains.

Overnight: Govedartsi


Day 4: Transfer to Pirin Mountains via Rila Monastery

You bid farewell to Rila this morning and set off for Pirin. Today’s itinerary offers you the chance to relax as you stop for a short visit at Rila Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is the most famous and largest Christian monastery in Bulgaria. The exceptional frescoes in the central church form a gallery of Renaissance masterpieces which can be compared to those of the Sistine chapel.

After your monastery visit, you will be transferred to the town of Bansko at the foot of Pirin Mountains. This will be your base for the following four nights. In the afternoon you can take the opportunity to wander the old town’s cobbled streets.

Overnight: Bansko


Day 5: Pirin mountains: Polezhan summit walk

Distance: 12 km | Ascent & descent: 770 m | Time: 5 hrs approx.

After breakfast, a car transfer brings you high above Dobrinishte resort, to the Gotse Delchev Hut (appr. 40min). From there you will take a chair lift still higher to the Bezbog Hut. This is the setting-off point for your hike to the Polezhan Summit (2851m), which offers one of the most beautiful panoramas in the Pirin. You will gaze in wonder over 17 stunning glacier lakes, the largest of which, Popovo Lake, is over 30 metres deep.

Polezhan is the 5th highest summit in the Pirin mountains. It is surrounded by three Cirques with three groups of lakes – Disilishki in the north, Polezhanski in the south and Strazhishki in the west. You will walk the classic route along the northeast ridge, which is not too difficult or steep, apart from the very last 15-minutes or so of walking as you reach the summit.

Overnight: Bansko


Day 6: Cirque of the Banderishki Lakes

Option A: Distance: 16 km | Ascent: 615 m | Descent: 1,200 m | Time: 5½ hrs approx.


Option B: Distance: 7.5 km | Ascent & descent: 470 m | Time: 4 hrs approx.

After breakfast, a 30-minute pre-arranged transfer will take you to the Vihren Hut, from where you have a choice of walks around the pristine glacier lakes.

The longer walk crosses into the neighbouring valley and the Todorini Ochi lakes before descending through the dense spruce forests of the Yulen Nature Reserve and eventually reaching the photogenic valley of the Demyanitsa river.

The shorter walk is no less panoramic and offers you the chance to rest by the shores of the Banderiskki lakes and enjoy the serenity of the mountains.

Overnight: Bankso


Day 7: Vihren summit walk

Distance: 8 km | Ascent & descent: 1,000 m | Time: 6½ hrs approx.

On your final day you will attempt the Pirin mountains´ highest and most famous summit, Mount Vihren (2914 m).

After a 30-minute transfer this morning, you will trek through the Golem Kazan (Giant Cauldron) beneath Vihren’s sheer 300m-high northern wall, whose dolomite precipices offer shelter to rare edelweiss flowers and fretful herds of Balkan Chamois (wild goats). The views are genuinely overwhelming, yet they are just the prelude to the panoramas that open up as you reach the summit and gaze over the surrounding sea of jagged peaks.

Overnight: Bankso


Day 8: Departure

Your itinerary finishes today after breakfast, with a transfer to Sofia Airport (2½ hours´ drive approx). If you wish to add further nights to explore Bulgaria’s capital, Sofia, then just let us know at the time of booking and we will be happy to arrange this.

Please note that the order of the walks on days 5-7 may vary. Final details about the order of the walks will be in your itinerary, which will be emailed to you prior to your arrival in Bulgaria

Arrival and departure information

  Fly to Sofia Airport, which is located 8.5 km from Bulgaria’s capital city.
Airport transfers are included in your itinerary. You will be picked up from Sofia Airport and driven to your accommodation in Govedartsi on Day 1, as well as return transfer from Bansko to Sofia Airport on Day 8.

Please note that in case of overlapping bookings a shared airport pickup will be arranged for a set time. This will depart Sofia airport no later than 16:30, so please ensure that you book a flight that is scheduled to land no later than 16:00.

Hiking at the seven Rila lakes, Bulgaria
Mt. Musala, Rila Mountains
Alpine lakes in the Rila Mountains
Hiking at the Rila lakes
The Rila Monastery
The Rila Monastery is the largest and most famous Eastern Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria
The Pirin mountains in Bulgaria
Popovo Lake in the Pirin Mountains
Polezhan summit in the Pirin Mountains
Walking holiday in Bulgaria's Rila and Pirin mountains
Hiking in the high Pirin mountains in Bulgaria
Hiking in the Pirin mountains
At 2,914 metres, Vihren is the highest peak in the Pirin Mountains.

Tour Reviews

There are no reviews yet.

Leave a Review