A Hiker's Guide to the Bulgarian Mountains

The Twin Lake in Rila
The Twin Lake in Rila | © Alexandra Karadzhova/WikiCommons
Maria Angelova

Hiking is a popular activity in Bulgaria with a wide variety of marked routes available.. On a hot summer day you can meet many hikers enjoying the mountain air. Here is our guide to some of the most important mountain routes, what to know, what to bring with you and what to be prepared for.

What to Know

Camping is prohibited in national parks, natural parks, and natural reserves. You can pitch your tent anywhere else provided it is not a private property.

Stick to the marked paths as in the wildest areas of the mountains you may encounter bears, wolves, and other wild animals.

In many places the route marking signs are old or missing, so always bring a map and a compass with you (and know how to use them). If you are not an experienced hiker, we recommend you to hire a mountain guide.


Vitosha is easily accessible by public transport from Sofia, which makes it a popular weekend destination full of families and seasoned hikers. A few music festivals and other major events take place in Vitosha in summer, while in winter it is a popular skiing destination.

Vitosha, 2346, Bulgaria

Vitosha Mountain

Rila National Park

Rila offers a range of routes, both for beginners and for seasoned hikers. The highest peak in Bulgaria,Mount Musala (9596 ft/2925 m), is in Rila. The chairlift at its base makes it possible to climb the top in a day (including the trip from Sofia). The national park is also home to the famous Seven Rila Lakes, the most visited group of lakes in Bulgaria. There are beautiful lakes, ridges, and peaks to discover.

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Mount Musala in Rila

Pirin National Park

If you ask Bulgarian hikers about their favorite mountain, the majority would answer Pirin. Bansko Ski Resort, the biggest in Bulgaria, is located in Pirin. The area has less vegetation than the other mountains in Bulgaria but it has some of the most beautiful lakes.

One particular challenge in Pirin is a ridge called The Horse (Koncheto). It is so steep with huge crevices on both sides, that it has metal ropes installed to help protect hikers.

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Koncheto Ridge in Pirin

Stara Planina Mountain

This mountain range stretches from west to east across the whole country. Its easternmost edge, Cape Emine, is washed by the salty waters of the Black Sea. A part of Stara Planina is a national park (Central Balkan National Park) and there are a variety of chalets offering decent accommodation in the mountain.

A famous route follows the mountain ridge from the west to the east, from Kom peak to Cape Emine. Every summer hundreds of enthusiasts embark on this epic hiking journey to “reach the seaside on foot”. It takes from 17 to 25 days to reach the sea and it is considered a kind of a mountain pilgrimage.

Hike to the Heaven Waterfall (Raiskoto Praskalo) at the foot of the highest peak Botev (7795 ft/2376 m) for some amazing photo opportunities.

Heaven Chalet in Stara Planina

The Rhodopes

Although it is considered one of the most beautiful mountains in Bulgaria, the Rhodopes has the lowest number of marked paths and chalets. The area is more popular with those who like to stay in village guesthouses or explore the rural cultural heritage. The highest peak of the mountain, Golyam Perelik (7188 ft/ 2191 m), cannot be accessed because there is a military base on top.

If you want to hike in the Rhodopes, a fairly well marked route is the one between Orehovo village and the Marvelous Bridges rock formation. You will need a long summer day or two to complete the route. Borovets, one of the major ski resorts, is located in the Rhodopes.

The Rhodopes

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