Unique self-guided walking holiday in the Rila Mountains, Bulgaria’s largest National Park.
The Rila mountains are one of the most well-known and popular areas for alpine walking in Bulgaria. While walking the trail you will encounter an abundance of glacial lakes, deep river valleys, lush alpine meadows and diverse flora and fauna.
Strenuous but rewarding high level walks will bring you to spectacular landscapes in one of the most beautiful walking areas of Bulgaria.
Accommodation in the Rila Mountains
On days 1 and 7 you will stay in 3 star and family hotels with en-suite bathroom/shower.
The holiday is offered on a half-board basis, with breakfast and dinner included. Only on day 7, dinner is not included.
Walking in the Rila Mountains
The walks are challenging and suitable for people experienced in alpine trekking. Paths are well marked, and in addition you will receive maps and detailed descriptions of the routes in English.
The difficulty of the walks increases gradually during the program. Options, that would make a certain day easier or harder are also mentioned in the route description and can be considered in case of bad weather conditions or if you prefer a more or less challenging walking day. It is also possible to alter the sequence of some of the days to better suit the local weather conditions.
Rila Mountains walking holiday itinerary
Day 1 – Arrival at Sofia airport, welcome meeting with your hosts and transfer to your hotel in the city centre. Time permitting you will be able to explore on your own the city centre by the end of the day.
Day 2 – A transfer will bring you to the starting point of the hike – the Aleko Hut. From here a nice dirt road, crossing the plateau of Vitosha Mountains, will lead you to the highest peak of the mountains – The Black Peak (2290m). During good weather you will be able to enjoy the terrific views to the alpine parts of Vitosha, revealing the vast green meadows of the Peat Reserve, supplying water to a number of rivers starting from here. After a break at the mountain hut at the top, you will start descending gradually tracing the borders of the Peat Reserve all the way down through century-old Spruce woods to the area of the natural phenomenon The Golden Bridges – stone rivers, covered by gold lichens. The car will be waiting for you here to transfer you to Rila Mountains (2hrs). For the first three nights there you will be based in Govedartsi village. (4,30hrs of walking; 11km/7miles, climbing 500m/1600ft and descending 800m/2600ft.)
Day 3 – An introduction round walk will give you a taste of the landscapes that will be explored the following days. While hiking through the green meadows facing all the time the highest peaks in the mountains, you will be able to enjoy in the distance the rugged summits, deep valleys and tiny cirques of the Maliovitsa Region, where you will hike the next two days. (5-6hrs of walking; 20km/13miles, climbing and descending 650m/2230ft.)
Day 4 – Today you will walk in probably the most famous parts of Rila Mountains; the area of The Seven Rila Lakes. A stroll in the largest cirque in Rila, housing seven of its blue pearls (The Eye, The Tear, The Kidney, The Twins, The Trefoil, The Fish Lake and The Lower Lake) will show you some of the secrets of Rila National Park. Short transfer (20min) from your lodge will take you to the starting point and will bring you back from the same place at the end of the day as you have finished your loop-like walk, tracing all or some of the lakes between 2095 and 2535m above sea level. Sheer slopes, big moraines, crystal blue lake surfaces and many magnificent views will make this a walk to remember. (6hrs of walking; 16km/10miles, climbing and descending 750 to 1000m/2500 to 3300ft.)
Day 5 – Another wonderful walk awaits you today as you explore the valley of Maliovitsa River and the cirques of the above lying Scary Lake and Yonchevo Lake. After a short transfer (15 mins) to Maliovitsa Resort you start walking upstream Maliovitsa River, enjoying the picturesque valley. In a short while you will reach Maliovitsa Hut – recommended place to stop for a cup of tea and short break since the difficult part of the hike starts from here. The track gradually traverses more ridges and lakes with superb views of the surrounding summits. The Scary Lake derives its name from the thunder crashes that resound loudly from the neighbouring peaks during a storm. Just on the contrary is the Yonchevo Lake with the calmness of its green shores. The hike ends again in Maliovitsa Resort where a transfer will pick you up and will bring you together with your luggage to the resort of Borovets – the oldest Bulgarian ski resort and your base for the remaining three nights. (5hrs of walking; 12km/7miles, climbing and descending 900m/3000ft.)
Day 6 – An easier round walk is on the programme for today as you will need some rest after the walk on Day 5 and before the climb to Mt. Musala on Day 7. The dirt road to the Black Rocks will lead you through century-old woods, green meadows covered with flowers and sparkling creeks. If you are after a breath-taking view you will find it when you get to the terrace on the top of the 135m high Black Rocks – to the left you will see the valley of Maritsa River, to the right lies the plain of Dolna Bania while as a background stands the summit of Mt. Musala. The next stop will be at “Sarygiol” – wooden palace, built almost 100 years ago and used by the kings during The Third Bulgarian Kingdom as a hunting lodge. From here the path continues down to Chakyr Voivoda Hut and The Wolf Rocks, reaching eventually Borovets resort. (2 or 7 or 8hrs of walking; 10 or 25km or 30km / 6 or 15 or 19 miles, climbing and descending 250-1100m/850-3750ft.)
Day 7 – Today you will target the highest peak in Bulgaria and on the Balkans – Musala (2925 m above sea level). A ride on the gondola-lift to Yastrebets Peak (2369 m a.s.l.) will provide you with a good starting point for the hike. Enjoyable walk along an almost flat trail heading straight towards the jagged form of Mount Musala will lead you to the Icy Lake refuge, lying at the foot of the peak. Reaching the top normally takes 2,30hrs from the cable car station. The view from the peak is truly breath-taking – you can make out the remaining peaks of Rila Mountains; the marble edges of the Pirin Mountains; Mount Vitosha and the Sredna Gora Mountains; the green summits of the Rodopi Mountains; and last, but not least, the long body of the Balkan range. (5hrs of walking; 13km/8miles, climbing and descending through 750m/2460ft)
Day 8 – Transfer to Sofia Airport (1,30hrs) for departure.
Dates and Availability
The best time of year for this Rila walking holiday is mid June to September. Your holiday can start any saturday – monday in this period. Single supplement is €90.-. Additional excursion days are available at extra cost, for example to the famous Rila monastery. Please contact the holiday provider, through the contact form below, for more information.