Rila Mountains are considered as the best place for alpine hiking in Bulgaria as they offer a wide network and large variety of marked walking trails of different difficulty levels. Two major international tourist routes (E4 and E8) cross the mountains. Deriving its name from the Thracian expression of a “well-watered mountains”, Rila not only prides itself being home to the highest peak on the Balkan Peninsula (Musala, 2925m) but also with the abundance of glacial lakes (numbering more than 200), deep river valleys, lush alpine meadows and diverse flora and fauna. Rila National Park is the biggest out of the three national parks in Bulgaria and also one of the largest across Europe. The beginning of the tour in Vitosha Mountains is just a prelude to the secrets Rila and some of the real alpine hikes which you will do there. Strenuous but rewarding walks and spectacular landscapes “above the clouds” will show you to some of the most famous hiking areas in Bulgaria.
This self-guided trek has been designed for hikers with previous experience in alpine hiking, where storms and fog could easily occur in summer and adequate reaction might be needed in such situations. 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 roadbook and could be considered by clients in case of bad weather conditions or if they wish to exert themselves with more hiking. The suggested itinerary allows the sequence of some of the days to be changed generally depending on the above conditions.
Daily excursion to Rila Monastery (probably the most famous tourist attraction in Bulgaria, UNESCO heritage listed) is a natural extension of this tour (with extra night in Sofia), which is normally appreciated by everyone (scroll down for details).
- Rila Mountains are the sixth highest in Europe, coming after the Caucasus, the Alps, Sierra Nevada, the Pyrenees and Mount Etna. The name Rila is allegedly of Thracian origin and is thought to mean "well-watered mountain", owing to Rila's abundance of glacial lakes (about 200) and hot springs in the faulty areas.
- Vitosha Mountains are the oldest Nature Park on the Balkan Peninsula and the most favourite place for hiking for thousands of inhabitants of the capital, exploring either the two nature reserves or ascending the highest peak Cherni Vryh (The Black Peak) – 2290 m a.s.l.
- Rila Monastery (for people who go for the extension) is one of the most remarkable monuments on the Balkan Peninsula equally for its size, natural surroundings, architecture, wall paintings and ancient history dating back to the 10th century.