Overview for Bulgarian Alps: Rila and Pirin Hut to Hut
Rila and Pirin mountains are often referred to as the Bulgarian Alps for a reason, both ranges are defined by vast mountain sceneries full of jagged peaks and glacial lakes and offer great hiking opportunities for those who seek authentic experiences away from the crowds. This itinerary will take you through the most beautiful areas of the two national parks. Explore these majestic mountains as you trek through some of the Balkans’ most spectacular alpine scenery and highest summits, past impressive peaks and sparkling glacial lakes. The walking routes are suitable for experienced trekkers who are looking for challenging terrain and pristine mountain beauty.
Itinerary for Bulgarian Alps: Rila and Pirin Hut to HutGo to top of page
Day 1: Arrival in Sofia
Once you arrive in Sofia you will be met by our local representative and transferred to your hotel where you will be delivered a welcome brief and your tour materials. Depending on your arrival time, you will have the rest of the day for exploring the vibrant city life of Sofia.
Accommodation: Sofia Place Hotel 3* or similar
Day 2: The Seven Rila Lakes
In the morning you will have a private transfer from Sofia to Panichishte area in northern Rila Mountains (1.30 hours). Today you will hike in the region of the Seven Lakes, which is not only a favourite place for walkers but also a place for pilgrimage. A chairlift (not included) will take you to the start of the walk along the lakes. Once you reach the high plateau above the lakes, you will descend into the scenic valley where Ivan Vazov hut is located.
- Accommodation: Ivan Vazov Hut, dorm rooms, shared facilities
- Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch
- Walking for the day: 8 km, 5-6 hrs ↑565 m ↓378 m
- Luggage transfer not included – please take a backpack with your necessities for today and the following two days, as your main luggage will be directly transferred from Sofia to Tsarev Vrah hotel where it will join you in the evening of Day 4
Day 3: Ivan Vazov Hut – Malyovitsa Peak – Malyovitsa Valley
For those who enjoy ridge walking, this stage is a delight. The trail goes along the main crest of the Malyovitsa massif, which will reveal you the vastness and beauty of the Rila mountains. You climb up to Malyovitsa peak (2729 m), from where you will continue to the saddle of Eleni Vrah and take on a steep descent down to the Malyovitsa Valley, the cradle of Bulgarian mountaineering and alpinism.
- Accommodation: Malyovitsa Hut, shared 4-bedded rooms, shared facilities
- Meals included: Breakfast, Packed Lunch
- Walking for the day: 14 km, 7-8 hrs ↑810 m ↓1394 m
- Luggage transfer not included
Day 4: Malyovitsa Valley – Kirilova Polyana
Today you hike from Malyovitsa hut to the valley of Rilska river passing through one of the most remarkable glacial lakes in the mountain massif – Strashno Ezero. From there you ascend a rock ledge and start climbing gently on up the northern flank of Popova Kapa after which you will reach a more difficult section where you have to scramble. The rest of the path is very pleasant and you finish the hike at Kirilova Polyana from where you get a short transfer to hotel Tsarev Vruh, located right next to the famous Rila Monastery.
- Accommodation: Hotel Tsarev Vruh or similar, private en-suite rooms
- Meals included: Breakfast, Packed Lunch
- Walking for the day: 15 km, ↑600 m ↓ 1200, 7-8 hrs
- Today your main luggage will join you at Hotel Tsarev Vruh
Day 5: Rila Monastery – Pirin Mountains
Free time in the morning to visit Rila Monastery – UNESCO World Heritage Site. The sanctuary, founded in the 10th c. by the sainted hermit, Ivan Rilski consists of the church of the Holy Virgin, monastery museum, medieval kitchen, and medieval tower. At noontime, you will have a transfer by car to the Pirin Mountains. Your driver will meet you at the parking of the monastery for transfer to the town of Bansko. You will be dropped off at the forest above the town from where you have to walk on a dirt road for 2 hours until you get to Demyanitsa hut.
- Accommodation: Demyanitsa hut, private rooms, shared facilities
- Meals included: Breakfast
- Walking for the day: 7 km, 2 hrs ↑500 m
- Luggage transfer not included – please take a backpack with your necessities for today and the following two days, as your main luggage will be directly transferred from Tsarev Vrah hotel to Rahoff family hotel in Bansko where it will join you in the evening of Day 7
Day 6: Demyanitsa Hut to Vihren Hut
Today you will experience the splendour of the Pirin Natural Park declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. The route will take you to Vihren Hut, and you will have two options to get there. The easier path will take you through Todorini Ochi glacial lakes and the harder will take you through the Tipitsite ridge.
- Accommodation: Vihren Hut, shared 4-bedded rooms, shared facilities
- Meals included: Breakfast, packed lunch
- Walking for the day (easy option): 9 km, ↑700 m ↓700 m, 5-6 hrs
- Walking for the day (harder option): 14 km, 7-8 hrs ↑1000 m ↓1000 m,
- Luggage transfer not included
Day 7: Vihren Peak
The last hiking day will take you on a circular route through Vihren peak (2914 m), the highest in the Pirin mountains and the second highest in Bulgaria. As you finish your walk, a short transfer will take you to Bansko where you will be able to explore the historic old town, celebrate the end of your adventure, and enjoy the local cuisine in some of the many authentic restaurants.
- Accommodation: Rahoff Family Hotel or similar, private en-suite rooms
- Meals included: Breakfast, packed lunch
- Walking for the day: 7 km, 5-6 hrs ↑953 m ↓953 m
- Today your main luggage will join you at Rahoff Family Hotel
Day 8: Departure
A complimentary transfer will take you to Sofia airport or to the city centre in case you have booked additional nights.
Hotels for Bulgarian Alps: Rila and Pirin Hut to HutGo to top of page
Four nights in mountain huts with shared facilities (dormitories or 4-bedded rooms), two nights in small family-run hotels (private en-suite), one night in a 3-star hotel in the centre of Sofia. We have carefully hand-picked all the places, and we regularly monitor their quality. We have tried to choose accommodations that offer friendly service, clean and comfortable rooms and local flavour.
*Hotels are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal value and quality level. We will provide you with the exact accommodation details upon booking confirmation.
Included meals are as listed in the itinerary: breakfast on every day and lunch packs on days 2, 3, 4, 6 and 7. It is possible to order dinner on the spot at all the places where you stay for overnight.
Travel for Bulgarian Alps: Rila and Pirin Hut to HutGo to top of page
The closest airport is Sofia. Flights are available from the UK and many EU cities to Sofia. From London to Sofia there are numerous direct flights each day with Bulgaria Air, British Airways, Easy Jet, and Wizzair.
Flight information can change rapidly, and not all flights run daily. Please do check directly with the airlines’ websites or Skyscanner before finalising any booking with us. Please do not book your flights before we have confirmed your booking.
Transfers to/from Airports:
Both the arrival and departure airport transfers are included from and to Sofia Airport.
Due to the remoteness of the huts and their inaccessibility, your main luggage will be directly transferred from Sofia on the morning of Day 2 to Tsarev Vrah hotel where it will join you in the evening of Day 4. Then, on the morning of Day 5, it will be directly transferred from Tsarev Vrah hotel to Rahoff family hotel in Bansko where it will join you in the evening of Day 7.
A comprehensive and reputable travel insurance policy is essential to your enjoyment and peace of mind while on an active holiday. It is highly recommended when booking with us that all group members have valid travel insurance which includes cover for all activities included in your trip. We have teamed up with to offer you adequate cover at a great value from a reputable insurer, and it takes only a few minutes to buy online.
Up-to-date travel advice on Bulgaria is available here.
Trip Info for Bulgarian Alps: Rila and Pirin Hut to HutGo to top of page
Difficulty Grade: Strenuous
Appropriate for experienced walkers in excellent physical shape. The walks take an average of 7-8 hrs per day with approximately 800 – 1000 m ascent/descent. Some of the routes include short scrambling sections and exposed ridges (read more about difficulty grades).
Most of the trails are well-marked and signposted. We strongly advise you to follow only marked trails and never try to shorten the path through the unknown and unmarked terrain. We will provide you with detailed road notes and maps and you can call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime. More detailed info on route navigation will be included in your holiday information pack
When to Go
This trip is available from the later part of June until the end of September. Weather is best in July and August. There might be occasional patches of snow in June. The flexibility of self-guided holidays means that there are no fixed dates and you can start your vacation on any date in the season – so please indicate desired starting date when booking.
The climate is temperate continental with an average 200 days of sunshine a year. It is influenced both by the colder air coming from the north and by the warmer breeze from the Mediterranean. Depending on location and altitude, temperatures vary, but, in the June-September period, the daily averages are 15 – 25C. Spring and autumn are pleasant with cold nights and occasional rain and thunderstorms. High summer daytime temperatures are rarely too hot as even though temperatures can occasionally reach 30C, the mountains and forests remain cooler, dropping at night to 5-15C.
What to Bring
Ideally, you should bring one piece (up to 20 kg per person) of main luggage that will be transferred to your accommodations on days 4 and 7, and a backpack sufficient to carry whatever you will need for overnights at the huts. Below is a non-exclusive list of what you should bring to this trip. If you need further advice, please contact a reputable outdoor retailer or us.
- Good hiking boots
- Hiking socks
- Several t-shirts (preferably breathable/fast drying)
- Packable Waterproof and windproof jacket with hood
- Synthetic mid layer or warm fleece
- Trainers and/or sandals – to relax and wear inside the accommodation
- Sunglasses, sunscreen and lip salve
- Hat/Baseball cap
- Personal First Aid kit (wet wipes, flu remedies, stomach remedies)
Included for Bulgarian Alps: Rila and Pirin Hut to HutGo to top of page
- 7 overnights: 4 in mountain huts, 2 in 3* hotels and 1 in 2* hotel (at Rila Monastery)
- Meal plan as described in the itinerary (7 breakfasts, 4 lunches)
- Transfers as described in the itinerary (including airport transfers)
- Luggage transfer to Tsarev Vruh on day 4 and to Bansko town on day 7
- Detailed route notes and maps
- 24/7 phone assistance
- Single room supplement: upon request. Where individual members of a group require a single room, a single room supplement is applicable
- This holiday is not available for solo travellers
- Meals not listed in the itinerary
- Chairlift to the Seven Rila Lakes on day 2
- Travel insurance
- Personal expenses such as phone calls, extra transfers, tips, etc.
- Any items not specifically mentioned as ‘included’ in the programme
- Extra nights in Sofia before and/or after the holiday
Enjoy one extra night in the heart of the vibrant city of Sofia, walking distance from the main shopping and entertainment area – the pedestrian Vitosha street.
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