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Summits and Lakes of Rila and Pirin

Summits and Lakes of Rila and Pirin


Rila and Pirin are often referred to as the Bulgarian Alps for a reason. This itinerary will take you through the most beautiful areas of the two national parks. Explore the majestic mountains as you trek surrounded by Bulgaria’s most spectacular alpine scenery and reach the Balkans’ highest summits, past impressive peaks and sparkling glacial lakes. The programme is based in two locations, the village of Govedartsi and the historic town of Bansko, where you will be able to relax in cosy guesthouses and family hotels, all offering private en-suite rooms.


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Day 1: Arrival and transfer to Govedartsi

Once you arrive in Sofia, a transfer will pick you at the airport and take you to the village of Govedartsi (approx. 1.5 hours), located at the foothills of Rila Mointain, where you will be based for the next three days.

Accommodation: Guesthouse Peychevi or similar 
Included meals: dinner

Day 2: Musala Peak (2925 m) | 14 km

An early morning transfer will take you to Borovets, the oldest mountain resort in Bulgaria, where you will get on a gondola to Yastrebets area  (the drive to Borovets takes about 30 min, and the gondola ride approx. 30-40 min). Once you get off, you will be already above the tree line at an altitude of 2369 m, and you will see your goal for the day: Musala Peak. You will initially walk on a flat dirt road leading to Musala hut, situated next to the Musala lakes. After the hut, you start hiking on a rocky trail which passes by a couple of glacial lakes only to reach the most famous of them – Ledeno Ezero. From the top of the mountain (2925 m) in good weather, you can see as far as Greece to the south and Danube River to the north. The way back is on the same trail. Take the gondola down to Borovets. A transfer will take you back to your guesthouse in Govedartsi.

Walking for the day: 14km, ↑↓ 700 m, 6 hours
Accommodation: Guesthouse Peychevi or similar 
Included meals: breakfast and dinner

Day 3: Malyovitsa Peak (2729 m) | 14 km

A short transfer (30 min) will take you to the start of your walk, Malyovitsa ski and mountaineering centre. Initially, you follow a river which will take you to the Malyovitsa valley. For about 1 hour you walk through coniferous forest and reach the Malyovitsa hut. The trees are already behind you giving space to typical alpine vegetation. Heading to the peak from there you will start ascending gradually. In about 20-30 min you will reach the main ridge of Rila mountain, looking south you will be able to spot the famous Rila Monastery (which you will visit on Day 5). Continue on the main ridge and very soon you reach Mount Malyovitsa. The way back is on the same trail. When you reach the ski resort, you will be picked up and transferred to Govedartsi village.

Walking for the day: 14 km, ↑↓ 1000 m, 7-8 hours
Accommodation: Guesthouse Peychevi or similar 
Included meals: breakfast and dinner

Day 4: Seven Rila Lakes (2600 m) | 13 km

In the morning a transfer (1 h15 min) will take you to the Panichishte area. From here you get on a chairlift which takes you to 2100m altitude and the Seven Rila lakes hut. Your circular walk around the glacial lakes starts from here. Each of the lakes is named after its own shape and characteristics: the Lower, the Fish Lake, the Trefoil, the Twin, the Kidney, the Eye, and the Tear, the highest one at almost 2600 m. The trail will lead you past at least five of them, and the visit of the last two is left to your judgment as a steeper section should be hiked to get there. The return path will take you to the Vada hut, from where a transfer will take you back to your guesthouse.

Walking for the day: 13 km, ↑ 610 ↓ 1220 m, 7-8 hours
Accommodation: Guesthouse Peychevi or similar 
Included meals: breakfast and dinner

Day 5: Rila Monastery and Bansko

After breakfast, a transfer (2 hours) will take you to the Rila Monastery – UNESCO World Heritage Site. The sanctuary was founded in 10th c. by the hermit Saint Ivan Rilski and consists of the Church of the Holy Virgin, a monastery museum, a medieval kitchen, and medieval tower. Free time for sightseeing. Later you continue with the car to Pirin Mountains with final destination Bansko town, where you will stay during the next 3 nights.

Accommodation: 3* family hotel Rahoff or similar 
Included meals: breakfast and dinner

Day 6: Todorina Porta Pass (2550 m) or Vihren Peak (2914 m) | 15 or 8 km

A short transfer (30 min) brings you to Vihren Hut, from where you can choose between two great routes. En-route to the starting point, you can make a short stop to see the Baykusheva Mura, the oldest pine tree in Bulgaria aged at 1300 years. As both routes are equally worth doing, you can also consider booking an additional overnight in Bansko to do them both and get the most of your hiking experience.

Option 1: Todorina Porta Pass (2550 m)

First, you follow the river that goes right next to the hut, but soon you make a left turn and start ascending on a rocky trail and reach the rocky peaks that surround the valley. Here you will find two glacial lakes – the Frog lakes, which are a great spot for a break. In the northern direction, you will see the north face of Todorka peak. You continue your ascent towards the pass, and after a short and steep ascent, you get to the highest point for the day – Todorka pass. A beautiful view awaits for you in a clear day – in the eastern direction you will see the Eyes of Todorka (two glacial lakes) overlooking the jagged Strajite ridge in the background. The return path will take you down to Demyanitsa hut, and after a bit more walking you will reach an asphalt road where your transfer will pick you back to Bansko.

Option 2: Vihren Peak (2914 m)

The route will take you to the peak through its south-west ridge, the last section of the climb finishes with a slightly more technical part (no scrambling) facilitated by a steel rope which you can hold to feel more secure. Once you reach the top, you will be rewarded with fresh air and marvellous views in every direction. The way down goes along a different path that will take you back to the starting point where your transfer car will be waiting for you to take you back to Bansko.

Walking for the day (option 1): 15 km, ↑550 m, ↓1000,  7-8 hours
Walking for the day (option 2): 8 km, ↑↓ 1000 m, 6-7 hours
Accommodation: 3* family hotel Rahoff or similar 
Included meals: breakfast

Day 7: Polezhan Peak (2850 m) | 8 km

Today you will explore a different part of the mountain, climbing one of its most scenic peaks, Mount Polezhan (2850 m). An early transfer will take you to the nearby town of Dobriniste (20 min), from where you will take a chairlift to the Bezbog Hut (2240 m), located next to a crystal-clear lake, from where you hike starts. The walk is much more relaxed than the previous day; still, the last section towards the peak will be a bit steep and rocky (no scrambling). Once you get to the top, in good weather you will be able to enjoy an amazing 360-degree view and see some of the places you explored on the previous day from another angle. You will get back to the starting point on the same way and take the lift back to the parking lot where your transfer will pick you up and get you back to Bansko.

Walking for the day: 8 km, ↑610 m, ↓610 m,  6-7 hours
Accommodation: 3* family hotel Rahoff or similar 
Included meals: breakfast

Day 8: Departure

You depart on your own by public transport (there is a local bus station with regular departures to Sofia and Plovdiv) or private transfer (upon request).

Meals included: breakfast

What to Expect


The trip is based in two locations, in small family hotels/guesthouses with private en-suite rooms. 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.

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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.


Meals as listed in the itinerary: 7 breakfasts and 5 dinners. For the days when dinner is not included, you can order a meal either at your hotel or in some of the nearby restaurants (in Bansko there are plenty). As for the lunch meals, you will be able to shop on your own from the local grocery stores prior each walk, or order a lunch pack from your accommodation (bookable on the spot, or in advance through the booking form of the tour).

Difficulty & terrain

Appropriate for experienced walkers in good physical shape. The walks take an average of 7-8 hours per day with approximately 800-1000 m ascent/descent (read more about difficulty grades). None of the routes involves scrambling, and there are no sheer drops, still most of the paths are steep and rocky, requiring sure-footedness. Most of the routes are possible to be shortened in case you find them too difficult

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, maps and GPX tracks 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 late June until the end of September. Weather is best in July and August. Generally the trip can depart on each Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, still with some itinerary amendments departure on other days is also possible (upon request).

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 – 25°C. 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 30°C, the mountains and forests remain cooler, dropping at night to 5-15°C.

Getting there

FCO up-to-date travel advice

Our recommended arrival airport for this tour is Sofia.

Note that if you book extra nights in Sofia before the holiday, the additional airport transfer to your Sofia hotel is not included, but the downtown is easily reachable by metro or taxi (20-30 min), or you can book an additional airport transfer. The return transfer, from Bansko to Sofia at the end of the holiday is not included as there is a regular bus line to both Sofia and Plovdiv. Still, you can also book a private transfer upon request.



  • 7 overnights in small family hotels/guesthouses
  • Meal plan as described in the itinerary (7 breakfasts, 5 dinners)
  • All transportation as described in the itinerary
  • Airport transfer to Govedartsi upon arrival
  • Detailed route notes and maps
  • 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative


  • Airfare and connecting land transfers
  • Meals not listed in the itinerary
  • Tickets for the gondola in Borovets on day 2 (15 lv / ~8 EUR per person)
  • Tickets for the chairlift to the Rila Lakes on day 4 (12 lv / 6 EUR per person)
  • Tickets for the chairlift to Bezbog Hut on day 7 (18 lv / 9 EUR per person)
  • Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
  • Personal expenses such as phone calls, extra transfers, tips, etc.
  • Any items not specifically mentioned as ‘included’ in the programme
  • Return transfer to Sofia at the end of the trip

Options, extras & supplements

  • A supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room
  • This holiday is available for solo travellers; a supplement will be charged as accommodation and luggage transfer costs are not shared (we never mix and match – solo travellers will be accommodated in single rooms)
  • Extra nights in Sofia, Govedartisi or Bansko are available upon request