The riddles of the Rila Mountains; self-guided hiking tour in Bulgaria

Bulgaria » Self-guided (independent) hiking tours

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From 490 €

Duration: 8

Difficulty grade:  


The Riddles Of The Rila Mountains

Mount Rila is considered Bulgaria’s best alpine tourism site, offering a huge diversity of marked hiking trails of varied difficulty levels. Two large international tourist trails (the Е4 and the Е8) cross the mountain. The Rila offers not only the Balkans’ highest peak (Musala, 2925m/9596ft), but also plentiful glacier lakes (more than 180, in fact!), deep river valleys, broad alpine meadows, and diverse flora and fauna. The Rila National Park is the largest of Bulgaria’s three national parks and one of Europe’s largest.

The tour includes all transfers, including those from and to Sofia Airport. The walking treks are rather arduous and suitable for people experienced in alpine trekking. Paths are well marked, in addition clients receiving maps and detailed descriptions of the routes in English. Some of the days offer opportunities for choosing between different hiking options, depending on weather and clients’ fitness.

A day trip to the Rila Monastery, a UNESCO heritage site and probably the most famous tourist attraction in Bulgaria is a natural extension of this tour, which many clients prefer to book with us. This involves an extra night in Sofia which is normally appreciated by everyone, allowing also more time to explore the capital. See the ''essentials'' box on the right for further details.

You walk every day with just a daypack. The rest/unnecessary luggage either remains inside the transfer vehicle, or in your accommodation.


/The tour program can be shortened or extended to match your travel period/
Day 1:
We meet you at Sofia Airport and transfer you to a city centre hotel.
Day 2: A panoramic walking route takes you across the crest of Mount Vitosha, including climbing the local high point of Cherni Vrah (2290m/7513ft) as a prelude to the arduous, yet more picturesque hiking treks across the Rila. Along the way, you cross the broad alpine meadows of the Torfeno Branishte Nature Reserve, dip into old spruce groves and follow a path to the stone rivers of the Zlatni Mostove (The Golden Bridges) natural feature. From here, you are transferred to the Rila Mountains and the village of Govedartsi for three overnight stays. (5hrs of walking; 13,5km/8,39miles; climbing 554m/1818ft and descending 977m/3205ft.)
Day 3: A circular route through the low parts of the Rila above Govedartsi prepares you for more difficult hiking treks to come. Rambling along the path, you enjoy a fascinating kaleidoscope of changing landscapes and wonderful panoramas of rocky peaks and deep valleys in the Malyovitsa part of the mountain. (5-6hrs of walking; 20km/13miles, climbing 705m/2313ft and descending 725m/2379ft.)
Day 4: A shaded path through the Rila’s ancient spruce forests takes you up to the alpine parts of the mountain and the Cirque of the Seven Rila Lakes. Located at between 2100 and 2500 metres (6900 to 8200ft) above sea level, these famous glacier lakes will charm you with their magnificent scenery which you can survey from the edge of the highest one. (5-6 hrs of walking; 18,7km/11,6miles, climbing and descending 1310m/4298ft)
Day 5: Today’s route takes you to the beautiful Malyovitsa Valley and thence high over the alpine peaks sheltering the secretive Strashno Ezero (The Scary) Lake. More enthusiastic mountaineers may opt for an alternative hiking trek to the Malyovitsa summit which offers incredible views over the nearby crests and peaks of the Rila. At the end of the day, you are transferred for three overnight stays at the Borovets ski resort. (5-7,30hrs of walking; from 12km/7miles to 18,7km/11,6miles, climbing and descending from 880m/2887ft to 1600m/5249ft.)
Day 6: Today, you can opt between a brisk morning walk (combined with an afternoon visit at the King's hunting residence in Borovets) and a rather long (yet not steep) hiking trek to another less-visited part of the Rila. The route passes through ancient coniferous woods and continues along the Maritsa River valley, gently climbing to the Royal hunting lodge at Saragiol, from where you return to Borovets along a different route (or use the chairlift to cut the mileage down to 25km). (From 2 to 8hrs of walking; from 8,10km/5miles to 29,40km/18,3miles, climbing from 20m/65,6ft to 1261m/4137ft and descending from 255m/836,6ft to 1261m/4137ft.)
Day 7: The attempt on the Balkans’ highest summit Musala (2925m/9596ft) is left for the ultimate day. The hiking is not particularly arduous, yet is particularly panoramic, with the rocky face of Musala visible the whole time while you transit a number of Cirques, glacier lakes and mountain shelters. The view from the peak to surrounding uplands and peaks is head-turning. (5-6hrs of walking; 14,20km/8,82miles; climbing and descending 690m/2264ft)
Day 8: Transfer from Borovets to Sofia Airport.

Hiking time: hiking time only is mentioned on each day (not including stops for pictures, picnics, breaks, etc.); these are based on an average hiker's speed of 4-5km/hr on flat terrain, additional 30min for each 300m elevation gain, and a backpack weighing not more than 10-15% of your body weight. Still, this varies a lot on the terrain and hiking experience of each client.


most tourists prefer to call on the Rila Monastery on their way to Sofia, or to have more time to see the capital by booking one or two extra overnight stays there. Booking additional days in Sofia before or after the tour also offers opportunities for day trips with us to Plovdiv, Koprivshtitsa, or Veliko Tarnovo. Contact us for further details.

Accommodation and luggage transfers: three-star and family hotels; en-suite rooms; breakfast every day; supper on Days 2 to Day 4 incl. (options to have supper outside your hotel in Sofia and Borovets resort are numerous). Luggage is transported between accommodations.

What does this mean? Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7 Day 8


Dates, prices & remarks

Best period: this tour can start every day during the period mid-June - mid-September; traveling on later dates is also possible (till the end of October), but with a program reduction (the climb to Mt. Musala will be waived since the lift used for it won’t be working after mid-September).
Extension to Rila Monastery: 90 € per person (in a group of 2 persons or more sharing a double room; single room supplement: 25 €) (included: pick-up from Borovets Resort on Day 8, transfer to Rila Monastery, a guided tour inside the monastery (in English), entry to the museum in the monastery, transfer to Sofia, overnight B&B in 3-star centrally located hotel on BB, transfer to Sofia Airport on Day 9; not included: lunch and supper on Day 8).
Price includes: transfers to and from Sofia Airport (on first/last tour date only) and all other transfers in the itinerary; accommodation and catering as in the itinerary; luggage transport; detailed English descriptions of routes; tourist maps of the Rila; GPS tracks; 24/7 emergency hotline, and all local taxes.
Price does not include: cable car tickets; extra food and drink; medical insurance; personal expenses.

Limited time offer:
490 €
Already saw a tour with similar program and price? Give us a chance to convince you why our offer is much better!
Single room supplement: 90 € (obligatory for all individual clients)
Solo travelers: 735 € (Traveling solo? Ask us to join you to an existing reservation in order to reduce this price)
Rent of hiking poles: 15 €/person self-guided walking tours on tripadvisor