|DURATION: 8 days
PRICE: € 1090
|DIFFICULTY: 2 (of 4)
BEST PERIOD: June-October
TOUR TYPE: Guided
Looking for a guided trip that perfectly combines hiking across pristine nature with exploring the cultural heritage of a country? Join us in our 1-week intense guided tour that traverses four of the Bulgarian majestic mountains and includes also the must-see sites of historical importance. An easy to moderate walks suitable for the curious ones who would love to spend the day outdoors admiring the unique outlook of Bulgaria. Together we will hike across the birthplace of the mythical singer Orpheus (Rhodope mountains) and will challenge ourselves into the alpine-like mountain ranges of Pirin and Rila were the premier summit of the Balkan Peninsula is towering above 2925m above the sea level. – Musala. Walking treks will alternate with pleasant strolls around monasteries, cobblestone streets of mountain villages, coloured by the facades of outstanding architectural masterpieces from the Revival period. Small settlements where the time has stopped will contrast with big modern cities such as Plovdiv and Sofia which are full of remains from the eternal past.
The itinerary is designed for people who prefer short walks. However, some steep stages may occur along the routes.
You walk every day with just a daypack. The rest/unnecessary luggage either remains inside the transfer vehicle or in your accommodation.
Day 1: Sofia – Koprivshtitsa
We will meet you at Sofia Airport and transfer you to the architectural reserve – the small town of Koprivshtitsa. Some time will be devoted for a stroll around the cobblestone streets where perfectly preserved houses from the Revival Period with fragrant gardens will colour the first pages of your photo gallery.
Day 2: Koprivshtitsa – Plovdiv – Bachkovo Monastery – Kossovo
Yesterday was just a brief glimpse of the unique beauty that Koprivshtitsa keeps. Today, we will spend the morning with more deep research of the historical and cultural touches, represented in several house-museums. All of them were birth homes to national heroes and brave men involved in the liberation movement from the Ottoman empire. Later, we continue our cultural exploration towards the second-largest city in Bulgaria and also the oldest inhabited one in Europe – Plovdiv. It is also known as the city above the seven hills and these green heights are just one of the highlights of the vivid community! Plovdiv is proud of numerous pieces of evidence of different epochs such as Roman theatres, Byzantine churches, Ottoman temples and clocktowers that perfectly fit into the modern lifestyle! Another stop we will make by the second-largest monastery complex in the country – Bachkovo Monastery where we can admire the miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary dated back to the 14th century. Our walking exploration is to its end and we are going to spend the night in the fairy-tale village of Kossovo, perched on three hills.
Day 3: Kossovo – Shiroka Laka – Lyaskovo – Devin (2hrs; 3-4km; +50m/-50m)
We will enjoy a healthy breakfast at the terrace of the old stone house where we spent the overnight. As we say goodbye to our friendly hosts, we continue towards the green heart of Rhodope mountains where we will go for our first short hiking. Along the way will make a short stop in Shiroka Laka – another village proclaimed to be an architectural reserve.
The city of Devin will be our base for this overnight – a famous spa resort, proud with numerous mineral springs. We will pass by the factory where the mineral water is bottled and continue towards the eco-trail above the riverbanks of Devinska River. This warm-up hike will give us the chance to admire the divine beauty of Rhodope mountain while walking across wooden bridges and boardwalks fixed on the walls of the river gorge. The trek is circular and as soon as we finish it we can reward ourselves in the spa centre of our hotel. We will enjoy a homemade dinner in a rural house in the nearby village of Lyaskovo where our welcoming hosts will make us feel like home! Transfer in one way is 25 mins approximately.
Day 4: Devin – Yagodina Cave – Trigrad Gorge – Trigrad (3,30hrs; 10km; +560m/-350m)
We start the day with a transfer to the entrance of Yagodina Cave. A unique underground kingdom, home to odd formations among which draperies and cave pearls. Today we start adding more challenges to our hiking trip and we are walking through dense forests and lush meadows until we reach the edge of the impressive Trigrad Gorge. Our trails will be hued by the intense green colour, dotted with vivid rare flowers. If we are lucky enough we may spot the traces of the rich wildlife so watch your steps carefully – next to your footprints you may observe the paws of the brown bear. The breathtaking view across the valley where is nestled the village of Trigrad will make you stop for a while. The harmonious ambience will be interrupted only by the barking of the domestic dogs.
Day 5: Trigrad – Bansko – Banderishki Lakes – Bansko (3,30-4hrs; 8km; +480m/-480m)
We will wake up with the early birds and after breakfast, we continue our trekking tour towards another marvellous mountain – Pirin. Today will be quite a busy day and we have to follow a strict schedule but all of our efforts will be rewarded with splendid views. After 2 hrs and 30 mins ride we will arrive in Bansko, the famous ski resort, and set off for our daily hiking towards the Cirque of the Banderishki Lakes. This is a big group of glacier lakes but we will loop around some of them. In their crystal-clear waters are mirroring the jagged marble peaks of the Pirin mountain. We will have many excuses to stop by the shores of each lake to admire the pristine beauty of this picturesque area. The evening we will spend in a local tavern where we can get close to the folklore traditions and satisfy our taste buds with delicious meals.
Day 6: Bansko – Mount Polezhan – Bansko (5hrs; 7km; +770m/-770m)
Pirin mountain with its alpine outlook is attractive for hikers for many years. The raw beauty of its jagged crests and the opportunity to climb hardly accessible peaks bring the adventurous tourists here. Today we will explore the more greenish and welcoming side of the mountain, starting with a chairlift ride to Bezbog hut. A short transfer will take us to the bottom station (20 mins in a way) and we will head off towards the pure waters of the biggest and deepest lake in Pirin – Popovo Lake. You may be curious to learn about how it gains this name which translates to “the hat of the priest”. Do not hesitate to ask your guide for anything you are interested in! Any effort should be encouraged with nice-spent leisure time. Put in your daily backpack your swimsuits because after the hike we will stop at a thermal mineral pool.
Day 7: Bansko – Rila Monastery – The Seven Rila Lakes – Sofia (3,30-4,30hrs; 6-9km; +400-500m/-400-500m)
Another busy day but full of marvelous vistas and the chance to enrich your knowledge of Bulgarian culture even more than you expected. We bid farewell to Pirin and soon it will be just a marble silhouette behind our backs. We will stop by the majestic walls of the largest monastery complex and also а site listed in UNESCO Heritage list – Rila Monastery. As soon as we cross the gates we will be rewarded with a jaw-dropping view towards the impressive buildings in the yard, among which is the oldest surviving one – a Medieval watchtower erected next to the main temple. The temple itself is depicted from inside and outside with hundreds of scenes from the Holy Gospel. After our cultural visit, we continue our hiking tour towards the pearls of Rila Mountain – the group of The Seven Rila Lakes. Each of them is named after a characteristic feature such as The Kidney or The Eye. The evening we will spend in the capital of Bulgaria – Sofia. We will say goodbye to each other and to our shared trekking experience in a cozy restaurant.
Day 8: Sofia
Transfer 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.
Limited time offer:
Price: 1090 € per person in twin/dbl room (based on min 4 full paying clients)
Single room supplement: 160 € (obligatory for all individual clients)
Rent of hiking poles: 20 €/person
Price includes: transfers to and from Sofia Airport (on first/last tour date only) and all other transfers included in the itinerary; accommodation and catering according to the itinerary; English-speaking mountain guide; cable car tickets, and all local taxes.
Price does not include: caves and museums entry fees; extra food and drink; mountain maps; travel/medical insurance; SPA procedures.
Accommodation: three-star hotels and family guesthouses; en-suite facilities; breakfast and supper included.
Best period: mid-June – October