“Hiking was first popularised in Bulgaria during the late nineteenth century when it had patriotic connotations. During Communist times it was regarded as an ideal activity for citizens, and a network of trails and huts was created throughout the mountains.”
The Rough Guide
With its 7 major mountain ranges Bulgaria is an excellent hiking destination. Not many foreigners realise that walking in Bulgaria is superb with wonderful scenery in all directions provided the weather is good. These lands are simply stunning, like Austria or Switzerland, with only one difference – no crowds.
The main hiking destinations are the Pirin and Rila national parks, the central and western Rodopies, Northern part of Vitosha, and the Stara Planina.
• The Pirin Mountains are the wildest, most picturesque range in Bulgaria with 45 peaks over 2600 m, deep valleys, karstic massifs and more than 200 glacial lakes. Partially inscribed in the Unesco Heritage List as a bio reserve for its endemic species and unique eco systems, the Pirin Mountains charms with its rugged beauty.
• Further north, the Rila Mountains include the highest peak in the Balkan Peninsula and Bulgaria’s greatest Orthodox Sanctuary, are characterised by magnificent coniferous forests and alpine scenery.
• Above mountain ranges about the Rodopies, which are lower, but arguably the loveliest range in Bulgaria, with a mixture of pine forests, crags, highland meadows and villages of stone houses, not to mention the fantastic caves and birdlife around the Trigrad Gorge.
• Stara Planina or the Balkan range is the longest in Bulgaria dividing the country in two parts stretching for over 600km from Serbian border to the Black Sea coast. The best maintained trails are in the middle part in the so called Central Balkan national park.