The territory the country of Bulgaria is a playground for different mountain outdoor activities. The country has a variety of mountain ranges and 4 distinct seasons with this providing numerous opportunities for natural adventures all the year round.
Summer mountain activities include walking, trekking and mountain biking, as well as rock climbing and trail running. The summer season in this part of the Balkans lasts from June to October, but on the edges of the seasons you can experience some winter type conditions in the highest parts of Rila and Pirin mountains, the highest in the area. More info about hiking and trekking during Spring and Autumn:
The driest part of the summer is July and August and this is when most people are heading for multi day and long distance trekking in the highest mountains of Bulgaria. This includes crossing the E3 Kom – Emine route along the Balkan mountains, the E4 and E8 routes in Rila, Pirin and the Rhodopes, climbing the highest peaks and traversing the main ridges of all the ranges.
May, June and September-October are periods with more changeable weather and possible terrain issues so the most suitable areas would be the lower mountain ranges, like the Rhodopes, Kraishte mountain area, the lower parts of the Balkan, Rila and Pirin.
While Rila and more or less Pirin are possible to cross on a mountain bike this would require extra physical condition and some carrying of the bike. For more “bikeable” areas with good cross-country routes the best is to head to the Rhodopi. Or stay lower, closer to the tree line in the highest ranges, where there are numerous bike paths, dirt roads, some designated bike parks (Borovets, Pamporovo) and enduro trails.
Outdoor climbing is possible almost all the year round, with some spots in Northwestern Bulgaria suitable even in Jan/Feb, in the middle of winter. Approaching the routes at higher altitude in the Rila and Pirin National Parks is best during the summer months due to the weather conditions.
Walking in the Rhodopes is a unique experience while it is a combo of natural and cultural sights and experiences. Hikers would visit local villages on the way, where rural life and traditions are still kept away from the civilization. It is the mountain range that spreads around most of the country – a vast, hilly, covered with forest area, home of wild animals and inhabited by humans from centuries.
Walking in the Rila and Pirin mountain ranges is for those who like more severe landscapes, rocky peaks, glacial lakes and the solitude of the high mountain. Both national parks are established to preserve the unique nature and landscapes of the mountains of the Balkans. The summer season is short there and the weather and conditions are changeable. Most suitable accommodation is in the high mountain huts allocated all around both ranges.
Walking the Balkan mountains is a symbolic activity for the Bulgarians. The long fish-bone ridge that spreads the country in two parts – northern and southern – is an endless hiking trail leading towards the Black sea. While not the highest mountain of Bulgaria, Stara Planina is a “real” mountain with its weather changes and terrain traps, deep valleys and sharp peaks, wildlife and secrets. Again, sleeping in the huts of Central Balkan National Park is the best way to organize multiday walking tours in Stara Planina.