Rila Mountains
Rila Mountains

hikes in Rila Mountains

Region in Bulgaria
Rila Mountains Trail Map

Hiking in the Rila Mountains grants explorers a palette of supernatural views as they meander further from reality into a land where tales of adventure come to life. The Rila Mountains soar high above Bulgaria’s southwestern region. Still, when you approach the layers of peaks, you’ll find lakes nestled in an arena of jagged peaks and various staggering landscapes.

If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, you’ll want to add the Rila Mountains to your hiking bucking list, but keep in mind that a vacation here isn’t your typical beach-lazing holiday. It’s an adventurous excursion that will have you walking carved-out trails and getting spoiled by views and lush scenery rather than luxurious amenities.

But while several explorers decide to stay in the simple huts standing in the thick of the wild, you can always stay in Borovets, the cozy ski resort. This way, you’ll experience a mixture of pampered relaxation and outdoor adventure.

You may also be tempted to visit Sofia, Bulgaria’s capital, which sits just 43.5mi away from the Rila Mountains, but trust us, you won’t want to leave the glacial lakes and dramatic views cloaking this lovely region in southwest Bulgaria.

The 5 Greatest Hikes in the Rila Mountains

Avid hikers will love the blend of temperate to challenging trails sketched into the Rila Mountains. While most of the hikes attract experienced hikers, families will be happy to know that there are some entertaining trails for older children, too, such as Yonchevo Lake, which snakes to the ever-so mystical Scary Lake. Or you can take the long, but easy-to-navigate Small Bears Peak hike with your family. No matter where you’ll go, you’ll encounter a panoply of eerie vistas.

However, if you only have time to do one, it’s definitely recommended to do The Eye, which unveils the famed Seven Rila Lakes.

Let’s take a look at the five most significant hikes in the Rila Mountains:

Yonchevo Lake: Blanketed with an eerie, dramatic ambiance, this hike twists to the famed Scary Lake, where the jagged peaks cradling this shimmering body of water reflect. This 11 km loop has been one of the most popular hikes in Bulgaria for quite some time.

Small Bears Peak: The grassy terrain carrying hikers across this remarkable 13.0mi route winds to a refreshing perspective of Bulgaria. En route, you’ll come across a rainbow of colours and an onset of charming, memorable views. Walk through meadows, forests, and along a creek!

Mount Musala: This hike has been a long-time favourite in Bulgaria! Soaring at 9600ft above sea level, Mt. Musala—the highest summit in the Balkan peninsula—demands attention. Located in the Rila range, this 7.5mi trail reveals magnificent views of glimmering lakes and memorable mountainscapes. This out-and-back trail never fails to disappoint.

The Eye: If you’re only planning on doing one hike in the Rila Mountains, it’s recommended to do this one. This hike takes you to Bulgaria’s ever-so-famous lake, The Eye, and unveils the Seven Rila Lakes. To top it off, you’ll discover a rip-roaring waterfall and also climb atop an extraordinary summit.

Mt. Malyovitsa: Admire the 1000ft tall north face of the soaring Mt. Malyovitsa on this 8.1mi hike. But it’s not only the supernatural shapes of this summit that enchant the number of hikers and adventurers to this route, but the shimmering Deer Lake adds another layer of fantastic to your hiking experience!

When is the Best Time to Hike in the Rila Mountains

Do you love hiking through all of the seasons? The Rila Mountains are for you! But you should know how to traverse snowy landscapes. When the winter winds take over the autumn hues, it can be quite dangerous to walk some of these routes. Therefore, it’s best to know some avalanche safety. Do bring an avalanche transceiver, snowshoes, avalanche shovel, and probe when you hike during the winter. And check the hiking conditions before you go!

Other Outdoor Activities near the Rila Mountains

Not only can you hike when snow cloaks the land, but you can embark on snowshoeing, skiing, and snowboarding adventures. You can hit the slopes at Borovets, the ski resort, or snake through the fairyland of backcountry powder.

If you want to try other mountain ranges, opt to hike, ski, snowshoe, or cycle around Pirin National Park, which also sits in southwestern Bulgaria. Or you can go for some mountain biking excursions around the Rhodope mountains.

Other Outdoor Activities in the Rila Mountains

If you want less rugged, daring adventures, you can opt to tour the Rila monastery, where you can also taste an array of local wines!

How to plan a trip to the Rila Mountains

Planning an adventure to the Rila Mountains? We can help you out! To ensure that your visit to the Rila Mountains in Bulgaria is problem-free, we’ve pieced together a guide. In it, you’ll discover a collection of information that will help you prepare for your trip to Bulgaria.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Rila Mountains

Is hiking in the Rila Mountains safe?

Yes! But, it’s vital to know avalanche safety protocols before you hike in the winter.

Do I need a guide to hike in the Rila Mountains?

No! You can go on your own hikes. Yet, if you want a guide, you can always look into this guided hiking tour!

Where should I stay in the Rila Mountains?

You can stay at Borovets. However, if you want a more mountainous setting, you can always look into the number of mountain huts dotting the Rila Mountains.

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The best hikes in Rila Mountains

Malyovitsa Mountain

01. Malyovitsa Mountain

8.1mi 3,146ft 5-6.5h

Mount Malyovitsa, with its 8953ft above the sea level, might not be the… Read More

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Mount Musala

02. Mount Musala

7.5mi 1,667ft 4-6h

With its 9600ft or exactly 9600ft above the sea level, Mount… Read More

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Yonchevo Lake

03. Yonchevo Lake

6.8mi 2,631ft 5-7h

In the eastern part of Malyovitsa range—the most exciting part of the Rila Mountains—lies Yonchevo… Read More

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Okoto Lake

04. Okoto Lake

9.9mi 3,996ft 6-8h

It is absolutely impossible to have the best hikes in the Rila Mountain Range, without… Read More

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Small Bears Peak

05. Small Bears Peak

13.0mi 2,667ft 6-9h

This classic trek gives the hiker a different perspective of the highest mountains spanning Bulgaria,… Read More

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