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Visit Rila National Park in Bulgaria



Do you believe in pure beauty and wanderlust? Meet one of  the most impressive Easter European natural parks with its magnificent mountains that host Balkans's Peninsula greatest peak: Musala - 2925 m. Bulgaria's biggest National Park, Rila is situated 100 km south from Sofia, the state capital. Its name comes from the Thracian tribes and it translates in well irrigated mountains. No surprise since you can find here over 120 lakes and many rivers that do not cease to call for tourists in any moment of the year.

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View towards Musalenski Jezera from the route to Musala Peak


Access


For entering in the Rila National Park  (from Sofia) the easiest route is to take Sofia's ring road E721 and then head on road number 82 that walks along Iskar artificial lake towards Borovets city.

Borovets is a tiny city that functions like a resort all year long, in the warm season for hiking and leisure activities and during the winter for ski. Borovets is situated at 1300 m altitude and from here you can take the cable car that takes you straight to the park at Yestrebets, 2369 m altitude in about 20 minutes (5 km in a straight line). This is a very cheap help (6 euro tour - re-tour per person) considering that you don't need to carry all the equipment as the cable car is doing this for you.



Accommodation


The park has numerous accommodations and covers a large palette of preferences. For winter, more comfort or picky tourists, there will always be something suitable in Borovets no matter the budget you have for this. 

If you go up, to Yestrebets, you can also find here accommodation options, restaurants and bars. The price for one night could go somewhere around 15 € / night / person.


  • Tent


We did not stop at a 5 star hotel so we choose to sleep in a million stars accommodation in our tiny tent near Musala Hut. We took the cable car from Borovets to Yestrebets and from here we did a super easy hike for about one hour walk time to Musalenski Jezera (and Musala hut). Even here, you can choose if you want to sleep indoors, near the lake (free of charge) or near the hut (for the symbolic price of 1 €/night). Bulgarians are relaxed about wild camping so you can pick a favorite spot and camp there, like we did, beside the lake and I tell you the view is amazing, so emotional and tranquil.

  • Musala Hut


Musala Hut is at 2389 m altitude, has a full capacity of 60 persons and the price per night is around 8 €/person/night. Here you can also find a small restaurant and bar. Next to Musala, there is a really big cabin, but still under construction, so probably in a few years there will be even more places to choose from.

Musalenski Jezera (lake), to the right Musala Hut and to the left the big cabin in construction. 

  • Everest Hut


At 2709 m, we find another accommodation, Everest Hut with a full capacity of 30 people. It has no restaurant, only a small shop with drinks, sweets and souvenirs but you can also find here fresh spring water. Price per night per person is around 6 €.

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Everest Hut


In case of emergency, right on Musala Peak, at 2925 m altitude you can find a host in the Meteorological station (2 places) but this should not be an option, this is only in case of danger. But the awesome part is that right there, on the top of the mountain you can have a nice tea with Rum or a beer, as they have a little bar. I never saw this anywhere else, a bar a with such a fantastic view located on the highest peak of the mountain range. Wow!

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Touristic Attractions



Rila National Park is a never ending story of beauty! There are over 100 mountain peaks over 2000 m therefore imagine that there are many options for hiking in the warm period and also a surprisingly nice ski resort for the winter.

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View towards Musala Peak

As a note, over 30% of Bulgaria's territory is covered up with mountains so there are plenty of touristic opportunities including: waterfalls, canyons, gorges, mineral springs (Sapareva Banya) and many other interesting spots to visit.

The main attraction remains Musala, the highest mountain peak in the whole Balkan Peninsula. Even if Musala is the king of the mountains around, with its 2925 m, the route is one of the easiest I ever experienced and there are absolutely no technical skills involved (at least for summer hikes).  

Musala Peak - 2925 m

Another highlight of the area would be the Seven Glacial Lakes Circuit (GPS Track), a one day hike that starts from Sapareva Banya, climbing up to Pionerska Hut, from where you can take the cable car to reach 2150 m and then, hike your way to the lakes.


Touristic activities



This time let's start with skiing! There are around 60 km of slopes with the longest continuous route of about 12 km in Borovets Ski Resort. The ski area is located somewhere at 2000 - 2500 m altitude so we can almost be certain that the snow quality is really good. For Western Europe the Skipass price is  kind of cheap but for Eastern Europe it can be a bit expensive, reaching 25 € / day. 

Except skiing, tourists have many options here, like: hiking, mountain biking, cultural tourism (Rila Monastery, Tsarska Bistritsa Palace), and also it seems the Bulgarians have a special disposition for eco trails (Krushuna, Eco trail Lago, Rido Park, Friends of the plants botanical trail near Govedartsi) and last but not least, because we are in the Balkans, let’s not forget about food!

So my traveler friends, any plans for Bulgaria? :)

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Walking path from Yestrebets to Musalenski Jezera

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Visit Rila National Park in Bulgaria Reviewed by Karina on 10:16 Rating: 5

4 comments:

  1. Hi Karina,

    We are also going on a trip to the rila mountains with a group of 20. We want to sleep in tents, are you really sure it's free to camp where we want? also, do you have to pay an entrance fee for the park because I can't find any information about that.

    Thanks so much

    Niel

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Niel,

      Back in 2014 everything was free of charge. Even if they introduced some tax for visiting the park this should not be too expensive as usually prices are low in Bulgaria. The 'free' area was near the lake but keep in mind that there are no camping facilities, as well you will need to leave the place clean.

      Let me know if you have any other questions.

      Happy hikes!
      Karina and Alex

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    2. Hello Karina,

      Thanks for your answer. We arrive at Rila monastery and will be hiking towards the Seven Lakes. We will follow your guidelines and just set up camp near the lakes. I read that there are some places where firemaking is allowed, do you know where these spots are? Or can we make small fires where we camp? We are a group of scouts so we really like to end the day around a cosy campfire, just for some warmth and cosyness. We never leave a trace that we have been somewhere, so all our trash is coming with us and the fire will be put out properly.

      Also I didn't find much information about wildlife. Do we need to look out for specific wildlife? And do we need to keep our food outside the tents?

      Thanks!

      Niel

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    3. Hello Niel,

      The area is highly populated so to say so I would not worry too much about wild animals. We also had food with us in the tent and it was ok.
      Regarding the fire, the ones from the chalet organized a camp fire when we visited so I guess that is fine. Best way, I suggest, kindly ask the people there where/if possible.

      Karina & Alex

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