Mountains

Pirin Mountains, Bulgaria © Amorphisman

The natural beauty of Bulgaria is especially striking to first time visitors, and in particular it is the dominance of its magnificent mountains which make the country so visually impressive. Bulgaria's mountains come in a variety of shapes and sizes, including sharp, snow-covered peaks, icy blue lakes, cool forests, bioreserves, and varied flora and fauna. Among the heights are large ski resorts and mineral spas; quaint, traditional villages; monasteries; and many opportunities for hiking, skiing, cave exploration, and ecotourism.

More than half of Bulgaria is hilly or mountainous, with an average elevation of about 1,575ft (480m). The Balkan Mountains in the central region cross the country from west to east, the irregular Rhodope Mountains form the southeastern border with Greece, and the Rila and Pirin Mountains mark the western border. Every mountain range has its own characteristic appearance and tourism prospects.

The Rila Mountains are the most majestic and boast the country's highest peak (Moussala), Bulgaria's most famous monastery (Rila) and the country's oldest ski resort at Borovets. The greenest and prettiest mountain range is the Rhodopes, which is home to Pamporovo, the largest ski resort, as well as plenty of culture and folklore centred on the town of Momchilovtsi, which is the most popular place for ecotourism.

Museum villages in the Balkan Range also offer excellent possibilities for ecotourism and are a showcase for the hospitality and warmth of the Bulgarian people. While, with hundreds of lakes, deep valleys, and rugged peaks, the Pirin Mountains are arguably the most beautiful and are home to a variety of rare plants protected within the Pirin National Park. Lastly, the most frequented mountain is Vitosha, with the capital city, Sofia, at its foot. It is popular for winter holidays and skiing, as well as for hiking and picnicking in the summer.



Resorts

See our separate guides to the following Mountains holiday resorts: Pamporovo, Borovets, Sandanski and Bansko


Attractions

River Mesta, Rodopis, Bulgaria © Nikos Kanellopoulos

Momchilovtsi

In the heart of the Rhodope Mountains lies the picturesque village of Momchilovtsi, a popular cultural and ethnographic centre that has preserved its original folklore, traditions and crafts. The Centre for Traditional Bulgarian Arts and Crafts provides a unique opportunity for visitors to attend...  see full details



Pirin National Park © Madcat87

Pirin National Park

Situated in the highest reaches of the Pirin Mountains, Pirin National Park encompasses rugged alpine peaks that rise 8,202ft (2,500m) into the atmosphere with more than a hundred glacial lakes spread at their feet. The magnificent landscape is made up of old forests, waterfalls,...  see full details



Rila Monastery, Bulgaria © Raggatt2000

Rila Monastery

The biggest and most famous of Bulgaria's monasteries is situated in the northwestern part of the Rila Mountains and is one of the most significant monuments on the Balkan Peninsula. Rila Monastery was founded by a hermit, St John of Rila, in the...  see full details