Bulgaria self drive tour among the giants of the Balkans: Musala, Vihren and Mitikas
The Balkan peninsula is a paradise for hikers. There are dozens of mountains, hundreds of peaks, and some of these deserve particular attention. Not only due to their altitude, but also because they form part of the mythology and culture of this ancient land, besides being extremely beautiful.Read more
If you like high mountains and you don't have much time, but plenty of energy, if in your hiking history these three peaks are missing, then it's time to visit Bulgaria on this tailormade self-drive tour, a holiday and trip focused on trekking and nature. You'll have a good car and pre-departure arrangements in oder to enjoy your week to the fullest, climbing the three highest peaks of the Balkan Peninsula: Musala among Rila mountains, Vihren in beautiful Pirin and Mitikas on the divine Olymous mountain.
Arrive in Sofia. Transfer to the hotel in the city center. Meeting with the tour staff from whom you'll receive all necessary information on the program of the upcoming trip, the car, documents, map and travel guide.
Musala climb. You drive to Borovets (70 km), Climb to Yastrebest refuge (2369 m a.s.l.) by cableway. You'll climb the highest mountain in the Balkan peninsula: Musala (2925 m).
Descent along the same route to Borovets, overnight in a hotel.
NOTE: If you don't take the cableway you can reach Borovets on foot (1300 m), but this implies descending 1070 meter more on foot.
Drive to Bansko (140 km). Along the way you can stop at Rila monastery, established in the 10th century on Rila high mountain. The monastery was an important spritual and cultural center over many centuries. Today's monastery building has five floors and dates back to the first half of the 19th century, while the most ancient building, the tower of Hrelyo Sovereign, dates back to the 14th century.
Bansko is situated at almost 1000 m and is the departing point for most of the excursions on the entire Pirin mountain range, one of the national parks in Bulgaria. Besides the beauty of the mountain, Bansko offers a welcoming atmosphere with its narrow streets and typical stone houses. A significant part of Bansko's glory is due to its culinary challenges, with dozens of traditional pubs offering unique recipes of local specialties. Overnight in a hotel in Bansko.
Climb to Vihren. Drive to Vihren hut (1950 m) and from there climb the highest peak in Pirin mountains and the third in the Balkan peninsula: Vihren (2914 m). You'll then descend to Vihren hut and return to Bansko by car. Overnight in a hotel.
Climb/descent: 960 m.
Drive to Litohoro, the town at the foothills of Mount Olympus 8313 km). Continue for 17 km to the parking area in Prionia (100 m a.s.l.) to climb to Spilios Agapitos hut (Hut A) (2100 a.s.l.). Overnight in a hut.
Mount Mitika or Skolio climb. First option: Climb from Agapitos Spilios refuge to the highest peak of Mount Olympus: Mitikas (2917 m a.s.l.) You will take the same route on your way back to the refuge and the parking lot, you'll drive back to Litohoro and possibly spend the evening on the beach. Overnight in a hostel on the Aegean Sea coast. Climb/descent: 817/817 m.
Practical information: The last part of the route to Mount Mitikas is technically difficult, especially for those who are afraid of height. We suggest you wear a helmet (risk of falling stones), in case of fog and/or wet path there is the risk of falling.
Second option: Climb from Spilios Agapitos refuge to the second peak of Mount Olympus, Skolio (2907 m a.s.l.). Same route for the descent, you will go back to Litohoro by car, possible night on the beach, overnight in a hostel on the Aegean Sea coast. Climb /descent: 807/1807 m.
The distance from Spilios Agapitis hut to Skolio peak is technically easy and doesn't require particular skills or equipment.
Drive back to Sofia (388 km), along the way you can visit Thessaloniki and Melnik. Situated among the tall yellow stone towers, Melnik is one of the most picturesque towns in Bulgaria. Near Melnik, Rozhen monastery overlooks from above. Its wooden silhouette tops off the splendid view over the sorrounding mountains.
A walk through the cultural and historic center of the capital of Bulgaria, Sofia, is enough to satisfy your desire for antiquity with the remains of over two thousand years, one of the oldest churches of the beginning of Christianity, St. George Church and the Basilica of St. Sophia. You can feel the Renaissance spirit of the end of the 19th century, embodied by buildings such as the National Library, Sofia University, the National Theater, the Academy of Fine Arts and you can also see the collections of the National Painting Gallery and the Archaeological Museum and finally live the unique atmosphere of the square sorrounding the largest church in the Balkans, St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.
Overnight in Sofia.
Transfer to the airport and car delivery.
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