Two-day itinerary: trekking in the tallest mountain on the Balkans, Rila


Duration: two days optional. You can also choose to hike only to one of the peaks and make it a one-day trip

Car accessibility: good, but public transport is also an option, especially to Musala

This is an amazing weekend I spent hiking with my boyfriend in one of Bulgaria’s most beautiful mountains, Rila. We used the first day to make one of the more difficult climbs of Bulgarian peaks, Malyovitsa – Мальовица -2729m, and the second day to climb the tallest peak on the Balkan peninsula – Musala – Мусала – 2925m. We spent the night at our place in Sofia, since the paths we took to both peaks were not far at all.

Day One – the ascent took us about 3 hours at a good pace. We left for Malyovitsa relatively late – ca. 10am, but we were in no rush at all. We made it back by 9pm. We drove to a hut in the mountain called CMS – Central Mountain School – ЦПШ, from there the ascent started.

The walk to hut Malyovitsa is not long and goes through a nice forest. At the hut we took a break and had some tea. As it stands at 1960m above sea level, we still had a serious ascent in front of us. It was difficult, but worth it.

We saw an amazing lake on the way over, as well as fantastic views and the Alpinist’ monument.

Elena’s lake

I was super tired at the lake from the constant climb up, there was nowhere to catch your breath, literally! Thank God, the peak is not long after the lake and the views are worth the effort.

Coming down was an easier task. We stopped for some beans and fries at the hut on the way back, very delicious!

Day 2 – climbing peak Musala, the climb took us 2 hours and 20 minutes from the top of the lift at a very good pace. As we were in a hurry to be in Sofia before 6pm, we left early at 8.30am. The drive to Borovets, from where we started, took about 1 hour.

There is a lift you can take, called Yastrebets, and I am glad there is one, because it saves you a staggering 1054m ascent which is an about 4-hour hike at a steady pace. With it, it takes about 30 minutes to get to a starting point, which leads you to an about 3-hour hike to the peak.


However, be warned – Musala, especially since the lift has been built, is a very popular tourist destination among Bulgarians and foreigners. If you are looking for seclusion and trying to escape from the city fuss, this is not the place to go.

There’s several lakes on the way to the peak, and the climb is nowhere near as difficult as the one to Malyovitsa.


No wonder so many people attempt it, I read somewhere that 45-50000 visit the peak yearly.

The weather changed a lot. There’s often mist at the top of the mountain, but it quickly comes and goes to unveil breath-taking views.

The descent was then super quick, we made it down to the lift in 1 hour and 40 minutes. We were hurrying to escape the crowds.

All in all, an awesome weekend! I really recommend visiting both these amazing peaks, but if you find it too much for a weekend, then do it on two separate occasions. If you decide to do both, though, you can decide whether to spend the night in Borovets – probably the more expensive option, or in the town of Samokov, which is close to both starting points. You can certainly also do what we did – sleep in Sofia and just drive early morning to the starting points.

2 thoughts on “Two-day itinerary: trekking in the tallest mountain on the Balkans, Rila

  1. This is a magnificent idea for a trip to the gorgeous Rila mountain. I would say Malyovitsa is much more challenging. Musala is like a piece of cake compared to it.

    Liked by 1 person

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