Climbing in Bulgaria is rather popular, and the country has some amazing places to offer, I think you’d be surprised.
Here I would like to tell you about the most popular climbing destination – the rocks in the Vratsata – Вратцата – mountain pass. I will not go into technical details as to how difficult the routes are, how equipped they are and so on. All the necessary information for climbers can be found for example here as well as in the Climbing Guide to Vratsa, which can be purchased online.
The place is not far from Sofia, you can easily just go and climb for one day or weekend – there are a couple of good places to camp next to a small creek.
There is as many as 500 routes on the limestone of Vratsa, about half of them are equipped and ready for a sports climb – here you can find a short description about climbing one of the more famous routes. There’s many trad and ice climb opportunities as well and when the weather is good, you will almost always see climbers messing around.
The most interesting and challenging area is the Central wall, with its almost 450 meters and vertical climbs, it will make any climbing enthusiast sweat.
You can make a nice weekend out of climbing, while your beer cools down in the creek running between the rocks, spend the night camping and after a short climb the next day, head for a deserved good meal at Vratsa, the nearby town, called after the mountain pass (meaning Gate, Door).
Vratsa’s downtown is dominated by the monument of Hristo Botev, a Bulgarian revolutionary, but please don’t mistake him for the communist kind of revolutionary. He actually fought for liberating Bulgaria from Turkish yoke and found his death doing it. He was a remarkable man and a brilliant poet. His death place is very close to Vratsa, called Okolchitsa, where a huge cross marks the place and a musical festival is held.
Even if you are not very interested in climbing, I definitely recommend the area of Vratsa and Vratsata gorge. Very close to it is the famous Ledenika cave, on which I already wrote a post.
On the way to Sofia, close to Mezdra and not far from the main road, is the archeological complex Kaleto – Калето. If you are a history enthusiast, you could stop and check it out and then head back to Sofia.
All in all, you can make a weekend, even a week of staying in Vratsa and the surroundings. It’s a really nice place which also offers hiking opportunities in the moutain surrounding the town – the Vratsa Balkan. A really nice article on Vratsa’s sights and places to visit, should the above not be enough, here.