Day 5 - Maliovitsa bagged! (Paul and Kate Hendy)
Day 5 - Maliovitsa bagged! (Paul and Kate Hendy) 
Route summary
£645.00 (2017)
Per person 6 nights (fully guided - private groups 4-10 people)
6 B&B, 5 evening meals, 5 picnics
All transfers inc. airport and luggage
5-7½ hours
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Rila - from the mountains to the monastery
Full Description

This introduction to a less-visited country offers the walker some spectacular highlights in the company of excellent local guides, and is offered uniquely by On Foot Holidays to small private groups of between 4 and 10 persons (friends and family only - we won't add strangers to your group).


Grade: Hard


You will be met by Milena, Ivo or a member of their team at Sofia airport, and taken directly to your first accommodation in the capital, Sofia.  The evening will include a short guided walk around the centre, taking in the major sights.  On the following morning, you set off the nearby mountain of Vitosha - for an acclimatisation walk to give Milena a better appreciation of your walking skills and grade. The mountain is well walked, but the lovely views over the plain will amply compensate. 


After the climb you will be transferred to your next accommodation, a small family hotel at Govedarzi, in the foothills of the Rila Mountains. After a further day walking in the foothills, your next walk will get you up to the highest peak in the Balkans, Mt Musala at 2925m, courtesy of the lift system that does a lot of the hard work for you!  Be prepared for a little ferrata style walking!


Your most impressive walking day is next, from the foothills to the high pastures around Maliovitsa (another peak to bag), with views for miles, lakes, wild flowers and wild horses. Overnight in one of Bulgaria's most famous mountain refuges for the true mountain experience (basic dormitory accommodation and mountain food, late night singsongs and swearing of eternal international friendship).


Then the jewel of the holiday - a 1500m descent through meadows and oak woodlands to the World Heritage Rila Monastery.  There is no better way to approach such a site than on foot, giving a feeling of superiority over the coach bound others.  Rila is big enough to take the crowds, with a fine church (frequent Orthodox chanting by black-bearded monks), museum, shops and more, all in the company of your professional guide.  You end the day with a short walk down the wooded valley to your hotel/fish restaurant run by brothers Milen and Vasilev. Try a gentle amble down to the stream before dinner. 


On your final day, after a short morning walk (if your flight times allow) to visit St John of Rila's hermitage, you will transfer back to Sofia for your flight home, or, if you prefer, for a further night or two in this Paris-inspired capital city.


Standard Option: 6 nights as listed in the itinerary.

7-night option: Add a further night in Govedarzi to do some extra walking.

5 night option: Just two nights in Govedarzi - so only one of the three possible walks from this centre.


Please note that this route is available for privately formed groups only.



  • The Rila mountains of SW Bulgaria
  • The ascent of Musala - the highest peak in the Balkans
  • A night in a mountain refuge
  • The walk down to the monastery
  • The Rila Monastery itself, World Heritage site
  • Sofia and the Ottoman heritage
Route map
Bulgaria route map
Route designed by

Milena Ignatova and Ivo Stoilkov run an incoming tourism agency in Sofia.


Milena is literally addicted to nature.  Except for her beloved hiking, she is actively working on different

environmental initiatives in the areas of protection of biodiversity, climate change and sustainable land management


Ivo has been a mountain guide across the world for more than 20 years. He is an experienced mountain climber and a respected ski mountaineering tour leader.