Bulgaria is a natural playground for hikers and rock climbers. This small country in Eastern Europe may not be the first place you think of when you start planning a climbing holiday, but there are plenty of reasons why you should! Here at Excedo, we pride ourselves on our intricate knowledge of the best hiking and climbing spots in the country. We organise Private Bulgarian Day Trips and Tailor-made Guided Tours of Bulgaria that can incorporate the climbing challenges that most excite you. So, before you start planning your climbing tour, here are some of the best destinations in Bulgaria for rock climbers.
This is perhaps one of the most famous caves in Bulgaria and a climber’s dream! The incredibly large vault can be entered by two tunnels and it is well lit by the natural skylights that give it the nickname ‘Eyes of God’. This is a space that offers all kinds of climbing, from great face climbing to tricky overhangs, and it’s pretty challenging! This is not a place for beginners but it will reward experienced climbers time and time again. If you’re looking for something extra to do, it’s possible to bungee jump from the cave’s big entrance.
Vratsata Gorge is in the western part of Stara Planina, aka the Balkan Mountains range, and it offers up several climbing opportunities, from sports climbing to traditional climbing. It does not matter if you are a beginner or a professional climber, Vratsata Gorge has it all. One of its most interesting climbing prospects is ‘The Central Wall’ which is over 450 metres high and has many different technical challenges for the experienced climber to puzzle out. The sheer number of climbs in the area will keep you busy, but if you want to try out something else you can also enjoy good hikes, mountain biking, explore some caves or maybe try paragliding. The views here are stunning.
For the mountaineers among you, Mt. Vihren is a must. The highest peak in the Pirin Massif, this mountain has different approaches of varying difficulty. Most popular in the summer, it makes for a difficult alpine challenge in the colder months of the year and you’re also more likely to get the mountain all to yourself. In fact, we dared the notorious Pirin Mountain ridge during a semi-wintery April and the challenge was hard-fought and satisfying. If you choose to tackle it when it’s cold, make sure you are prepared and informed – our expert guides will certainly be a helpful asset!
Kominite, Vitosha Mountain
Vitosha is a hub for nature lovers and outdoor activities. Here you can hike, ski, mountain bike, snowshoe, paraglide and cave. But, of course, you can also climb! Kominite is a popular spot for sports climbing, boasting around 70 bolted routes, plus a few traditional routes. There is also a brand new sports climbing location ideal for beginners – Alekovi waterfalls. If you want to explore other climbing spots at Vitosha Mountain, then check out Reznyovete and Boyana Waterfall, which freezes in the winter and makes for a fun ice climb!
If ice climbing interests you, then head to Skakavitsa Valley in Rila National Park during winter and early spring. The area is usually quiet in these cold months and the waterfalls and rocky slopes freeze over, making them perfect for ice climbing. The area is idyllic for nature lovers and hikers in the summer months and offers several great alpine-style approaches.
Kostenets, at the northern slope of East Rila Mountain, is a sport climbing crag with plenty of ascents. It is ideal for climbing in the hot summer months, as it’s located in the shady and cool river valley Stara Reka river. Also, the crag is just above the Kostenski falls so you can enjoy a dip after your climb. It’s worth mentioning that the area is famous for its thermal springs, so you can relax the muscles after a strenuous climbing day in one of numerous small wellness hotels.
Another wonderful area in the Rila Mountains, Malyovitsa Valley is a popular climbing area with many bolted and traditional climbing routes to discover. There is a via ferrata that ascends to Kalbura ridge and this route is particularly good for climbers that are just starting out, as it doesn’t require a lot of skill beyond basic climbing ability.
These are just a few of the great climbing destinations that Bulgaria has to offer, we have barely begun to scratch the surface! Bulgaria is a particularly exciting prospect for experienced climbers as there are plenty of opportunities for discovery and first ascent. But even if you are just starting out as a climber, Excedo can help. Our experienced guides can show you the perfect hiking and climbing spots to suit your ability. If our trips or tours caught your eye or if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch. The mountains of Bulgaria are waiting for you!