Did you know that Bulgaria has 3 national parks, amazing mountain ranges, alpine lakes, and some absolutely incredible hiking? We had no idea about the amazing hiking in the Pirin Mountains until we started doing some research on where our next digital nomad adventure was going to take us. 

We’ve known about Bansko for quite some time. Partially because of the digital nomad community at Coworking Bansko and through some other digital nomad friends. But we had no idea though that you can literally go hiking from Bansko up to the mountains.

After a few years, we finally made it to Bansko, and now it’s time to explore some of the best hikes in Bulgaria. So in this post, you’ll find 5 of the best hikes we’ve done to date in the Pirins along with all the information you need to know about these hikes.

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5 must do hikes in the Pirin Mountains

Time to go hiking! In this post, you can find 5 different hikes with 3 different difficulties. There’s one easy hike, two moderate hikes, and two hard hikes. So depending on how you’re feeling on the day you can pick and choose which one of these hikes near Bansko you want to try out!

Vihren Hut to Okoto Lake Hike

Beautiful view of Okoto Lake near Vihren Hut.

Practical information about the hike up to Okoto Lake

Distance: 1.5 km return / 0.93 miles return
Elevation: 112 m / 367 ft. elevation gain
Type: In and out trail
Length: 40 minutes to 1 hour return (add an extra hour to relax at the lake)
Difficulty: Easy
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Click here to see a map of the hike to Okoto Lake.

Looking for easy and beautiful? If that’s what you want, Okoto Lake is the perfect short little hike for you. This hike requires minimal effort and it rewards you with beautiful views and a magical alpine lake in less than 2km of hiking.

Hiking in Bulgaria can be challenging sometimes since lots of the trails require you to walk over big rocks and follow signs in a foreign language. But not this one. Okoto Lake is only a short hike from Vihren hut where most of the day hikes in the Pirins start. 

We randomly stumbled upon Okoto Lake our first time hiking in the Pirin mountains and we’ve been back multiple times since. It’s such a nice place to relax and hang out. We usually bring some snacks or some games and chill out with this beautiful alpine lake right next to us. 

One thing to know is that you cannot swim in the alpine lakes in Bulgaria. We didn’t know that so we’re assuming some others might not as well. So take some pictures, enjoy the views, but no swimming! 

Have fun on this short and sweet hike. If you find it too short you can always walk around in the mountain meadows to further lakes such as Muratovo Lake only a few km down the trail.

Read more about the hike to Okoto Lake here.

Bansko to Vihren Hut hike

Vihren Hut in the Pirin Mountains.

Practical information about the hike from Bansko to Vihren Hut

Distance: 21.2 km return / 13.17 miles return
Elevation: 985 m / 3231 ft. elevation gain
Type: In and out trail
Length: 6-8 hours return (Including a break at the top)
Difficulty: Moderate
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Click here to see a map of the hike up to Vihren Hut.

This is the first hike we ever did in Bulgaria. For most hikes, we usually drive up to Vihren Hut and hike from there but for this hike, we started right in Bansko. It’s so cool that you can walk right out your front door and start walking up the mountains.

Just to prepare you, this hike doesn’t really take place within the Pirin National Park but it’s more of a hike to the actual park in a sense. For the majority of the hike, you will be hiking up the ski slopes and up the mountain where people ski down. It’s not the most exciting but it really does give you a nice taste of the mountains here in Bansko.

But once you get to the restaurant and gondola section about halfway up the mountain the hike really starts to turn beautiful. You start to enter the forest and walk on a beautiful trail passing a few chalets and restaurants and a famous old tree. Let me tell you, it is huge!

Near the top of the hike where you can find Vihren Hut, you will enter this beautiful meadow with mountains all around you. It’s a complete shift from the green big rolling hills to these big and extreme mountains! 

Enjoy the last bit to Vihren Hut. Vihren Hut will become a common name in the future because the majority of the other hikes start from this hut. If you’re up for a little bit more of a hike you can go to Okoto Lake (easy hike mentioned above) for one last breathtaking view before heading back down to Bansko.

Read more about the hike from Bansko to Vihren Hut here.

Vihren Hut to Lake Muratovo hike

Lake Muratovo hike in the Pirin National Park.

Practical information about the hike from Vihren Hut to Lake Muratovo

Distance: 4.1 km return / 2.6 miles return
Elevation: 263 m / 863 ft. elevation gain
Type: In and out trail
Length: 2-2.5 hours return
Difficulty: Moderate
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Click here to see a map of the hike from Vihren Hut to Lake Muratovo.

Yes! More alpine lakes. The beauty of this hike to Lake Muratovo is you can actually pass by Lake Okoto on the way if you want. We explored both alpine lakes in a day once and it was beautiful. 

This hike up to Lake Muratovo is a bit longer than to Okoto but it really isn’t too bad. As long as you have a nice pair of hiking shoes, some water, and some snacks you’ll enjoy every minute of it. Oh yeah, and hopefully some nice weather. You can see the weather forecast for the Vihren area here.

The hike itself though is easy to follow. As long as you follow the yellow and blue markers (think of Sweden), you will eventually come to Muratovo. From Vihren Hut it should take less than an hour to get there. Out of nowhere, this beautiful alpine lake will pop up on your right side. 

One little tip is to go to the far side of the lake once you get there. There is a fresh spring of water that flows into the lake. Before it gets to the lake you can fill your water bottle up there. Nothing beats fresh mountain water.

Read more about the hike to Lake Muratovo here.

Vihren Hut to Vihren Peak hike

Dom and Jo enjoying the view while hiking in Bulgaria.

Practical information about the hike up to Vihren Peak

Distance: 8.5 km return / 5.28 miles return
Elevation: 931 m / 3055 ft. elevation gain
Type: In and out trail (can also be done as a lollipop)
Length: 5-6 hours return including breaks for pictures and lunch
Difficulty: Hard
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Click here to see a map of the hike up to Vihren Peak.

Vihren Peak is the most famous hike in the whole mountain range and probably one of the most famous hikes in Bulgaria. Vihren Peak is the second tallest mountain only behind Musala which is 11 meters taller. 

The hike from Vihren Hut to Vihren Peak isn’t that long but it’s very exhausting. It’s basically just straight elevation with almost no flat spots. Especially the last 1km feels like it takes forever because it’s so steep.

One important thing we want to mention about Vihren Peak is that at one point the trail forks from where there are two ways to go to the summit. The left way is the easier way and the right way is the more technical and challenging way. So once you get to the point where the trails fork you’ll have to decide which way you want to go. We went left.

Besides that, the trail up to the peak is easy to follow. If you’re doing the hike on a weekend, there will most likely be quite a few other people conquering Vihren with you. Since it’s the tallest mountain in the Pirin National Park it’s just one of those things that everyone wants to accomplish. 

When you get to the top you will see why. Bansko is a small spec below you. Greece and North Macedonia are somewhere in the distance. You can literally see pretty peaks for days and that’s why it’s one of our favourite hikes in Bulgaria.

Read more about the hike to Vihren Peak here.

Vihren Hut to Sinanitsa Hut hike

View of Sinanitsa Hut in the Pirin Mountains.

Practical information about the hike up to Sinanitsa Hut

Distance: 8.1 km return / 5.03 miles return
Elevation: 625 m / 2050 ft. elevation gain
Type: In and out trail
Length: 6-7 hours return (longer if you go to the peak and hut)
Difficulty: Hard
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Click here to see a map of the hike up to Sinanitsa Peak and Hut.

Welcome to the most challenging hike we’ve done in the Pirin Mountains. It’s even harder than Vihren Peak because of the distance. Plus there are a few sections on this hike where you have to walk on big rocks to continue on the trail. 

The cool thing about hiking to Sinanitsa Hut is that you actually follow the same yellow and blue trail (Swedish trail) that you would to Okoto Lake and Muratovo Lake. The only difference is that, when you get past Muratovo Lake, you have a lot of hiking left to do. 

It’s totally worth it though. Once you get over the last ridge and finally see Sinanitsa Peak, Sinanitsa Hut, and the lake below it makes it all worth it. Depending on how much energy you have left you can either hike up to the peak (the more challenging hike) or go down to the lake and hut (the “easier” option).

Or if you’re up for the challenge you can do both. So whatever you decide make sure to spend some time at one of the alpine lakes throughout the hike.

The view up in the Pirins is incredible and there is so much to see and do. We absolutely love hiking in Bulgaria and this mountain range next to Bansko has so many awesome day hikes. With huts, alpine lakes, awesome peaks, and so much more it’s a little paradise right in the middle of Bulgaria.

Dom and Jo hiking in the Pirin National Park.
Dom and Jo standing next to Lake Muratovo in Bulgaria.

Quick list of things that are essential for hiking in Bulgaria

Let’s talk about what items and things are good to bring on a lot of these hikes and especially the longer and more challenging ones. One thing a lot of people forget is when you’re this high up in the mountains the weather can change so quickly. 

So we have a little list here of things that we recommend for anyone hiking around Bulgaria.

  1. Ankle supporting hiking boots
  2. Extra layers to protect you from the sun (or the cold depending on the season)
  3. Eco-friendly sunscreen
  4. Reusable water bottle that you can refill on the trail
  5. Snacks
  6. Hiking poles
  7. A hat to protect you from the sun
  8. Sunglasses
  9. A small day backpack to carry it all in

These are just the essentials that we recommend. Mostly due to the lengths, conditions, and type of hiking you’ll do around the Pirins and the rest of Bulgaria!

It’s better to come over-prepared than under-prepared. So if you have some extra room in your bag, it might be smart to bring a rain jacket, extra hiking socks, band-aids, and a mylar blanket/emergency blanket.

Jo hiking in Bulgaria.
Dom exploring alpines lakes in Bulgaria.

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Enjoy all the best hikes in the Pirin Mountains in Bulgaria

That’s it! Our list of 5 beautiful trails for hiking in the Pirin Mountains! We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Spending some time here in Bansko as digital nomads has been amazing. It’s so nice living right next to the mountains and having all these hikes right out our front door.

The Pirins are one of the three national parks in Bulgaria and may even be our favourite. It’s usually busy because of how beautiful it is but it isn’t absolutely crowded with tourists. And the fact that every time we went hiking the weather was amazing just made for an even better experience.

We hope you enjoy exploring Bulgaria, Bansko, and the Pirin Mountains. If you come across a trail not mentioned on the list then please let us know. We’re always up for new hikes and adventures.

Have fun!

Dom & Jo
Red White Adventures

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