The mountain foothills of southern Bulgaria – close to the border with Greece – have a wonderfully wild and varied range of walking trails. The Rhodope Mountains, in particular, are alive with gushing waterfalls, limestone gorges and old growth forests where wild cats, wolves and tree creeper birds all live. Walking as part of a small guided group is a great way to begin to understand Bulgaria away from the bright city lights. Villages like Yagodina provide authentic family-run accommodation as well as access to river trails and Roman roads, right from your hotel's front door. The higher you hike, the more mountains come to the fore with opportunities to spot vultures, eagles and buzzards bound to resonate with walkers who love to live life on the wild side.
Bear watching
'Dancing’ bears were once commonplace in Eastern Europe with animals subjected to years of abuse in the name of entertainment. Since the practice was outlawed in the early 90s, captive bears were sold or turfed out, but the lucky ones have found their way to Belitsa Bear Sanctuary amid the forested foothills of the Rila Mountains. A visit to this excellent sanctuary can be tough with elderly residents still conditioned to sway on two legs. This is not a zoo, it's a sanctuary for animals that need human help and a visit will put funds where they're needed most. If you're also interested in observing brown bears that have managed to remain free from the shackles of humans then why not join a small group tour in the Rhodope Mountains? Tracking bears with an expert guide allows you to cover average daily distances of 12km with a couple of evenings spent in a bear hide adding to what can be an incredibly intense and rewarding conservation experience.
Bulgaria has more thermal springs than Hungary.
There’s nothing more relaxing than returning to a small hotel with spa facilities at the end of a good day spent exploring in Bulgaria. Not only will you be able to ease any aching limbs, in an indoor or outdoor bath, but you’ll also be treated to the mineral enriched water’s rejuvenating properties that, it is said, will give you more zip than an early morning cup of mursalski herbal tea.

Our top trip

Bulgaria mountains and monasteries Tour

Bulgaria mountains and monasteries Tour

Discover the history, culture and landscapes of Bulgaria

From £1465 to £1535 11 days ex flights
Small group travel:
2024: 13 May, 14 Sep
2025: 10 May, 13 Sep
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Bulgaria or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.
The variety of scenery Bulgaria boasts in the winter – forests, mountains, frozen lakes, granite, ice and snow –makes snow shoeing on Roman roads and shepherds’ trails a sublime experience.
Head off over the Roman roads and forests tracks of the Rhodope Mountains or opt for the alpine meadows and river valleys of Rila National Park; whatever you do, don't discount a winter walking and snow shoeing holiday in Bulgaria. Great exercise, affordable accommodation and ample opportunities to avoid the crowds around Bansko and Borovets – what more could you wish for?
Written by Chris Owen
Photo credits: [Page banner: Detelina Petkova] [Hike: Ondrej Pospisil] [Bear watching: Exodus] [Sandanski: Infobgv] [Snowy trees: Angel Sinigersky] [Snow - fall: John Spooner]