My favourite mountain peak has to be Vihren peak (2,914 m)! I am not sure if that’s because it was the first peak I have ever been on or simply because the view from there over Pirin mountain is breath-taking.
Why Vihren peak?
Vihren peak is the second highest peak in Bulgaria and the third on the Balkan Peninsula. It is an amazing spot to enjoy the view over the surrounding area – incl. other peaks in Pirin mountain, the city of Bansko, lakes, etc. If you are into hiking, you should definitely go for it.
How to get there?
You can spend the night in the city of Bansko. It is a very famous tourist destination in winter (there are ski slopes) and in summer (soooo many trails), so you will have a variety of hotels to choose from. Of course, you can also sleep at Vihren hut (the starting point of almost all mountain trails in Pirin mountain, incl. the one to Vihren peak) but the accommodation is not modern and you may have to sleep with other people in the same room.
To get from Bansko to Vihren hut you can travel by car, taxi or bus. If you are travelling by car or taxi, keep in mind that often in summer the road is closed because the area around Vihren hut honestly turns into a big parking lot and this is very unpleasant for all tourists. This is why we chose to take the bus (more like a minivan) organized by the municipality which goes three times a day from Bansko railway station to Vihren Hut. There are different “bus stops” to Vihren hut, but we personally chose to catch the bus from the first station (Bansko Railway Station), so that we are sure we have a spot in the minivan. The trip took us around 50 minutes and 8 leva per person.
Once you reach Vihren hut, you will see plenty of signs that point towards the different mountain trails. Take the right and red one that says “Vihren” and “Yavorov hut”. Around 40 minutes after you start, the trail will split in two (Vihren vs. Yavorov hut) and you should of course choose the one going to Vihren peak. The hike takes around 3 hours in one direction. Keep in mind that the last 30 minutes are very hard as it is very steep, and the path is covered in stones. Once you reach the peak, you will witness an amazing view over Bansko and Pirin mountain. On the way back, just take the same route and you will reach Vihren hut in about 2 hours and a half. In case you miss the minivan (also going three times a day from Vihren hut to Bansko, ask the driver for the exact timing), you can ask someone at the parking lot in front of Vihren hut to drop you off at Bansko. Of course, you can go to Bansko by foot (as well as start your hike from Bansko) but it will extend your hike a lot (it will take you three more hours on top, one direction).
What to see or do in the area?
There are many museums in Bansko. Also, a nice winter resort close to Bansko is Dobrinishte and Bezbog hut (another starting point for many trails in Pirin mountain). Of course, if you are travelling by car, we definitely recommend visiting Ognyanovo (a famous SPA resort) as well as the traditional Bulgarian villages Leshten and Kovachevitsa. By the way, you can also visit Bansko by taking the lovely narrow-gauge railway from Septemvri to Dobrinishte.