Winter Trekking – Musala peak, Bulgaria


Trekking Musala peak in winter is an absolutely great experience. It is a wonderful way to appreciate the winter scenery and to enjoy views covering the whole of Bulgaria. The whole adventure is one of a kind and the landscapes are breathtaking.

I have been trekking Musala peak a couple of times already but only in the summer. Trekking Musala peak in winter has been part of my bucket list, and I’m proud of myself to tick it off. It all began from one hike to the peak in the summer when a friend of mine and I were sitting at the top and talking about how we want to get back here in the winter, so I did. To be honest trekking the Musala peak, the highest peak at the Balkanian Peninsula is not that kind of a big deal. There are more than 50, 000 people obeying the top annually.

One of the best things to trek Musala peak in the winter were the breathtaking views. From the top, you can see all the major mountains of Bulgaria, including Vitosha, Pirin, Balkan mountains, Sredna Gora, Rhodope Mountains, Osogovo. In the summer, you can also see a few beautiful Rila lakes.


Musala is the Everest of the Balkanian Peninsula, rising at 2 925m (9 596 ft) above sea level.

Musala is located in the eastern parts of the Rila Mountain.

The name is left from the Ottoman rule times. According to some beliefs, the name derives from the Arabic ”Musalla” (the way to God, near God, place for prayer). According to other beliefs, the origin of the name is from the Arabic ”Musalat” meaning  ”dominant”.

Musala is the coldest place in Bulgaria and the entire Balkan Peninsula with an average annual temperature of -2.3°C.

About 45% of the annual precipitation on Musala is snow, and snow cover lasts for more than six months.

Three of the main rivers of Bulgaria have their sources near the peak – Maritsa, Iskar, and Mesta.

At the top of the peak is built a meteorological station of the National Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology at the BAS ( Bulgarian Academy of Sciences).

Musala is one of the hundred tourist sites of the Bulgarian Tourist Union.

Trekking Musala peak you don’t need any previous experience or special technique is required.

Conquering Musala all year round is one of the amazing things to do in Bulgaria FOR FREE.

How to get to Musala

Rila mountain is situated in the southwestern part of Bulgaria, 70km away from Sofia. To get there from Sofia you need to take a bus to Samokov, then another one to Borovets.

From Sofia to Samokov buses are leaving every day, every half hour from South bus station. The ticket costs between 5-7 leva which is around $3-4. The route takes about an hour. From Samokov to Borovets you have to take another bus, leaving from the same place where the one from Sofia arrives. It takes about 10-15 minutes, and it costs 1.30 leva ( $ 0.70). This bus leaves you at the center of Borovets, and from there you have two options: taking the lift or hiking up. I prefer hiking. To start the hike you have to walk a bit to get to Tsarska Bistritsa where the route begins. In the winter this route is used as a ski track too.

To get there you can also rent a car from Sofia or hitchhike.


Where to stay:

Musala hut – Musala hut is located on the banks of the seventh Musalensko lake at an altitude of 2 389m (7 837ft), making it the highest situated hut in Bulgaria. It has a tourist canteen and buffet. One night stay costs 15leva ( $8.20 ).

Ice Lake Shelter – Located off the northwest coast of the Ice Lake, just below the peak.

Yastrebets – The Yastrebets hut is located at the Yastrebets peak, near the upper station of the lift, and the ski slopes Markudjika.

The top – There is one little hut just at the top. You can buy tea or water from there. Overnight staying is rarely allowed so don’t count on that.

Camping – In summer, especially, but some people also do that in winter, too. 

Also, you can stay in Borovets (in hotels or private apartments or rooms) and start your climbing route from there.


Hiking Gergeti Glacier in Kazbegi, Georgia

Camping Equipment – Rtic vs Yeti (coolers)

Here are some more photos to inspire you to go trekking Musala peak in winter.












Pictures are taken by my fabulous friend Nicolas Kraj.

This beauty hurts your eyes and melts your heart.

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