There are few options to stay overnight in a different types of places if you are hiking or trekking in the mountains of Bulgaria:
- Using the mountain huts network;
- Staying in a guest houses and small hotels in the lower mountain areas and in the villages around;
- Combination of these types of lodging.
Using the mountain huts infrastructure. This gives a great chance to spend all your time surrounded by awesome sceneries as most of the huts are high up, between 1000 and 2500 m. elevation. Multiday treks in Rila, Pirin and Balkan Mountains are possible only if you use that sort of accommodation. Most of the huts in the mountains of Bulgaria were built during the Communist time. In that period the ownership and maintenance were centralized and there was a stable financing.
At present some of them are private, some – rented for a long period of time, enough long to motivate the occupiers to put money in reconstructions (if they can afford it), and some are still managed by BTS (Bulgarian Tourist Union, the old communist еrа organization with considerably lower potential today). This brings to big differences in the quality of the services. There are places that are renovated and offer good facilities and others where there is a struggle to keep the roof not to fell down. In general, in the high season (June-September), with or without reservation, you can expect to find somebody to welcome you and something to eat all around the huts on the popular routes. Lodging is usually in dormitories from 4 to 20+ people in each, inside or outside toilets, warm shower is probable.
Especially in August, when most of Bulgarians take their holidays, some places in the Balkan, Rila and Pirin mountains become extremely crowded. Carrying lining or thin sleeping bag is a good idea. Some of the huts, especially in the high parts, are closed in winter, with only one room left opened for visitors, with or without woods for heating. There is also some high mountain shelters which are managed by volunteers – there is no stuff there and they offer very basic shelter from the severe weather. Arranging reservations for big groups is recommended, especially in summer season.
If that sounds too rough, you can go down to the villages. There is numerous villages, resorts and holiday areas in the foot of the mountains. Exception form this are Rhodope Mountains where the locations are everywhere into the mountains, so one can hike or cycle directly from one overnight point to another. If you plan to stay in a town or village in the foot of a certain mountain range, a good road or lift to the high parts should be an important consideration when choosing your location. The advantage is that you can pick between 2-3-4 stars accommodation and carry only a small rucksack with you while exploring the area, the disadvantage – a transport is needed to take you to the starting points for hiking in the mountains and back every day.
Camping – if you are keen to carry tent with you, you should know that camping is prohibited in national parks, nature parks, reserves and water supplement areas, unless you stay in a camping site. There is lack of such a facilities in Rila, Pirin and Balkan mountains and very often tents are placed near the huts in summer. This may be a good idea in August and save you from the noises of a crowded dormitory but according to national park regulations even these areas are prohibited for camping. There is no problem to camp free anywhere else outside protected areas but in general don’t expect to find any camping facilities in the mountains.
Good combinations are possible knowing the region – one can enjoy both the high mountain life and the comfort of a warm shower and home cooked meal. If you want to do a few days trek its possible to use the advantages of all types of lodging with some ingenious planning.
Guest houses are a good and affordable option for accommodation in the big cities. Here is one good possibility for cheap accommodation in Sofia: Trakia Guesthouse
Trakia Guesthouse is a charming Guesthouse, suitable for a pair or family with children, or alone travellers. The Guesthouse is situated 10-15 minutes walking distance to the Cathedral Alexander Nevski.
The guests will enjoy a cozy atmosphere in art style and feel like at home.
Trakia Guesthouse provides also one day trips in Sofia and the surroundings, rent-a-car, bus tickets.
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