The first resort in Bulgaria, which used to be called Chamkoria, Borovets is located in the Samokov municipality. Borovets is not only the closest winter resort to Sofia, but it is also relatively near to Blagoevgrad.
With an altitude of 1300 meters, Borovets has a diversity of biathlon facilities. The marked ski slopes in the resort are 58 kilometers long, and the longest ski track is 12 kilometers. Borovets’ highest ski point is at 2560 meters above sea level.
In 1981 and 1984, the resort hosted competitions for the Alpine Ski World Cup. In 1993, the World Biathlon Championships were held in Borovets. The last race in the town took place in February 2016.
Offering the opportunity for mountain biking, Borovets Bike Park was created in 2010 with over 20 kilometers of marked trails, suitable both for beginners and advanced athletes. The resort is also ideal for rock climbing and mountaineering, with several climbing sites with varying difficulty levels.
The highest mountain peak in Bulgaria and the Balkan Peninsula, Musala stands at 2925 meters. Located in the eastern part of the Rila Mountains, not far from the resort of Borovets, Musala is visited by many tourists and mountaineers from Bulgaria and around the globe during the summer season.
Parks, eco-trails, waterfalls, ski slopes, peaks, monasteries, bridges, earth pyramids, and resorts – one may find all that just outside of Blagoevgrad. These destinations are a perfect weekend getaway, and some of them are close enough even for a single-day trip.
The Rila Monastery
The largest and most famous Eastern Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria, the Rila Monastery is also known as the Monastery of Saint John of Rila. Founded in the X century, the whole complex holds an area of 8,800 m². The architecture of the monastery consists of the main church, a residential part, as well as a monastery museum. Regarded as one of Bulgaria’s most important cultural, architectural, and historical monuments, the Rila Monastery is a key tourist attraction for both Bulgarians and foreign tourists.
Stob Earth Pyramids
One of the most popular rock formations in Bulgaria is located just above the village of Stob, in the western part of the Rila Mountains. While the average height of the pyramids is 7-10 meters, some peaks exceed the mark of 12 meters. Although the Stob Pyramids are of various shapes, the majority of them are conical and end with a stone cap. Declared a natural landmark in 1964, the Stob Earth Pyramids have an interesting color palette, varying from yellow to brown.
The Mineral Springs in Sapareva Banya
Situated in West Bulgaria, the town of Sapareva Banya is 55 km east of Kyustendil. The city is located at 750 m altitude оn the north slope of the Rila Mountains.
Popular for its mineral waters – the hottest mineral water in Europe with a temperature of 103 °C, Sapareva Banya is also known as the home of the only geyser on the Balkan Peninsula. The fountain geyser has become the symbol of the town.
The healing qualities of the water in Sapareva Banya make the region well-known since ancient times. Sapareva Banya’s oldest known name used to be Germaneya. Given by the Thracians, the name’s meaning was closely related to the existence of the healing hot mineral springs.
The Bridge of Qadi
Located in the center of the village of Nevestino, the bridge of Quadi is also known as Nevestin bridge. A stone bridge over the Struma River is about 100 meters long and about 5 meters wide. It consists of five arches, the middle one being the highest and giving the pointed shape of the bridge, built of large carved granite blocks.
A mixture of ancient medieval and renaissance forms, the bridge’s architecture makes it one of the most popular tourist destinations in the region. The bridge of Quadi was declared an architectural monument of culture of national importance in 1968. The tourists who visit this bridge will see the beauty of the Rila Mountains from there.
The highest peak of the Osogovo range, Ruen is located on the border of Bulgaria and North Macedonia. With its height of 2251 meters, Ruen Peak is one of the 100 National Tourist Sites of the Bulgarian Tourist Union (BTU). There are three alternatives to start climbing the peak – from the Osogovo hut, the Three Beeches (Tri Buki) area, or the village of Gueshevo.
The Basilica in Sandanski was the town’s most representative building in late antiquity. With its spectacular architecture, wall paintings, and mosaics, the Episcopal complex is one of the largest and most interesting archaeological sites in southwestern Bulgaria. The Basilica is part of the Archaeological Museum in town and is an important historical and cultural landmark.
The Kordopulov’s House
The Kordopulov’s House is the largest Revival house on the Balkan Peninsula. Built in 1754 specifically for the production, storage, and trade of wine, the house belonged to the rich Greek family of merchants Kordopoulos. Underneath the house is a huge underground wine cellar where one may taste and buy delicious red wine.
Eco Trail to the Samokovishte area
Spanning nine kilometers in each direction, the eco trail to the Samokovihste area starts from the upper end of the Dupnitsa village. The trail passes through the Samokovishteto waterfall, also known as the Bistrishki waterfall, and reaches the Samokovishte area. On the way, one may find gazebos, benches, outdoor tables, and fireplaces for barbecue.