How to climb Musala Peak in Rila Mountain

Climbing Musala Peak in Rila Mountain

Standing at 2,925m, Musala is the highest peak not only in Bulgaria, but also in the South-Eastern Europe. Musala peak is located in Rila mountain, within the Rila National Park.

Rila mountain
Rila mountain

The name of the peak comes from the Arabic word “Musallah”, which means a place for prayer. It was named this when Bulgaria was a part of the Ottoman Empire. Before the Ottoman rule the peak bore the name “Tangra”. Tangra was the Bulgarian supreme god during the pre-Christian era.

Rila mountain
Rila mountain

Musala climbing routes

The starting point to Musala peak is Borovets.

There are three huts along the way: Musala hut (xижа Мусала), Icy Lake hut (хижа Ледено езеро) and Musala summit hut.

Rila mountain
Rila mountain

From Borovets to Yastrebets peak

The easiest way is to take the gondola lift to Yastrebets peak (2369m). The lift is located in front of hotel Samokov. The ride is about 30min, 5 km. This option will allow you to climb Musala peak in one day.
Lift working hours: from 09:00 AM to 06:00 PM (more info)
Price: two way ticket costs 15 BGN (about 6 EUR) (more info)


You can also walk to Yastrebets peak, but it will take you about 3-4 hours of hiking. The walking path starts from Tsarska Bistritsa (Царска Бистрица). If you choose this option, you will have to sleep over in any of the huts along the way.


From Yastrebets peak to Musala hut

From the lift station it is about 1 hour walk to the hut. The path to the hut is marked, you just have to follow the signs. The walk is easy and pleasant with gorgeous views over the surrounding outcrops and valleys. Musala hut is located on 2389m, near one of the Musalenski Lakes (Мусаленски езера).

Musala hut
Musala hut
Musala hut lake on a cloudy day
Musala hut lake on a cloudy day
The same lake, but on a sunny day
The same lake, but on a sunny day

From Musala hut to Icy lake hut

The route is arduous and not so easy. It will take you about 2 hours. Icy lake hut is on 2709m, on the shore of the Icy Lake. The lake is named so, because it is covered with ice most of the year.

Icy lake
Icy lake

From Icy lake hut to Musala summit

The climbing will take you about 40 min. The route is difficult and exhausting, but the view from Musala summit is totally worth the efforts.

Musala summit hut
Musala summit hut

Musala summit

Musala summit
Musala summit

If the weather is clear, breathtaking scenery will be revealed in front of your eyes.

View from the peak
View from the peak

Tips for climbing Musala Peak

  • The best period for climbing the peak is June – September.
  • Don’t forget to take sun cream, comfortable hiking shoes and a raining jacket.
  • The peak is one of the coldest places in Bulgaria (with an average annual temperature of -2.5 °C) so dress warm.
  • You can buy food from any of the huts along the way, but you’d better bring your own.
  • A map of the climbing routes you can find here.
  • If you go back early and have a little time before the last ride of the lift, sit for a beer in the restaurant located next to the lift. The views and the french fries are to die for.
View from the restaurant
View from the restaurant

Have you climbed Musala peak in Rila mountain?

About the author
Avatar Milena Yordanova
I'm a travel blogger based in Sofia, Bulgaria. Travelling has always been my passion and I love to discover new places and cultures. I want to show you how easy it is to organize your vacation all by yourself.

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12 Replies to “How to climb Musala Peak in Rila Mountain”

  1. Hello Milena,

    We are going to climb the Musala peak next week. Wanted to ask about the huts. What do we need to stay there? Many thanks!
    Kindest regards,

    1. Hi Dace,

      I haven’t stayed there, but you can contact Musala hut via the phone or the contact form on this website. Unfortunately the website is in Bulgarian only, but you can use google translate.

  2. Hi Milena, we are taking a holiday in Borovets at the end of May for a week, it is our first visit to Bulgaria. Although we are retired we are fit and intend to take the gondola and walk to Musala Hut.
    Fresh air and scenery is of prime importance and also wildlife which I like to photograph.
    We are looking forward to our visit and would appreciate any tips on clothing for such a trip up the mountain. Kind regards John Ball

    1. Hi John,

      The temperatures in Rila mountain in May are about 10-20 °C (50-68 °F). A thin waterproof jacket is a must and maybe a t-shirt and a sweater (it depends on the weather of the day). It’s better if you have hiking shoes. Yet, any sports shoes are also ok, as it’s a very easy hike to Musala Hut.

      Have a great time in Bulgaria!

  3. Hello,
    I would like to know if you can walk this trek with kids? Is it very steep?

    1. Hi Yael,

      Only the first path of the hiking trail (to Musala hut) is easy. For the rest – it depends on the kids (and how often they hike). There are some steep paths in the second part of the hiking trail (to Icy lake hut). From there to the summit is very steep and difficult.

  4. Dear Milena,

    Many thanks for your really interesting details of the trail. Despite my many calls in order to book a night at their hut for this coming March, I didn’t manage to reach them.
    Any idea how I can do that?
    FYI, the phone number I have: 00 359 896 661 454.

    Sorry for the bothering.
    Cécile (French)

    1. Dear Cécile,
      There is a new Musala Hut opening this year (this is the official website). Unfortunately, it’s still not open and I’m not sure if the old one is working, as their old website doesn’t exist anymore. 🙁

  5. Hi Milena,
    I heared that the national park is open only in July-August, is it true? I can’t find any reliable source to confirm it. I would like to climb Musala in September.
    have a good day,

    1. Hi Adam,
      The national park is open all year around. 🙂 However, the gondola lift to Yastrebets peak closes for maintenance usually after 20 September till the winter season. And if you don’t use the lift, it won’t be possible to climb Musala Peak in one day.

  6. Hi! I really like how you explained the treck. I got only one quesiton. Am i alowed to camp in my tent next to any of the huts?

    1. Hi Victor,

      In general you can, but unfortunately, I can’t tell you for sure. It’s best to ask directly at the place, or at the accommodation where you’re staying before the hike to Musala.

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