Mountains - Abbey Travel, Ireland


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Welcome to Mountains


The natural beauty of Bulgaria is specially striking to first time visitors, and in particular it is the dominance of its magnificent mountains, ranging from sharp snow-covered peaks and icy blue lakes to cool forests, bio-reserves and varied flora and fauna that really impresses the traveller. Among the heights are large ski resorts and mineral spas, quaint traditional villages, monasteries, and many opportunities for hiking, cave exploration and ecotourism.

More than half of Bulgaria is hilly or mountainous; the average elevation is about 1,575ft (480m). The Balkan Mountains in the central region cross the country from west to east, while the irregular Rhodope Mountains form the southeastern border with Greece, with the Rila and Pirin Mountains at their western end. Every mountain has its own characteristic appearance and fascinating prospects. The Rila Mountains are the most majestic and boast the country's highest peak, Moussala (9,596ft/2,925m), Bulgaria's most famous monastery, Rila, and the country's oldest ski resort at Borovets. The greenest and prettiest mountain range is the Rhodopes, which is home to Pamporovo, the largest ski resort, as well as plenty of culture and folklore centred on the town of Momchilovtsi, which is the most popular place for ecotourism. Museum villages in the Balkan Range also offer excellent possibilities for ecotourism and are a showcase for the hospitality and warmth of the Bulgarian people. With hundreds of lakes, deep valleys and rugged peaks, the Pirin Mountains are probably the most beautiful and are home to a variety of rare plants protected within the Pirin National Park. The most frequented mountain is Vitosha, with the capital city Sofia at its foot, and is popular for winter holidays and skiing.

Information & Facts


Winters are cold with heavy snowfall in the mountains with average January temperatures of 23°F (-5°C) in the valleys and ski resorts, and up to -4°F (-20°C) on the high peaks. Snow cover usually lasts for five or six months (December to April) on the north slopes of higher mountains, or until the end of February, and is over five feet (1.5m) thick. Summer temperatures vary from 57 to 66°F (14 to 19°C).

Bulgarian is the official language, which uses the Cyrillic alphabet, but English, German and French is spoken in resorts, hotels and restaurants.

The official currency is the Lev (BGN), which is divided into 100 stotinki. The Lev is tied to the Euro at a fixed rate of EUR1 = 1.955 lev. Bulgaria has strict currency regulations. If you enter Bulgaria with cash of any currency amounting to the equivalent of 8,000 leva or more, you must declare it to customs officials. Foreign currency may be exchanged in banks, hotels or at one of the numerous bureaux de change, however due to a common practice of misleading rates of exchange it is better to go to banks or hotels to change money. A receipt called a bordereauxis issued when exchanging currency, indicating the amount that will be given, and it must be kept until departure. Not all banks accept travellers cheques and those that do usually charge a 5% commission. Major international credit cards are increasingly becoming accepted by tourist hotels, upmarket shops and restaurants, travel agents and car rental agents, but Bulgaria is still largely a cash economy. There are ATMs in the main cities and at Black Sea resorts.

Local time is GMT +2 (GMT +3 from last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October).

In the heart of the Rhodope Mountains lies the picturesque village of Momchilovtsi, a popular cultural and ethnographic centre that has preserved its original folklore, traditions and crafts. The Centre for Traditional Bulgarian Arts and Crafts provides a unique opportunity for visitors to attend courses to learn about and participate in traditional crafts like folk dancing, weaving, woodcarving, cooking, music and various artistic handicrafts. In winter it is a popular base from which to visit the famous ski resort of Pamporovo, which is only four miles (7km) away and the surrounding mountains and rivers offer superb hiking, caving, trout fishing and hunting.

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