Bulgaria's longest mountain trail (650 km)
In my 'Bulgaria section' you can find many more places to travel to!
Bulgaria is a paradise for hikers. There's rolling hills and steep mountains, wide valleys and that combined with relatively comfortable mountain huts to spend the night.
Bulgaria's longest and oldest trail is Kom-Emine, from Kom mountain near the Serbian border to Cape Emine on the Black Sea. The trail cuts Bulgaria in two, it's a horizontal line from west to east. It's easily accessible when the weather's good. However, this is a long trail that does cross and circles about a hundred mountains. So, it's best to be well-equipped. That being said, it's quite easy to get to the trail. This depends where you come from. If you start out from Kom, the town Berkovitsa will be your access point. The Kom mountain hut is where you can start. Then you head towards Petrohan.
You could, alternatively, hike a part of the trail. If you come from Sofia, Lakatnik is your easiest point to start. I have a post dedicated to hikes around Sofia, in which Lakatnik is mentioned a number of times. However, as this hike near Lakatnik is part of the Kom-Emine trail, I believe it deserves its own article. From Lakatnik, you can go west or east. In this post, I write about the part of the trail between Lakatnik and Goubislav (9 kilometres west). I made this hike from the train station of Lakatnik and back. Trains to Lakatnik are frequent, use the Railway website to find the schedule. Possibly, hop off at Svoge to have lunch or a coffee and then continue your journey by train. If you want to do that, buy two tickets. One from Sofia to Svoge and in Svoge, buy a ticket to Lakatnik.
As you arrive at Lakatnik, on the platform look for the small shops and ticket office, between which you find the stairs leading to the river. In the picture album below, the first pictures show where you get down the stairs. Cross the bridge over the Iskar river, cross the road and walk left. Be very careful of cars and do not walk here in dark. Cross another bridge and go right. You'll see white-red-white stripes, which mark the Kom-Emine trail.
First, you'll quickly get to the Petranitsa river canyon. You can walk up there a bit - there's many caves in the area as well. Be very cautious, it's not recommended to go in. Many caves have never been fully explored in this area and you can easily get hurt or lost. The river canyon is a cool place to walk around or have a picnic. Then let's get back to the Kom-Emine trail!
Now it's just walking, there's nothing much on the way apart from hills. You follow the road up and can take some shortcuts inbetween. If you arrive in Goubislav, again there's nothing specific for you to to except seeing a sleepy Bulgarian village and enjoying the natural surroundings. Don't expect you can buy anything there. Either get back to Lakatnik or continue another 5 hours to mountain hut Petrohan. Mountain hut Proboinitsa does not work as of 2016. So, this might be a long trail and not especially worth it to exhaust yourself. Best is perhaps to walk through Goubislav and back to Lakatnik. The scenery is definitely worth the hike.
Alternatively, hike from Gara Lakatnik (station) to Selo Lakatnik (village) up into the mountain. This hike is described in the Hikes around Sofia article. Either way, no matter what you choose, you see it's pretty easy to hike at least a part of the Kom-Emine route! Let me know in case of any questions!
On a side note: make sure to buy a hiking map from one of the many bookstores in Sofia, for example Ciela in the Sofia University underpass. Some maps have phone numbers of mountain huts listed in the corner of the map. One other mountain hut I visited on Kom-Emine is named Bukovets. It's located on the road between Tvarditsa and Elena, in Central Bulgaria, and also a nice place to have some tea while you're on a roadtrip.