Earth : Europe : Balkans : Bulgaria : Southwest Bulgaria : Pirin
Bansko, the popular ski resort, is an important entry gate for the Pirin range.
In order to reach the Banderitsa or Vihren huts/chalets (base camp to hike in the area), at least in the non-ski season, you will either have to hire a taxi (~$15), go with a tour, or hitchhike.
The best option for independent traveler(s) on a budget is to hitchhike, which is particularly easy during the summer with a good amount of domestic tourists heading up to either of the camps. To do so, walk south (gently uphill) though town until you reach the entrance to the Pirin National Park, indicated by a small house for information about the park. From there, the only cars going will be into the park.
Once inside you will have to hike, the different huts and summits are connected by hiking trails. There are many different options for hikes, with indications on how many hours each hike will take at a moderate, comfortable pace. If you plan to spend a while hiking, check with the tourist office (during normal business hours) to get a map of the area and plan out your hike.
There is a broad network of flagged trails through the mountains. The Pirin tourist map (1:50,000, avalable at local shops) offers a good overview of the trails and huts/chalets to sleep in.
Vihren hut does not offer meals, but in the area around Banderitsa (about 30 min walk below Vihren hut) there is a fair-priced and tasty roadside restaurant. For example, a good breakfast will cost around 4 lv, and a dinner with beer will be around 10-12 lv.
There is a network of mountain huts/chalets, which offer rooms and bungalows (bungalow for about 20 lv for two persons). Bring your sleeping bag just in case, but you can expect that a dorm room in the hut will provide clean linens and a blanket.
To sleep in the dorm in Vihren hut, 20-30 minutes up from Banderitsa by foot and 3 hours from the peak of Vihren, it will cost 12 lv pp.
Alternatively, there are marked camping areas around the huts. There is a popular, inexpensive tent camping area around Banderitsa close to the restaurant and water source, about 20-30 minutes walking slightly downhill from Vihren hut/chalet.