If you arrive in Bulgaria from the west or by plain to Sofia Airport, you will get the wrong impression that the relief of the country is dominantly mountinous. Which is not so. Highest chains are located in the southwest and central parts of the country - hence the capital is a very convenient base for their exploration. Head north and you will reach the Balkan Range (Stara Planina) that stretches through the middle of small Bulgaria and has given its name to the whole peninsula in 19th century. Head south and you will find yourself amidst the ranges of Vitosha, Rila, Pirin and Rhodope mountains, offering the best places for winter skiing and summer hiking. Along with the largest mountain resorts of Bulgaria, here you may find isolated mountain chalets and lodges. To the southeast, on the border with Turkey is Strandzha - lower forested massif attracting visitors with its old traditional villages.
In fact, mountain ridges cover one third of the territory of Bulgaria. Most of them are relatively low, but extremely diverse in landscape and natural conditions. Highest is Rila, reaching 2925 metres - actually this is the sixth highest mountain in Europe.