A 15-days holiday in search of south-east European butterflies

Butterflies of the Balkans - Bulgaria, North Macedonia and Greece

Thursday 8th - Thursday 22nd July 2021

This unique trip is combining three countries and allows us to explore some of the prime butterfly habitats on the Balkan Peninsula. Within the fifteen days we will visit Bulgaria,  North Macedonia and Greece looking for rare and hard to see anywhere else butterfly species. We expect a total number of over 130 species, from attractive ones such as Cynthia's Fritillary, Apollo, Poplar Admiral, Purple Emperor and Large Copper to very local and difficult to see species like Bulgarian Ringlet, Macedonian Grayling, Dill's Grayling, Freyer's Fritillary, Freyer's Grayling, Phalakron Blue, Higgins's Anomalous Blue and many more. Additionally we will enjoy many rare and endemic flowers and plants as well as other wildlife.
Our route goes in a circle, starting and ending in Bulgaria, exploring areas of Macedonia and Greece in between.
We will also enjoy the beautiful scenery and the different habitats of the region, as well as cultural landmarks like Rila monastery in Bulgaria. It is also an excellent opportunity to taste the local food and drinks as well as to feel the local lifestyle in three different, but still closely related countries. 


Day 1 Arrival at Sofia airport and transfer (less than two hours, with stop on the way - Lesser Fiery Copper, Short-tailed Blue, Great Banded Grayling) to our hotel, situated near Rila monastery. Accommodation and dinner.

Day 2 Explore the nearest river valley for Poplar Admiral, Purple Emperor, Balkan Copper,  Scarce Copper, Hungarian and Common Gliders, Yellow-banded Skipper, Eastern Bath White, Map Butterfly, Niobe Fritillary, Clouded Apollo, Chequerred Skipper and many more. Optional  afternoon visit to the Rila monastery - the most visited cultural landmark in Bulgaria.

Day 3 Three hours of driving brings us into North Macedonia. We will explore Kresna Gorge on the way and our destination is Prilep town where we will stay the next two nights. Possible species  to find are Little Tiger Blue, Krueper's Small White, Southern White Admiral, White-banded Grayling, Eastern Rock Grayling, Yellow-banded Skipper, Nettle-tree Butterfly.

Day 4 Today we will visit a river valley south-west of the town, having few stops on the way. Species we expect are Macedonian Grayling, Great Sooty Satyr, Eastern Greenish Black-tip, Camberwell Beauty, Alcon Blue, Little Tiger Blue, Balkan Marbled White, Large Tortoiseshell,  Eastern Baton Blue, Lattice Brown and many more.

Days 5 and 6 Less than two hours of driving brings us to Galitchitsa Mountain which we will explore both days. Species to be seen here are Damon Blue, Grecian Anomalous Blue, False Eros Blue, Russian Heath, Purple and Brown Hairstreaks, Esper's Marbled White, Apollo, Freyer's, Marsh and Twin-spot Fritillary, Dusky Grizzled Skipper, Lesser Lattice Brown. We will be based in a hotel situated near Prespa Lake for two nights.

Day 7 Today we drive to Greece and will have two nights near Sidirokastro. On the way we will check Kerkini Lake for Large Copper, Lang's Short-Tailed Blue, Lattice Brown, Nettle-tree Butterfly etc.

Day 8 We will explore the area for Iolas Blue, Grass Jewel, Eastern Baton Blue, Balkan Grayling, Eastern Knapweed Fritillary, Zephyr Blue, Mediterranean Skipper. If time permits we will check the river valley for Freyer's Grayling, Sandy Grizzled Skipper, Persian Skipper, Southern White Admiral, Hermit, Anomalous Blue and Grecian Anomalous Blue.

Days 9 and 10 Short transfer brings us to Phalakron Mountain, which we will explore both days. Here we can see Phalakron Blue, Dils' Grayling, Eastern Rock Grayling, Balkan Grayling, Hermit, Great Sooty Satyr, Eastern Greenish Black-tip, Black Ringlet, Ripart's and Higgin's Annomalous Blue, Apollo, Dusky Meadow Brown, Southern Comma, Lesser Marbled Fritillary and many more. Two nights in a small, family run hotel in the village of Volakas.

Day 11 Transfer to Predela, just west of Bansko on the foothills of Pirin Mountain. On the way we will have two main stops for Large Blue, Turquoise Blue, Spotted and Lesser Spotted Fritillary, Twin-spot Fritillary, Cardinal, Large Wall Brown, three species of Short-tailed Blues etc. If time permits we will check the mountain slopes for Bosnian Blue. Overnight near Bansko for two nights.

Day 12 Today we explore the mountain meadows over Vihren hut looking for Arran Brown, Large Ringlet, Nicholl's Ringlet, Common Brassy Ringlet, Ottoman Brassy Ringlet, Pearl-bordered and Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries, Clouded Apollo, Alcon and Large Blues, Blue Argus etc.

Day 13 Long transfer to the northern slopes of Rila Mountain. On the way we will stop at Belmeken dam and check the area for Bulgarian Ringlet, Ottoman Brassy Ringlet, Bright-eyed Ringlet, Shepherd's Fritillary, Balkan Fritillary etc. Arrival at village of Govedartsi late in the afternoon. Here we will accommodate for two nights.

Day 14 The cabin lift brings us high in the northern slopes of Rila Mountain. Here we will look for Cynthia's Fritillary, Balkan Clouded Yellow, Dusky Grizzled Skipper, Dewy Ringlet, Nicholl's Ringlet and Eastern Large Heath etc. In the afternoon we shall explore the meadows behind our hotel for Brown Hairstreak, Nickler's Fritillary, Scarce Copper etc. Farewell dinner.

Day 15 One hour of driving brings us to Sofia airport. Stop on the way for a Purple Emperor, Lesser Purple Emperor, Chequered Blue, Hungarian and Common Gliders, Purple-shot Copper and other species, depending on the time. Departure.



Balkan Fritillary

Balkan Fritillary by Dobromir Domuschiev.

Cynthias Fritillary

Cynthia's Fritillary - the most colorful race is found in Bulgaria.
Photo by Dobromir Domuschiev.

Grey Asian Grayling

The Grey Asian Grayling has very limited distribution in Europe, but we shall see it in Macedonia. Photo by Dobromir Domuschiev.


Higgin's Annomalous Blue is another Balkan endemic, found in only a few sites in Bulgaria and Greece. Photo by Dobromir Domuschiev.