Often tourists traveling to Bulgaria ask me what they should visit in Sofia. The first thing that pops into my mind is Vitosha mountain. Although technically it is not part of the city, it presents a different point of view towards the capital and a chance to get away from the busy everyday life in it.
Vitosha in the winter is a place for skiers and snowboarderс living or staying in Sofia.
However, I have always enjoyed more the activities in the warmer seasons. Vitosha is a great place for hiking, rock climbing, picnics, romantic dates, games with friends, or just relaxing in the wild.
How to choose exactly where on Vitosha to go?
Vitosha is beautiful everywhere and has lots of trails that vary from steep to very slanted. Pick your route based on your desires and strengths, and on the time you have. For the really adventurous people, there is a race called Vitosha 100 that can be done either by foot or by bike. It is organized once a year. It is very energizing to go around the mountain for under 20 hours, although it requires some serious training.
Bistritsa-Jeleznitsa is a very slanted trail. I highly recommend it. What’s more, if you went by the public transport you do not need to go back to where you started in order to get back to Sofia. You can catch the bus from the other village as well.
To be completely honest, this is possible for many other trails as well. Once we accidentally came down from the mountain in Dragalevtsi instead of Boyana…
Walking around Aleko hut can be very nice. Each season there brings new sights. Of course, it is most popular in the winter. Nearby you can ski on Laleto or learn how to do that on Mechata polyana (meaning “bear’s meadow” from Bulgarian). To get to the hut you can use the lift (working only in winter) or by car. Getting there with the public transport will be a real challenge.
Boyana Waterfall is very attractive. Just be careful with the mud on the way down… (Clothes can be washed, but the bruises on the skin can’t…)
If you just want to get away from the busy everyday life in Sofia and breathe some fresh air, I recommend Yarema village zone. The wooden houses of Pinus Villas offer all kinds of treats such as private jacuzzi and activities like horse riding, orientation in the wild and much more. And they are just starting now. It is a great place for a romantic weekend or for partying with friends.
How to get to Vitosha?
Vitosha is easily accessible for the citizens of Sofia, as well as for guests of the city, By car, you can get there for 15-40 minutes (depending which part of Vitosha is calling you). Just turn on your GPS and you are there! You can leave your car and walk around or you can get by your car straight to the place you want to visit – for example to Kopitoto (meaning “the hoof” from Bulgarian). It is a favorite place for young couples from Sofia.
Tip: Be careful if you plan to drive up there in the night since many, not professional drifters tend to practice on the way up to Kopitoto. In winter there could be long queues on the way up.
If you do not have a car at your disposal, you can use the public transport. This way you can reach Bistritsa, Jeleznitsa, Simeonovo, Boyana, Dragalevtsi, and Knyajevo. From those, it is easiest to get to Knyajevo. You just need to take tram number 5 from The Palace of Justice in the center of Sofia. The tram is regular. The other villages/neighborhoods can be reached by different buses that are not that regular. Here are some of the possibilities:
- Getting to Boyana and Dragalevtsi – bus 64 – stops on Vitosha subway station and on Ruchei square
- Getting to Simeonovo – bus 67 – stops on the Seminary
- Getting to Bistritsa, Jeleznitsa and Simeonovo – bus 98 – stops on Vitosha subway station
- Getting to Bistritsa and Jeleznitsa – buses 69 and 70
Tip: Go to Vitosha subway station, be prepared to wait for some time, because the buses are not very regular and timetables often mean nothing to them. Get the bus you have chosen and ask the driver where to get off.
How not to get lost on Vitosha?
The trails are marked and there often are signs. If you plan your visit for a nice warm weekend in spring, summer or autumn it is almost sure that there will be a big amount of other people up on the mountain. Just ask someone. However, the best option is to take with you someone who has already walked the chosen trail.
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