Whether or not you’re arriving to Sofia by air, street or rail, the very first thing that catches your eye as you enter the Sofia Valley is more likely to be Vitosha, Sofia’s unmistakable pure landmark. Rising to 2290 metres above sea degree and nicely over a mile above the valley flooring, the dome-shaped Vitosha is Bulgaria’s fourth-highest mountain massif. And as a consequence of its proximity to the capital metropolis and the accessible Aleko ski space, the mountain can also be the locals’ favorite weekend retreat in all 4 seasons.
Do thickly forested slopes, subalpine plateaus, distinctive stone rivers, thundering waterfalls, secluded monasteries or snow-capped summits sound like a day properly spent to you? Properly then, put together to find kashkaval vacationer’s 7 scenic hikes in Vitosha, Sofia’s own mountain!
1. Sofia summit galore: Cherni Vrah
Although it’d sound like a problem with its respectable peak of 2290 metres and its popularity for robust winds, Vitosha’s highpoint Cherni Vrah is in reality a really accessible summit in any season. Due to its closeness to Sofia and the multitude of transport hyperlinks and trails, Cherni Vrah is by far probably the most climbed mountain peak in Bulgaria, with tens of hundreds of tourists annually. That the meteorological station’s teahouse on the summit reliably serves heat bean soup and chilly beer may additionally be contributing to its reputation!
Cherni Vrah (Черни връх, “Black Peak”) stands just a few hundred metres above the high-altitude plateaus and the tree line, making the hike from the marginally wonky Dragalevtsi chairlift’s prime station (Goli Vrah) a literal stroll in the park in good climate. The ascent from the Aleko ski space is just a tad tougher. Nevertheless, the low problem of the paths doesn’t in any means impression the grandeur of the panoramas, whether or not you’re wanting down in the direction of Sofia or round to the awe-inspiring ridges of Rila, Pirin or the Balkan Mountains.
2. Stone rivers from the Ice Age: the Golden Bridges
Ever heard of stone rivers? Think about a stream-like accumulation of hundreds of large boulders, extending for kilometres down the mountain slope. Because of Vitosha’s extraordinary geological historical past, these distinctive landforms from the final Ice Age have develop into one thing of a signature for Sofia’s close by mountain! And although stone rivers could be discovered in a mess of places in the upper elements of Vitosha, probably the most well-known (and largest) of them should be the Golden Bridges.
This specific stone river is greater than two kilometres lengthy and its poetic identify supposedly comes from the yellowish lichen that grows on the boulders. In summer time, the Golden Bridges (Златните мостове, Zlatnite mostove) are a beloved location for picnics and sunbathing, with youngsters having the time of their life hopping from boulder to boulder whereas the mother and father are chatting and sipping a beer close by.
three. Basic vistas of the capital: Kamen Del
Look south in the direction of Vitosha from the central streets of Sofia and also you may assume its highest level shouldn’t be Cherni Vrah (tucked in the space considerably additional south), however the outstanding rocky summit of Kamen Del. With its 1862 metres, it could be a noticeably decrease peak than Cherni Vrah, however due to its place inside clear and direct sight of virtually the whole Bulgarian capital metropolis, Kamen Del is deservedly recognized for the clearest and widest panorama of Sofia.
Although it barely rises above the turf and moss of the Massive Plateau, Kamen Del (Камен дел, “Rocky Part”) has rightfully earned its identify – it’s surrounded by what may be described as a stone sea of andesite boulders.
four. Thunder in paradise: Boyana Waterfall
Hidden deep contained in the thick beech forests above the Boyana neighbourhood of Sofia you’ll uncover Vitosha’s highest waterfall, the imposing Boyana Waterfall. At its website, the white waters of the Boyana River strike the rocks under after a 25-metre drop, creating an unforgettable visible in addition to acoustic expertise.
It may be shorter, however the direct path to the Boyana Waterfall is notoriously vertical and a problem in your knees, although there’s no substantial hazard of falling. For a considerably extra relaxed hike, take the detour passing by way of the Boyana Lake. And by all means mix your waterfall stroll with a go to to the magnificent UNESCO World Heritage Boyana Church in the neighbourhood slightly below!
5. Howdy from the opposite aspect: Kladnitsa
You’re an skilled Vitosha explorer and by now you are feeling like you recognize all the paths from Sofia just like the palm of your hand? Then it’s time to enterprise into the “dark side” of Vitosha and see what it’s like from the south! Comparatively unpopular however simply as lovely because the well-trodden paths nearer to the capital, the scenic Eco Path of Well being begins in the village of Kladnitsa and follows the river of the identical identify. It continues upstream previous the standard and serene Kladnitsa Monastery to the Selimitsa Hut. There, you’ll be able to take pleasure in a easy however hearty mountain meal and marvel on the close by stone river.
And when you’re in for a larger problem, you’ll be able to hike additional up from Kladnitsa (Кладница) and Selimitsa all the best way to Cherni Vrah. The vistas of Pernik and the Studena Reservoir under shall be a welcome change from what you’re used to on the opposite aspect – and also you’re more likely to have the path to your self, as solely a fraction of hikers take the difficulty to start out their summit trek from there.
6. Mineral scorching tubs in the forest: Zheleznitsa
Vitosha and the Sofia Valley are nationally famend for his or her scorching springs of mineral water, a the rest of volcanic exercise in the distant previous. Nevertheless, it’s solely the mountainside village of Zheleznitsa that boasts two pure scorching springs transformed into stone scorching tubs, hidden in the woods and free for everybody to take pleasure in!
In any other case, Zheleznitsa (Железница), simply south of Sofia and the larger Bistritsa, is a wonderful start line for no less than two very satisfying summit hikes to Cherni Vrah by way of Skoparnik. The extra common one goes previous the Fizkulturnik Hut, although the choice, which visits the long-lasting Blue Arrow shelter, comes extremely really helpful.
7. Quest to the TV tower: Kopitoto
Now that’s a basic Vitosha stroll that many aged Sofia residents appear to do each sunny weekend! The hike from the Knyazhevo terminus of the 5 tram to the Kopitoto TV Tower is a pleasing forest ascent that’s each very reachable and fairly refreshing on a scorching summer time day. Until you’re doing it like Bulgarian mountaineering legend Boyan Petrov, that’s, who runs the 800 metres of altitude distinction whereas carrying a ten-litre bottle of water on his again!
Once you attain the hoof-like Kopitoto (Копитото) outcrop and the capital metropolis’s landmark TV tower, undergo the deserted carry station for an honest panorama of Sofia’s western districts (however watch your ft). And in case you’re craving some primary food and drinks, the Momina Skala space with its huts and eating places is just not too distant.
Attending to Vitosha from Sofia
Regardless of the mountain’s proximity, the transport hyperlinks from Sofia nonetheless depart one thing to be desired, particularly on weekdays. The Vitosha Metro Station is the closest rapid-transit hyperlink to the mountain. As such, it’s the most effective place to catch a bus to most of the mountainside neighbourhoods or to the lifts that may take you instantly into the upper reaches of the mountain. A second bus hub for the mountain is the G. M. Dimitrov Metro Station.
General, the Sofia Visitors web site gives respectable journey-planning instruments and may recommend probably the most handy route based mostly in your present location and vacation spot. And a implausible transport map of Sofia is on the market on-line from True North. The Vitosha Nature Park administration has a fantastic overview map of the primary trails, however the on-line model is in Bulgarian and Cyrillic solely.
To get to the Dragalevtsi chairlift, which works solely on weekends and holidays, take the 93 bus from Vitosha Metro. The carry’s finish station at Goli Vrah is the simplest and hottest selection for a summit stroll to Cherni Vrah. On weekdays, you can begin your hike down in the Dragalevtsi neighbourhood itself, additionally accessible by way of tha 64 bus. And on weekends, the 66 bus continues previous the chairlift as much as the Aleko ski space (Lodge Morenite).
The extra trendy and nice Simeonovo gondola goes as much as the Aleko ski space too, nevertheless it’s additionally open solely on weekends and holidays, sadly. It may be reached by way of the 122 bus from Vitosha Metro or an extended experience on the 123 bus from G. M. Dimitrov Metro.
The Boyana neighbourhood, residence to the Boyana Church and the trailhead on your waterfall hike, is related to central Sofia by the 63, 107 and 163 buses from Tsar Boris III Boulevard and the 64 bus from Vitosha Metro. On weekends, 63 and 163 go as much as the Golden Bridges.
To succeed in the Knyazhevo trailhead for the Kopitoto hike, take tram quantity 5 from central Sofia (terminus behind the Chamber of Justice) or at any level on Tsar Boris III Boulevard.
The 98 bus from Vitosha Metro goes to the southern villages of Bistritsa and Zheleznitsa, although it takes some time to get there. Various, although not shorter, are the 69 and 70 bus routes from G. M. Dimitrov Metro, which additionally prolong to each villages (the 70 persevering with to Plana).
Kladnitsa has bus transport solely from the nearer city of Pernik. Nevertheless, marshrutka minibuses from the Russian Monument in central Sofia go there each hour too.