Sofia is one of the very few capital cities around the world surrounded by mountains. Vitosha mountain is frequently chosen as a place for recreation, walk and hiking by local citizens. Moreover, in the last few years I notice an increase in the number of foreigners and guests of the city who come specially to enjoy the natural phenomena and the wonderful sites located in the mountain.
I used to walk along the paths every week so I got familiar with all the main routes in Vitosha. Let me show you my brief selection of favorite locations and peaceful sites hidden in the mountain.
It is a great place which is easily accessible and suitable for tourists seeking for different adventures. My favorite way to spend my leisure time there is taking a 30-minute walk along the flat paths and having a picnic on one of the meadows around. In addition, I have a wonderful view towards the big city.
If you are more experienced and trained you should know that the Aleko Hut is a starting point for climbing the mountain’s highest peak. Such adventure will take another 3-4 hours from your time in case you decide to have lunch at the small hut on top of the mountain.
During the winter you can go skiing, as well. I’ve never done this but I see hundreds of people heading towards Aleko with their ski equipment at the weekends in December, January and February. I doubt you will bring your ski equipment when you visit Sofia, but you can rent some as soon as you reach the ski tracks.
And whatever you have done during the day don’t forget to stop by at the hut and have a cup of hot tea or coffee before you head back towards Sofia.
How to get there:
Take a subway train running on line M2 (the blue line) to its last stop – Vitosha station. From here you can choose between two different routes depending on your preference and the time you have:
- Bus 66 will get you up the mountain and its last stop is very close to Aleko Hut. Have in mind that buses run only on Saturdays, Sundays and official holidays.
Here are the departing hours of bus 66 from Vitosha subway station:
- You can take bus 122 to its last stop and then have a nice ride on the lift to Aleko.
Here is when bus 122 departs from Vitosha subway station:
This is a little more expensive and time-consuming but it is worth seeing the view of Sofia during your trip. The bus and the lift also run only on Saturdays, Sundays and official holidays. I suggest checking in advance for any changes in the schedule here:
My first visit at the fall was a couple years ago on a hot and sunny day. Climbing up to the spot seemed quite exhausting but when I saw it I was amazed. A nice and peaceful place, fresh air, great view. All this hidden in the forest a few hundred meters above one of the best neighborhoods in Sofia.
In case you decide to climb up to the fall it might be a good idea to bring some food and beverages with you and make a picnic. Even if you don’t reach the end, you can stop by at a good spot and have lunch with a great view over the city. Most people usually cover the distance from the starting point to the fall within 90 minutes.
And which is the starting point? Another great landmark and historic site – Boyana Church. It was built 10 centuries ago and nowadays it is part of the UNESCO world heritage. You’d better take a few minutes and stop by there.
How to get there:
Take a subway train running on line M2 (the blue line) to its last stop – Vitosha station. Here you have to take bus 64 to Boyana Church. Schedules vary on weekdays and weekends but you will not wait for the bus more than 20 minutes. A few times during your ride you will have a nice view over Sofia.
I would say that this is my favorite place situated in Vitosha Mountain. Getting there takes me only 20-30 minutes’ walk from the bus stop so I recommend this site to those of you who feel lazy and don’t want to walk or climb a lot. What is really impressive at first glance is the architecture of the monastery and the church inside. They were built in the 14th century and were part of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom and later – of the Ottoman Empire.
Places like this one were very important for keeping the Bulgarian culture, literature and religion during the 5 centuries under the Ottoman slavery. We cannot even imagine how many books were written and re-written there and how many revolutionists were hidden from the Ottomans. Fortunately, the buildings have been restored after the numerous attempts for destruction during the past few centuries.
Nowadays we can enjoy a nice walk in the mountain around the monastery complex, we can find a nice spot for a picnic, take a seat and relax. At the weekend you would see many people playing sports, napping on the grass or just walking along the meadows next to the monastery. In case of a good weather you will be able to buy souvenirs or get a snack from the stalls in front of the complex.
How to get there:
Take a subway train running on line M2 (the blue line) to its last stop – Vitosha station. Here you have to take a bus line 93 to its last stop – the Dragalevtsi Lift. Once the bus drops you there you just have to follow the road up to the monastery. Buses run every day but I suggest going there at the weekend or on holidays so that there are more people around.
Of course, there are many more interesting places situated in Vitosha mountain. Once you have seen all the important and famous sights in the city and once you have experienced local culture, you may want to switch to a quiet and peaceful atmosphere among the nature. You can find it just a few miles away from the city center!
You can always ask your The Feel of Sofia Tour guide for more information, tips and advice about places to see and fun things to do while staying in Sofia.