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7 scenic hikes in Vitosha, Sofia’s own mountain

Whether you’re arriving to Sofia by air, street or rail, the 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 properly 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 city and the accessible Aleko ski space, the mountain can also be the locals’ favorite weekend retreat in all four seasons.

Do thickly forested slopes, subalpine plateaus, distinctive stone rivers, thundering waterfalls, secluded monasteries or snow-capped summits sound like a day nicely spent to you? Properly then, put together to discover kashkaval vacationer’s 7 scenic hikes in Vitosha, Sofia’s own mountain!

1. Sofia summit galore: Cherni Vrah

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Sofia summit galore: Cherni Vrah

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Sofia summit galore: Cherni Vrah

Though it’d sound like a problem with its respectable peak of 2290 metres and its status for robust winds, Vitosha’s highpoint Cherni Vrah is in reality a very 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 cold 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 walk in the park in good climate. The ascent from the Aleko ski space is simply a tad tougher. Nevertheless, the low problem of the trails doesn’t in any means impression the grandeur of the panoramas, whether 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

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Stone rivers from the Ice Age: the Golden Bridges

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Stone rivers from the Ice Age: the Golden Bridges

Ever heard of stone rivers? Imagine a stream-like accumulation of hundreds of large boulders, extending for kilometres down the mountain slope. Because of Vitosha’s extraordinary geological history, these distinctive landforms from the last Ice Age have turn into something of a signature for Sofia’s nearby mountain! And though stone rivers may be discovered in a mess of places in the higher 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 nearby.

three. Basic vistas of the capital: Kamen Del

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Basic vistas of the capital: Kamen Del

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Basic vistas of the capital: Kamen Del

Look south in the direction of Vitosha from the central streets of Sofia and you may assume its highest level is just not Cherni Vrah (tucked in the space somewhat additional south), but the outstanding rocky summit of Kamen Del. With its 1862 metres, it may be a noticeably decrease peak than Cherni Vrah, however because of its place within clear and direct sight of virtually the whole Bulgarian capital metropolis, Kamen Del is deservedly recognized for the clearest and widest panorama of Sofia.

Though it barely rises above the turf and moss of the Massive Plateau, Kamen Del (Камен дел, “Rocky Part”) has rightfully earned its identify – it is surrounded by what could be described as a stone sea of andesite boulders.

four. Thunder in paradise: Boyana Waterfall

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Thunder in paradise: Boyana Waterfall

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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 as well as acoustic experience.

It could be shorter, but the direct path to the Boyana Waterfall is notoriously vertical and a challenge on your knees, though there’s no substantial hazard of falling. For a somewhat more relaxed hike, take the detour passing by means of the Boyana Lake. And by all means mix your waterfall walk with a visit to the magnificent UNESCO World Heritage Boyana Church in the neighbourhood slightly below!

5. Good day from the other aspect: Kladnitsa

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Hiya from the opposite aspect: Kladnitsa

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Whats up 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 like the palm of your hand? Then it’s time to venture into the “dark side” of Vitosha and see what it’s like from the south! Relatively unpopular but just as lovely as the well-trodden paths nearer to the capital, the scenic Eco Path of Health begins in the village of Kladnitsa and follows the river of the identical identify. It continues upstream past the standard and serene Kladnitsa Monastery to the Selimitsa Hut. There, you’ll be able to take pleasure in a simple but hearty mountain meal and marvel at the nearby stone river.

And should 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 can be a welcome change from what you’re used to on the other aspect – and you’re more likely to have the trail to yourself, as only a fraction of hikers take the trouble to start out their summit trek from there.

6. Mineral scorching tubs in the forest: Zheleznitsa

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Mineral scorching tubs in the forest: Zheleznitsa

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Mineral scorching tubs in the forest: Zheleznitsa

Vitosha and the Sofia Valley are nationally renowned for his or her scorching springs of mineral water, a the rest of volcanic exercise in the distant past. Nevertheless, it’s only the mountainside village of Zheleznitsa that boasts two natural scorching springs converted into stone scorching tubs, hidden in the woods and free for everyone to take pleasure in!

Otherwise, Zheleznitsa (Железница), simply south of Sofia and the bigger Bistritsa, is a wonderful start line for a minimum of two very satisfying summit hikes to Cherni Vrah by way of Skoparnik. The extra widespread one goes previous the Fizkulturnik Hut, although the alternative, which visits the long-lasting Blue Arrow shelter, comes extremely really helpful.

7. Quest to the TV tower: Kopitoto

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Quest to the TV tower: Kopitoto

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Quest to the TV tower: Kopitoto

Now that’s a basic Vitosha stroll that many elderly 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 is both 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 while carrying a ten-litre bottle of water on his back!

Once you reach the hoof-like Kopitoto (Копитото) outcrop and the capital city’s landmark TV tower, go through the abandoned raise station for an honest panorama of Sofia’s western districts (however watch your ft). And for those who’re craving some primary food and drinks, the Momina Skala space with its huts and restaurants just isn’t too distant.

Attending to Vitosha from Sofia

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Attending to Vitosha from Sofia

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Getting to Vitosha from Sofia

Despite the mountain’s proximity, the transport hyperlinks from Sofia still depart something to be desired, particularly on weekdays. The Vitosha Metro Station is the closest rapid-transit hyperlink to the mountain. As such, it’s one of the best place to catch a bus to most of the mountainside neighbourhoods or to the lifts that may take you immediately into the higher reaches of the mountain. A second bus hub for the mountain is the G. M. Dimitrov Metro Station.

General, the Sofia Visitors website gives respectable journey-planning tools and may recommend probably the most handy route based mostly in your present location and vacation spot. And a unbelievable transport map of Sofia is obtainable online from True North. The Vitosha Nature Park administration has an incredible overview map of the primary trails, but the on-line model is in Bulgarian and Cyrillic only.

To get to the Dragalevtsi chairlift, which works solely on weekends and holidays, take the 93 bus from Vitosha Metro. The carry’s end station at Goli Vrah is the simplest and most popular 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 up to the Aleko ski area (Lodge Morenite).

The extra trendy and nice Simeonovo gondola goes up to the Aleko ski space too, nevertheless it’s additionally open solely on weekends and holidays, sadly. It can be reached by way of the 122 bus from Vitosha Metro or an extended journey on the 123 bus from G. M. Dimitrov Metro.

The Boyana neighbourhood, residence to the Boyana Church and the trailhead in 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 up to the Golden Bridges.

To succeed in the Knyazhevo trailhead for the Kopitoto hike, take tram number 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 also prolong to both villages (the 70 persevering with to Plana).

Kladnitsa has bus transport solely from the closer city of Pernik. Nevertheless, marshrutka minibuses from the Russian Monument in central Sofia go there each hour too.