If we don’t consider the European ministates like Andorra.
Vitosha is a ski resort (though a bit underdeveloped), nice hiking place and gives you a great panorama view of the city. The city is also one of the highest capitals in Europe. It’s Andorra la Vella again on top, followed by Liechtenstein’s Vaduz and arguably Madrid. So the question inevitably pops up – ‘How to get to Vitosha mountain?’. Here are some options:
This is actually how organized tourism in Sofia started. In 1895 the famous Bulgarian writer Aleko Konstantinov managed to convince around 300 people to leave the ‘dusty streets’ and ‘stuffy cafes’ of Sofia and get a refreshing walk from the city centre to the top of the mountain – Cherni Vrah (Black Peak) at 2290 m above sea level. In front of the National Theatre there’s a stone that marks the starting point of this interesting journey.
However, if you prefer to start in the foothills of the mountain or go straight to the top, here are some ideas:
This is a great idea to be done in a day and most of the people prefer to do it on a beautiful sunny weekend. You can take a bus to any of the lifts, ride to the top and do some hiking. Probably the most popular public transport routes are busses 122 and 93.
During the Summer of 2020 the only functioning lifts will be the Simeonovo Cabin Lift, Laleto 1 and Laleto 2. The lifts are working ONLY on weekends and public holidays. Prices are between 7 and 12 lev for a one-way journey. A return ticket is currently priced at 17lv. A wise idea is to check on the Vitosha.ski website. There are live updates about the conditions and weather there.
There are currently 6 different buses that can take you to the Vitosha Mountain. They all leave from the notorious ‘Hladilnika‘/Vitosha Metro Station stop/just opposite Paradise Mall/ and ride until the last stop where you can find the lift. To get to Hladilnika bus station from the center of the city catch the second line of the Sofia metro until the last stop – called Vitosha.
There is also an option for the most eco-oriented adventurers. Taking a tram, which basically does not harm the environment and then hike. You can take Tram 5 just behind the Palace of Justice and ride until the last stop which is at the Knyazhevo district. From there you can do a pretty nice hike until the Golden Bridges. The hike however is about 3,5 – 4 hours to the top so be well prepared.
Whatever public transport you choose you can use this website for reference on the routes.
Make sure to check out our Ultimate Sofia Public Transport Guide for a trouble-free journey.
This idea is often overlooked because people do not realise how cheap taxis are here compared to the rest of Europe. If you don’t feel like switching two buses to go to the foothills of the mountain, a taxi ride to the first three above-mentioned bus stops should not be more 15km and more than 7-8 EUR. Just make sure you get a proper taxi because scams still exist. You can also take a taxi to any of the functioning lifts. In fact, a taxi can also take you all the way to the Aleko hut. However, keep in mind that that will cost you much more and not all taxi drivers will be up for the task.
There’s a road that goes through Dragalevtsi neighbourhood to the Aleko area with the homonymous chalet. During the summer season there are no restrictions on the access, however during winter there usually are.
If you are interested in hiking in Sofia and Bulgaria, we will show you some of the best routes in the mountain in one of our next articles!
While in Sofia don’t forget to explore the city’s main landmarks with our daily free walking tour.
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Last Updated: October 2020
Here’s our guide Alissa talking about Aleko Konstantinov and his love for the Vitosha Mountain:
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