Hiking in Sofia is surprisingly easy for a big capital city. Daniel and I didn’t have a car and we were still able to get our hiking fix during our two-month stay in the city.
One of the most popular places to go hiking in Sofia is on the nearby Vitosha Mountain. It’s less than an hour away and one of the biggest protected reserves in the country.
Ready to check it out? This guide has everything you need to know to enjoy a day out in nature and go hiking on Vitosha Mountain!
How to Hike at Vitosha Mountain
If you want to go hiking in Sofia, Vitosha Mountain is one of the best places to start. However, bear in mind that outside of the winter season, both the bus and the ski lifts to hike on Vitosha Mountain only operate on weekends and holidays.
If you want to hike on Vitosha Mountain during the week, you’ll only be able to get to the base of the mountain (and not all the way to the top) by public transportation.
How to Get to Vitosha Mountain by Ski Lift
You can takes busses 122 or 123 (or a taxi for 12 lev / 7 usd) to the Simeonovo ski lift. This is the best option if it’s running. The Simeonovo ski lift takes about 30 minutes and goes directly to Aleko Hut, the base for starting all the highest treks on Vitosha Mountain.
Visit this website to check which lifts are operating. Simeonovo is called the “cabin lift,” so if you see a green checkmark next to it then you’re good to go. The cost for the Simeonovo cabin lift is 14 lev / 8 usd for a round trip and it runs from 9 – 5:30 in the summer.
You can also take the Dragelevski ski lift to the top if Simeonovo isn’t running. Once again, just check the website to make sure it’s operational before you head out!
How to Get to Vitosha Mountain by Bus
There are two different buses that go to Vitosha Mountain depending on what part you want to reach. Bus 93 will drop you off at the bottom of the mountain. Here you can take plenty of trails and walk up the mountain to the Dragelevski Monastery and even further to the Boyana Waterfall.
If you want to go to the top of Vitosha Mountain to Cherni Vrah (the Black Peak and highest point) or Kamen Del, then you need to take bus 66 to Aleko Hut. It starts at the zoo, but you can also go to this website to see the other stops you can pick it up at.
Like the ski lifts, Bus 66 only runs on weekends and holidays in the summer. However, if you want to go hiking on Vitosha during the week you can take bus 93 to the base of the mountain any day.
How to Get to Vitosha Mountain with a Tour Group
The third option to go hiking on Vitosha Mountain is with the free Sofia Green Tour. Between April and November, the tour leaves every day at 11 am from the Ivan Vazov National Theater. Best of all, you can just show up without a reservation.
All you need to do for the free hiking tour is bring sturdy shoes, lunch and water, and they’ll take care of the rest. You’ll pay for your share of a taxi ride but after that your payment is tip based. If you want to meet some other travelers and see the Boyana Church and Boyana Waterfall, this is a great way to go hiking on Vitosha Mountain with zero hassle!
Where to Hike on Vitosha Mountain
If you decide to skip the tour and tackle this adventure on your own, here are some of the best places to hike once you reach Aleko Hut at the top of the mountain. There are three great routes to try out, and it all just depends on what you’re looking for…
The first option is to hike to Kamen Del for a view of Sofia. I just did this hike and it was easy and had beautiful views. To be honest, of the the three popular routes on Vitosha Mountain, this one is my favorite. Click here to learn how to hike to Kamen Del.
The second option is the hike to the peak. First, go to Aleko Hut. When you’re facing the building, you’ll see a trail going up on the left. This will take you to Cherni Vrah, the peak of Vitosha Mountain, with about 2 hours of uphill hiking. I walked up this trail for only 30 minutes, but the views were spectacular. If you want a workout and some nice photos, take this trail.
Finally, the third option is to keep walking straight down the road (which will become a trail). You’ll pass another small shop on your left side, but keep going. You’ll hike into a forest and walk past a small chapel, some chairlifts, and more. This option is flat, easy, and goes through nice forests and fields.
Whichever route you choose on Vitosha Mountain, finish your afternoon relaxing with a beer. At Aleko Hut there are a few restaurants and bars to enjoy after a long day hiking in the sun.
If you’re only hiking in Sofia for one day, don’t miss Vitosha Mountain. Simply catch bus 66 to Aleko Hut or take a ski lift to the top and enjoy the nice views, fresh air, sunshine, and all that natural Bulgaria has to offer!