Popular Hiking Routes in Vitosha National Park

How to get to Vitosha Mountain

Vitosha National Park – a complete guide for the most popular hiking routes (including how to get there by Vitosha mountain lifts and public transport).

How to get to Vitosha Mountain

Situated next to Sofia, Vitosha mountain with its highest summit Cherni Vrah (Черни връх, 2290m) is the fourth highest mountain in Bulgaria.

The mountain can be seen almost from every point in the city. You can easily escape the busy city life and find yourself surrounded by century-old pine trees.

Vitosha is the oldest national park on the Balkans. It is known for its stone rivers, called the Golden Bridges (Zlatnite Mostove – Златните мостове). The longest cave (17.5 km long) in Bulgaria, Duhlata (Духлата), is also located here.

The mountain is covered with snow from January to March and it is a perfect place for skiing and snowboarding.

How to get to Vitosha Mountain from Sofia City Centre

vitosha national park

Simeonovski Gondola Lift

The easiest way to get to Simeonovski cable lift (if you’re staying in the city centre) is by using bus 122.

Take the blue metro line (from the Central railway station, Lavov most, Serdika, NDK or European Union metro station) in a direction Vitosha station and take off there (the last stop). Go outside and you’ll see a big shopping centre, Paradise centre.

There is a bus stop in front of it on Cherni Vrah Street. Every bus stop has a 4-digit number – you are looking for 2756. Take bus number 122 to Simeonovo lift bus stop (the last stop). The bus runs only during the weekends.

Across the parking lot is the Vitosha mountain lift building where you can buy tickets for the gondola. The journey to Aleko Hut is about 30min. There are 2 temporary stops on the way to the top. The two-way ticket for the cable car lift costs about 15 BGN (~8 EUR, ~ 7 GBP, ~9 USD).

You can also use bus 123 to get to Vitosha cable car. If you are using the underground, take off at G.M. Dimitrov station (Г.М. Димитров). Then take bus 123 from the National Oncology Hospital bus stop. The bus runs every day.

mushrooms

Dragalevski lift

You can reach Vitosha Mountain by Dragalevski lift, too. Please note that it’s a chairlift, not a cabin lift. To get to Dragalevski lift, take bus 93 again from Vitosha metro station. The bus runs every day.

Find additional info about all the lifts here.

Getting to Vitosha National Park by bus

Aleko Hut

If the Vitosha mountain lifts are closed for maintenance, usually during the autumn, you can get to Aleko Hut by bus 66. It is available only at the weekends. You can catch it from metro station Vitosha, the same as bus number 122. Its last stop is hotel Moreni, which is only 700m from Aleko Hut.

Golden Bridges

You can also take bus 63 (runs every day). It will take you to the Golden Bridges, just take off at the last stop. Note, that the bus can be overpacked during the weekends. My advice is to take this bus really early in the morning or at noon and avoid it on public holidays.

The last stop of the bus is the Golden bridges. To take the bus back to the city you have to go 200m ahead from the stop you got off.

Guided tours

If you don’t want to waste time in transportation, take a guided hiking tour.

The tour includes Kamel Del and Boyana Waterfall, plus a hotel pick-up.

Climbing Cherni Vrah in Vitosha Park

Cherni Vrah

The origin of the name of the peak, Cherni Vrah (which means Black Peak), is uncertain. Most probably the name comes from the black colour of the rock, which dominates the peak. According to other beliefs in the Middle Ages, the peak was covered with pine trees, which were burned down to clear more grassland.

Cherni Vrah is the second most windy peak in Bulgaria.

There are many climbing routes, but the most popular starts from Aleko Chalet (хижа Алеко).

Aleko Hut

The hut is located at an altitude of 1810m. It is named after the famous Bulgarian writer Aleko Konstantinov. On August 27, 1895, Aleko organized 300 people, including the famous Bulgarian writer Ivan Vazov, to climb Cherni Vrah. This is how the tourist movement in Bulgaria was established. Since then, every year on the last weekend of August a mass climbing of the peak takes place.

See how to get to Aleko Hut here.

Cherni Vrah climbing route from Aleko Chalet

Take the path, located on the steep slope just next to the chalet.

path next to Aleko Hut

The route is marked, so just follow the signs.

cherni vrah route

The first part of the route is the hardest one and you will need about 40 minutes to pass it.

first part route cherni vrah

After that, it is a pleasant walk to the peak.

last part route cherni vrah

You will pass along a few stone rivers, but more on that later in the post.

bulgaria stone rivers

The climbing will take you about an hour and a half to the summit.

There is a meteorological station on the summit and a cafeteria offering hot meals. No accommodation is available.

View from Cherni Vrah

A map of the climbing routes to Cherni Vrah you can find here (only in Bulgarian). Search for Черни Връх (Cherni Vrah) and follow the red route to х.Алеко (Aleko Hut). The red route is the shortest. The orange route is longer but easier.

Hiking Kamen Del in Vitosha National Park

Kamen Del

If you look for an easy hike with a stunning view over the city of Sofia as a reward, take the path to Kamen Del. It is a super easy hike, less than 2 hours from Aleko Chalet.

Kamen Del hiking route from Aleko Hut

When you exit Vitosha mountain cable lift, continue straight forward and take the narrow path in front of you. Follow the signs for Ushite Shelter (заслон Ушите). The latter is located 500m before Kamen Del.

sign for Ushite Shelter

On your way, you’ll pass along a few stone rivers and Dragalevski lift. Thus, you can also use Dragalevski lift as a starting point for your hiking.

bulgaria stone rivers

Dragalevski lift

The route is easy, only the last hundred metres are a little bit rocky. However, the view over Sofia is second to none.

route kamen del

kamel del

Find a map of the climbing route to Kamen Del here (only in Bulgarian). Search for Камен Дел (Kamen Del) and follow the yellow route to х.Алеко (Aleko Hut).

Hiking the Golden Bridges in National Park Vitosha

Golden bridges

Probably your imagination is already drawing pictures of bridges covered with gold. Not to forget the fat wealthy trolls living under them and asking all your gold only to let you pass. I don’t want to ruin this, but the truth is a different story.

The Golden bridges are in fact stone rivers in Vitosha mountain. They are named in that way because of the golden colour of the lichens that grow on the surface of the stones.

The main river is extending to 2.2km in length and up to 150m wide with several smaller rivers starting from it. The rivers are a result of weathering of rocks accumulated in old river beds. See how to get to the Golden bridges here.

Numerous hiking routes start from here, but my favourite one is to Kopitoto.

TV Tower (Kopitoto)

View from Kopitoto

The TV Tower is known as Kopitoto (Копитото) which means the Hoof. It is 186m tall. The tower is most easily accessed by car. However, it can be reached by foot from the Golden bridges.

Hiking route to TV Tower (Kopitoto) from Golden Bridges

There are no signs directing you to Kopitoto from the Golden bridges. You have to follow the signs to Momina Skala hut first. Then there are signs that will direct you to Kopitoto.

sign to Momina Skala hut

The path to the TV tower is easy with no steep slopes.

route to Kopitoto

Although the tower can’t be visited you can still see the city from above.

kopitoto

Pass along the tower and enter into an old abandoned lift station.

old abandoned lift station

Exit from the other side of the station and you will see the city spread under your feet.

Skiing and snowboarding in Vitosha Mountain

Skiing Vitosha Mountain

The nearest ski resort to Sofia is Vitosha National Park. The season starts at the beginning of January and continues until the end of March.

It’s a great place if you’re a beginner, as the ski lessons are cheaper compared to the ones in Borovets or Bansko. The price of the Vitosha ski pass is about 35 BGN (~18 EUR, ~ 16 GBP, ~22 USD) for one day.

There are about 13 ski tracks. However, if the winter is warm, only a few of them are open.

Most popular activities in Sofia

Experience the Bulgarian culinary traditions with this food tasting tour.

Take a communist walking tour of Sofia.

See one of the most famous sites in Bulgaria on this day trip to the Rila Monastery.

Where to stay in Sofia

Central Hotel Sofia – Best for families
A 4-star hotel with modern rooms, tasty breakfast and underground parking.
8.7/10 Rating – See hotel images and 1,880+ guest reviews


Sense Hotel Sofia – Best for couples
A boutique hotel with an amazing panoramic rooftop bar.
8.9/10 Rating – See hotel images and 1,030+ guest reviews


Vitosha Apartments
Comfy apartments with a perfect location, close to the main shopping street, Vitosha Boulevard.
9.1/10 Rating – See hotel images and 380+ guest reviews


Check out more awesome places to stay in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Further reading for your trip

Find more must-visit places in Bulgaria in DK Eyewitness Travel Guide Bulgaria.

If you haven’t planned your time in the city, check out the best things to do in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Up for a challenge? Try to climb Musala Peak in Rila Mountain – the highest peak in Bulgaria.

Love skiing? Then visit Borovets or Bansko – the most popular ski resorts in Bulgaria.

If you’re planning to rent a car, compare the car rental prices in Europe.

What is your favourite place in Vitosha Mountain?
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vitosha national park  vitosha mountain lift

 
About the author
Avatar Milena Yordanova
I'm a travel blogger based in Sofia, Bulgaria. Travelling has always been my passion and I love to discover new places and cultures. I want to show you how easy it is to organize your vacation all by yourself.

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14 Replies to “Popular Hiking Routes in Vitosha National Park”

  1. Where did you sleep in vithosa?

    1. Hi Bea,
      You can sleep in Aleko Hut. You can find the prices here (the website is only in Bulgarian).

  2. Hi Milena,
    Thank you for your clear description. I want to visit Mt. Vitosha in April with a group of 6 people, all aged 60+ years. I want to drive up the mountain and I would like to know how far I can reach. Do you that?

    1. Hi Yiu,
      You can reach Aleko Chalet, Vitosha mountain TV Tower and the Golden bridges with a car.

  3. Hi Milena,
    I will be in Sofia this weekend and plan to go from Kopitoto to Kamen Del on Friday. Have you walked this before and do you have any idea how long this would take?
    In terms on transport back, would you recommend getting a taxi as close as possible to KD and walk to Kopitoto or the other way around?
    Thanks for any tips,
    Rob

    1. Hi Rob,

      You’ll need about an hour to get from Kamen Del to Kopitoto.

      However, it will probably be difficult to take a taxi from the city centre to Kopitoto, as Kopitoto is out of the city. It will be even more difficult to find a taxi back to the centre. If you, however, decide to take a taxi from the city centre to Kopitoto be wary that it’s about 19km and the taxi may charge you double as Kopitoto is out of the city (typically taxi rates are 0.79 BGN/km).

      You can take a taxi to Simeonovski gondola lift, then take the lift to Aleko Chalet. The price is about 12 BGN ( ~ 6 EUR). From Aleko Chalet to Kamen Del is about 2 hours walk. From Kamen Del you can continue to Kopitoto – 1-hour walk.

      To get back to the city you’ll have to go back to Aleko Chalet and use again the lift. Keep in mind not to use the taxis standing in front of the lift. You’ll end up paying 3-5 times more than the regular price. Call a taxi (Ok supertrans is one of the most popular) to take you back to the city center. There are buses, but they run once every hour. You can use bus 123 to get to G.M. Dimitrov metro station.

      Let me know if you have any additional questions. 🙂

  4. Christophe BODEAU says: Reply

    Hi,

    We are going to Bulgaria in the Beginning of May and would like to enjoy nice walks in Vitosha Mountains. Is there still snow at that period?

    Many thanks,

    Christophe

    1. Hi Christophe,

      Yes, there is a little snow. Have a great time in Bulgaria. 🙂

  5. Cheenee Adorna says: Reply

    Hi, Milena

    We will be travelling to Sofia from 22 Sept til 6 Oct. May i know how the weather is like?
    And is it good to hike Vitosha between these dates?
    Really hope that you’d reply heehee
    Thanks a lot!

    PS. Im reading all the way from the Phililpines 🙂

    1. Hi Cheenee,
      Usually, the weather in September is still warm and good for hiking. However, please keep in mind that the cable lift may be closed for a maintenance. You can check here (use google translate as the website is only in Bulgarian). Have a great time in Sofia!

  6. Hi,
    We are planning to visit on 1st december to sofia and travelling with a 3 yr old and a 9 yr old. I want them to see the snow on mt.vitosha but no skiing or hiking. Can u pls tell me if we take the cable car then where we should go upto ? . Thanks!

    1. Hi Sanjukta,
      Unfortunately, the beginning of December is too early for snow. If you’re going only for the snow, check the live webcams here before that.

      Keep in mind that it’s possible the cable car to be closed for maintenance at that time (before the winter season). You can check its status here. If it’s closed use bus 66 to Aleko Chalet (see the article for more details).

      There are many hiking routes from Aleko Chalet, however I’m not sure that they are suitable for little kids.

      I hope you’ll have a great time in Sofia! 🙂

  7. Hi,
    I can see one more lift on the map, to Zeleznica village. Does it work?

    1. Hi Sylwester,

      The main two lifts are Simeonovski cabin lift and Dragalevski lift. The rest are ski chair lifts, that work only during the winter (if there is snow).

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