Vitosha National Park – a complete guide for the most popular hiking routes (including how to get there by Vitosha mountain lifts and public transport).
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.
Up for a challenge? Try to climb Musala Peak in Rila Mountain – the highest peak in Bulgaria.
How to get to Vitosha Mountain from Sofia City Centre
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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).
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.
Cherni Vrah climbing route from Aleko Chalet
Take the path, located on the steep slope just next to the chalet.
The route is marked, so just follow the signs.
The first part of the route is the hardest one and you will need about 40 minutes to pass it.
After that, it is a pleasant walk to the peak.
You will pass along a few stone rivers, but more on that later in the post.
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.
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
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.
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.
The route is easy, only the last hundred metres are a little bit rocky. However, the view over Sofia is second to none.
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
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)
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.
The path to the TV tower is easy with no steep slopes.
Although the tower can’t be visited you can still see the city from above.
Pass along the tower and enter into an 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
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.
A 4-star hotel with modern rooms, tasty breakfast and underground parking.
A boutique hotel with an amazing panoramic rooftop bar.
Comfy apartments with a perfect location, close to the main shopping street, Vitosha Boulevard.
Find more great hotels in my guide to the best places to stay in Sofia, Bulgaria.