Recently, we’re looking for our next destination. Our criterias were something along the lines of: new, exciting and – if possible – also cheap. A short trip to Sofia, Bulgaria is what we decided on. Sofia combines two things that are very close to our hearts: Nature in the backyard and an exciting cityscape. This article is about the excursion to the Vitosha.
Sofia, the Bulgarian capital is situated directly at the foot of the Vitosha (Витоша) mountain range. The Cherni Vrah (Черни връх) is the highest peak of the mountain range at an altitude of 2290 m. Just look for it, if you’re lost. No matter where you are, you can always see the mountain to the South of the city.
Why make an excursion to the Vitosha?
Fantastic View and Recreation
From the top of the mountain you have a fantastic view of the city and the surrounding mountain chains. The air is fresh and in addition we had the best weather, when we visited.
You don’t care about nature, fresh air and panoramic views? For real? All right. But maybe you’re interested in sports? For both skiing and hiking, it’s worth taking a trip to the Vitosha.
Winter sports area
There are 12 ski slopes with a total length of 29 km. Of these, 6 slopes are easy, 5 medium and one difficult. You’ll also find a beginner’s slope for children and sleds.
Rent your equipment on site or just bring it with you. Furthermore there’s a ski & snowboard school and a ski & snowboard service.
We visited Bulgaria in winter. At this time of year, hiking wasn’t exactly easy. That’s why we didn’t make it very far. In the summer, however, the mountains is said to offer some great hiking trails.
If you’re lucky, you’ll meet wild goats on your way. And if you’re exhausted, you can rest in mountain huts. We’ll surely come back in the summer to go on a hike someday.
<blockquote class=”instagram-media” data-instgrm-version=”7″ style=” background:#FFF; border:0; border-radius:3px; box-shadow:0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width:658px; padding:0; width:99.375%; width:-webkit-calc(100% – 2px); width:calc(100% – 2px);”><div style=”padding:8px;”> <div style=” background:#F8F8F8; line-height:0; margin-top:40px; padding:50.0% 0; text-align:center; width:100%;”> <div style=” background:url(data:image/png;base64,iVBORw0KGgoAAAANSUhEUgAAACwAAAAsCAMAAAApWqozAAAABGdBTUEAALGPC/xhBQAAAAFzUkdCAK7OHOkAAAAMUExURczMzPf399fX1+bm5mzY9AMAAADiSURBVDjLvZXbEsMgCES5/P8/t9FuRVCRmU73JWlzosgSIIZURCjo/ad+EQJJB4Hv8BFt+IDpQoCx1wjOSBFhh2XssxEIYn3ulI/6MNReE07UIWJEv8UEOWDS88LY97kqyTliJKKtuYBbruAyVh5wOHiXmpi5we58Ek028czwyuQdLKPG1Bkb4NnM+VeAnfHqn1k4+GPT6uGQcvu2h2OVuIf/gWUFyy8OWEpdyZSa3aVCqpVoVvzZZ2VTnn2wU8qzVjDDetO90GSy9mVLqtgYSy231MxrY6I2gGqjrTY0L8fxCxfCBbhWrsYYAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC); display:block; height:44px; margin:0 auto -44px; position:relative; top:-22px; width:44px;”></div></div><p style=” color:#c9c8cd; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px; margin-bottom:0; margin-top:8px; overflow:hidden; padding:8px 0 7px; text-align:center; text-overflow:ellipsis; white-space:nowrap;”><a href=”https://www.instagram.com/p/BRq2jq3BX_l/” style=” color:#c9c8cd; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:normal; line-height:17px; text-decoration:none;” target=”_blank”>Ein Beitrag geteilt von Highlights of the World (@jenny.na)</a> am <time style=” font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px;” datetime=”2017-03-15T18:54:47+00:00″>15. Mär 2017 um 11:54 Uhr</time></p></div></blockquote>
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How to get to Vitosha from Sofia?
We took public transport to the mountains. On the one hand, because it was cheap and on the other hand, because we simply found very little detailed information on how to get to Vitosha.
Let’s go: We took the train, the bus and the lift to the mountain. Take either the red or the blue metro line in the direction of Mladost / Sofia Business Park or Airport from the city center. Get off at the stop G.M. Dimitrov (Г. М. Димитров) and take bus 123 from there.
Depending on the direction you come from, you have to look to your right or your left for the bus. Look for the Boulevard “Doctor G. M. Dimitrov” (бул. “Доктор Г. М. Димитров”) and then you’ll find the station. Take the bus to the last stop “Lift Simeonovo” (лифта симеонова). You have to get your bus tickets from the driver, who in our experience speaks little to no English. A ride costs 1.6лв, which is roughly €0.80 / $0.9.
Take some change with you, as the bus driver doesn’t necessarily have enough change. After your purchase, you only have to validate the tickets. To do this, place the arrow side of your ticket in the small yellow machines and push the lever up with force.
Unlike on the train, the next stop in the bus is not announced or displayed. Therefore you should know that the trip to Vitosha (about 30 minutes) takes longer than the return journey (about 20 minutes). 😉
The Last Leg of The Journey
When you arrive at the final stop, the last part of the trip is still to come: the lift. The tickets for a round trip are 10 лв each and the journey to the mountain takes approx. half an hour. If it’s not a busy time, you’ll get a gondola for yourself and enjoy the view and the ride in peace.
During the ride to the top the gondola makes two stops. Get off and on again, if you want to. Since we didn’t have much time, we went straight to the last station.
- Metro to G.M. Dimitrov (1.6 лв/person/one-way)
- Bus 123 to Lift Simeonovo (1.6 лв/person/one-way)
- Lift to the top (5 лв/person/one-way)
Alternative routes to Vitosha:
All roads lead to Rome. Would you like to travel by taxi, your own car or by bus? That won’t be a problem. In addition it’ll be very cheap. We just didn’t test it ourselves. This article covers almost all other options you have to reach Vitosha: http://flipfloppeople.com/Vitosha-Mountain-166
Even if it’s warm down in the city, remember that you’re on a mountain and the weather usually is colder! Stay informed on the weather and get dressed accordingly.
We went on our hike on the mountain and enjoyed the fresh air and the sun.
Amenities on the Vitosha
Is there a restaurant? And a restroom? The most important things ahead: There is a toilet. It’ll cost a small fee to use. Only after you’ve paid, you’ll get toilet paper. So you really should pay the fee. Otherwise, you’ll later have a problem (depending on what your plan was).
As for the restaurant: There is one directly at the lift station. It has a panorama deck, too! Ideal for eating something after a hike and relaxing.
What are your experiences? Tell us about it in the comments.
Jenny & Marco