Visible from almost all parts of Sofia, Vitosha Mountain is home to many outdoor activities, as well as an abundance of natural beauty. The national park is one of the oldest on the Balkan Peninsula and has been carefully looked after to ensure the majesty of the mountain, and the variety of species it supports, are part of the landscape for years to come.
How do I get to Vitosha Mountain?
The mountain is easily reached from Sofia. Public transport will take you to the Simeonovski cable lift or to the Dragalevski chairlift. These are open for most of the year, except for a period in the autumn when they undergo maintenance. During this period (or if you don't like the idea of the lifts) you can get a bus to Aleko Hut, or to Golden Bridges, a popular stone river on the mountain.
What is there to see?
Vitosha Mountain is a paradise for anyone who loves to be outdoors, and there are plenty of ways to enjoy the clear mountain air. You could climb Cherni Vrai, which has the dubious accolade of being the second most windy peak in Bulgaria. You do need to be fit to make the climb, but after the first 40 minutes it becomes an easier trek, and you will be rewarded with spectacular views over Sofia. The route is marked, but many signs and maps are in Bulgarian, so you'll need to do a little research before you go.
An alternative to Cherni Vrai is Kopitoto or TV Tower, which is reached from Golden Bridges. This walk is easier, and the tower is accessible by car, so you don't have to miss out even if walking is a challenge.
Vitosha Mountain is a bird lovers paradise, hosting many unusual species such as the nutcracker and crossbill. The landscape supports a variety of mammals including the brown bear, although these are notoriously cautious of humans, so it's unlikely you'll run into one on your walks. Wildflower lovers have the chance to see some of the 30 types of orchid that the mountain is home to.
In the winter, Vitosha Mountain is home to one of Bulgaria's famous ski resorts. With great opportunities for snowboarding and skiing, it's the perfect accompaniment to a city break in Sofia or a holiday dedicated to winter fun.
When should I go?
This area really is a year-round holiday spot. You may encounter rain (or snow) during your time, but summer temperatures can be warm and pleasant for hiking. This area is popular with Bulgarian holidaymakers too, so it will be busier during local holidays. There are numerous activities all year round, such as rock and ice climbing, mountain biking and horse riding.
There's even the chance to visit Dulhata, the longest cave in Bulgaria. Vitosha Mountain is an ideal spot to visit as part of a city break to Sofia, as a destination for your winter sports, or combine your trip with a visit to the Black Sea coast for a perfect blend of sunshine, sand and hidden coves that are perfect for some diving and snorkelling.
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