Places to hike in and around Sofia
Where to hike and see the natural beauty surrounding Sofia
Written by Ilina Stanimirova, edited by Tamar Weisert, photos by Ilias Iatropoulos and Andrea Vushkova
Written July 2020, updated August 2022
Living in Sofia can sometimes make you feel trapped in urban chaos. We all want to escape the big city from time to time and reconnect with nature. When summer arrives, hot days are quick to follow, and what better way to escape the heat than by going on a hike outside the city. In this article, you will find a few suggestions for hiking areas around Sofia.
Every European capital has something that makes it unique, and for Sofia, that is the national nature park Vitosha. The mountain is home to many animals and offers beautiful views. It is a favorite for locals, and the nearest accessible nature escapes from downtown. For a day of hiking you can visit either of these locations:
The Black Peak (Cherni Vrah) is the highest peak of Vitosha and the 4th highest in the country. Some locals climb the peak weekly. Although not all of us can do that, you should climb the Black Peak at least once, if you live in Sofia. The view from the top will show you Sofia in a different way and make you appreciate living close to a mountain.
The Golden Bridges (Zlatnite Mostove) are stone rivers from the last Ice Age. This “river” is more than two kilometers long, and you will find many people sitting around the rocks having picnics or just sunbathing.
The Boyana Waterfall (Boyanski Vodopad) is Vitosha’s highest waterfall at 25m. Hidden in the forest, this waterfall is a cool and refreshing place. The waterfall deserves a visit in combination with the Boyana Church (Boyanska Tsarkva), which is part of UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
Vitosha is close to Sofia and accessible by car. You can also reach the mountain via public transportation.
Vitosha can often be quite crowded as it's the favorite of the locals, so if you want to hike with not so many people you can check out Lulin Mountain - there's an old military base at the top. Lulin Mountain is right next to Vitosha and easily accessible if you're at the base in Knyazhevo. There are many ways to get up Lulin, just use the map and you'll find a way.
Bankya is a small town near Sofia and is most famous for its mineral water springs. Many people visit the city to fill up bottles with mineral water to take home. However, in Bankya, you will also find the Eco-trail Path of Health (Pateka na Zdraveto). The trail is versatile, starts in the forest, and leads to a valley offering pretty landscape views. The eco-trail is accessible by car, public transport or train.
Hiking and travel suggestions
You can use the official Sofia Urban Mobility Center website if you want to plan your journey using public transport. Alternatively, you may use the Moovit app for planning and tracking public transport on your smartphone. For train timetables, you can use the BDZ website or Virail.
For hiking trails, you can use Maps.me to download offline maps. Kade.si is another website that shows you maps with hiking trails in Bulgaria. For information on the lifts in Vitosha, you can check out the Planinite website.
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