Located only 7 miles south of Bulgarian capital Sofia, Vitosha (Витоша in Bulgarian) is Bulgarias most visited mountain.
Starting from where the suburbs end, the whole mountain has been designated a national park, the oldest one in the Balkans.
Although a rather small mountain, it is a real pleasure to hike in it. Paths are wide and it is very hard to get lost. Transport to the starting points for most of the routes is quite easy and cheap. All this makes Vitosha mountain quite attractive for hiking. Spots worth wisiting are two biosphere preserves - Bistrishko Branishte and Torfeno Branishte, as well as "Zlatnite mostovi" (golden bridges) moraine. A very popular hiking trail connects aforementioned moraine with Aleko chalet and is doable inside 1 day. Vitosha is also home to the longest cave in Bulgaria, 11 miles long Dhulata.
Vitosha is a popular ski resort in winter, while in summer a chairlift operates for the benefit of sightseers. With its highest peak - Cherni Vrah (2290 m.) Vitosha occupies the fourth place among the Bulgarian mountains.
Vladaiski Cherni Vrah
Apart from its proximity to the country capital Sofia, other reason why Vitosha is so popular with the Bulgarian mountaineers is hidden behind the historical leg. In 1897. popular Bulgarian journalist, writer and mountaineer Aleko Konstantinov published in local newspaper a manifesto in the name of "Vesela Balgarija" (the "cheerful Bulgaria" ) club, inviting anyone who might feel interested, to climb the Cherni Vrah on Vitosha at Sunday noon exactly, in order to establish an Alpine club. That occured just 2 years after Konstantinov's failed attempt to establish Alpine club at national level. To his amousement, more than 300 hundred people saw his manifesto and climbed the Cherni Vrah peak. Right at the spot, they've founded first Alpine club of Sofia. 20 years later, Bugarian alpine club already counted 8000 membership. Bulgarians tributed their mountaineering pioneer by naming one of the most important peaks in Rila massif "Aleko". Main chalet on mt. Vitosha is also named after him "Aleko chalet" and in his hometown Svishtov a small museum was founded, hosting various momorabilia from mr. Konstantinov life. If you ever visit Bulgaria and decide to change some cash into local currency, you may have a handgrip on Aleko Konstatinov, hence he is featured on the front side of 100 Leva banknote ( Back side of the banknote features various Bulgarian mountain trekking movement motifs). Konstantinov achieved a certain ammount of intl fame as well. His excellent travelbook "A Journey to Chicago and Back" was translated into numerous languages. Today, English edition of this book is available at better online bookstores for under 20 $.
Getting there and away
Bulgaria is situated in the Balkan Peninsula in Southeastern Europe.
Time Zone is GMT+2 hrs, official currency 1 Lev (roughly, 1 Euro equals 2 Leva). For comparison, three-tickets set for Sofia tram or bus costs 1,20 Leva, 1 day ski lift pass on Vitosha costs around 25 Leva, half-day pass around 15 Leva.
Official script is cyrillic, yet main roads and resorts are
often posted in latin script as well. (Side note; if you prefer non-vocal way of communication, please bear in mind that Bulgarians nod their head left-right for "Yes" and forward-backward for "negative"...)
Getting there by plane: National carrier is Bulgaria air For flight schedules to Sofia, please click here
Bus and train networks in Bulgaria are extensive and pretty cheap (especially busses).
For train tametable, please click here
Once in Sofia, Vitosha is easy to see from almost every downtown spot (only 7 miles out of city centre, remember?) In order to reach the mountain use Tram No 9, heading for the southern suburbs of Sofia. Afterwards took bus No 64 to go to Dragalevski village where the Lift takes you to mount Vitosha. The lift to Aleko Ski Center works only in winter time . To reach Aleko Ski Center you can take a taxi from Dragalevski (about 15 Leva) even from Sofia. The classic route to the highest peak of Vitosha Cherni Vrah begins from Aleko Ski center and it is an easy hike.
When To Climb
Generally, summer time is the best period. It is possible to climb every time of year, though. in winter, snowshoeing and ski - friendly mountain as well. Please, note, Vitosha is famous of the foggy weather because about 200 days per year is foggy.
(Unlike Sofia, wich tends more toward beeing smoggy, rather then foggy...)
Up-to-date weather forecast for Vitosha in English language can be found here
Since 1935 a meteorological station has been operating on Cherni Vrah, with many posts, mostly in the chalets.
Comparative data about Sofia and Cherni Vrah weather conditions: the average monthly and annual temperature - for the coldest month - January - in Sofia is minus 1.7° and on Cherni Vrah - minus 8.3°.
For the warmest month - July in Sofia - 21.2° and for Cherni Vrah - August - 9.0°C. The average annual temperature in Sofia is 10.5°C and at Cherni Vrah - 0.3°C.
There is an interesting phenomenon featuring the Vitosha climate - the inversion (mostly in December and January). When Sofia is covered by thick fog and cold, the Vitosha Mountain shines in sun and warmth. This happens at an average of 15 days per year.
An average of 140 days per year are very cold on Cherni Vrah - the maximum values in these days are negative and there are 222 frosty days (when only the minimum temperatures are negative).
The winter in the high parts of the mountain lasts between 5 and 7 months, and truly summer months are only July and August.
Up-to-date interactive weather feed for Mt. Vitosha
from the Bulgarian Weather service:
Camping & Huts
There are no organized camping grounds on Vitosha mountain.
Yet, it is possible to camp everywhere in the mountain without problems. There are also some huts on the mountain that are usually opened only the summer period and the weekends in winter, including the fine
Phone: +359 2 8573139, cellular: +359 887 751187;
e-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org website in English
The cross trek can be done iside one day, therein to stay on the mountain is not necessary.
Vitosha topo maps
It is a National Park.
Regular behaviour rules inside NP do apply.
no permits of any kind are required in order to climb the Vitosha mountain.