12 Best Day Hikes Near Sofia [UPDATED 2020]

hikes near sofia

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Are you planning to visit Sofia soon? If you are a hiking lover, then you’ll love this list of day hikes near Sofia. From the top of the Balkans to the starting point of the longest hiking trail in Bulgaria, here you can find the best places to go hiking while exploring Bulgaria’s capital city Sofia. 

Sofia is a great travel destination that is rich in history and that can offer its visitors great cultural events, fine restaurants, and exciting nightlife. On top of that, Sofia proffer opportunities for fun outdoor activities.

I’m always saying that one of the best things about Sofia is Vitosha Mountain. Being located so close to the city, Vitosha is a great getaway from the busy city. Close to the capital is also Rila Mountain – the highest one not only in Bulgaria but in the whole Balkan Peninsula. The beautiful Iskar Gorge is also a short ride away from Sofia.

Having this in mind, Sofia is a great starting point for many outdoor adventures. Plus, the day hikes near Sofia that you can leverage from are one of the best ways to experience and explore more of the country, as well as enjoy your stay in the city even more.

NOTE: I highly advise you to have an online and offline GPS map viewer. I use OruxMaps. This app is very easy to use and follow. All the hikes that I mention in this article can be followed without any chance of confusion by using it. 

So, keep on reading to discover my best suggestions for day hikes near Sofia:

Day Hikes in Vitosha Mountain

Cherni vrah

Remember one of the best things about Sofia Vitosha? Well, Cherni vrah is the highest peak of Vitosha Mountain rising at 2, 290 meters above sea level. The name of the peak can be literally translated to ”black peak” and it is often shrouded in clouds and fog. In clear weather, you can enjoy a stunning view of Rila Mountain.

On top of the peak, there is a metrological station that offers drinks and a buffet, as well as accommodation.

The most popular hike to Cherni vrah starts from Aleko hut. The hike is not difficult at all, you just have to be careful if you’re going to do it in winter, as snow might freeze and it can be quite slippery in some areas.

I do prefer the hike to Cherni vrah from the Pernik’s village of Kladnitsa, but it is more time-consuming and difficult to reach the village and start the hike from there, so for the purpose of this article, I would focus on the route from Aleko hut.

I have hiked to Cherni vrah in all seasons and even have done a night hike to the top. In my opinion, it’s always a great time to hike to Cherni vrah, especially if the weather is clear so you can enjoy the views.

day-hikes-near-sofia-cherni-vrah-vitosha

How to get to Cherni Vruh from Sofia:

The closest place to start the hike is Aleko hut. To reach the starting point, take bus #66 from Sofia. This bus runs only on the weekend and its first stop is Sofia’s ZOO. The last one is Hotel Moreni – this where you need to get off. From here, you have to walk for approximately 10 minutes to reach Aleko hut and start the hike to Cherni vrah.

The bus has a stop just outside Vitosha metro station and it might be the most convenient place for you to catch it. Check for the schedule on this link.

Boyana Waterfall

The Boyana Waterfall is not that high and not that impressive like some other Bulgarian waterfalls, but it’s the perfect getaway from the city. The waterfall is one of the locals’ favorite hikes near Sofia.

Boyana Waterfall is situated in Vitosha Mountain and it’s just 5 km away from Boyana district.

Your hike to the waterfall can start from the district of Boyana, from the Golden Bridges, or from Kopitoto (Kopitoto is a great place with an awesome view over the city, to get there though you will need a car). The hike is very nice and generally easy. Well close to the waterfall it gets steep but if you in a good shape this is not a problem at all and you can jump around like a goat.

Tip: Get up over the waterfall for another beautiful view over part of the city.

When you reach the waterfall (the time for getting there depends on where are you starting your hike) it’s time to relax, have a picnic and enjoy the silence, if there are not too many people. That’s why I would recommend doing this hike during the week if possible.

How to get to Boyana Waterfall from Sofia:

Bus #63 goes to the Golden Bridges every weekend.

Buses going to the district of Boyana from different locations in Sofia include bus #64 and #107. You can check the bus schedule here.

day-hikes-near-sofia-boyana-waterfall-vitosha

Day Hikes in Rila Mountain

The Seven Rila Lakes + Otovishki peak

The Seven Rila Lakes are one of the most popular places to visit in Bulgaria. They are a dream destination for many.

The lakes are a group of lakes of glacial origin. They are situated at an elevation of between 2 100 and 2 500 meters above sea level. The 7 lakes are named The Tear, The Eye, The Kidney, The Twin (the largest), The Trefoil, Fish Lake, and The Lower Lake.

The hike to get to the top and have a view of all lakes is pretty easy and takes about 2 – 2 and a half hours. It starts at the parking of Pionerska hut from where you can take a lift to the Seven Lakes hut and being your hike from there. Of course, if you want to save yourself 18 BGN, you can skip the lift.

Otovishki vrah

Not far away from the Seven Rila Lakes, you can hike to Otovishki vrah. The peak offers beautiful views and it’s not big of a detour so it’s definitely worth the extra time. From The Eye lake, there is a blue marked route that leads to the peak. It’s about 40 minutes from this point of the hike.

Just so you don’t get confused, Otovishki vrah doesn’t offer a view of the Seven Rila Lakes. To see them all, please continue the hike on the ridge.

day-hikes-near-sofia-otovishki-vrah-rila

How to get to the Seven Rila Lakes from Sofia:

To reach the starting point for the hike, you need to take a bus from Sofia to Dupnitsa and then change to another one going to Sapareva Banya. From here, you’ll need to take a taxi or hitchhike to the lift. That might be a bit confusing and overwhelming, so I always recommend if you have the chance to travel around Bulgaria by car.

You also have the option to sign in to join a tour.

Musala peak – the top of the Balkans

Rising at 2, 925 meters above sea level, Musala is the highest peak in Bulgaria and in all of the Balkans. According to some beliefs, the name of the peak means ”near God”  and is coming from the Arabic ”Musalla”.

Although Musala is one of the best day hikes near Sofia and can be easily completed in a single day, I would recommend staying in the mountain for the night if you have that time. That time you can both watch the sunset and the sunrise from the top of the Balkan Peninsula.

To reach the peak, you have several options: start the hike from Borovets, or start the hike from Yastrebets hut & take the trodden path to the peak or try the off the beaten path route that follows the ridge.

day-hikes-near-sofia-musala-peak

I have done all of the above, but to choose which hike will be best for you, you should take a few things into consideration:

When are you planning to do the hike and from where- Hiking to Musala in winter is a very beautiful experience. I have done it starting the hike from Borovets. If your planning to start and finish the hike there, without taking the lift, you need to be sure that you can make it in one day and on time to take the last bus back to Sofia. Actually, that applies to the summer season, too.

If you’re planning to take the lift up and down, then you’ll have more time to try alternative routes and more time to enjoy the views from the top.

With this in mind, it’s really up to you and your all preferences to decide which will work best for you. If you need any advice and can’t decide for yourself, feel free to contact me and I’ll do my best to find the best solution for you.

day-hikes-near-sofia-musala

How to get to Musala from Sofia:

  1. Take the bus from Sofia South bus station to Samokov.
  2. Take a minibus from Samokov bus station to Borovets.
  3. Start the hike from there or take the lift.

The bus ticket to Samokov costs 6 BGN. The minibus to Borovets costs 1.50 BGN. The schedule for the buses leaving for Samokov could be found on the link, and the schedule of the minibusses going to Borovets here.

Malyovitsa peak

Malyovitsa is a 2 729 meter high peak in the northwestern parts of Rila mountain. The region is famous for rock climbing and mountaineering and as well as a ski resort.

It’s one of the most recognizable and popular peaks to hike in Bulgaria. In summer, is one of the most visited places in the Bulgarian mountains and can be crowded with people, especially on weekends. To enjoy the beauty of Malyovitsa, I’d recommend doing the hike during the week or in the wintertime. Hiking to Malyovitsa peak in winter is a more challenging, but very rewarding experience.

Please note that Malyovitsa is one of the most avalanche danger areas, so if you’re planning to hike in winter, you should be a well prepared and experienced hiker.

day-hikes-near-sofia-malyovitsa

day-hikes-near-sofia-malyovitsa

How to get to Malyovitsa from Sofia:

  1. Take the bus from Sofia South bus station to Samokov.
  2. Take a minibus from Samokov bus station to Malyovitsa CPS or take a taxi.
  3. The hike to Malyovitsa peak starts at Malyovitsa CPS

The bus ticket to Samokov costs 6 BGN. The minibus to Malyovitsa CPS is 7 BGN.

The schedule for the buses leaving for Samokov could be found here. From Samokov bus station, there are two minibusses a day going to Malyovitsa CPS. One is at 9:15 in the morning, and the second one is at 15:30 in the afternoon. The last minibus leaving from Malyovitsa CPS to Samokov bus station is at 17:30.

Scary Lake 

The Scary lake is one of my favorite places in the Bulgarian Mountains. The lake is located at the foot of the peaks Little, Middle, and Big Kupen in Rila Mountain. 

As you might be wondering, its name comes from the sounds that can be heard during a storm. I haven’t visited the lake in such weather conditions and I don’t know if it’s scary, but I can show you how beautiful it is. 

Next to the lake, there is a shelter where you can spend the night for free. The shelter is not managed but it’s equipped with an oven and supplies of fuel left from people who have been there before.

The Scary Lake is in the Malyovitsa area and you can try and visit both in one day, but to do that you should plan your time very wisely!

hiking-malyovitsa-peak-rila-mountain-winter-views

How to get to the Scary Lake from Sofia: 

  1. Take the bus from Sofia South bus station to Samokov.
  2. Take a minibus from Samokov bus station to Malyovitsa CPS or take a taxi.
  3. The hike to Scary Lake starts at Malyovitsa CPS

It is absolutely the same as going to Malyovitsa peak. Check the image below to get an idea of where the lake, hut, and peak are located: 

Beli Iskar Eco path

Located right at the entrance of Rila National Park, the Beli Iskar eco path is a 7 km long trail that winds along a river that carries the same name. There are seven bridges on the trail that are crossing the river.

This is a very easy hike since there is not much of an ascent – just about 300 meters.

Although some people wouldn’t consider that as a hike, I wanted to include the Beli Iskar eco path on the list of day hikes near Sofia because this place is really beautiful and absolutely worth the day trip.

day-hikes-near-sofia-beli-iskar

How to get to Beli Iskar from Sofia:

Beli Iskar is also located near the town of Samokov, so instead of writing about how to get there for the third time, I’ll explain how to get straight to Beli Iskar from Samokov.

From Samokov bus station, take a minibus to the village of Beli Iskar. There are frequent minibusses running throughout the whole day. The schedule can be found here. The ticket costs 1.30 BGN.

Day Hikes in the Iskar Gorge

Lakatnik Rocks

The Lakatnik rocks are one of my favorite day hike destinations near Sofia. Located on the left slope of the Iskar Gorge above the village of Lakatnik, the rocks reach 250 meters high. The view of the village and the river is gorgeous.

The rocks and the whole surrounding area are named so (lakatnik, comes from lakat – elbow) because of the bend of the river, which looks like a folded human elbow.

day-hikes-near-sofia-lakatnik-rocks

There are large numbers of karst caves in this region, one of which is Temnata dupka (the dark hole). The cave is easily visible but it hasn’t been developed for visits. However, you can still get inside on your own responsibility. A flashlight is a must.

day-hikes-near-sofia-temna-dupka-cave

The Lakatnik Rocks are also a very famous climbing site. One of the most popular routes is the Alpine Meadow. It’s a small, red house built on the vertical rocks and is visible even from the road. It’s called ”Eagle nest”.

How to get to Lakatnik Rocks from Sofia:

Take the train from Sofia Central Train Station to Lakatnik. The journey to Lakatnik takes about one hour. A one-way ticket costs around 4 BGN.

The train schedule can be found on this link

Trustenaq hut & Izdremets peak 

Trustenaq hut is located in Western Stara Planina at an elevation of 1, 130 meters above sea level. The place is most famous for its raspberry plantations and the production of raspberry wine.

The hut attracts tourists with its closeness to Sofia, because of the easy hike leading up to it, and of course, the raspberry wine.

You can make the hike more challenging depending on the starting point and treat yourself with a glass of raspberry wine once you reach the hut.

Izdremets is a peak rising at 1, 493 meters above sea level. From it, you can enjoy a beautiful panoramic view of other parts of Stara Planina. The route from the hut to the peak is not marked, so you should better use an offline map viewer as I suggested at the beginning of this article.

day-hikes-near-sofia-izdremets

How to get to Trustenaq & Izdremets from Sofia:

Take the train from Sofia Central Train Station to Lakatnik. From Lakatnik Train Station get a minibus to the village of Lakatnik. The starting point for the hike is the village and it takes about an hour, and an hour and a half to reach the hut.

The train schedule can be found on this link

Schedule of the minibusses leaving from the train station to the village: 6:50; 9:00; 13:15; 18:00

Schedule of the minibusses leaving from the village station to the train station: 7:05; 9:30; 13:30; 18:15

Vazov’s Eco path

Vazov’s eco path is just 50 km away from Sofia. The eco path has 2 starting points, one is from the Bov village and the second one is from Zasele village. The first way is more convenient as it’s closer to both the road and the train station.

day-hikes-near-sofia-vazov-eco-path

Who is Vazov and why the eco path is named after him?

Ivan Vazov is a Bulgaria poet, often referred to as ”the patriarch of the Bulgarian literature”. One of his most beloved works is the story ”Grandfather Yozo watches”.

In this story, the main character grandfather Yozo is a blind, old man living in the Iskar Gorge who tracks the passing of the railroad. This is also the same place where Vazov writes the story inspired by a local resident.

The hike through the eco path is not difficult and takes about an hour and a half. At halfway, you will reach Skaklya waterfall. Skaklya waterfall is high 120 meters, which makes it the fourth highest waterfall in Bulgaria.

day-hikes-near-sofia-skaklya-waterfall

When you get to the top of the eco path, there is a large green meadow, which is the perfect place to relax, take a picnic, or just enjoy the stunning panoramic views.

How to get to Vazov’s echo path from Sofia:

Take the train from Sofia Central Train Station to the village of Bov. From the train station, you need to walk a few minutes to get to the starting point of the echo path.  The train journey to the village of Bov takes about one hour. A one-way ticket costs around 4 BGN.

The train schedule can be found on this link

P.S. Nearby is also another hidden trail leading to a pretty waterfall. It’s called ”Pod Kamiko” (Under the stone) and you can either try to do both in a single day or choose the one you’ll find most appealing.

Zdravchi kamak peak & Kutina’s pyramids

To me, this is one of the best day hikes near Sofia because it’s in the area where I grew up and live. Located in Western Stara Planina, in the village of Kutina, Zdravchi kamak (Healthy stone peak, 1, 015) is a very off-the-beaten-path hiking destination. Although I live in this area, I hadn’t heard of it until recently – so believe me when I say that it’s very unpopular.

The hike itself is very pleasant and easy and I have even cycled to the peak. Pretty much the whole route goes through the forest until it finishes at the beautiful panoramic view that the peak presents – a view of the Iskar Gorge and other parts of Western Stara Planina. You can even see Vitosha Mountain and Rila Mountain in clear weather. 

day-hikes-near-sofia-zdravchi-kamak

day-hikes-near-sofia-cycling-zdravchi-kamak-peak

So, what about Kutina’s pyramids? 

Okay, let me be clear and a million percentage honest with you: Kutina’s pyramids are nothing impressive or, in my opinion, worth the day trip. However, if you come to hike to Zdravchi kamak peak, then sure, I’d encourage you to visit them. 

The route for Zdravchi kamak peak passes through the intersection for the pyramids. You just need to turn right at this intersection and in less than 10 minutes, you’ll reach Kutina’s pyramids. 

Kutina’s pyramids are free to visit. Please note that there are a few orientation signs (in Bulgarian) and I have met people absolutely missing them and pass the intersection where they need to take to reach the pyramids. You should take the intersection AFTER the church, turn right there and then follow the other sign, which is pointing to the narrow forest path that leads to them. 

P.S. If you choose to do that day hike on your trip to Sofia, make sure to let me know, I’ll love to join and show you Zdravchi kamak peak!

How to get to Zdravchi kamak & Kutina’s pyramids from Sofia:

Take the metro from anywhere in Sofia and get off at Maria Louise metro station. From there take bus #27 that goes to the village of Kutina. You should get off at this bus stop. The hike starts from there.

Day Hikes in Stara Planina

Kom peak   

Standing at 2,016 meters above sea level, Kom peak is the highest one of Berkovitsa Mountain part of the Western Stara Planina. The peak is also the starting point for the Kom – Emine route, the longest one within the country.

Kom peak also inspired the Bulgarian poet Ivan Vazov to write a poem in which he praises this part of the Balkan. In his honor, a plaque with his image and quote from the poem has been installed on the peak. 

”From here the eye does not find any barriers.

The universe in front of me obediently stretches.

The soul breathes proudly. From these mountains,

the mind aspires to something bright, great;”

day-hikes-near-sofia-kom-view

How to get to Kom peak from Sofia: 

The easiest way to reach the starting point for the hike with public transportation is the following:

  1. Take the bus from Sofia Central Bus Station to Berkovitsa / Montana 
  2. Get off at Petrohan pass 

The hike from the Petrohan pass to Kom peak is about 15 km long and takes around 3, 3 and a half hours.

Buses depart from and to Sofia at different times depending on the day, so check the schedule here before planning this hike.

And those are my very best recommendations for day hikes near Sofia. I hope you have found a hike or two that you can do during your trip to Sofia because this is a great way to enjoy the beautiful Bulgarian nature. Plus, those hikes are one of the many reasons to visit Sofia in my opinion. 

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or need any additional information that I might have missed sharing – I’d love to help you explore the mountains around Sofia!  

Thanks for reading, 

Bilyana

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