Are you trying to leave Bulgaria’s capital to enjoy the green outdoors? There is no better way to leave the bustle of Sofia behind than to take a bus and go hiking on Vitosha mountain. But while the mountain may seem close enough to touch from anywhere in the city, getting there can be tricky for those unaccustomed to Sofia’s busy streets. To help you out, here are three easy bus routes to get your Vitosha hiking adventure started!
1: Bus line 66 to Vitosha
You can take bus line 66 all the way up to the Hotel Moreni bus stop, which is only a short hike away from Vitosha’s peak. The easiest way to get on this bus is to take the metro to Vitosha metro station, and wait by the bus stop on the east side of Paradise Mall (located right at the entrance to the metro station). The bus stop has electronic signs that will tell you the wait times for each bus line, so just wait for bus 66 and tell the driver you’re heading for ‘Hotel Moreni’. A one way trip should cost about 2 leva.
You can see the bus schedule here, and the location of the bus stop at the mall below:
Pro Traveller tip: To quickly see the bus route and all other stops along its way, view the bus stops mentioned here in your Google Maps app (not in the browser version). Next, select the line you want to view in the bus stop overview panel and the app will show you the bus lines’ entire route!
Once you get off the bus at Hotel Moreni, you can follow the road up to the Aleko mountain hut, where you can get a warm meal and drinks before setting off on one of the many trails leading from the hut.
Some (old) information on the internet might claim that this bus only runs during weekends and holidays, but that is not true anymore! Bus line 66 to Moreni Hotel on Vitosha runs all year, both winter and summer.
Are you wondering where to get the best views on Vitosha? Check out this article for 5 scenic hikes on Vitosha mountain!
2: Bus line 63 to Golden Bridges
A second option that skips the climb up is to take bus line 63 to reach a popular hiking area on top of Vitosha. Called the ‘Golden Bridges’, this area has boulder fields, picnic spots, and cosy cabins for a relaxing day on the mountain. From here, you can also connect to trails that will lead you all over Vitosha mountain.
From Sofia’s city centre, the closest point you can get on bus 63 is on Tsar Boris III Boulevard. First, take tram line 4 or 5 from the ‘Plaza Makedoniya’ tram stop to the ‘Bul. Akad. IV Geshov’ stop. On the other side of the intersection you will find the ‘ZH. K. Krasno Selo’ bus stop:
From here, take bus line 63 in the direction of ‘Zlatnite Mostove’. Ride the bus to the last stop of the same name, and you’re there! You can visit this page to check the timetable for line 63.
Again, some (old) information on the internet might claim that this bus only runs during weekends and holidays, but that is not true anymore! Bus line 63 to Zlatnite Mostove on Vitosha runs all year, both winter and summer.
3: The Boyana bus
Another option is to climb Vitosha mountain on foot. One popular Vitosha hiking trail starts near Boyana Church, in the district of the same name. Also called the ‘Boyana Waterfall starting point’, this trail will take you straight up the side of the mountain to the (you guessed it!) Boyana waterfalls. Bus lines 64 and 107 will take you closest to the church, from where it’s only a short walk to the trail head on Pop Evstati Vitoshki street.
The map below shows the start of the trail, you can check the bus lines by clicking on bus stops in the area:
4- Bus line 123E to the Simeonovo ski lift
Skip the climb up and enjoy the view, all from the comfort of your seat! The Simeonovo ski lift operates only in winter, and you can reach the lift terminal easily by taking bus line 123(E) from the Geo Milev bus stop. Note that this line might sometimes be indicated as ‘123’ and sometimes as ‘123E’. Not to worry, both indicate the same bus line (the ‘E’ stands for Electric, as this is a trolleybus).
You can see the location of the Geo Milev station on this map:
For the latest information on Sofia’s ski lifts, visit the Vitosha Ski homepage.
Taking a taxi to Vitosha mountain
So why wouldn’t you take the easy way up and get a taxi? Well, there’s nothing stopping you from doing so. However, taking a taxi up Vitosha might prove easier said than done for tourists, for several reasons.
First, finding a taxi driver willing to take you there strongly depends on the time of the year, if the driver can expect a return fare, and if the driver even feels like driving that distance. In most situations, taxi drivers will make better fares driving to places in the city itself, rather than driving all the way up Vitosha mountain.
Second, the long drive may prove to be more expensive than necessary. Taking the bus will always be cheaper. If money is not a problem for you, you can always ask your hotel reception to arrange a taxi ride for best results. Keep in mind that a return trip might not be guaranteed, and you might need to either hike down the mountain for a taxi pickup or take a bus back into town.
Lastly, there is always the possibility to get scammed by Bulgarian taxi drivers. Not all of them are bad, of course. But unless you’re using an app (like the TaxiMe app), there’s always the possibility you’re going to pay the ‘tourist premium’ when getting in a taxi.
Taking the bus to Vitosha mountain
In short, the best way to get to Vitosha is by either taking bus line 66 from Paradise Mall, or bus 63 from Tsar Boris III Boulevard. Alternatively, you can start at the Boyana Waterfall trailhead near Boyana Church.
Naturally, there are many other ways to reach Vitosha! Try making some local friends and drive up with them to have them show you their favourite trails, or get together with a group of fellow travellers and rent your own car for the day. Just make sure to rent from a well-established, trustworthy agency, as some local scams involve ‘cheap’ car rental agencies.
Be safe, and see you on the Trail!