Not many capital cities have the gift of a mountain so close by. Vitosha is dominating the city view and is only 15 km from the center. It is a wonderful place to rest and take walks in summer, spring and autumn, and a fine winter ski resort in winter. The mountain provides numerous hiking routes and skiing opportunities. It is also an excellent place to escape the summer heat.
Districts of Boyana, Dragalevtsi, Simeonovo and Knyazhevo are all goo starting points to Vitosha. You can actually reach the mountain with public transport, and continue upwards with a number of chairlift options. The Simeonovo lift will take you directly to Aleko – the main winter skiing resort in Vitosha. There is a hut that serves tea and food, and also some small hotels.
You can take a lengthy walk to the plateau from Aleko, but you can also take a marked tourist path of your choice, as there are many. One of them will take you as high as Cherni vrah (the Black Peak) – Vitosha's highest point, standing tall and proud at 2290 m. This will take approximately between 2 and 3 hours depending on how fast you walk and are you used to mountain treks. It's not really a hard route, but it's best if you are well equipped and have some basic training and physical endurance. There is a working hut on the peak – you can rest a bit and have a cup of tea, or a soup. If you don't feel like walking, you can take the chairlift up to Cherni Vrah.
Another option for spending some quality time in the nature is taking the open chairlift just upon the road from the village of Dragalevtsi. That will take you somewhere in the middle of the plateau. Take the Panoramic Path for some astonishing views above Sofia and the near villages. There is an incredibly beautiful part of the path, right between Bistritsa and Zheleznitsa, decorated with handcrafted wooden signs sporting famous quotes and words of wisdom for the random tourist. You can also rest there on one of the numerous stools and wooden benches.
If your starting point is Bistristsa, you should take a right at the main square and then keep straight up for nearly 2 km. The whole trip to Zheleznitsa and back to Bistritsa is around 8 km.
Some people really prefer to go uphill instead of walking the flat plateau. If you're one of these people, then you should start your Vitosha trip from Simeonovo. This route is sometimes pretty packed with hikers and tourists, especially in weekends. You will find the path easily walking further like 200 m after the Simeonovo square heading to the woods. You will most likely meet other hikers, so the easiest way is just follow them until you catch the path. It is flat in the beginning, then going more and more uphill, but not too steep. The walk from Simeonovo to Aleko usually takes somewhere between 2 ½ to 3 hours.
Even if you are not and avid hiker, or course you can still enjoy some good time in the mountain. Take a walk to Boyana Church or a small walk to Zlatnite Mostove (the Golden Bridges) where the “stone rivers” - called “moreni” are. There are numerous places for a quet picnic, although, as we mentioned before, the place could be quite packed on weekends.