How many capital cities in the world can boast of mountain activities such as skiing,snowboarding or hiking only 15 minutes drive from its centre and is easily accessed by public transport?
Well Sofia can!
Mount Vitosha stands majestically overlooking Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria. Only 10 kms south of the city’s international airport.
Mount Vitosha became Bulgaria’s first National Park in 1934. It has 10 peaks over 2000m. The highest peak is Cherni Vruh (Black Peak) at 2290m (the 4th highest peak in Bulgaria) The main ski area at Aleko hut is just below the summit.
Did you know Mount Vitosha is The Highest Ski Resort in Bulgaria ?
VALUE FOR MONEY!
Vitosha is not commonly shown on the travel agency radar as a ski resort but when the snow is down and you’re looking for a bargain ski break, Mt Vitosha and the Aleko ski area offer you great recreation and value.
It may not be as glamorous as some of the better known ski resorts such as Bansko, Pamperovo or Borovets. However, its location for the city and airport make it very appealing. Even for a weekend ski break from other parts of Europe.
Mount Vitosha Ski Area
The city of Sofia ski resort has about 20 pistes. They total nearly 30 kms to suit all abilities to include snow boarders from beginner to advanced and all are serviced by various lifts.
Vitosha has 7 runs for beginners, at least 4 for intermediate skiers and 2 for experts.
The 5km Black run has the advantage of snow cannons. The piste is also flood lit on many evenings until 10pm. You need a car to enjoy floodlit skiing as the cable car will not be in use during the evenings. The winter season on Mt Vitosha runs from December to March with snow reaching a depth of 1.5m.
Mount Vitosha cross country skiing trail is nearly 10 kms long. It is called Universiada and you can book ski tour guides who can organise your days prior to your arrival
Ski rental equipment is available at the Aleko chalet and if required qualified guides and instructors.
Winter Activities on Mount Vitosha
Choose from some of these great activities on Mount Vitosha
Access to Mount Vitosha
The road up Mt Vitosha is generally snow ploughed to enable skiers and service vehicles access. However, when the pistes are busy, particularly at weekends the free parking areas available are a squeeze and a free for all. Get to Aleko early for a descent spot.
I would certainly advise winter tyres and carry snow chains if snow falls overnight or during the day. If you are thinking of hiring a car you may have to pay for these extras.
Of course you can always take a taxi and let the driver worry about the snow! I understand a public bus runs up the mountain to Aleko. (weekend only) This may be true of the snowless months. The winter information I receive is a bit sketchy so I suggest any trip to the slopes does not rely on a bus to take you to the top. A service will run to the Simeonov gondola/ cable car from the city.
Lifts up Mount Vitosha
Another alternative is to use the Simeonovo cable car which takes you to the Aleko ski area and mountain trails.
A taxi from the city will cost between 15 -20 leva or there is even a public bus to take you to the lift which is situated behind the large Ikea warehouse.
The cable car will take about 30 minutes and costs about 10 leva return.
There are two stops before reaching the Aleko hut.
More Information on the cable car lifts to Vitosha here
Accommodation near to Mount Vitosha & Apres Ski
You can book overnight accomodation on Mt Vitosha in the Aleko area. However, I would suggest a rather more comfortable stay in one of the very reasonably priced hotels in the Simeonovo or Dragalevtsi area at the foot of the mountain. There you will have easy access to the main road leading up to Mt Vitosha or be in easy reach of the cable car and chair lift. Better still in the city itself!
Be aware of the time of the last cable lift. Don’t miss it! It’s a long walk down although I’m sure some kind hearted person with a spare seat will give you a lift off the mountain.