Tihiya Kat – Vladaya – Tihiya Kat

Starting coordinates: 42.63811, 23.21968

Distance: 7.6 km

Elevation Gain: 330 m

Time: 3 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

Transport: by car, or by bus no. 63 to Tihiya Kat

This is one of the loveliest walks on Vitosha and it has the advantage of being a good walk to do even when the weather is bad because it’s lower down the mountain. You take the car or bus on the road that climbs the mountain from Boyana Village and stop at a motel-restaurant called Tihiya Kat. The motel is on your left. The walk starts at the bus stop on your right.

A path descends straight into forest and takes you to the next village around the mountain, Vladaya. After about five minutes, you reach a bridge over a stream. A few minutes later, there is a hut on your right where people light fires. After another ten minutes, you come to some farm buildings in a field on the right where there are sometimes horses. In fact, this path is part of a “low-altitude circular trail” that goes all the way around the mountain and is shared by walkers, cyclists and horse riders. In another ten minutes, there is a path on the left before a pylon, followed by another path on the left after the pylon. There are some tables here where you can rest. Continue on the shared trail, and soon the village of Vladaya will become visible through the trees on your right. After five minutes, a path joins from the left. The path you are on begins to veer to the right to enter the village, but you want to go straight ahead (signposted for Marchaevo and Kladnitsa), not into the village.

In a couple of minutes, you come to a clearing. A path on the left leads up to Planinets, a mountain hut which is the start of another walk. A path on the right leads down to the village. You want the second path on the left (signposted for Zlatni Mostove, Kumata and Cherni Vrah). This second path is, in fact, a continuation of the low-altitude circular trail. There is a small path in front of you which leads down to Vladaya River. You will come back on this path.

So take the second path on the left. You can now hear Vladaya River on your right and later you will be able to glimpse it through the trees. The path is crossed by several small streams on their way to the river. It then starts to climb. After fifteen minutes, you reach an abandoned house on the right. Immediately on the left is a plaque in memory of someone who died. This is followed by some high rocks on the left with a grassy area where people light fires. The route continues uphill, but note the path behind you, on your right. This is the path you will take on coming back down the mountain.

Continue uphill. You pass the top of the rocks on your left, but carry straight on. You are now following the course of the river. At one point, the path veers away from the river to the left, but it soon curls back again, and in a few more minutes you reach a bridge over the river. The path continues uphill in the direction of Zlatni Mostove (the start of another walk), or you can go over the bridge in the direction of the villages of Marchaevo, Rudartsi and Kladnitsa.

But we will pause at this beautiful spot in order to take a rest and admire the river. The water tumbles under the bridge. There is then a shallow area, with a sluice on the far side. The light on the water makes for a very attractive sight. In fact, this is one of my favourite spots on the mountain.

Having taken your fill, you now retrace your steps back down the mountain, unless you have the whole day in front of you and fancy continuing to Zlatni Mostove or Marchaevo. When after about five minutes you reach the rocks further down, remember to take the path on your left that follows the course of the river. You will divert a little from the route, but you will rejoin it later on. The views of the river are wonderful, especially in winter, when the water level is high. After five minutes, you reach a bridge across the river. Cross to the other side and continue downhill past a small bench and shelter until you reach a second bridge that takes you back to the other side of the river. If you continue downhill on the same side of the river, you will come to the village of Vladaya.

Cross this second bridge and take the path on your left that climbs uphill. After five minutes, another path joins from the right. You then come to the same clearing you were in earlier. Now the route back to Tihiya Kat is the same. You simply keep going straight on the same level (going left will take you down to the village, right further up the mountain) and in about forty minutes you should be back where you started.

This is a wonderful walk, one of my favourite walks on Vitosha. But a word of caution. I have a small dog and I have often come across big dogs in the vicinity of Vladaya or next to the river. There are also horses from time to time. So you might want to keep an eye on your little friend if you have one.

This is a film I took of Vladaya River in December after some heavy rain. It is an exhilarating river to be next to!

Zlatni Mostove – Planinarska Pesen – Bor – Septemvri – Zlatni Mostove

Starting coordinates: 42.6097479, 23.2361762

Distance: 7.8 km

Elevation Gain: 360 m

Time: 3¼ hours

Difficulty: Moderate

Transport: by car, or by bus no. 63 to Zlatni Mostove

This is a classic Vitosha walk which has as its starting and end point an important location on the mountain: Zlatni Mostove (“Golden Bridges” in Bulgarian). Zlatni Mostove is memorable because of the river of moraines, large boulders, that tumbles down the mountainside and also because of the beautiful open meadow a little to the north, Beli Bryag. It is also where bus no. 63 turns around and goes back down the mountain, so there is no need to worry about where to get off!

You again go through the district/village of Boyana and continue up the mountain, going past the Dendrarium on your right and the turning to Kopitoto on your left, until you get to an open area on the road with a large bus stop. This is Zlatni Mostove. It is fourteen kilometres from the ring road that goes around Sofia. Park the car somewhere nearby. The main road continues up the mountain and soon becomes cobbled, but for Zlatni Mostove itself you want to take a side road on your left. Continue up this road for three minutes and, as the road veers to the left, with the river of moraines on your left, you will see two paths departing from the road. One heads to Artistite and Selimitsa, it sort of doubles back. The path you want is the left of the two, signposted for Planinarska Pesen and Kumata. You climb some steps with the moraine river on your left. After fifteen minutes, you come to a stream (actually, two streams with small bridges over both of them). A short distance after the streams, the path divides. Continue left.

The path now heads straight up the mountain for about twenty-five minutes. Towards the top, you come to an intersection. If you continue up the mountain, you will cross the main road and the path will take you to Kumata. If you go right, you will come to Ofeliite. But you want to go left. Follow this path for about ten minutes. It doubles back and climbs to the main road. At the main road, go left (the smaller road opposite leads to Kumata). You will come to three mountain huts located close together: Boeritsa on your left; ahead of you, then on your right, Borova Gora; and finally Planinarska Pesen, which means “Mountain Song” and fittingly has a few metal notes affixed to the wall. Just before this last hut, there is a path descending on your left, signposted for Zlatni Mostove and Bor. Take this path.

The path descends abruptly and then levels out with some wonderful views in a westerly direction. It winds through the forest, past large rocks, across minor streams. After about twenty minutes, the path begins to descend. It is signposted for Septemvri. But a new path begins on the right, signposted for Bor and Momina Skala. You want to go right in order to maintain your elevation, not to go down the mountain yet.

You continue along this new path, again with wonderful views in a westerly direction, for about thirty minutes. There are some wooden walkways where the ground is wet. After thirty minutes, you come to a clearing. This is the same clearing that features in the walk from Planinets. Directly ahead of you is Boyana River and Bor mountain hut, but when you reach the far side of the clearing, there is a path that doubles back on your left. It is signposted for Septemvri and Zlatni Mostove. Take this path and follow it all the way down the mountain. Again, there are some wooden walkways where the ground is wet. After twenty minutes on this path, there is a turning right to Septemvri. You can ignore this. In a few more minutes, you reach an intersection with the hotel Elitsa on your right. The path coming down the mountain on your left is the path you joined at Planinarska Pesen, but then left in order to join a new path on the right. None of this matters. You continue straight and in less than ten minutes you come to the road that connects Zlatni Mostove and Momina Skala.

At the road, turn left and take the path that goes past an open meadow called Beli Bryag. The view here always reminds me of Switzerland, I don’t know why. It is a lovely open area with benches where people like to picnic and have barbecues in summer. The path skirts the meadow and rejoins the road further down. At the road, continue left and follow the road for ten minutes. It will lead you directly back to the main road with the no. 63 bus stop.

This route up, across and down the mountain, which affords some wonderful views and has the added attraction of the moraines or large boulders, is shaped like an upside-down triangle. You go up one side, across the top and back down the other side until you return to the same point. The route can be shortened by following the path to Septemvri and turning left at the bottom (with Elitsa hotel in front of you). This new path will take you to the road, with the meadow, Beli Bryag, on your left.

No visitor can consider themselves acquainted with the mountain until they have come to Zlatni Mostove. On the final stretch, between the meadow and the bus stop, there are several stalls selling corn and jam and a couple of restaurants where you can get bean soup or meatballs (kyufteta).

Planinets – Zlatni Mostove – Bor – Momina Skala – Planinets

Starting coordinates: 42.6246831, 23.2397177

Distance: 6.1 km

Elevation Gain: 320 m

Time: 3 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

Transport: by car, or by bus no. 63 to the Dendrarium

This is a wonderful, circular walk that starts and ends at the mountain hut and restaurant Planinets. To get there, you need a car. The alternative is to take bus no. 63 to the Dendrarium and to walk from there, but this will add at least an hour.

You take the road to Vitosha that goes through the village of Boyana, follow the road up the mountain. Immediately after you pass the Dendrarium on your right, there is a turning on the left to Kopitoto (where there is a hotel and a television tower). Take this turning. Before you get to Kopitoto, there is a turning on the right to Planinets. Take this smaller road, but be careful, it is full of potholes. The mountain hut/restaurant is at the end.

To start the walk, go past the mountain hut on your left and take the path that descends directly in front of you. After a short descent, this path begins to climb gradually through beautiful forest. It divides after about ten minutes. Take the left fork. A trunk has fallen across the path, so you have to bow your head. Continue for another ten minutes until you reach some large stone steps. At the top of these steps, turn right and after five minutes you will come to the cobbled road that goes from Momina Skala on your left to Zlatni Mostove on your right. Cross the road, climb the steps directly opposite and join the path that connects Momina Skala and Zlatni Mostove. Go right, the path descends steeply for a few minutes. At the bottom, take the path that climbs directly on your left (the road is on your right, and Zlatni Mostove is in front of you). You will now stay on this path for forty minutes or thereabouts.

The path climbs steeply for ten minutes (this is the hardest part of the walk, but nothing too strenuous). Ignore the crossroads, with a hotel (Elitsa) on your left. Keep going straight. After a few minutes, ignore the turning to Septemvri on your left. Keep straight. The path levels out, you cross little streams and pass large boulders called moraines. Eventually you will come to a clearing with plants. Here you join another path coming from Planinarska Pesen. Go left, and in a few metres you will reach a bridge over Boyana River. This attractive river tumbles down the mountainside and further down becomes Boyana Waterfall. This is an ideal spot to have a rest. It is also about halfway through the walk. From now on, the walk is downhill.

When you are rested and have enjoyed one of my favourite spots on the mountain, cross the bridge over the river. There is a mountain hut on your right, Bor. You want to go left (not straight). You can walk on the road, or better take the path that is on the left of the road. On the path, you will keep crossing the road as it winds down the mountain (the path is more direct). After a few minutes, cross the road, and then you will reach the mountain hut Tintyava. Immediately after the hut, turn left, with the building on your left. Cross the road again, and you will descend some steps to the mountain hut Rodina. Go straight past the building on your left. Cross the road again, and now you are on the path to Momina Skala. After fifteen minutes, a path joins the path you are on from the right. At the bottom, turn left and cross the bridge over the same river, Boyana River, you were sitting by earlier, except that now you are further downstream. Pass the mountain hut Momina Skala on your left and climb the short path to a large open area where there is a meadow and places to sit. This is Momina Skala, a popular destination in summer.

Cross the meadow (do not take the path that veers off on your right, this goes to Kopitoto). On the far side of the meadow is a restaurant. Pass the restaurant on your right and a hundred metres away, on the other side of a parking area, is a path marked “Planinets” heading west. This path goes straight down the hill and has wonderful views west of the mountain. Keep going straight down the hill. After ten minutes, you will cross a path connecting Zlatni Mostove and Kopitoto, but do not take it. Keep going downhill. Towards the end of the day, the light here is very attractive as the sun begins to set. Twenty minutes after leaving the restaurant in Momina Skala you will reach the road to Planinets. The mountain hut is just on your left.

This is one of my very favourite walks on Vitosha, but it can be shortened. When you get to the cobbled road, instead of going right, you can go left. The path will take you straight to the meadow in Momina Skala, and from there you can head downhill to the road leading to Planinets. This will shorten the walk by several kilometres, but I recommend the longer route.