Starting coordinates: 42.6197196, 23.2976008
Distance: 7.3 km
Elevation Gain: 165 m
Time: 2½ hours
Transport: by car, or by bus no. 66 to the stop for Dragalevtsi Monastery
This is the first of several walks for which you need to access the mountain via the district/village of Dragalevtsi, south of Sofia. The walk follows the path that links Boyana and Dragalevtsi. It is fairly flat and, were it not for the distance (7.3 km), I would classify it as easy.
Dragalevtsi is famous for the fourteenth-century Dragalevtsi Monastery of the Dormition of the Mother of God, which can be reached by a cobbled road from the central square. As you are going up this cobbled road, there is a turning on the left marked “Vodenitsata”, a traditional Bulgarian restaurant next to the start of the Dragalevtsi chair lift (no longer running). If you take this turning, you come to a roundabout, where you turn right, and in a short while you come to the monastery gates. Keep on this side road, and you come to a large car park behind the monastery.
If you continue on the cobbled road and do not take the turning to “Vodenitsata”, the road does a big loop and in three kilometres you reach the same car park from the other direction. Park the car here, or alternatively get off bus no. 66 at the stop “for Dragalevtsi Monastery” (the third to last stop on this route, an optional stop, you must inform the driver you want to get off). The monastery is on the other side of the car park, behind the trees. The bus will continue up the mountain in the direction of Aleko, where there is a ski slope and from where you can set out for the summit, Cherni Vrah.
The path to Boyana Lake is a shared trail (for walkers and cyclists) marked “Boyana” which leaves the road almost next to the bus stop. It climbs a little, passes a large and interesting boulder, and then continues in a north-westerly direction more or less on the same level all the way to Boyana Lake (3.5 km away). You pass through beautiful beech forest and cross several moraine rivers (moraines are large glacial boulders and form a common feature of Vitosha). At the first moraine river, after fifteen minutes, there is a fountain on the right. In another fifteen minutes, you come to the third moraine river, from where there is a wonderful view of Sofia. In another fifteen minutes, there is an open grassy area on the right with a stone plinth and an excellent view further west towards Kopitoto (“the Hoof”, where there is a hotel next to the TV tower, both visible from Sofia). It is an ideal spot for a picnic.
At this point, the path begins to descend gently towards the lake. You pass another grassy area on the right, where there are two shelters used for barbecues, and in twenty minutes you reach the lake on your left. From here, the path continues north towards Boyana Village. Another path heads west from the lake in the direction of Boyana Waterfall. You can walk all around the lake. In May, it is full of croaking frogs! If you have a dog, I advise not letting your dog drink the water, since it is pretty stagnant.
Once you’ve enjoyed admiring the lake from different angles, you simply head back up the path you came on and retrace your steps to the cobbled road with the bus stop and the car park. This should take less than an hour.
This walk will easily fit into an afternoon. If you are feeling keen, you can easily combine it with a walk from the same starting point (Dragalevtsi Monastery car park/bus stop), but going in the opposite direction, eastwards towards Aleko Waterfall and the Simeonovo Lakes. Both walks skirt the mountain at more or less the same elevation (1000 m). This walk is described in a separate text.