A wooded granite mass 20km long and 16km wide, Mount Vitosha, 8km south of the city, is where Sofians go for picnics and skiing. The ascent of its highest peak, the 2290m Cherni Vrah, has become a traditional test of stamina. Getting here on public transport is straightforward, although there are fewer buses on weekdays than at weekends. Take tram #5 from behind the Law Courts to Ovcha Kupel bus station, then change to bus #61, which climbs through the forests towards Zlatni Mostove, a beauty spot on the western shoulder of Mount Vitosha beside the so-called Stone River. Beneath the large boulders running down the mountainside is a rivulet which once attracted gold-panners. Trails lead up beside the stream towards the mountain’s upper reaches: Cherni Vrah is about two to three hours’ walk from here.

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