The Vitosha Mountain TV Tower is one of Sofia’s most recognizable landmarks due to its prominent position a little more than halfway up Vitosha, the mountain massif right by Sofia’s center.
The TV tower is affectionally called Kopitoto (Копитото) – “The Hoof” – by locals because it was built on a rocky formation shaped like a hoof. With its base at the altitude of 1,348 meters, the TV tower has a dominant position in Sofia’s skyline and can be seen easily on any clear day from the city center.
At a massive 186 meters tall, Kopitoto is the second tallest TV tower in all of Bulgaria. The first is the Rousse TV tower, located near the border with Romania in the town of Ruse. Kopitoto is one of two TV towers in Sofia; the other is in Borisova Gradina Park and stands at a relatively short 106 meters.
It was built in 1985, made of reinforced concrete with a decidedly Soviet aesthetic, Kopitoto has the strange feeling of looking both futuristic and like a blast from the past at the same time.
But the actual Kopitoto TV tower is not the most interesting part of the view, in my opinion. There are several reasons why making the trip to Kopitoto TV tower is so worth it.
For one, I loved the view of the city center framed by the old chairlift, which stopped being operational in 1992 and has since been abandoned.
Another interesting point to check out is the old building that used to be where the chairlift terminated, but it’s since been shut down. Now, the exterior, as well as the interior, is covered in tags, making it an interesting spot for those curious about urban exploration and graffiti.
Be careful if you enter because there are often broken beer bottles on the ground — I don’t recommend entering unless you have closed-toe shoes. If you go up for sunset, be sure to be careful if you remain after dark.
Facing the city, there are great views over the foothills of Vitosha mountains if you walk a bit to the left. There are some rocks where there are great places to pose for photos — I mean, you’ve got to take some photos of one of the more Instagrammable places in Sofia while you’re here!
Note that I went in early March after a huge snowstorm — so depending on the time of year that you go, there may or may not be snow (it is at 1,348 meters, after all). If you do go when there is snow, please be careful, as the rocks near the edge of the viewpoint are quite slippery when wet with snow and there are no safety features because #Bulgaria.
Still, if you walk carefully, there are countless places to get a great photo!
The easiest way to reach Kopitoto is via car, which is how I got there. It’s only a short drive from Sofia center – it took about 20 minutes from where I was staying in the Strelbishte neighborhood and would probably take about 30 minutes from the center.
Taxis will take you to Kopitoto and back, but it will cost you a decent amount — I’d expect it’d cost about 50-60 lev (25-30 euro) roundtrip, including waiting time. If you are planning on doing a day trip that involves renting a car, like a trip to Saeva Dupka or Troyan Monastery, I’d recommend adding Kopitoto to your Sofia itinerary — especially if you can get there for sunset, which is supposed to be epic!
It is possible to get there via a combination of public transportation and walking, but you’ll be walking a while! To get there via tram, take the 5 to the end of the line (Knyazhevo) and walk up the mountain until you see Kopitoto.
At nearly 200 meters, it should be pretty hard to miss! I haven’t made this hike though, so I can’t speak to it personally. I’ll update this post if I do (or please leave a comment if you’ve made the hike yourself!) However, don’t do this for sunset, as it wouldn’t be safe to walk down the mountain in the dark. And of course, you could always try your luck hitchhiking back down to the city once you’ve made it up there.
There are a few mountain huts nearby serving simple food like kofte (meatballs) and bob chorba (bean soup), as well as beer – of course. Momina Skala and Planinenets huts both serve food and are about a 30-minute walk or 15-minute drive from Kopitoto.
What to Bring with You to Sofia
We have an entire Bulgaria packing list for your convenience, but make sure not to leave these items behind!
We strongly recommend having your own unlocked smartphone to make travel around Sofia easy – and it’s super cheap with a local SIM (here’s how to get one in Bulgaria).
If your own phone company charges too much to get it unlocked, you can buy a cheap unlocked smartphone online (here’s one we recommend). But generally, if your smartphone is unlocked, we advise you to bring that with you and just be sure you have travel insurance in case of breakage, loss, or theft.
Bulgaria is a safe country, but we always recommend people to be cautious with their belongings. We know a lot of people like money belts for Europe – this is the best-reviewed one we’ve seen. However, neither of us use them.
Instead, we both have the same awesome anti-theft backpack by PacSafe and bring it everywhere with us – in Sofia, when we travel, and even just on beach days and coffee outings! With locking zippers, slashproof construction, and other security features, it’s peace of mind in a bag. It’s also surprisingly gender-neutral and stylish.
Finally, don’t forget a guidebook! While travel blogs are great, we love having a well-researched guidebook at our fingertips. We suggest Lonely Planet Bulgaria & Romania as the best option for the country.
Where to Stay in Sofia
Accommodations in Sofia offer great value compared to other cities in Europe. Here is a general range of what we mean by each budget category:
- Budget: A room in a hostel, usually $5-12 USD per night for a dorm bed or under $40 for a double.
- Mid-range: Around $40-80
- Luxury: Around $100 per night or more
Budget: For a hostel, we always recommend Hostel Mostel. I have never stayed at the Sofia location but several of my friends have and have always spoken highly of it. I stayed at the one in Veliko Tarnovo and it was excellent. Perks include a free vegetarian dinner in addition to breakfast included in your stay! Check rates and availability here. If you are traveling in peak season, be sure to book online, as Hostel Mostel is popular and tends to get booked up.
Mid-range: For a trendy new boutique hotel that is shockingly affordable, we recommend R34 Boutique Hotel. The location is fantastic, near the Ivan Vazov National Theater in central Sofia. It has gorgeous, loft-inspired details like exposed brick, giant windows, and streamlined but modern décor. It’s a great bargain, too – check rates, reviews, photos, and availability here.
Luxury: As far as we see it, there’s only one option for the best hotel in town: Sense Hotel. We go to their upscale, beautiful rooftop bar all the time when we have guests in town – it has one of the best views in the entire city and they make fantastic cocktails. With beautiful views over Alexander Nevsky, Sofia’s most iconic landmark, the hotel couldn’t be in a better location. Sense Hotel also boasts a state-of-the-art fitness center, an art gallery in the lobby, an excellent spa with luxe treatments, and an indoor pool. It’s truly the best choice in town. Check rates, reviews, photos, and availability here.
Looking for more hotel options in Sofia? Check out our full Sofia Hotel and Hostel Guide.
Sofia Travel Resources
We want you to have the best trip to Sofia possible. To help you, we’ve created a number of resources that will be helpful.
If this will be your first time in Bulgaria, check out our Bulgaria Trip Planning guide. For transportation, check out our guide to avoiding taxi scams in the city. If you’ll be flying into Sofia, you can read our tips for flying in and out of the Sofia Airport.
We also have articles for popular day trips from Sofia like Plovdiv and Buzludzha – a must if you like abandoned sights like this. If you like Kopitoto, you’d also probably enjoy Sofia’s street art scene.
Planning a Trip to Bulgaria? Don’t Forget Travel Insurance!
Make sure you always travel to Bulgaria with a valid travel insurance policy. Travel here includes outdoor activities and travel to highly touristed sites. You need to be covered in case you have an accident or fall victim to theft. Travel insurance will help you recover your expenses and continue to enjoy your trip.
For travel insurance, I use World Nomads. I’ve been a happy customer of theirs for almost three years, and I’ve never had an issue when making a claim. I’m happy to refer them to anyone I meet.
Originally from California, Allison has been living in Bulgaria for the last two years and is obsessed with traveling around the Balkans. She has been published in National Geographic, CNN Arabic, Matador Network, and the Huffington Post. She loves befriending dogs, drinking coffee, geeking out about wine, and cooking food from around the world.