Sofia basks beneath a succession of natural wonders, the city hiding amongst a chain of spectacular mountains and lakes. Even on a weekend city break, nature can take priority. These natural wonders are easily seen on a half-day or full-day trip from the city. They’re also easily connected on an aerial Sofia tour.

In this article, staff from the Jet Ops Europe office in Sofia suggest eight inspiring natural sights that can be discovered on a Sofia tour.

Vitosha Mountain:

Sofia’s history stretches back for 4000 years and Vitosha Mountain has been around to see it all. This is Bulgaria’s fourth highest peak, a mountain massif that rises to over 7,500 feet. Snow occupies the summit for much of the year, twinkling above the green forested slopes. Much of the mountain is gazetted as a nature park with excellent opportunities for hiking. Trek far onto the mountain and you can encounter Duhlata, Bulgaria’s longest cave. But the main and unmissable appeal of Vitosha is its enormous dome, an iconic sight on any Sofia tour. Whether in the city or in a plane, this resplendent summit provides a wonderful backdrop to any photos.

Pancharevo Lake:

Lulling gently beneath the Vitosha backdrop is Pancharevo Lake, a tranquil expanse of water that’s something of an outdoor adventure hub for Sofia’s residents. When seen from the air, it fully deserves a title of natural wonder, its deep-blue water contrasted by a green valley. But this is actually an artificial lake that’s surrounded by a huge series of mineral springs. Come for the day and relax on the shores, admire its splendour from the air, or try out rowing on a Sofia tour – Pancharevo Lake has hosted various rowing regattas and world championships.

Sofia’s Mineral Springs:

Sofia’s mineral springs mix culture with nature. The city was built on a landscape of natural thermals and public baths have existed here since the 16th century, possible earlier. While many have been destroyed over the years, the Sofia Central Mineral Baths are the best remaining example of the elaborate marble design. You can’t bathe here any more but there’s an excellent museum showcasing mineral springs in Sofia.

Seven Rila Lakes:

Situated at over 2,000 meters above sea level, the glacial waters of Seven Rila Lakes provide one of Bulgaria’s most iconic images. These small stretches of water are named after their shape: like Salzata (the tear), Babreka (the kidney) and the oval Okoto (the eye). Each hides amongst the mountains, with rugged peaks often reflected in the calm azure waters. Until 2009, these lakes were only accessible to hikers. Now an asphalt road and cable car brings up thousands of tourists a day in the summer. An aerial Sofia tour helps you avoid these crowds and enjoy the complete panorama of these seven resplendent wonders.

Mount Musala:

The Rila Mountains snake across Bulgaria, an ancient twist of peaks that hypnotically dominate the landscape. They always look impressive, with steep slopes and iconic pointed summits. Mount Musala is the highest in the chain, and at 2,925 meters it’s the highest in the Balkans. Snowy for the most of the year, it’s a stunning expression of nature’s power around the city of Sofia. Climbing to the summit takes a few days. On a Sofia air tour you can fly through the Rile Mountains, surrounding yourself with their primitive beauty.

Belchin Village Fort and Spa:

Belchin is hidden in the mountains, an ancient village that provides a poignant tale on the area’s history. This lost little village is where you will find Tsara Mali Grad Fortress, the oldest reconstructed fort in the country – dating to 370AD. Just up the road there’s a luxurious spa, with a Roman bath built upon natural thermals. But the fort and spa don’t qualify Belchin as a natural wonder. Instead, that comes from the views and clean mountain air; visit this village on a Sofia tour and there’s a postcard view as you’re sipping on a coffee or beer.

Iskar River Lake:

Stretching for 368 kilometres, the Iskar is the longest river running solely through Bulgaria. It tumbles down from the mountains before spilling into Iskar Lake and eventually the Danube River. With mountains glowing all around, both the Iskar lake and river provide an inspiring sight, a showcase of nature’s power. Admire it all from a plane window or spend the day doing water sports along the lake.

Balkan Mountains:

The Balkan Mountain range is the permanent backdrop to Sofia and Bulgaria, a long stretch of summits that are filled with colour. There’s white in window, yellow flowers in spring, green slopes through the summer, and the stark cones of the mountain peaks all year around. With a Sofia air tour, the Balkan Mountains always provide a distant backdrop, creating a lingering memory to take home from a visit to the city.

Jet Ops Europe operate aerial Sofia tours that connect these natural wonders. Four air tours are currently offered, from a 25-minute scenic flight to a full-day excursion that includes two light aircraft flights and 85 minutes in the air. See http://www.jet-ops.com/tours/sofia-tours for more information, including how to customise an air tour or transfer.

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