If you live in Sofia and you are looking for a one-day trip nearby, you must have heard about Lakatnik rocks at Iskar gorge. Keep in mind that I would recommend a trip to Lakatnik rocks only to people who are interested in hiking (it takes around one hour to reach the top of the rocks, but it is a bit steep, so you need good sports shoes). The trail is covered in stones, so it is a no-go if you have problems with your knees or back. Of course, a trip to Lakatnik rocks is also suitable for people with no experience in hiking (and you will also see a lot of people there, especially if you go over the weekend) – just make sure you have a bottle of water with you as well as sun protection since most of the time you will be exposed to a lot of sunshine. When it comes to food, I personally had some sandwiches with me, but there is also a small restaurant (called "The Cave") right next to the start of the trail. Of course, both the restaurant and the trail are overcrowded if you go there over the weekend. In case you haven’t prepared your lunch, you can also buy some snacks at the small shop at the Gara Lakatnik train station.
To me, the good thing about visiting is this place is that you don’t need to have a car (you can catch a train from Sofia to Gara Lakatnik, it takes around one hour) and both, the train trip and the view from Lakatnik rocks are very scenic. If you travel by car, you can leave it at the small parking lot in front of “The Cave” restaurant or somewhere around Gara Lakatnik village. Make sure you don’t confuse Gara Lakatnik with Lakatnik, though – these are two different villages and you want to go to Gara Lakatnik village. You can check the schedule of the trains between Sofia and Gara Lakatnik here, so that you plan your trip in advance. Once you reach the train station, you will see the rocks and three points of interest: “Orlovo gnezdo” alpine shelter (in English it means Eagle’s nest and the shelter looks like a small red birdhouse attached to the rocks), a big cross as well as the Septemvriitsi 1923 monument (a big red monument dedicated to four rebels who took part in the September uprising by the Bulgarian Communist Party in 1923 and were killed at the Lakatnik rocks). All three points of interest are located on the top of Lakatnik rocks with Septemvriitsi monument being your goal and final destination because of the lovely view point in front of it. If you are not into hiking, but you still want to witness the view, you can actually go to Septemvriitsi monumber by car. The road trip is also scenic, but keep in mind that the road is very narrow, so you have to be very careful and it takes a lot of time!
In my case, I caught the early train from Sofia and I reached Gara Lakatnik train station in about an hour. I recommend travelling in spring, summer or autumn when the train trip and the view over Iskar gorge take the breath away. Once you are at Gara Lakatnik train station, you should walk towards the rocks (catch the road that goes down to the river) and cross the river at the green bridge. Once you cross the green bridge, you will also see the restaurant (called “the Cave”) and the start of the trail marked in red. Around 10 minutes after you start hiking, you will also see a short trail that leads to a cave on your right – it is called “Temnata dupka” (the Dark Hole). It takes only a couple of minutes to go there, so it won’t take much of your time. You can’t do much in it, but it is still an interesting place to visit while you are there. As mentioned, it takes around one hour to reach the top of the rocks where the monument is and also around an hour to go back. Some parts of the trail are steep, so I do not recommend going there in rainy weather – it can be slippery and really dangerous.
A couple of interesting facts I would like to mention:
If you are into hiking, you will definitely fall in love with the area around Iskar gorge – my two favourite spots are Bovska skaklya waterfall and Pod Kamiko eco trail.
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