The hike from Zheleznitsa village to Aleko hut is a scenic hike (but also rather demanding as it takes around three hours and a half - the first two hours and a half you are always going uphill). This means that it may be easier for beginners to do the hike starting from Aleko hut and finishing at Zheleznitsa village, but in this case your knees may suffer because of the long distance where you will always be going downhill. What I like about the route is that it is not very popular since most people go to Aleko hut by car or via Simeonovo lift.
The hike can be divided in two parts:
First part: Zheleznitsa village to Fizkulturnik / Kupena hut (right next to Kupena peak). The hike starts between the bus stations “Lyulyak str.” and “Selo Zheleznitsa” of bus #69 (you can catch it from Mladost 1 metro station) and follows the blue mark along a dirt road. Around 30 minutes after the start of the hike you will reach plenty of benches and also a path on your right side which is the hike to Bistritsa village. However, you should stick to the dirt road for one more hour and especially to the poles (which are used as marks in winter and when the weather is foggy). Around 10-15 minutes after you have passed the path to Bistritsa village, the road will split in two – you should go left following the poles and enter a forest. There (quite often) you will see the blue mark on trees with only one time leaving the dirt road as a short cut). Once you leave the forest, you will see the Kupena hut in the distance and you should follow the poles only – the dirt road also leads to the hut but it will take longer. This part is very scenic, so make sure to turn around from time to time and enjoy the view. In general, the hike from Zheleznitsa village to Kupena hut takes around two hours and a half and is rather demanding – you are always going uphill. I didn’t see any places to refill a water bottle, so better be prepared in advance.
Second part: Fizkulturnik/ Kupena hut to Aleko hut. This part is quite easy and it takes only around one hour and 15 minutes (or slightly more, depending on your pace). To be honest, the hike should be very scenic (with a beautiful panorama over Sofia), however, when we did the hike, the weather was quite foggy, so we didn’t see anything haha. So, back to the instructions. For the first 15 minutes after passing the hut, you should still follow the blue mark. Then you have to turn right along the yellow mark (if you stick to the blue mark, it will take you to Cheni vrah summit). The place where the path splits in blue and yellow is quite obvious (and also well-marked, so you won’t get lost). After you turn right along the yellow mark, you have around an hour to reach Aleko hut. The path is really pleasant, scenic, well-marked and will take you straight to Aleko hut! Once you reach Aleko hut, you have plenty of options too – take the Simeonovo lift to Sofia or if you are into more hiking, you can go to Cherni vrah, Simeonovo neighborhood, Dragalevtsi neighborhood, Zlatnite mostove area or Bistritsa village!
Watch my video about the hike from Bistritsa to Zheleznitsa then to Aleko hut and Zlanitnite mostove!