The villages around the foot of Vitosha mountain - Pancharevo, Simeonovo, Dragalevtsi, Boyana as well as Bistritsa and Zheleznitsa further up the mountain - have become hugely popular residential areas not only with the expat community but also for wealthier Bulgarians. These villages offer the opportunity to live in homes with larger gardens, closer to nature and better air quality and still be not much more than 30 minutes from the city centre. In fact the Sofia Business Park development as well as several expat schools and kindergartens are all ideally located for those who wish to make their home in the suburbs.The amazing array of modern luxurious homes has given the Vitosha suburbs the nickname ‘Beverly Hills’ of Sofia, and it is true that you can find huge villas with private pools and gyms here, but there is also a more modest selection of homes available to buy and rent, either stand alone or as part of a gated community. Most villages have a reasonable selection of local shops offering the essentials, some fruit and veg stores as well as pharmacies and post offices. These days most also have offices for at least one of the main courier services in Bulgaria, speedy or econt.
The Vitosha National Park can be accessed from many of the villages and there are plenty of marked paths, some heading up the mountain, others being on the flat.
There are also several good restaurants to be found in this region, so even if hiking is not your thing, a trip to these areas may well be worth it.
Of cultural interest are the Boyana church and the Dragalevtsi Monastery, which dates back to the mid 14th century (approximately 40 minutes walk from Dragalevtsi Square along the Aleko Road). The large reservoir in the village of Pancharevo attracts crowds at the weekends, offering a gentle walk along its banks, rowing or fishing. There is also an open-air mineral water pool, Korali as well as a more upmarket mineral spa.