Pancharevo lake in Sofia, Bulgaria

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One of the greatest things about Sofia’s location is that that you can easily escape the city in less than half an hour and find yourself in the Vitosha mountain, one of the small villages around or the beautiful Pancharevo lake.  All of these options are perfect for recharging or simply getting away from the busy city or the summer heat. We’ve already talked about the Boyana waterfall in Vitosha Mountain and the Boyana church, so it is time to show you what to do at the Pancharevo lake and why it is a great (half) day trip.

Where is it?
Only 15 km away from the very heart of the city, the Pancharevo lake is easily accessed by car, bike and even public transport. This gives you the opportunity to go there on a whim when you are bored on a Saturday afternoon or just want to have a nice walk with a pleasant view. If you have time you can drive a little bit further and reach the Pasarel dam. This is going to be our next destination so stay tuned for more inspiration in Sofia’s outskirts.

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What can you do at the Pancharevo lake?
This is the perfect place in the summer to practice different water sports. At the central part of the lake, you will find a small port where you can rent a boat, paddle boat or a canoe. Prices are around 4lv (2 euros) for 30 minutes, 8 lv (4 euros) for one hour and 14 lv (7 euros) for 2 hours. Close by there is a rowing school base camp and you can see a lot of people practicing and get inspired by how smooth and fast they move on the water. If you are keen on fishing, there are a lot of spots along the lake where you can do that.
Unfortunately, you cannot swim in the lake and you probably wouldn’t want to as its waters are not that clean and clear but there is a swimming pool called “Koralite” with a view of both the lake and the forest .
Just next to the water is the “Lodkite” (The boats) restaurant where you can have a refreshing beer and “shopska salad” or “tarator” in the summer. It is a very modest place with only the basic facilities when it comes to the interior, but when you are tired after canoeing, for example, you will be more than happy to have a lunch on a table along the water. Alternatively, you can try “Lebed” (The Swan) restaurant with its beautiful garden that often houses weddings and special occasions. The venue is much fancier with a polite service and refined menu.

The panoramic path
One side of the lake is guarded by a forest where a panoramic eco path is built. To be honest, it was probably panoramic when it was first built more than 50 years ago. Now the greenery surrounding the lake allows only a partial view of the water but it is still a lovely place for a hike. It is more of a walk rather than a hike because part of the road is paved and the terrain will be easy even for kids. There were lots of people taking advantage of the fresh air and cooler temperature of the forest by jogging and cycling. You can rest on some of the benches with the company of the birds singing around you or even go down to the lake and join the fishermen.

How to reach the beginning of the path: when coming from the center of Sofia leave your car at the parking close to the wall of the lake. Don’t worry, there are busses going to the lake from the city as well – number 1, 3 or 4 and they stop right next to the lake (the bus stop is called Banya Pancharevo/ Bath Pancharevo. When you reach the lake, regardless your transportation, cross the yellow bridge and walk around the wall until you reach the paved path that disappears in the forest across the lake and ta-da, you’re there.

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