Sofia Travel Guide – Tips and Tricks for Bulgaria’s Capital

0 Posted by - October 8, 2016 - Blog, Bulgaria, Cities & Culture, Travel Tips

Sofia is a regular stop for many travelers discovering the Balkans. It offers many cultural activities, has a big mountain in its vicinity ideal for hiking and on top of it all – it’s a budget friendly destination.

In this Sofia travel guide you’ll find a list of top things to do in the city including the sights, tours, eating and drinking section etc.

Sofia Travel Guide

Sofia has many sacral objects and they are some of city’s most notable attractions. So don’t be surprised with the list below. It also has a mix of European and Communist style architecture which makes it a regular stop on many Balkan tours.

Sacral Objects

alexander nevsky cathedral - sofia travel guide

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral – Sofia’s most impressive church
Boyana Church – One of Bulgaria’s most beloved medieval churches. Listed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List
St. Sofia Church – The second oldest church in the city. Very close to the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
Banya Bashi Mosque – The only working mosque in the city
Sv. Nedelya Church – Beautiful church at the beginning of Vitosha street. In 1925 the church was blown up by the communists in an attempt to assassinate Tsar Boris III.
Sofia Synagogue – The third largest synagogue in Europe
Sveti Nikolai Russian Church – Beautiful architecture!

Buildings/Architecture

NDK Sofia travel guide

National Theatre Ivan Vazov – One of the nicest architectural gems
Narodno Sabranie – The National Assembly designed in Neo-Renaissance style
Monument to the Soviet Army – Popular place where many young people gather
NDK (National Palace of Culture) – Major venue for concerts and other events, famous for its unique architectural style
Sofia Monument – A monumental sculpture in the city centre. Stands in the place where Lenin’s statue once used to be.
The Mineral Baths Building – An interesting building in Bulgarian and Byzantine architectural styles
Royal Palace – Now home to the National Art Gallery and the Etnographic Museum
Presidency – Don’t miss the changing of the guard ceremony

Parks

sofia parks

Sofia has a plenty green areas and here are some of its best parks;

Yuzhen Park  – Possibly the most photogenic park
Borisova Gradina – Home of the Monument to the Soviet Army and great place for strolling and having a picnic. Also home to Vasil Levski stadium and CSKA stadium
Sofia City Garden – Beautiful park with several cafes around
Sofia University Botanic Garden – For the more extreme nature fans đŸ™‚
Doctor’s Garden – Small park with historical significance

Museums

sofia-culture

Archeological Museum – One of the best museums in the city
National Art Gallery – Must see for culture buffs!
National Gallery for Foreign Art – This gallery hosts European, Asian (mostly Buddhist and Japanese art) and African art.
National Museum of Military History – It has one of the best presented exhibitions in the city. You can follow Bulgarian history from the Thracian period until the WW2 and Communist times.

Street Life

plac-slaveikov sofia travel guide

Vitosha Street – main pedestrian street with lots of shops, restaurants and cafes. Always alive!
Plac Slaveikov – I love this square as there’s an open-air book market. Most books are Bulgarian novels but there are English language books too and some in French.

Eating & Drinking

vegan-food-sofia

Manastirska Magernitsa – Authentic Bulgarian restaurant with rich selection of foods from all over the country
Dream House – An awesome vegetarian and vegan restaurant. There’s also an ‘all you can eat buffet’ on Sundays.
Cafe Theatre – A very nice cafe in a great setting just next to the Ivan Vazov Theatre
Loving Hut – Another vegan budget friendly place
Central Hali Shopping Center – This is a big market complex with a food court on the top
Fantastico Supermarket – Great place to stock up on groceries
Supa Star – Delicious soups! Good offer of sandwiches and salads too. Nice atmosphere. A must visit when in town.
Skaptobara – Burgers and beers! Great place for a chit chat with friends
There are also many fast food stalls where you can buy food such as banitsa (cheese pastry), pancakes and burgers.

Nightlife

Drinks

J.J. Murphy’s Sofia – A famous Irish pub
E.W. Studio – One of the better clubs in the city
Culture Beat – This bar/club has a nice terrace with the view of Sofia. Hosts DJ sessions at night.
One More Bar – Hip, nice garden to sit outside, ideal for summers drinks
Dada Cultural Bar – Chilling and cozy place, ideal for drinking wine
Vitamin B – Great selection of beers. Yes, beers!

Culture

red cinema sits

Cinema City – Modern, multi screen cinema in the Mall of Sofia
Arena Cinema Sofia – Another good cinema located in the Business Park district
Sofia Opera – Hosts artists from around the world. You can see the full calendar here
National Palace of Culture – One of the largest cultural centers in the country. Hosts all kinds of events.
Bulgaria Hall – If you want to hear the Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra come here

Shopping

Boulevard Vitosha – Main pedestrian and shopping street with international boutiques, souvenir shops and restaurants
Mall of Sofia – Biggest shopping centre in the city

Accommodation

Sofia has a wide range of accommodation options. However, after visiting the city for the third time I have to say that finding a budget and good quality hotel at the same time is a bit difficult. Apartments or private rooms could be a good option.


Booking.com

Day Trips

boyana-waterfall

Boyana – This is Sofia’s peaceful and elite suburb, located 8 km from the city centre. It’s home to the National Museum of History and Boyana Church which is on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The easiest way to come here is by taxi which is affordable.
Vitosha Mountain – The oldest natural park in the Balkans is located in the vicinity of Sofia. This gives the city a big advantage compared to other European capitals. The best hiking trails are: Aleko Hut – Cherni Vrah peak; Boyana Church – Boyana Waterfall and Vladaya – Golden Bridges.
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