7 Things to Do in Sofia
Sofia is Bulgaria’s largest city and its capital, and it attracts countless visitors each year. Ranked in 2013 as Europe’s most affordable capital city, and full of rich history, art, and culture, it’s no wonder why tourists are drawn to Sofia. There are plenty of things to do in Sofia, and there are certainly enough attractions and historical sites to fill a month visiting. For those with limited time, make sure to stop by these top tourist sites. Each has been highly ranked by visitors and will give you a look at life in Sofia in the past and present.
- Vitosha Boulevard
This is the main shopping street of Sofia, home to high end retail stores, restaurants, and bars. Armani, Boss, Tommy Hilfiger, Versace, La Perla, and many others are represented on this well-known shopping street. A stroll along this vibrant street provides you with a mix of modern culture and historical buildings. Some famous buildings include the Sofia Court of Justice and Sveta Nedelya Orthodox Church. Enjoy a day walking through this shopping district to see the history of Sofia come alive with today’s culture.
- National Museum of Military History
Stop by this “Certificate of Excellence” recipient for a view of Sofia’s rich military history. An outside display leads into four floors of artifacts and educational war relics. Cannons and a tank are displayed from the WWII era, and over 2,000 years of history are represented in the other displays. The museum features a mix of Bulgarian and general European history for a comprehensive view of world events along with the unique perspective of Bulgaria. Learn about history while viewing uniforms, medals, and weaponry from all over Europe and Bulgaria in particular. A whole day can be spent here exploring all this museum has to offer.
- The Rotunda of St. George
This Roman structure is the oldest building in Sofia which still fulfills its original purpose. It has been rebuilt several times as various peoples have conquered the land of Bulgaria, and it currently serves as the Church of St. George. Remarkable architecture, fresco paintings, and ancient ruins all coexist peacefully for a melding of past, present, and future. Icons cover the interior walls, and the round building is surrounded by modern buildings outside of a courtyard. This rotunda is worth a visit, and it will take only an hour or two to explore. Many visitors have cherished their time here, and say it is not to be missed. You won’t regret a short visit to the Rotunda of St. George.
- Amphitheatre of Serdica
The construction of a subway line in 2010 led to the discovery of ancient Roman ruins, leading to the present-day archaeological site that exists here. Entrance is free, and includes a self-guided tour of the artifacts and architecture. Detailed plaques give background information about each site, so you can take as long as you want to enjoy each area. Take a look into the past of this beautiful city, and enjoy the ancient civilization that once existed.
- Vitosha Mountain
Take an easy hike to the top or hitch a ride in a cable car to reach the summit of Vitosha Mountain. The view from the top is incredible, but the scenery along the way is stunning as well. Pine trees, handmade bridges, and rock paths lead you to a view of the city you will never forget. This popular tourist spot is even a favorite during the winter, when a ski resort opens at the top of the mountain. Guided tours can be found, but the trails are easy enough to follow that you can reach the top on your own in about an hour. Spend an afternoon hiking and enjoying the natural scenery surrounding Sofia.
- Saint Nikolas Russian Church
A beautiful green roof and golden domes make this church stick out from the surrounding buildings. A step inside will allow you to view stunning icons painted hundreds of years ago. This small church is in the center of Sofia, and a short visit is all you need to enjoy it. Although it is small in size, it is an attraction that tops every list of things to do in Sofia because its rich religious history shows through its interior and exterior beauty.
- Cathedral Saint Alexandar Nevski
Topping our list of things to do in Sofia is a visit to this gorgeous cathedral. The main cathedral is home to religious artwork and icons, and an underground gallery offers even more art from the 17th-19th centuries. Spend a few hours enjoying the art and feeling the serene nature of this landmark. Light a candle in the cathedral and then walk through the art museum to see part of Sofia’s religious culture.
This post was written by Andrew Larson, a semi-retired software engineer turned globetrotter and full-time travel enthusiast which now runs Wanderlust 15. For more information, visit Wanderlust 15.