Sofia is the capital and the largest city of Bulgaria, located at the foot of Vitosha Mountains. It was the first city I have visited during my Balkan trip. This city has a lot to offer, great culinary, friendly people, fascinating historical sites shaped over 2000 plus years and cultures influenced by Greek, Romans, Ottoman and the Soviets is a city you will definitely love. Here is a list of the best things to do and see in the capital city during your trip.
The best things-to-do list is based on my travel interest, but it can be adjusted based on yours. All places of interest are walkable.
The Church of St George
The Church of St George among ruins of ancient Roman city Serdica stands a 4th-century church known to be the oldest church in the city. The beautiful early Christian red brick rotunda with a coned roof is magnificent to look at and surrounded by the residency building.
Exploring Vitosha Boulevard
Vitosha is one of the main commercial streets in the city center extends from the St Nedelya Square to the Southern Park with plenty of elegant stores, restaurants, and bars.
It is a semi-pedestrianized area definitely worth checking it out even though it is pretty expensive in fact, ranked 52nd among the worlds most costly shopping streets.
Banya Bashi Mosque
Banya Bashi Mosque is located next to the old mineral baths, and this beautiful brick building is the last functioning mosque out of total 70 mosques.
Visit the historic Synagogue
The Sofia Synagogue is the third-largest synagogue in Europe and the largest in Southeastern Europe. It is located just behind Central Market (Halite Market) and in the vicinity of Banya Bashi Mosque and Regional History Museum.
St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
The St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is a Bulgarian Orthodox cathedral that definitely deserves a visit. A gigantic iconic structure unquestionably the symbol of this country and one of the most favored sites among the tourists. The beautiful early 20th-century gold-domed cathedral is about 45 m high with the bell tower reaching as high as 51m can be seen from a far distance and represents the pride of Sofia.
St. Sofia Church, the 2nd. Oldest Church in the Bulgaria
The church of St. Sofia God’s Wisdom) is the second oldest church in the city. It is located in the city center very close to the iconic Alexander Nevski cathedral.
The historical 6th-century church was built during the time of Byzantine Emperor Justinian. Currently, the temple is considered one of the symbols of the capital city. You can visit this church and see the remains of tombs and building foundation goes back about 1500 years.
St Nedelya Church
Nedelya Church is medieval Orthodox church that was suffered destruction over the years and then reconstructed many times. The prominent one was in 1925 when it was damaged by a failed assassination attempt of Tsar Boris III, but over 200 lost their life by the bomb blast.
Ivan Vazov National Theater
It is not only the oldest theater in the country but also one of the famous landmarks of Sofia. It is located in the heart of the city facing the City Garden next to the National Art Gallery and Russian Church. A must-visit site in Sofia.
Ancient Roman Ruins of Serdica and Church of St. Petka
Sardica: This beautiful, partially covered excavation area, located just above the Serdika metro station, represents the remains of the ancient Roman city of Serdica, that once filled this area. The remains were excavated between 2010 – 2012 during the construction of the Sofia subway. There are roman streets, ancient basilica, baths, and houses dating back from the 4th to 6th centuries. This is a great place to explore while in Sofia.
The Church of St Petka of the Saddlers is an ancient Bulgarian Orthodox church in Sofia. I did not go out of my way to check out this historical church because it centrally located next to the Serdika metro station.
During the Ottoman period building a church was permitted if their hights never exceeds more than a soldier on horseback. So this church was partially dug into the ground.
Visit The Halite Market
Halite is a covered market, also known as the Market Hall in the center of city right opposite of Banya Bashi Mosque. If you are interested in finding a variety of local food, such as produce, meats, and meats products, spices, spirits, pastries, then this is the place to visit, even you are not interested in shopping.
Another Best Things To Do is Have Good Food
Skaptoburger is a great place to have your lunch, located in the heart of city. The burger is made out of fresh 100% ground beef, never frozen; buns are baked in-house, house-made sauces and spice blends was awesome. Unlike the huge burger in the picture (right) they also have smaller and larger sizes so got to try it based on our appetite if you are visiting Sofia.
Address: 20 Tsar Shishman Str., Sofia
Nice place to have your candle light dinner, located very close to St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. Price was reasonable and service will surely make you impressed. The food was so delicious that I wanted to go back to try something similar. If you plan a visit then definitely need to try Lamb meat, roasted after an old traditional Bulgarian recipe. And don’t miss the Bulgarian local drink Rakia for a kick, I tried the one made from plum and grape.
Address: at bul. Kniaz Aleksandar Dondukov 71,
Where To Stay in Sofia
BW Premier Collection City Hotel is centrally located, only 5 – 7 minutes from the top attractions in Sofia such as Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, St. Sofia Church, the parliament of Sofia.
A lot of excellent restaurants around the hotel to choose from also public transportation is right around the corner. The best thing is they have private parking available onsite at the costs EUR 10 per day.
Address: 6 Stara Planina Str.
Being 7.5 mi from Sofia International Airport, near to Central Railway and International Bus Station, the hotel enjoys a convenient location and won Bulgaria’s 2009 Best Convention Hotel prize. An airport shuttle service is available on request and for a surcharge.
Address: Maria Luisa Blvd 131, Centrum