Sofia, capital of Bulgaria, is situated in the western part of Bulgaria and it is one of the oldest European capitals. It is the largest city in Bulgaria with a population of around 1.3 million people. Its climate is temperate continental and thanks to the nearby Mountain Vitosha it is well protected from the strong winds.

Sofia is a youthful city that is surprisingly also very green, with many large parks and beautiful gardens. The nearby Mountain Vitosha features many ski slopes and hiking trails, and the largest river in Bulgaria, the Iskar River traverses the city.

Overview

Sofia, capital of Bulgaria, is situated in the western part of Bulgaria and it is one of the oldest European capitals. It is the largest city in Bulgaria with a population of around 1.3 million people. Its climate is temperate continental and thanks to the nearby Mountain Vitosha it is well protected from the strong winds.
Sofia is a youthful city that is surprisingly also very green, with many large parks and beautiful gardens. The nearby Mountain Vitosha features many ski slopes and hiking trails, and the largest river in Bulgaria, the Iskar River traverses the city.
Sofia boasts the largest museum collections in the country: there are many museums and galleries waiting for visitors to Sofia, including the National Historical Museum with over 650000 items and the National Museum of Military History. Sofia is also very rich in historical buildings: the downtown is a place not to be missed and visitors can admire Ottoman mosques, Red Army monuments and onion-domed churches. One of the country’s symbols, the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is also located in the city that was built in the 19th century. There is also a pedestrianized zone called Vitosha Boulevard (or Vitoshka) that offers many restaurants and cafés.

Key facts

  • Currency: BGN: Bulgarian Lev
    Language: Bulgarian
    Approximate flight time from the UK: 4 hours
    Time zone: GMT +2

Great for

Cultural adventure: The Bulgarian capital offers a wide range of museums, galleries and historical buildings that are really worth a visit. The famous Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is a must visit attraction and the National Historical Museum displays more than 650.000 items.
Outdoor activities: Due to the nearby Mountain Vitosha and the large green spaces in the city, Sofia is also great for those who are after outdoor activities. Visitors can find several ski slopes and hiking trails at the Mountain Vitosha and the city’s manicured gardens are great for a walk.
Relaxation: The Bulgarian capital has a temperate continental climate and it boasts hot and cold mineral springs which are great for bathing and relaxation. The thermal water also have medical benefits so it is really worth a try.

Boyana Church

The Boyana Church has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1979 and it is one of the most visited tourist attractions of the Bulgarian capital. The Boyana Church is a perfectly preserved medieval monument with stunning Bulgarian frescoes. It was built in 3 stages and the eastern church is the oldest section from the late 10th century.
Address: 3 Boyansko Ezero Str., Sofia 1616, Bulgaria
Opening hours: April to October: every day from 9.30am to 5.30pm, from November to March: every day from 9am to 5pm
Entry cost: vary
Official website: http://www.boyanachurch.org/indexen.htm

Borisova Gradina

It might be a metro ride away, but Sofia’s oldest and prettiest park is worth the trip. Leave the city behind and enter these quiet, hushed gardens, filled with statues and well-maintained flower beds to amuse the eye. This park is huge, with a giant communist monument at one end, and the Vasil Levki Stadium at the other.
Take a relaxed stroll through this park and keep your eyes out for the sculptures, the summer swimming bath (with a series of giant diving boards!), the observatory, Ariana Lake and the tennis courts.
Address: Sofia, Bulgaria (catch the metro to the National Stadium Vasil Levski)
Opening hours: 24/7
Entry cost: Free – there are cafés to purchase refreshments in. 

The Central Synagogue of Sofia

The Central Synagogue of Sofia is located in the city centre of the Bulgarian capital and it is the second largest Sephardic synagogue in Europe. The synagogue is the most important symbol of the Bulgarian Jewish community and it has a long history. The construction of the Central Synagogue of Sofia began in 1903 and the building was designed by the famous Bulgarian architect, Friederich Grunanger. In 1944 the synagogue was partially destroyed by the bombings and in the last few years a restoration project was initiated. The Central Synagogue of Sofia is really worth a visit.
Address: Ekzarh Joseph Street 16, 1000 Sofia, Bulgaria
Official website: http://www.sofiasynagogue.com/index.php?lang=en

National Museum of Military History

The National Museum of Military History is situated on the eastern part of Sofia and it is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Bulgarian capital. The first exhibition of the museum was opened in 1937 and nowadays it displays several collections on an exhibition area of 5000 square metres. If you are interested in the military history then the museum is a must.
Address: 92 Cherkovna Str., 1505 Sofia, Bulgaria
Opening hours: Wednesday – Sunday: from 10am to 6pm
Entry cost: BGN 8 for adults, BGN 2 for students and BGN 6 for military men. Family ticket is also available for BGN 10.
Official website: http://www.militarymuseum.bg/index-en.html

National Art Gallery – The Palace

The Sofia Palace belongs to the National Art Gallery and is one of the most interesting tourist attractions in the Bulgarian capital. The construction of this magnificent palace began in 1878 by an architect from Vienna; Viktor Rumpelmeyer, and was officially inaugurated in 1882. Nowadays the stunning Sofia Palace is also host to the so called RED exhibition of the National Art Gallery that is also worth a visit.
Address: 1, Prince Alexander I Sqr, Sofia 1000, Bulgaria
Opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday: from 10am to 6pm, the ticket office is open until 5.30pm
Entry cost: BGN 6 for adults, BGN 3 for students and seniors
Official website: http://nationalartgallerybg.org/index.php?l=4

Have you been to Sofia recently? What are the must-do experiences that you'd suggest? Do you have tips on how to stretch that holiday budget a bit further or know of a hidden-gem that’s easy to miss?


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