Thanks to its strategic location on the Balkan Peninsula, the capital is also the oldest and has always been the liveliest city, as well as a trading, tourist and cultural center. Sofia is also the most important administrative and economic center of the country.
The town is situated right next to the northern slope of the Vitosha Mountain, which provides opportunities for recreation, hiking and skiing.
In the ideal center of the city, the presence of 4 different religious temples, located several hundred meters away, makes an exceptional impression. The Orthodox Church of St. Nedelya, which is the cathedral of the Sofia Metropolis, has an impressive mural decoration. The Sofia Synagogue is also remarkable and one of the largest and most elegant in all of Europe. A significant monument and acting prayer house is also the Sofia Mosque, known as Banya Bashi, combining hamam (bath) from the warm mineral spring in the city center. Against the mosque, there is a newly built Catholic cathedral "Sveti Iosif".
Nearby is the oldest active church in Europe and one of the oldest - the Rotunda of St. George. It is the only well-preserved Roman building in the Bulgarian lands.
From this so-called "place of tolerance" begins the most famous pedestrian zone, namely Boulevard Vitosha, covered with restaurants, bars and shops and souvenir shops.
The boulevard leads to the most modernist of the socialist period and the largest building in the center of Sofia - National Palace of Culture (NDK). This inherently unique building is mainly used for concerts and other cultural events, and its largest hall has 5,000 seats. Behind the National Palace of Culture begins the wide Boulevard Bulgaria, leading to the most unique Boyana Church "St. Nicholas and Panteleimon". It is a medieval Bulgarian church in Boyana's neighborhood, at the foot of the Vitosha Mountain. The church is one of the cultural symbols of Bulgaria and was included in 1979 as a cultural monument in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Another outstanding landmark is the St. Alexander Nevski Cathedral, an Orthodox temple in Sofia, with its impressive architectural style. The belfry of the temple with the cross is 53 meters high and has 12 bells made and brought from Moscow. The largest weighs nearly 12 tonnes and the smallest one weighs 10 kg, with a total weight of 23 tonnes. The temple was declared a cultural monument in 1924. The most remarkable exterior feature of the temple is its gilded domes.
There are also many galleries and museums in the capital. Many of them belong to the Hundred National Tourist Sights. The National Museum of History is the largest museum in Bulgaria and one of the largest in Europe. The National Ethnographic Museum and the National Art Gallery are located in the center of the city, in the building of the former royal palace. The National Museum of Natural History at the Bulgarian Academy of Science is the richest natural science museum on the Balkan Peninsula. Other museums include the National Gallery for Foreign Art, the National Military History Museum in Sofia, the Archaeological Institute and the Museum.
Sofia is a capital with lots of green areas and parks. The largest park is the Borisova Garden, known in the recent past as the Park of Freedom. There are several small lakes, playgrounds, monuments and the stadium "Vasil Levski".
The two oldest and most famous bridges in Sofia are the Eagle Bridge and the Lion Bridge. Both make an impression with their original and unique style.
The building of the Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski, which is the oldest and largest university in Bulgaria, is also very unique. The National Opera and Ballet, as well as the National Theater "Ivan Vazov", which is a National Cultural Institute in the field of theater art, is located in the perfect centre of the city.
Rakovski Boulevard Rakovski is the Bulgarian Broadway, with numerous theaters and remarkable architectural buildings. Interesting is the Statue in the center of Sofia, named by its sculptor George Chapkanov "Sveta Sofia". Since it does not conform to the canons of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, the statue has never been blessed by an Orthodox priest.
The Central Halls and the Central Bath-Museum are other masterpieces of architecture. The most characteristic for Sofia as a tourist center is the concentration of all the beautiful sights in the perfect city center, making them easily accessible and ideal for a long exploration walk. There are many unique cultural and architectural sites in the capital, all of which we can admire through such a long tourist stroll.
1. Restaurant “Vodenitzata” (The Watermill) A short way from Sofia’s downtown, nesting in Vitosha-one of the loveliest Bulgarian mountains, there is an amusement restaurant “Vodenitzata” (The Watermill). The ideal combination of beautiful nature, woods, nice and vivid colored flowers among watermill stones makes this place cozy. There is a rich collection of Bulgarian wines and rakia (plum/grape brandy) to taste here. The dishes from Bulgarian traditional cuisine are deliciously prepared and perfectly served here.
- URL: https://vodenitzata.com/
- typical dish/speciality – local specialities,
- Bulgarian cuisine
- ambience – old watermill style + summer garden, Bulgarian folk music, songs and fire-dances
2. Restaurant Shtastliveca:
- typical dish/speciality - Shepherd Salad with white cheese
- type of cuisine – different offers: traditional, vegan, pasta, pizza and so on.
- ambience – feeling at home as well as experiencing a collection of tastes and aromas
3. Forno Cipollini – authentic Italian restaurant, created by an Italian, who fell in love with Bulgaria and moved with his family here.
- URL: http://forno.bg/
- typical dish/speciality – pizza, pasta
- type of cuisine - Italian
- ambience – street tables + saloon restaurant
4. Umami Japanese Food and Garden.
- URL: https://umami.bg/
- typical dish/speciality - Sushi
- type of cuisine - Japanese
- ambience – very nice with summer lake garden
1. Piano Bar Camino – Dance & NIght club with whiskey bar
- type – piano bar and whiskey bar in two different sections
- ambience – live music with famous musicians and karaoke nights and jazz music in the whiskey bar
2. RockNRolla - rock bar
- URL: https://rocknrolla.bg/
- type – rock bar
- ambience – cozy place, casual atmosphere with quality rock music
- live rock bands, beer fests and karaoke nights
Hotel recommendations (at least one):
1. Holiday Inn®Sofia, Bulgaria
- hotel star rating: 5*
- location - situated in the foothills of the Vitosha Mountain, connected to Sofia Metropolitan network via the newest and most modern Metro station- Mladost 4, the city center can be reached by car in 15 minutes.
- Extras - extensive Spa and Conference facilities, 19m indoor pool or the indoor and outdoor Jacuzzis, spectacular views of the snowcapped Vitosha Mountains
- hotel star rating: 3*
- location - city center, location in quite small internal street
- traffic connection with public transportation – very good at 5 min walking distance it has subway bus and tram stations. Not recommended for visits with vehicle as there is parking zone restrictions in the area.
- extras - Massage services, upon request
3. Crystal Palace Boutique Hotel
- hotel star rating: 4*
- location - downtown Sofia, next to the famous Doctor’s Garden, Sofia’s National Library, the University of Sofia, the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
- extras – Wellness club – massages and spa therapies, fitness & relax area
Your favorite places in the city
1. Aleksander Nevski Kathedral, an Orthodox temple in Sofia with a very impressive architectural style
2. Pantscharevo lake – 12 km south from Sofia
Nice In the summer: few restaurants, nice walking area all around the lake, suitable for biking, few places for picnic, you can hire a boat, you can do some fishing there too.
3. Vitosha mountain – offers different activities all year through
In the summer period it is really nice to visit Kopitoto where it has television tower with restaurant and a really nice view to Sofia city. Also appropriate place for a walk and lunch is Aleko Hut. The “Tulip” slope is open in the winter until 10PM and a lot of people go skiing there in the evening.