Sofia is the capital and largest city of Bulgaria, with a population of more than 1 million residents. The town first founded thousands of years ago is one of Europe’s oldest cities.
Digital nomads will be happy to know that Sofia also has one of the fastest internet connections in Europe. One of things Bulgaria is known for is the relatively affordable cost of living compared to Western Europe.
Sofia has a rich history and unique cultural significance that flows throughout the modern city. It echoes in the architecture, people, and monuments.
From authentic cuisines, hypnotic nightlife, walking tours, colorful flea markets, and everything in between, there is something to be enjoyed by everyone. You won’t be wondering what to do in Sofia.
Best Time To Visit Sofia
The Bulgarian capital is a contemporary, energetic city and home to Bulgaria’s best museums, restaurants, and booming nightlife.
The best time to visit Sofia is from June to September when the weather is at its best. During the summer months, the average lowest temperature is 26˚C, making this sunny city ideal for a vacation getaway.
There are plenty of liberating things to do in Sofia, Bulgaria, emphasizing diverse cultural backgrounds. Remember to check these interesting facts of Bulgaria to enhance your visit!
Popular Things To Do In Sofia
After hanging out here for a few weeks, here are some of the best things to do in Sofia.
Travel Back In Time At The National History Museum
The National History Museum possesses over 8,000 years of cherished history in collections of antique figures. You can expect to spend a few hours taking in every bit of Bulgarian history and explore the treasures left behind.
The museum showcases several exhibitions, including historical findings, replicas, and noteworthy events, and the latest archaeological discoveries.
The museum’s operation hours are from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm with an admission fee of $6. Entry is free every last Monday of the month.
A visit to The National History Museum makes one of the most cultural things to do in Sofia.
Visit The St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is arguably Sofia’s most significant landmark and one of the finest Sofia attractions in Bulgaria. It is also right where I stayed.
The church is also a memorial for the 200,000 Russian soldiers who perished in the Russo-Turkish War. The cathedral sits on a property with six other buildings, including the parish hall, the rectory, and Our Lady of Tikhvin, the original church.
Every Saturday at 5:00 pm, an All-Night Vigil occurs. Every Sunday starting at 9:30 am, the Divine Liturgy. It is respectful to dress appropriately when visiting the cathedral.
Typically, the attire resembles the old custom where men and women stand on opposite sides of the church. I recommend not wearing anything that could be distracting and too casual. That means no shorts, clothes with text, and sports uniforms, to name a few.
Cultural Things To Do In Sofia
Hang Out At Vitosha Boulevard
Vitosha Boulevard is one of the most popular Sofia tourist attractions. This is like the main street, and you will certainly walk past it. The Boulevard features rows of stylish shops, restaurants, and bars. It is a nice area to grab lunch, watch the crowd or do some shopping.
In the evenings, the Sofia nightlife takes over as the streets fill with eager and excited people looking to have an unforgettable time at one of the local nightclubs and bars.
Visit The Sofia Synagogue
This eclectic building serves as a staple in the city for the Jewish community. It is also a beautiful place to visit to escape the crowds and appreciate a bit of history.
There is a small entrance fee of under $4 in support of the community and worth every penny to experience. The synagogue is located in the center of the city and can occupy up to 1,300 visitors, making it the third-largest temple in Europe.
The building is truly appreciated for its history and intricate architecture and is an essential visit for Sofia attractions.
A Brisk Walk To Banya Bashi Mosque
The Banya Bashi Mosque is the only operating Mosque in Sofia today. First built in the 16th century, the Mosque is a beautiful dome-like building in the heart of the city.
The best time to visit the Mosque might be on a Friday when the surrounding area is lively and in motion when the service from inside the Mosque is cast on the outdoor speakers.
Local Things To Do In Sofia
Unwind At The City Garden
Sofia the capital of Bulgaria, but it is also one of the greenest capitals in Europe. Sofia is full of beautiful parks filled with rich green landscapes. The oldest park, The City Garden, is undoubtedly one of Sofia’s most relaxing things.
The park features dozens of accessible benches and an open landscape to sit, relax, and enjoy mother Earth. Located in the center of Sofia, the City Garden is a popular escape from city life. Don’t be surprised if you stumble across a chess match, as this is an everyday activity that occurs regularly at the park.
Embrace Your Inner Foodie On A Food tour
Sofia offers delicious traditional Bulgarian cuisines such as Shopska Salata, Banichka, Sarmi, and many others. Joining a free food tour allows visitors to sample the different local menus to taste what the food in Sofia has to offer.
Bulgarian food is all about flavors, colors and forms, and variety. The food is inspired by the Middle East but adopts its own flare of flavor. Food tours can last around 2 hours, so I recommend participating on an empty stomach.
Rest assured, my fellow vegetarians, as the tours are split up into two groups; vegetarians and non-vegetarians. Getting a taste of authentic Bulgarian food is always a good start to the trip if you are unsure what to do in Sofia.
Things To Do In Sofia Nightlife
Mix And Mingle At A Nightclub
For the night owls, Sofia nightlife is the perfect adventure for things to do in Sofia at night. Being one of the cheapest cities in all of Europe, Sofia has a thriving nightlife scene that makes for a great budget-friendly excursion.
Typically, the real fun doesn’t usually begin until late into the night, after midnight. I suggest traveling by taxi when hopping between clubs. Sofia is deemed one of the safest cities to travel to, with a very low violent crime rate, but it is best to stay safe and not travel alone at night.
Many famous clubs and bars host DJs that play various trendy genres, including Bulgarian traditional music, punk, house, electronics, metal, and more.
To get a taste of Sofia’s traditional music, visit a nightclub that plays Chalga music to get a diverse mix of musical backgrounds. Vitosha Boulevard and the city center are home to some of Sofia’s most popular nightclubs and bars.
Go Underground At Yalta Club
Yalta Club is one of Sofia’s most popular nightclubs and is the first to play techno music since the fall of communism in Bulgaria. Yalta Club is a fun place to dance the night away in tune with some of the best underground and electronic music.
This venue is one of the oldest in Sofia nightlife and has hosted many famous DJs such as Danny Howells, Victor Calderone, Nina Kravis, and many more. Yalta Club is also one of the few nightclubs that feature an intimate underground level dedicated to providing the purest kind of clubbing from dusk till dawn.
Join A Pub Crawl
If you visit Sofia briefly and enjoy bars, then a pub crawl is a perfect way to check out some of the Sophia nightlife and most popular bars with the best drinks.
Enjoy good company, even better drinks, all while embracing the history of the youthful city. Pub crawls can typically last between 3 to 4 hours.
Things To Do Outside Sofia City Center
Escape To Vitosha Mountain
Vitosha mountain sits on the very outskirts of Sofia. The impressive Vitosha mountain reaches over 2200 meters high, making it the fourth highest mountain in Bulgaria. Vitosha mountain is known for its lush greenery and scenic trails that render some of the best views in town.
During the warmer months, visitors can hike up the mountain. From January to March, skiing is a popular activity among Sofia tourist attractions during the winter months.
A hike up Vitosha Mountain makes for the perfect escape from the city if you are not sure what to do in Sofia. I recommend bringing something light and warm in the event the temperature drastically changes, which is not uncommon in the mountain.
The most common way to get to Vitosha Mountain is by taking a bus to Simeonovski Gondola Lift to Aleko Hut.
Admire The Beauty Of Rila Monastery
A popular day trip from Sofia is to visit Rila Monastery. This is one of the most favored Sofia tourists attractions and beautiful things to do in Sofia. To get there, hop on the bus at Ovcha Kupel Bus Station at 10:20. This is the only time the bus leaves to visit Rila Monastery, so be sure to arrive at least 20 minutes before.
Where To Stay In Sofia, Bulgaria
Being the capital city, Sofia has a range of accommodation options from hostels to hotels and apartment rentals. It is also a walkable city for exploration especially within the city center and has a metro network. Here are some well-rated options that are popular among travelers.
Hostels In Sofia
Hostel Mostel Sofia: A comfortable guesthouse with welcoming atmosphere. The place also has big communal spaces for travelers to hang out, including a bar, billiard table and a nice patio for good weather.
5 Vintage Guest House: This is really more of private rooms with shared common areas. It is right in the city center and has easy access to a metro station. If you are looking for a homely feel, this would appeal to your taste.
Hotels In Sofia
InterContinental Sofia: InterContinental is a well known brand but the location in Sofia is just perfect. In fact, the building just stands out dramatically. The hotel is well equipped with amenities and also gives you easy access to the main sights and shopping area.
Grand Hotel Millennium Sofia: The Grand Hotel Millennium offers impressive views of the city and greenery. It is fully equipped swimming pool, fitness centre and spa facilities. The hotel is near the edge of city center but conveniently located along Vitosha Boulevard.
Apartments In Sofia
Sofia Vintage Life Apartment: Clean, spacious and modern one bedroom apartment in great location. It is well equipped for extended stay and they also offer a parking space inside the yard.
Courthouse Apartments Slavi: Offering a few different apartment options from Studio to one bedroom in a central location, featuring beautiful thoughtful interior design.