Sofia, Bulgaria, is a rare gem of a destination that offers travelers a unique experience. Where else can you find Roman ruins on seemingly every block, four different religions on the same square, a big mountain next door, and a wondrous dessert of yogurt and strawberry jam? Nowhere comes to mind but Sofia, Bulgaria, and we want to share with you a list of some awesome things to do while you’re there!
Sofia Free Walking Tour
Make sure to participate in a free walking tour while in Sofia! This is where you’ll get even more good ideas for things to do. We super recommend Free Sofia Tour. These guys were really funny and very engaging.
They’ll help you understand the layout of the city and give you some great pointers on things to do in Sofia!
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
Let’s go ahead and get the most popular one out of the way. If you google Sofia then this is what you’ll see and rightfully so. It’s a unique building within Sofia and going inside is a cool experience, especially if you’ve never been in an Orthodox church before.
If you’re wandering around Sofia’s city center then you’re guaranteed to find Roman ruins. Whenever they’ve tried to excavate for a subway or city project, they’ve found ruins underneath. So it makes sense their metro isn’t too big, although it’s one of the cleanest we’ve ever experienced!
One particular area of interest is the “Complex Ancient Serdica”. This ancient complex is a layout of old Roman houses and there is English to help guide you through it. Here you’ll also find Sveta Petka, an old Orthodox church housed in an ancient Roman building. This is located within the Square of Tolerance.
Day Trip from Sofia to Rila Monastery
One of the best things to do in Sofia or all of Bulgaria, for that matter, is to make a visit to Rila Monastery. We preferred to rent a car and head there ourselves so we weren’t constrained by a tour. However, there are plenty of tour options available. For more info, read our post on a day trip to Rila Monastery from Sofia.
The Square of Tolerance
The Square of Tolerance makes Sofia a very special city. There are four religious buildings all within a few minutes’ walk of one another. A mosque, Orthodox church, synagogue, and a Catholic cathedral. All of these buildings and this area are worth your time! However, the synagogue was under renovation when we were in Sofia.
Saint Sofia Monument
Also within the Square of Tolerance is the Saint Sofia Monument. There is a funny but also sad backstory to this statue. It’s not quite as important as it might seem to the visitor. So go on a free walking tour of Sofia and you’ll learn from a local as to why this statue is so controversial.
Regional History Museum of Sofia
Housed in an old Turkish bathhouse, the Regional History Museum is a must while in Sofia. Not only can you appreciate the beautiful building and the gardens out front but some awesome history is on display within.
Entry prices are very cheap, starting at 8 Bulgarian lev per adult.
St. Nedelya Church
St. Nedelya is another Orthodox church that deserves a visit while in Sofia. You can’t miss it! It’s located just north of the Palace of Justice (courthouse). Head inside and appreciate the ornate detail of the interior. It’s also quite dark inside like Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.
Stroll Down Vitosha Boulevard
Lined with shops and restaurants, any day is a good day to have a walk down Vitosha blvd. Whether you stop to eat or drink, or if you’re in search of a good view of Vitosha Mountain, Vitosha Blvd. is a happening street and quite picturesque, at that.
Sofia’s Many Mineral Springs
There are many mineral springs scattered throughout the city. The water is delicious and apparently has great properties in it for your health. Whatever the case, we can confirm the water is good and we refilled many times while wandering Sofia. Be sure to have a refillable bottle on you so you can fill up!
Church St. George Rotunda
Originally a Roman bathhouse, this church dates back to the 4th century. That’s old! The Soviet regime constructed office buildings around it to hide it from view. Entry is free but no pictures are allowed inside. There are also ancient Roman ruins on the grounds so feel free to walk around and explore!
Not your typical Bulgarin food, but this place has the best burgers we’ve tried since leaving the States. Juicy, cheesy, all of the things that make a burger good, Boom! Burgers excels. Have a cheap and refreshing draft beer to wash it all down.
Hiking Up Vitosha Mountain
Fancy some hiking while in Sofia? We think the city has a lot to offer but there are some cool things to do outside of it. See Boyana Church (UNESCO Heritage Site), Boyana Waterfall, or hike to the summit itself! There’s also the lift if you can’t make the climb. We provide more info about it in our post on hiking Vitosha Mountain from Sofia.
Borisova Gradina Park
A massive area, Borisova Gradina Park is an awesome place to relax the afternoon away with some gelato. From the many monuments to the gardens and big lily pond, take some time to stroll through this park with the locals.
Pod Lipite and Sofia’s Excellent Bulgarian Cuisine
Our favorite restaurant in Bulgaria, Pod Lipite serves up traditional Bulgarian food. Not only is the atmosphere perfect, especially in the summer, but their menu is extensive and their homemade yogurt and jam dessert is to die for. You can find it on the edge of Borisova Gradina Park. There are tons of restaurants in Sofia but we recommend you to try and venture away from the main square and seek out those yummy Bulgarian bites!
Rent a Car and Drive Through Bulgaria
Sofia serves as a great base to rent a car and just drive. Whether you’re heading to Plovdiv or Rila Monastery or just wandering around, the Bulgarian countryside is worth it. In the summer, you’ll find endless fields of sunflowers and the mountains are the perfect backdrop.
Summary of Things to Do in Sofia, Bulgaria
We hope your time in Sofia, Bulgaria, is as great as ours was. There are so many things to do in Sofia and we hope this list has been useful in your search. Bulgaria is a special country and one that we hope to return to in the future.