Situated at the foot of Mount Vitosha in west Bulgaria, Sofia is a city of abundant character and charm with a distinctive assortment of museums and green spaces to discover.
One of the oldest cities in Europe, Sofia’s chequered past underpins its recent revival as one of Europe’s most understated yet captivating destinations.
Top things to see and do
- Sofia has many contrasting architectural styles. One of its most impressive buildings is the gold-domed Cathedral Saint Alexandar Nevski, one of the largest Eastern Orthodox cathedrals in the world.
- Try a shopska (tomatoes, peppers, onions and parsley) salad in one of Sofia’s many cafés and restaurants. If not quite a national dish, it’s a very popular one. For breakfast, there’s the traditional banitsa, a pastry layered with different ingredients such as cheese, eggs and spinach.
- Sofia has many beautiful parks and gardens to relax in. One of the largest and most central is the Borisova Gradina. Wander its tree-lined paths, stop for a coffee at a café, and hire a boat on ArianaLake in summer or ice skate in winter.
- Originally called Serdica, Sofia is one of the oldest cities in Europe. Head to the city centre and see the spectacular ancient cityruins that have been dug out next to the Rotunda of St George, a 4th century church believed to be oldest preserved building in Sofia.
- Feel like escaping the city? Head to Vitosha Nature Park for year-round hiking, and skiing in winter. Around 2,290 metres at the highest point, the mountain range is easily accessible from all around the city. One popular route takes in the Boyana Church, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Tips for travellers
Only two hours by car, Plovdiv is well worth an excursion from Sofia. This vibrant university city has a beautifully restored old town with a thriving arts scene and buzzing cafés. When you’re there, check out the spectacular Roman amphitheatre, which still hosts special open-air events and concerts.