This is the most popular tourist attraction in Sofia. The beautiful orthodox cathedral was built in 1912 and took 30 years to complete. The cathedral was created in honor of the Russians soldiers that died in the Russo-Turkish war and holds up to 10,000 people.
This gorgeous Russian Orthodox church is located in central Sofia. It was built by Russia after the liberation of Bulgaria. The grave of Saint Archbishop Seraphim is located under the main floor - believers still visit for pilgrimages, leaving notes with wishes and prayers.
Encircled withing a courtyard of modern dwelling buildings, Rotunda of St George is the oldest preserved structure in the city, which has also been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. The beautiful cupola holds a fourteenth-century portrait of Christ surrounded by four angels.
Here you can view excellent displays of folk art and crafts. The museum has several different collections of items such as traditional clothing, copper objects, woodcarving, ceramics, and more. It is a rather compact space, but the guide provides comprehensive information about the exhibits.
The Sofia Art Gallery holds an excellent collection of Bulgarian art. The collections include both past masters and contemporary artists. Housed in what formerly used to be a palace, the space showcases works of celebrated artists such as Tsanko Lavrenov and Vladimir Dimitrov-Maistor.
Boyana Church is the oldest Orthodox church in Sofia. This medieval construction, set in a green area at the foot of the mountains, was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites due to its renaissance-style frescoes. In the church you can see 89 scenes with 240 human images.
The Museum of Socialist Art first opened in 2011. Here you can find a sculpture park and exhibitions featuring paintings and plastic easel works that relate to the socialist era in one way or another. The sculpture park contains a plethora of statues, from prominent leaders to factory workers.
A lesser-know attraction, the National Opera and Ballet is Sophia's hidden gem. Performances are of very high quality, and good seats are easy to get (and incredibly great value). This is also the place to go and listen to classical music by great masters like Wagner and Rossini.
Vitosha, one of the most popular streets in Sofia, is certainly the place to be on a sunny day. This spacious boulevard has many cafés and shops, and is teeming with leisurely strollers and shoppers at almost any given time. The Vitosha Mountain dramatically dominates the skyline in the south.
Boyana Waterfall is a natural waterfall that can be reached going up from the Boyana neighbourhood (Boyana Church). Marked paths of two levels of difficulty are available (the shorter route is much steeper, and better for dry weather). Guided tours are offered by Sofia Green Tour:
One of the nicest green areas in the city, Borisova Gradina is where locals come to spend a leisurly afternoon when the weather allows. Nearby are Vasil Levski and CSKA Stadiums, so the park will fit well into football-lovers' itineraries. There are a few cafes and children's playgrounds on premises.
A must-see landmark, the Monument to the Soviet Army is a nostalgic reminder of socialist times. It shows a brave soldier surrounded by hard-working members of the proletariat looking ahead to the bright future that awaits. Located at the eastern entrance to Borisova Gradina park.
The museum has remained largely under the tourist radar despite its rather comprehensive collection of military artifacts. Army uniforms and weapons dating back to 1876 all the way through to the times of WWI are on display, as well as WWII tanks and military jets directly outside the building.
If you want to get the full Bulgarian experience, visit this authentic restaurant which fuses local cuisine and performing arts together to offer guests a unique evening of entertainment. Acquaint yourself with Bulgarian culinary traditions and enjoy a show put on by guest dancers and musicians.
Run by two chef brothers (one of whom used to be head chef at the reputable Kempinski Panorama), Sage Bistro is a rustic restaurant that serves traditional Italian cuisine in an intimate setting. Pasta is freshly made in-house, and the restaurant is especially know for its superb seafood.
Sunmoon restaurant offers a varied menu with Arabian, Asian and Moroccan-inspired dishes. The restaurant specialises in plant-based cuisine, all held to a high standard. Its interior is furnished with re-purposed old items, which creates a pleasant rustic atmosphere. Features an in-house bakery.
Out of the way of main tourist streams and yet very centrally located is Pizzarela, a restaurant that specializes in burgers, pizza, and grill. The staff speak fluent English (not-so-common in less touristy areas). If weather permits, make use of the pleasantly refreshing outdoor seating area.
Lavanda is housed inside what used to be just your average apartment - guests are seated in one of the several rooms, on the balcony or in the garden. The menu features European and Mediterranean dishes with a creative spin on the classic flavors. Special emphasis is placed on presentation.
Located at the reputable Marinela Hotel, Panorama is an upscale dining establishment with a view - but do book in advance to ensure being seated by the window. Cuisine served is European, with a special emphasis on seafood. Evening dining is accompanied with live piano music.
Skara Bar is an incredible find for meat-lovers - the menu features a dizzying assortment of grilled meats ranging from chicken to beef and lamb (several fish varieties on offer as well). Ambiance is laid-back and portion size generous. There are three locations throughout Sofia.
As the name reveals, the restaurant specializes in local flavors and serves some of the best traditional food in town, all in a modern Bulgarian interior gesturing towards the country's rich cultural heritage. Start or finish off with a shot of rakia - a local variety of brandy.
Villa Rosiche is a longstanding establishment, the go-to place for some of the finest desserts in Sofia. Sweet-lovers will certainly rejoice at the sight of its dessert menu, and for those who prefer savory, there are several varieties of fresh croissants with cheese and vegetable fillings.
One of the newest additions to the capital's cafe scene, Social Cafe Bar & Kitchen is a hip young establishment that offers some unusual flavor combinations. Pizzas served here are done the right way (thin crust), and the menu features many elevated Mediterranean classics.
Small, cosy cafe with a modern air to it, the Rainbow Factory serves solid sandwiches and food, but what keeps customers coming back for more are, beyond doubt, the incredible desserts served here. Serves set breakfasts and specialty coffees, rumored to be of rather high quality.
It's all about the soups (and sandwiches) at this homely, centrally located cafe. Soups come in many light and hearty varieties, which includes vegetarian and vegan options. Soups vary by day and location, but some flavors include cream of broccoli and spinach, pumpkin, fish, and many more.
The tucked away gem of a bar might be quite hard to locate. Walk down a small alley and seek out a door with no identifying sign on it, give it a knock and wait to be let into the candle-lit space of this underground bar. The absence of electricity truly creates a unique atmosphere.
J.J. Murphy's is a cosy pub that was first founded in Cork, Ireland but has expanded all the way to Sofia. Enjoy live music while sipping on a pint, or come here and watch a football match. Live music shows are put on every now and then. There is a garden designated for smokers.
The stylized space of Raketa Rakia restaurant and bar is packed with socialist memorabilia, making for an exotic interior that helped turn the place into a magnet for visiting foreigners. Several varieties of Bulgarian rakia are on offer (a brandy that packs quite a punch with its 40-degree strength).
The "cultural" in the bar's name stands for the frequently held performances, music sets, readings, and other social events held within its walls. It's a great place to grab an evening drink in a pleasant, artsy atmosphere. Check the website to see what's on when you're in town.
Shisha bars are still trending, with ShiSha Bar SpeShial Center topping the list of establishments recommended for hookah-lovers. Inviting soft couches, curtain-draped seating areas, and, naturally, the shisha that comes in multiple flavor varieties all make for a pleasant night out.
Sofia's underground music and event venue, Mixtape 5 keeps its hand on the pulse and regularly hosts both well-established and up-and-coming musicians, playing in genres ranging from reggae to hip hop to electronic music. The venue is spacious, which prevents overcrowding. Smoking not allowed.
The mall is located some 4 km outside of the city center, but is now reachable by metro, which has made it much more accessible to the public. Inside a range of international brands are represented. An amusement park with several thrill rides operates on the rooftop, and there is a 4D cinema inside.
This is the first mall and currently one of the most popular ones in Sofia. Brands represented include Replay, Bobo Zander, Ceelio, Esprit, Kenvelo, Mango, United Colors Of Benetton, Lee Cooper, Adidas, Speedo and Intersport. You can also watch a movie in the “Cinema City” or “M-Tel IMAX 3D”.
The Serdika Center opened in early 2010 and is the biggest mall in Sofia. Much like other city malls, Serdika is home to multiple international brand stores and boutiques. Its vast space is packed with all manner of shops, selling clothing, beauty products, accessories, and more.
With its 66,000 square meters surface area, The Mall (also referred to as Tsarigradskogo Mall) used to hold the title of the largest in the Balkans up until 2013. At this mall you will find shops like Benetton, Adidas, Intersport, Deichmann and other shops that sell fashion, accessories, and more.
For something a little different, pay a visit to this tiny shop packed to the brim with hand-made, unique items. The display includes dolls, home decor, jewellery, and various knick-knacks made of cloth, hand-painted silk and ceramics - all fruit of an enthusiast's work.
The bookstore features a large selection of literature in English, which makes it a very tourist-friendly place for literature enthusiasts. On top of books, there are lots of fun, quirky souvenirs and accessories to look at such as the "nihilism soap" or the Sigmund Freud wrist watch.
The Dobrev family first established the brand in 1994, and has opened several dairy shops around town since then. The stores specialize in high-quality cheeses - curd, ricotta, white and yellow cheeses, mozzarella, and many more. Other dairy products are on sale, as well as coffee and sandwiches.
All items on sale at Zona Urbana have been recycled from old materials and turned into original, rustic-looking designs (e.g. purses made from an old German newspaper). With its bags, souvenirs, and knick-knacks, the store lays huge emphasis on sustainability and encourages customers to follow suit.
With its unique architecture and large open spaces, Sofia Ring Mall offers the ultimate shopping experience. The mall opened its doors in 2014 and is a new generation mall where you definitely will find what you are looking for since the mall offers two hundred stores that represent over 400 brands. Besides housing stores catering everything from fashion to home decor and beauty product, they also have indoor karting track, indoor entertainment park for kids, a cinema, Spa hotel and restaurants. You can easily spend some hours here!
Sofia International Airport is located 10 kilometres away from Sofia city. There are shuttles running between the two terminals every 30 minutes. There are two bus lines, 84 and 384, that run between Sofia Airport and they city centre. The journey takes approximately 20 minutes and tickets can be bought in newspaper kiosks (or the ticket machine in Terminal 1). Metro line 1 runs directly to the airport. Change to line 2 to reach all major central districts of Sofia, as well as the central railway station. Journey time is about 30 minutes. Taxis and car rental companies are available for hire at the airport.
Sofia has a network of public transport options that will enable the visitor to easily get around the city and its surrounding suburbs. The fastest and most convenient way to travel from one point to another is by metro. The two lines cross at the Serdika station. Tickets are sold in machines at the entrance to each metro station. There is also a network of buses and trams that run around the city. Tickets for those can be bought in advance or directly inside, in which case the ticket ws valid for that particular vehicle. Urban Mobility Centre +35 9700 13233 www.sofiatraffic.bg Bulgarian State Railways +35 9700 10200 www.bdz.bg
You can easily find a pharmacy in Sofia. Ask you hotel for assistance if you need help finding one. You can normally find everything from medicine and cosmetics to food and other products. Remedium 1 15 Dobruzhda Street +359 2 981 3129 Mon-Sat 8am-9pm, Sun 9am-8pm Pharmacies Adonis 10A Han Presiyan +359 2 958 6354 Open 24 hours