travel sofia bulgaria

Travel to Sofia, Bulgaria’s blissful capital

In the afternoon, after our magnificent stop at  Devetashka Cave, we continued to travel to Sofia Bulgaria‘s capital city.

I finally got to travel to Sofia Bulgaria!

Ok, maybe I am a little too excited about this. But you see, I had passed through Sofia so many times before, on the way to Greece, but until this time I never actually got out of the car to visit anything. I’m really thankful to Elena and Adrian who were kind enough to offer to host the three of us while we were doing the Balkan road trip. Not only did we get a free and comfortable place to rest our heads for the night, but we also got the chance to catch up with old and dear friends.

I also appreciated having a newly-established local as our guide. Elena took us to some really cool spots in Sofia, spots which we might not have discovered on our own.

Let’s get into the details! Or you can check out the quick guide on Sofia at the end of the article.

Churches Saint George Rotunda and Sveta Petka

The Church Saint George Rotunda is supposedly the oldest building in Sofia. It is an impressive rotunda made of red bricks, built by the Romans in the 4th century, and it is part of a larger number of buildings which have remained from the ancient town of Serdica.

Not far from here is Church Sveta Petka, a superb medieval Bulgarian Orthodox church.

travel to sofia bulgaria church sveta petka bulgaria

Church Sveta Petka | Image © Ana Maria Gavrilă

National Palace of Culture Park

After discovering the pedestrian area, with all its terraces, we went to a nearby park, right next to the National Palace of Culture.  It is a very large green area, as it reaches out into Yuzhen Park (South Park), and it has lots of monuments and statues. One which I wasn’t particularly fond of is Sofia’s Monument to 1300 Years of Bulgaria. The appearance is terrible, in my view, but the story behind it is incredible. Here is an interesting article about this dark tourism monument.

travel to sofia bulgaria 1300 Years of Bulgaria Monument Sofia dark tourism

1300 Years of Bulgaria Monument in Sofia

Alexandar Nevski Cathedral

We finished the day by visiting the Alexandar Nevski Cathedral. Huge and imposing, it can be seen from quite a distance. Inside we didn’t get to see much, it near closing time.

But next to the cathedral, there was a large stage, and they were rehearsing classical music fragments for a concert. The acoustics inside the cathedral made it all sound amazing and, through a peephole in one of the giant wooden doors, we could even see a bit.

We had to leave, as the guard chased us away, eager to lock everything up.

Dining out in Sofia and facts about locals

In the evening, we met up with Elena and Adrian. We grabbed dinner at a Happy Bar & Grill. The food was good and, if you come across one of their establishments, you could give it a try.

Happy Bar & Grill’s menu includes all kinds of cuisines, it’s not specialized on a certain one. But that’s very common for a Bulgarian restaurant. And one other thing I’ve learned that night from Elena: the Bulgarians are crazy about sushi. Who would have guessed!

One other thing we discovered over dinner is that the streets of Sofia are normally that empty as they had seemed to us. We thought everyone was on vacation, but no, Sofia is a laid-back tranquil capital, unlike the tiringly crowded ones we’ve come to be used to.

Sofia local highlights

The next day, Elena took us to see the parts of Sofia she liked the most. We ended up on streets with colourful buildings like this one:

A post shared by Mirela (@mirela_iepurela) on

Afterwards, we walked through in Kniaz Borisova Gradina and Zaimov Park. Right next to the latter is a restaurant called Raketa Rakia Bar. I loved the nicely decorated interior, full of retro phones, televisions, photos, radios… And the food was quite tasty. It’s worth a visit.

travel to sofia bulgaria Local guide

Sooner or later, we had to leave. Therefore, in the afternoon, we got back in the old Cielo, ready to go on with our Balkan road trip.

But here’s a bit more of Sofia:

Did you travel to Sofia Bulgaria’s Capital?

What did you think about Bulgaria’s capital and what were your favourite places?


Quick guide for Sofia


Where to eat

Happy Bar & Grill
This is a restaurant chain, but we only tried the one at the address below.
Open daily from 11.00 to 00.00. Various international cuisines, including sushi.
Address: 35-37 Aleksandar Malinov Boulevard, 1729 Mladost 1, Sofia
Tel. 597-002-0888 | Website | Menu

Raketa Rakia Bar
Open daily from 11.00 to 00.00.
Address: 17 Yanko Sakazov Boulevard, 1527 Sofia Center, Sofia
Tel. 592-444-6111 | Facebook

what to visit

What to visit

Alexandar Nevski Cathedral
Open daily from 11.00 to 17.00 for tourists. Entrance is free of charge.
Address: Sveti Aleksandar Nevski Square, 1000 Sofia Center, Sofia, Bulgaria
Tel. 592-988-1704 | Website

Church Saint George Rotunda
Open daily from 11.00 to 17.00 for tourists. Entrance is free of charge.
Address: 2 Kniaz Aleksandar Dondukov, 1000 Sofia Center, Sofia, Bulgaria
Tel. 592-980-9216 | Website

Church Sveta Petka
It seems it is quite difficult to find it open, but you should try your luck.
Address: Knyaginya Maria Luiza 2Sofia 1000, Bulgaria
Tel. 592-980-7899

Knyaz-Borisova Gradina
This is the oldest and most popular park in Sofia. Open 24h.
Address: 1164 Sofia, Bulgaria

National Palace of Culture Park
The National Palace of Culture hosts conferences, trade fairs, festivals and cultural events. It is the largest centre of its kind in Southeastern Europe. Its park is open 24h.
Address: Vitosha Boulevard, 1463 Ndk, Sofia, Bulgaria

Zaimov Park
This was the first public WiFi area with free Internet in Sofia. Open 24h.
Address: 1527 Sofia Center, Sofia, Bulgaria

Hiking near Sofia

Vitosha Mountain
Vitosha is one of the symbols of Sofia. It is the closest site for hiking, alpinism and skiing.
Cherni Vrah (Black Peak or Черни връх in Bulgarian) is the fourth highest summit in Bulgaria.
Elevation: 2.290 m


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14 thoughts on “Travel to Sofia, Bulgaria’s blissful capital

  1. Greg says:

    Would love to explore the Balkans sometime in the near future. Would definitely include Sofia and other parts of Bulgaria on that trip. Nice guide

  2. Samantha says:

    Can’t say that I had Bulgaria on my list of places to visit, but it looks like a nice place to explore! I really like your ‘places to eat, etc.’ section at the end!

  3. Sandy N Vyjay says:

    Sofia comes across as a charming city. Honestly was not much aware of the Bulgarian capital and hence this post is of real value to us. Like the fact that the streets are not teeming with crowds and one can enjoy a leisurely stroll. The buildings look so colourful and vibrant. I am sure a visit to Sofia is a great experience.

  4. Erica Edwards says:

    Wow, this definitely inspires me to go back to Bulgaria! I visited Sofia once nearly ten years ago, but it was deep into winter and rainy, wet and dreary my entire stay. Seeing these pictures of Sofia in the springtime give it a whole different appeal! Great tips and great photos.

  5. Cynthia says:

    Love the colorful street art you found! One of my favorite things in a city is to walk around and see the local art. Sounds like Sofia would be a great place to do that, without all the usual crowds!

  6. Mel Butler says:

    I went to Sofia years ago for a long weekend and just loved it. I never go to see the local art though I can definitely add it to my list for next time. My favourite thing was to go to Rila Monastery up in the mountains for the day.

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