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 travel 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.
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.
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 irritatingly 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:
Afterwards, we walked through in Kniaz Borisova Gradina and Zaimov Park. Right next to the latter is a restaurant called Rakia Raketa 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.
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 when you travel to Sofia
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 Bvd, 1729 Mladost 1, Sofia | See on map
Tel. 597-002-0888 | Website | Menu
Rakia Raketa Bar
What to visit when you travel to Sofia
Alexandar Nevski Cathedral | Free
Church St. George Rotunda | Free
National Palace of Culture Park | Free
The National Palace of Culture hosts conferences, trade fairs, festivals and cultural events. It is the largest center of its kind in Southeastern Europe. Its park is open 24h.
Address: Vitosha Boulevard, 1463 Ndk, Sofia, Bulgaria | See on map.
Knyaz-Borisova Gradina | Free
This is the oldest and most popular park in Sofia. Open 24h.
Address: 1164 Sofia, Bulgaria | See on map.
Zaimov Park | Free
This was the first public WiFi area with free Internet in Sofia.
Address: 1527 Sofia Center, Sofia, Bulgaria | See on map.
Church Sveta Petka
It seems it is quite difficult to find it open, but you should try your luck.
Address: Knyaginya Maria Luiza 2, Sofia 1000, Bulgaria | See on map.
Where to go hiking near Sofia
Vitosha Mountain | Free
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
Other useful articles
- When in Bulgaria’s blog article on Serdica, the ancient settlement at the center of Sofia
- Dark Tourism’s post about the 1300 Years of Bulgaria Monument from Sofia
- Free Sofia Tour’s directions for getting to Vitosha Mountain.
Got some other suggestions? Let’s get in touch!
Go on a tour to travel to Sofia!
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