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 already 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 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 Sofia travel guide. Elena took us to some cool spots in Sofia that we might not have discovered on our own in the capital city of Bulgaria. You can also discover them by reading the Sofia Bulgaria travel guide below. It’s ideal if you have two days or even one day in Sofia to visit.
Where is Sofia BG?
Bulgaria is located in South-East Europe, near the Balkan Peninsula’s northwestern corner. As a result, Bulgaria is a European and Balkan country, as well as a member of the Black Sea and Danube regions.
The country capital Sofia is located in the western region of Bulgaria, in the Sofia Valley and at the foot of the Vitosha mountain. Bulgaria’s capital city is also located west of the Iskar River and it’s home to several thermal springs. You should include the Sofia Central Mineral Baths on your Sofia trip itinerary!
Is Sofia Bulgaria worth visiting?
Sofia is the capital and largest city of Bulgaria, and it’s a popular destination for travelers interested in history, culture, and architecture. The city has a rich and fascinating history, and it’s home to many important landmarks and cultural attractions.
Here’s what makes Sofia worth visiting:
The rich historical and cultural heritage
Sofia has a long and rich history, and it has been an important cultural center for centuries. The city is home to several important landmarks and cultural attractions, including the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, the Boyana Church, and the National Museum of History. These and other attractions offer a fascinating glimpse into Sofia’s past and the cultural traditions of Bulgaria.
The vibrant food and drink scene
Sofia is also known for its vibrant food and drink culture, and it’s home to a wide variety of restaurants, cafes, and bars. The city is known for its delicious traditional cuisine, including dishes like banitsa, kavarma, and shkembe chorba, and it’s also home to a thriving craft beer and wine scene.
Its convenient location
Sofia is located in the heart of the Balkans, and it’s a convenient starting point for exploring the surrounding region. Bulgaria’s capital city is easily accessible by plane, train, and bus, and it’s a great base for day trips and longer excursions to destinations like Plovdiv, Rila Monastery, and the Black Sea coast.
The Bulgarian capital is a fascinating city, and it’s well worth visiting for anyone interested in history, culture, and food. Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, or just looking for a unique and exciting destination, Sofia can be an interesting destination for you.
Is Sofia Bulgaria cheap?
The cost of living in Sofia is lower than in many other European cities, and this is reflected in the prices of accommodation, food, and other travel expenses.
Accommodation in Sofia is generally quite affordable, especially compared to other European capitals. You can find budget-friendly options like hostels and guesthouses for as little as 20-30 EUR per night, and mid-range hotels for around 50-70 EUR per night. Airbnb is also a popular option in Sofia, and you can find private rooms and apartments for around 30-50 EUR per night.
Food and drink in Sofia are also relatively affordable, especially compared to other European cities. Traditional Bulgarian dishes are typically very affordable, and you can find delicious and satisfying meals for as little as 5-10 EUR. Alcohol is also relatively cheap in Sofia, and you can find a good beer or glass of wine for around 2-3 EUR.
In short, Sofia is a budget-friendly destination, and you can enjoy a comfortable and enjoyable trip without breaking the bank.
Best things to do & places to visit in Sofia Bulgaria
Churches St. George Rotunda and Sveta Petka
The Church of 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 that have remained from the ancient town of Serdica.
Not far from here is Church Sveta Petka, a superb medieval Bulgarian Orthodox church you absolutely must see when you visit Sofia city.
Visitors are welcome at the Church of St. George Rotunda every day from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and admission is free. The church is located at 2 Kniaz Aleksandar Dondukov in Sofia Center.
The Church of Sveta Petka is a bit difficult to find open but it’s worth trying your luck. The church is located at 2 Knyaginya Maria Luiza in Sofia. For more information, you can call +359-2980-7899.
This popular pedestrian street in the heart of Sofia is a great place to explore the city’s vibrant and cosmopolitan atmosphere. The boulevard is lined with a variety of shops, restaurants, and cafes, and it’s a great place to people-watch, grab a bite to eat, or do some shopping when you travel to Sofia.
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. This impressive building is located in the heart of Sofia, and it’s one of the city’s most iconic landmarks. The palace was built in the 1980s, and it’s a stunning example of socialist-era architecture, with its grand and imposing façade, sweeping staircases, and beautiful marble interiors. I think it’s important to see it when you travel to Sofia.
The park next to 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.
The National Palace of Culture is a large event center in Southeastern Europe, hosting conferences, festivals, trade fairs, and cultural events. The palace has a 24-hour open park with free entrance. The palace is located on Vitosha Boulevard, 1463 Ndk, 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.
This beautiful and impressive cathedral is located in the center of Sofia, and it’s one of the city’s most iconic landmarks. It was built in the early 20th century in the Neo-Byzantine style, and it features a grand and ornate interior, with marble columns, stained glass windows, and intricate mosaics.
Inside… we didn’t get to see much, it was 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 Alexandar Nevski Cathedral made the concert rehearsals 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.
The Alexandar Nevski Cathedral is open for visitors daily from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and there is no cost to enter. The cathedral can be found at Sveti Aleksandar Nevski Square in Sofia Center.
Eating in Sofia & facts about the locals
In the evening, we met up with Elena and Adrian. We grabbed dinner at a Happy Bar & Grill. The food was good at this Sofia grill 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 in a certain one. But that’s very common for a Bulgarian restaurant. And one other thing I 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 as 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.
Happy Bar & Grill is a restaurant chain, but we have only tried the location listed here. It is open daily from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m., offering a variety of international cuisines including sushi. You can find the restaurant we went to at 35-37 Aleksandar Malinov Bvd, 1729 Mladost 1, Sofia Bulgaria. To book a table, please call +359-7002-0888.
Sofia is home to a wide variety of restaurants, cafes, and bars to suit every taste and budget. If you’re looking for other options to go out to eat, some of the best restaurants in Sofia include:
- Hadjidraganovite Izbi. This traditional Bulgarian restaurant is located in the heart of Sofia, and it’s known for its delicious and authentic Bulgarian cuisine served in a cozy and welcoming atmosphere.
- The Little Things. This cozy and chic bistro is located in the Sofia city center, and it’s known for its delicious and contemporary European cuisine. The menu features a variety of dishes, including seasonal salads, grilled meats, and fresh seafood, and the restaurant has a charming and relaxed atmosphere.
- Stari Konti. This popular restaurant is located in the heart of Sofia, and it’s known for its delicious Bulgarian and Mediterranean cuisine. Their menu includes grilled meats, fresh fish, and traditional Bulgarian specialties, and the restaurant has a cozy and inviting atmosphere.
- Mezzanine. This stylish and modern restaurant is located in Sofia’s city center, and it’s known for its delicious contemporary cuisine. On their menu, you’ll find a wide variety of dishes, including salads, sandwiches, and grilled meats served in a trendy and sophisticated atmosphere.
Whether you’re looking for traditional Bulgarian cuisine, contemporary European dishes, or something in between, when you travel to Sofia you’ll soon discover there’s something for every palate.
Travel to Sofia: Local highlights
The next day, Elena took us to see the parts of Sofia she liked the most. We ended up on some streets with colorful buildings. Afterward, we walked through Knyaz 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.
Rakia Raketa Bar is open daily from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m. It’s located at 17 Yanko Sakazov Bvd in Sofia Center. To book a table, contact them at +359-2444-6111.
Knyaz Borisova Gradina Park is Sofia’s oldest and most frequented green space. It’s open around the clock and entry is complimentary.
Zaimov Park is located at 1527 Sofia Center. It was the first public area in Sofia to offer free WiFi. The park is open 24 hours a day, and access to the internet is provided free of charge.
At one point, we had to leave. Therefore, in the afternoon, we got back in the old Cielo, ready to go on our Balkan road trip. But here’s a bit more of Sofia:
Bonus: Where to go hiking when you travel to Sofia
Sofia is a great destination for hikers, and there are several beautiful and scenic hiking trails located near the city. Some of the best places to go hiking when you travel to Sofia include:
Vitosha is one of the symbols of Sofia. Located just outside of Sofia, it’s the closest site for hiking, alpinism, and skiing. The mountain is a popular destination for both locals and tourists, and it’s a great place to enjoy the fresh air and beautiful scenery.
Rila Monastery is located about 100 kilometers from Sofia, and it’s a beautiful and peaceful place to go hiking. The monastery is surrounded by the Rila Mountains, and some hiking trails lead through the forests and meadows surrounding the monastery.
Borovets is a popular ski resort located about 80 kilometers from Sofia, and it’s a great place to go hiking in the summer months. The resort is surrounded by the beautiful Rila Mountains, and many hiking trails lead through the forests and meadows surrounding the resort.
Sofia is a great destination for hikers, and there are several beautiful and scenic hiking trails located near the city. Remember that when you travel to Sofia, you can easily plan a challenging hike or a leisurely walk.
Mirela Letailleur, coming from Romania and now nestled in the picturesque South of France, is the mastermind behind The Travel Bunny blog. With a keen eye for affordable European escapades, she has become the definitive voice on Sofia vacations, offering readers an in-depth look into the wonders of Sofia Bulgaria.
Her unparalleled travel guides, crafted with authenticity, position her as the leading local expert. Whether you’re contemplating is Sofia worth visiting? or meticulously planning a trip to Sofia Bulgaria, Mirela’s insights are indispensable. Beyond her travel expertise, she’s also a dedicated problem solver and an emerging coffee aficionado, making her a multifaceted gem in the travel blogging realm.
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