Language: Bulgarian, Turkish, Romany
Best Time to Visit: September to February
Time Zone: GMT (UTC+2)
Driving Side: Right Side
Main Attractions: Alexander Nevski Cathedral, Saint Sofia Church, Rila Monastery, National Theatre Ivan Vazov, Vitosha Mountain, City Center Sofia, National Ethnographic Museum, Bojana Church, Kopren EcoTrail, Museum of Earth and Men, Bulgarian National Gallery of Arts, Sofia Zoological Garden
The fascinating and beautiful capital city of Bulgaria, Sofia boasts of having a delicate blend of Communist and European-style architecture. Whether you want to go skiing in the morning rays of the sun, attend a business meeting in the afternoon, plan a dinner in a lavish and stylish bistro in the evening or finish the day by retreating yourself in the company of your beloved or friends, the spectacular Sofia has all the reasons for you to land here. One of the oldest cities in Europe, Sofia is crammed with numerous museums, churches and other historical attractions. With over 250 historic landmarks and architectural monuments present, the modern-day capital Sofia has more than just its awe-inspiring beauty to beguile you. Scroll through the lines below to check out the various tourist attractions this calm, small cultural center of Bulgaria, Sofia has to offer.
Sofia Tourist Attractions
Known for its world-class skiing, Mount Vitosha is one of the symbols of Sofia and the most visited mountain in Bulgaria. A short drive or lift trip away, this hotspot is open round the year and is extremely popular for skiing, snowboarding and hiking. The ‘stone rivers’ or moraines, piles of huge rounded granite boulders and mineral springs are just a few of the breathtaking views. The national park, the oldest in the Balkans, situated on the foothills is home to wolves, foxes, martens, deer, bears, wild boars and several other plant and bird species.
Saint Sofia Church
This 5th century cathedral is the church that gave Sofia its name. Just a few hundred meters from Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, this church is situated beside the ‘Tomb of the Unknown Soldier’ and the grave of the national poet Ivan Vazov. The tall chestnut trees partly obscure the church. Though the church was turned into a mosque during the Turkish rule by adding minarets, it was restored as a church after the two 19th century earthquakes destroyed one of the minarets.
National Art Gallery/ National Ethnographic Museum/ Royal Palace
The National Gallery and the National Ethnographic Museum are beautifully embedded in the old Royal Palace. While the National Gallery boasts of some artifacts and traditional works by the most prominent Bulgarian artists from the last two centuries, the National Ethnographic Museum showcases art pieces from the ethno-cultural heritage of the Bulgarians and other ethnos that resided on Bulgarian lands. Some of the most eye-catching collections include clothes, gold and copper objects, agriculture tools, woodcarvings, ceramics, fabrics and embroidery, carpets and ritual objects. Travelers can capture the bright hallways, red velvet-covered walls, huge crystal mirrors and multicolored marble fireplaces of the Royal palace by paying a meager entrance fee.
One of the must-visit destinations in Sofia is the 13th century Bojana Church. A classic illustration of Bulgarian middle-age architecture, this church is listed on the UNESCO’s List of Heritages of Humanity. Situated on the outskirts of Sofia in the Boyana quarters, the interiors of the church exhibit spectacular frescos that artistically represent tzar Constantine Asen and his wife Iryna. The most fascinating attraction about the church is the 89 scenes showcasing 240 human beings, thereby making the church as one of the most complete and well-preserved monuments of Eastern European medieval art.
Sofia’s main commercial street situated in the heart of the city, Vitosha Boulevard is home to some of the high-end fashion labels from across the globe. Versace, Escada, Bulgari, D&G, Lacoste, Ermenegildo Zegna, Max Mara, Emporio Armani, Tommy Hilfiger and Boss are a few brands to name apart from the numerous other designer brands that rest on this most-happening place of Sofia. Named after Mount Vitosha, this shopping street has posh stores, restaurants and bars in abundance.