Sofia a city of students, history and innovation. The Balkan peninsula is known for wars and nationalism, yet Bulgaria is the shining star guiding every country there to the European Union. One of the oldest and most beautiful cities in the Balkans is Sofia.
Many people pack their bags and fly to Sofia. Cheap flights and hotels are just one of the many alluring parts of Sofia. However, before your trip, you need to know valuable information that can help create a more enjoyable stay in Sofia. The thing is I live like 250 km from Sofia, and I didn’t visit it until recently. What a mistake to make (‘allo ‘allo reference). Here are the most important places you must visit in Sofia.
Bulgaria is an Orthodox Christian country. All over the country, there are beautiful churches, but Sofia has the most beautiful ones. The first one you should visit is St. Alexander Nevski Cathedral. It is HUGE. If you live in the western part of Europe, you’ve never seen a bigger church than this. The church is so big that 10.000 people can fit inside and still have enough room to feel comfortable. Wow, mind-blown, right?
The Nevski Cathedral has a lot of history. It was built in honor of the Russian soldiers who gave their lives to liberate Bulgaria from the Ottoman empire. Inside the church, on one of the arches, you can notice a mural dedicated to the Lord God Sabbath. Simply amazing, a Nextravel recommendations for a must-visit!
Another church you must visit is the St. George Rotunda church. It was initially built in the 4th century! Around the church, you can notice parts of old Roman structures. People still wonder how this church survived the test of time. We highly recommend you to visit this church.
If you are looking for the fanciest part of Sofia, then Vitosha Boulevard is the place to be. There you can find the most luxuries boutiques and cafes in town. It is the place that shows Bulgarian progress – fancy and expensive shops, excellent restaurants and lampposts and benches that represent the modern Bulgarian renaissance.
National Institute of Archaeology
It was Ferdinand I the king of Bulgaria that created the National Institute of Archaeology in Bulgaria. Fancy learning a bit of history of Bulgaria? Oh dear, you can find everything there. From Alexandar the great, through Roman and Byzantine artifacts, all the history that happened in Bulgaria is there. Discover the ancient history of Bulgaria by visiting this museum.
Ivan Vazov National Theater
It was Helmer and Fellner who created many beautiful buildings across Europe during the 20th century. One of them is the Ivan Vazov National Theatre. It is a neoclassical building that paints modern Bulgarian culture. This building is the trademark look for Bulgaria, appearing everywhere and producing great theater productions.
More places to visit in Sofia comes in Part 2, soon!
Next Travel Recommendations For Sofia, Bulgaria
Also, here are some recommendations to make your stay more enjoyable.
The city has buses, trams and trolleys. They are cheaper than any other European city, costing around 1 Euro. You can get anywhere with just a couple of euros. Also, if you are visiting for a couple of days and don’t want to spend extra money on tickets and buy the three-day card costing 5 euros only. A bargain indeed.
Taxi, on the other hand, cost around 6 euros from the airport to the center. Also, be careful from illegal taxis. They are expensive and unsafe. If you want a legit taxi, you can recognize them with the yellow, and their city licence sticker.
Hotels are cheaper than any significant European capital. On the other hand, they are the most expensive ones in all of Bulgaria. I stayed in Hotel Central Sofia, and I can say that they are friendly, offer decent prices and excellent services. I can confirm their service was particularly good compared to the other hotels I’ve been in Bulgaria (Bansko).
Depending on the time you visit you will need different clothes. For instance, if you travel there in winter, Sofia can be a cold city. Even in autumn, the weather feels like winter. On the other hand, summers can be pretty hot there, so take your summer clothes and enjoy the beautiful weather there.
Restaurants & Food
Bulgarians have the best food ever. From all the restaurants I visited in Sofia, Happy Grill was the best, by far. They had everything – from traditional Bulgarian dishes (kebapche) to tacos and vegan salads. I stayed three days there, and every day I ate at Happy Grill. Again, compared to other European capitals the food is cheaper. Also to add, the food is tastier (sorry other countries!).
Additionally, there are other restaurants of course. However, if you are looking for the best place to taste traditional foods are traditional restaurants – mehanas. There you can taste the best Bulgarian cuisine possible.
Oh dear, I can bet you never experienced nightlife like in Sofia. Discotheques, bars, pubs and so much more. Whatever genre of music you desire Sofia offers. Also, if you haven’t heard Bulgarian folk music – you can listen to it nearly everywhere. From mehanas to clubs – they are everywhere. You may like it, and if you do, you will return to Sofia. I am certain.
Do you like shopping? You’ve arrived at the right city friend. There are many malls in Sofia so that you can add new clothes to your wardrobe. One of the biggest, and without a doubt the best in Paradise Mall. I spend 15 hours there, and we spent more than 2000 euros per person with my wife.