What to Do in Sofia

Wonderguide by

Viktor Grasztity

What to Do in Sofia

Most people know little about Sofia, except that it's the capital of Bulgaria on the Balkan Peninsula. However, it's a truly European capital with an old city center and its glistening golden churches, the majestic Vitosha Mountain and all its natural beauty, and the quiet city gardens.

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Old City Center

Image - Cathedral Saint Aleksandar Nevski
Cathedral Saint Aleksandar Nevski
Viktor:The neo-Byzantine style St Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is the primary tourist attraction in Sofia. Entrance is free, but you have to pay to take photos or videos
Image - St. Sophia Church
St. Sophia Church
Viktor:Saint Sophia Church is the oldest church in Sophia dating back to Roman times. There is a small archaeological museum in the basement
Image - Sveta Petka
Sveta Petka
Viktor:The Church of St Petka is a very very small building partly dug into the ground next to the Serdica metro station
Image - Sofia Ancient Serdica Archaeological Complex
Sofia Ancient Serdica Archaeological Complex
Viktor:Sofia was built on the ancient town of Serdica. Excavations of its ruins can be found throughout the city. Next to the Church of Saint Petka lies a larger complex you can walk through
Image - Saint Sofia Monument
Saint Sofia Monument
Viktor:The Sculpture of Saint Sophia stands on a tall column in the heart of the city above Serdica metro station
Image - St. Kyriaki Cathedral Church
St. Kyriaki Cathedral Church
Viktor:Also known as the St Nedelya Church, this cathedral also glistens with stunning golden icons on the inside. Entrance is free, but you have to pay to take photos or videos
Image - "Ivan Vazov" National Theater
"Ivan Vazov" National Theater
Viktor:The Ivan Vazov National Theater is the oldest theater in Bulgaria built by Viennese architects at the beginning of the 20th century
Image - National Archeology Museum
National Archeology Museum
Viktor:The National Archaeological Museum in Sofia is one of the richest in the Balkans. It has artifacts from Thracian times and a coin and ethnographic collection as well
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Image - Boyana Church Museum
Boyana Church Museum
Viktor:The Boyana Church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Boyana district on the outskirts of Sofia at the foot of the Vitosha Mountain. It is famous for the 1259 frescoes, which are a testament to the greatness of medieval Bulgarian art. Due to the tiny size of the church, you cannot just walk in, but you have to reserve a spot on one of the organized tours. So call them up before you go out to Boyana, usually they have tickets for the next day
Image - Vitosha
Viktor:Next to the Boyana Church begins the Vitosha Natural Park, which has great hiking opportunities
Image - Boyana Lake
Boyana Lake
Viktor:The hike to Boyana Lake is relatively short with only very little difficult terrain. It is good for beginners, and definitely worth it once you see the surrounding forest and the towering Vitosha Mountain in the background
Image - Boyana Waterfall
Boyana Waterfall
Viktor:You can reach Boyana Waterfall, the biggest on the Vitosha Mountain by two routes, one an approximately 90-minute walk uphill with a scenic outlook on the city along the way. The other one goes up by the stream on rigid terrain, for more experienced hikers, but definitely worth a try with the right hiking shoes. The Boyana Waterfall is pretty busy during the weekend. In wintertime, when the waterfall freezes over, local climbers use it as an extreme climbing ground
Image - Aleko hut
Aleko hut
Viktor:Aleko hut is a resting point on the way to the summit of Vitosha, Cherni Vrah
Image - Cherni Vrah
Cherni Vrah
Viktor:Also called the black peak, Cherni Vrah stands 2290 meters above the city. It is a popular hiking destination. The easiest route is to start from Aleko Hut, and take the road up to the peak. Make sure to step in the little hut when reaching the peak, and have a hot bob soup (traditional Bulgarian bean soup). You will have the chance to observe the 360 degree view, and take a rest on the plateau if the weather is kind to you (it's not uncommon to have strong winds and 5-7 degrees Celsius on the peak even in the summer months)
Image - Golden Bridges
Golden Bridges
Viktor:The best and most scenic route to the Golden Bridges is the approximately 8-kilometer walk down from Cherni Vrah on the plateau of the Vitosha peak. The route is filled with the best the Vitosha Mountain has to offer: lush and diverse local flora, rocky and even walking terrain with occasional streams. At the end of the walk you will reach the pine forest from which the so-called Golden Bridges rocks will appear. They are reminiscent of the old volcano that was Vitosha Mountain
Image - Botanical Garden
Botanical Garden
Viktor:The Botanical Garden is also found in the Boyana district


Image - Sofia City Art Gallery
Sofia City Art Gallery
Viktor:The Sofia City Art Gallery displays Bulgarian artists from the 19th century to the present day. The building can be found in the City Garden
Image - Swimming Pool
Swimming Pool
Viktor:Swimming Pool is an art gallery in the center of Sofia on the top floor of a 1930s pre-communist residential building. The exhibition space is small, but there is a rooftop terrace with a tiny swimming pool (hence the name) overlooking the city center against the backdrop of the Vitosha Mountain
Image - National Art Gallery
National Art Gallery
Viktor:The National Art Gallery just opposite the City Garden exhibits mainly Bulgarian, but also international artists. Closed on Mondays
Viktor:Contemporary art gallery in the center with temporary exhibitions only
Image - Travelade Image
Институт за съвременно изкуство - София
Viktor:Institute of Contemporary Art - Sofia. Closed on Sunday and Monday
Image - Travelade Image
the fridge
Viktor:the fridge is a contemporary art gallery with temporary exhibitions only. Closed on Saturdays and Sundays
Image - Aether Art Space
Aether Art Space
Viktor:Contemporary art center. Open Thursday to Saturday
Image - Structura Gallery
Structura Gallery
Viktor:Contemporary art gallery. Closed on Sunday and Monday


Image - City Garden
City Garden
Viktor:At the City Garden, part of the sculpture collection of the Sofia City Art Gallery is arranged in the open
Image - Crystal Garden
Crystal Garden
Viktor:In the evening, Crystal Garden is the meeting point of young people. An interesting element is the Statue of Stefan Stambolov depicting a blown-up head
Image - South Park
South Park
Viktor:Gigantic, very well-kept city park, where you can go for a bike ride or a run, or take your children to the playground. There's a bazaar, where you can have something to eat. It's wild and romantic. There's even a river flowing trough it and a few little lakes. It is a perfect detour in the evening on your way home from work
Image - Borisova gradina
Borisova gradina
Viktor:Very well-kept park in the center of the city with a lake and a sports hall
Image - NDK
Viktor:Park surrounding the National Palace of Culture. Favorite meeting point of skaters and young people. Vibrant at night


Image - Женски пазар
Женски пазар
Viktor:You can learn a lot about a culture by walking through one of its markets. The Zhenski Pazar or Women's Market is a great place to take in some of the local vibes. You can buy fruits, vegetables, Arabic spices, dairy, and also some beautiful Bulgarian hand-made plates and clay ovenware
Image - LB Bulgaricum
LB Bulgaricum
Viktor:Bulgaria is world famous from its yogurt, and rightfully so, because it's delicious. It's different from all other yogurt, because it's made with a bacillus which can only be found here, the Lactobacillus Bulgaricus. If you want to buy something completely unique, LB Bulgaricum sells lactobacillus powder in little sachets that you can take home, and make your own yogurt. The most random present ever
Image - Yonko Stefani
Yonko Stefani
Viktor:Yonko Stefani is a record store that sells just about everything connected to music. Just walking into the shop is an experience in itself, because the owner is an expert music connoisseur, who will sell you a record even if you don't want to buy one


Image - Мекица и Кафе (Mekitsa and Coffee)
Мекица и Кафе (Mekitsa and Coffee)
Viktor:Mekitsa and Coffee is the perfect breakfast place before you start exploring the city center. You can get delicious savory banitsa and sweet mekitsa, and if you want to try something really unusual, have a boza, a malt drink made from fermented grains. Acquired taste
Image - Supa star 2
Supa star 2
Viktor:Supa star 2 is the perfect place to grab a quick lunch. They have tasty cream soups and good sandwiches
Image - Sun Moon Pasta Bar
Sun Moon Pasta Bar
Viktor:Sun Moon is a vegetarian restaurant serving pasta and pizza with very kind service
Image - Lavanda
Viktor:Lavanda is a new type of restaurant popular in Sofia at the moment. Basically, it's an old central residential building turned into a laid-back eatery. Every room was decorated according to a different concept. The food is amazing, and you even get complimentary lavender-infused meringue at the end of your meal
Image - Balkan Bites
Balkan Bites
Viktor:The Balkan Bites Food Tours is a group of energetic young foodies, who offer free food tours of Sofia. Highly recommended to anybody interested in the local food scene. They give you some background information about Bulgarian cuisine, and then they take you to a selection of 5 eateries, where you get free samples of their most iconic dishes. You shouldn't go hungry, because the amount doesn't make up a whole meal, but the experience is definitely worth it
Image - Ресторант Багри / Bagri restaurant
Ресторант Багри / Bagri restaurant
Viktor:Bagri is the first slow food restaurant in Sofia. Occasionally they serve some very rare and obscure Bulgarian cheeses
Image - The Hadjidragana tavern
The Hadjidragana tavern
Viktor:It doesn't get any more authentic than this. The Hadjidragana Tavern is the ultimate Bulgarian restaurant. From the interior to the food, everything looks, feels and tastes 100 % Bulgarian. The portions are humongous, so this is not the best place to eat alone, but definitely the best place to try traditional food in a traditional setting
Image - Made in blue
Made in blue
Viktor:Made in Blue is a central residential building turned into a restaurant. It has a lovely front yard and unpretentious decor with colorful walls and vintage furniture, but the service is not that friendly and excruciatingly slow. The food is good though
Image - Skaptoburger
Viktor:Skaptoburger serves very good hamburgers. Great place for a quick lunch
Image - Лесковацка Скара ,,При Бракята"
Лесковацка Скара ,,При Бракята"
Viktor:The so-called Skara joints prepare traditional Balkan-style grilled meats. This one is outside the city in the student district, so if you're in those parts, you definitely have to taste a real Balkan burger. Open 24/7
Image - Soul Kitchen
Soul Kitchen
Viktor:Must-try vegan restaurant in a very pretty old house with a courtyard. The food is superb, not your usual tasteless vegan stuff
Image - Restaurant Ahora
Restaurant Ahora
Viktor:Outside the city center close to the offices of Puzl CowOrKing. This culinary hidden gem offers a fine dining lunch menu at very reasonable prices with outstanding service. Real old-school waiters, who really know their job


Image - Bar Me
Bar Me
Viktor:Bar Me is an old-school cocktail bar mixing classic and signature cocktails. The service is super friendly
Image - Garafa Wine Shop
Garafa Wine Shop
Viktor:At the Garafa Wine Shop, you can try and buy award-winning wines made from Bulgarian grapes
Image - Hambara
Viktor:Hambara is a speakeasy unlike any other you have seen before. You have the feeling you're in a dungeon with only a few bare candles giving off some minimal light, and the wooden gallery with its thick beams gives the place a slight rustic feel. There is even a piano if anybody feels like playing some music

Coworking Spaces

Image - Puzl CowOrKing
Puzl CowOrKing
Viktor:Close to the Vitosha metro station, Puzl CowOrKing is an IT coworking space on two huge floors. They rent out desks to individual freelancers and whole offices to companies too
Image - Puzl CoCafé
Puzl CoCafé
Viktor:Best coworking café ever. The atmosphere is very laid-back and welcoming. There are never too many people. The service is very friendly and kind. They offer small snacks like banitsa, croissants and brownies, as well as specialty coffees (you have to try their cold brew) and alcoholic drinks. But the best thing about this place is the amazing open-air rooftop chill out area with the most stunning views of Vitosha mountain. Their Social Thursday is a must for all digital nomads and travelers
Image - Travelade Image
KO-OP art & coworking
Viktor:Small, but cozy coworking space for designers and artsy people. Overlooking a park. Regularly hosts exhibitions
Image - betahaus
Viktor:City center coworking space

Wonderguide map

  1. Cathedral Saint Aleksandar Nevski
  2. St. Sophia Church
  3. Sveta Petka
  4. Sofia Ancient Serdica Archaeological Complex
  5. Saint Sofia Monument
  6. St. Kyriaki Cathedral Church
  7. "Ivan Vazov" National Theater
  8. National Archeology Museum
  9. Boyana Church Museum
  10. Vitosha
  11. Boyana Lake
  12. Boyana Waterfall
  13. Aleko hut
  14. Cherni Vrah
  15. Golden Bridges
  16. Botanical Garden
  17. Sofia City Art Gallery
  18. Swimming Pool
  19. National Art Gallery
  21. Институт за съвременно изкуство - София
  22. the fridge
  23. Aether Art Space
  24. Structura Gallery
  25. City Garden
  26. Crystal Garden
  27. South Park
  28. Borisova gradina
  29. NDK
  30. Женски пазар
  31. LB Bulgaricum
  32. Yonko Stefani
  33. Мекица и Кафе (Mekitsa and Coffee)
  34. Supa star 2
  35. Sun Moon Pasta Bar
  36. Lavanda
  37. Balkan Bites
  38. Ресторант Багри / Bagri restaurant
  39. The Hadjidragana tavern
  40. Made in blue
  41. Skaptoburger
  42. Лесковацка Скара ,,При Бракята"
  43. Soul Kitchen
  44. Restaurant Ahora
  45. Bar Me
  46. Garafa Wine Shop
  47. Hambara
  48. Puzl CowOrKing
  49. Puzl CoCafé
  50. KO-OP art & coworking
  51. betahaus

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