Ancient Greeks and Romans, Slavs and Thracians, Celts and Bulgars have inhabited the territories of Bulgaria throughout the years. Each tribe has left its mark on the heritage of this incredible country and this is how the culture and traditions of Bulgaria were formed.
To be able to fully immerse yourself into the country’s atmosphere, there are various must-see attractions in Sofia, which you should definitely be adding to your travel itinerary.
Keep reading, as we are not only sharing the best attractions in Sofia but also some of the best things to do in the capital. Regardless if you are a history buff or a nature lover, we got you covered as we have created the ultimate sightseeing in Sofia list.
For the Culture and Religious Enthusiasts
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
With its Neo-Byzantine style and golden domes, Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is one of the most iconic buildings in Sofia. Take some time to admire the architectural elements, part of the exterior, before going inside to be completely blown away by the beautiful ceilings and the marble floors. It is also quite interesting to note that the cathedral is considered one of the 10 largest Eastern Orthodox buildings in the world. If you get the chance, make sure to start your journey through the Bulgarian capital with Alexander Nevsky Cathedral – one of the must-visit attractions in Sofia.
Rotunda of St. George
Dating back to the 4th century, the Rotunda of St. George is considered the oldest building in Sofia. Back in the time, it served as a Roman bath and was part of the massive Roman complex of ancient Serdica. Nowadays, it is the unique structure of the red brick rotunda and the magnificent frescoes from the 12th and 13th centuries that make the Rotunda of St. George one of the most interesting attractions in Sofia. Hidden in a small courtyard between the buildings of the Bulgarian Presidency and Sheraton Hotel, the small structure is easy to miss. Do not make this mistake, though, as you will be absolutely impressed by the fusion of modern and ancient once you take a first took of the Rotunda.
St. Sophia Church
Last but definitely not least on our list of cultural and religious attractions in Sofia is St. Sophia Church. The building was also built during the 4th century and it is the oldest church in the capital. It is quite interesting to note that it was this structure in particular, which gave its name to the city during the 14th Century. That is why you should make sure to add St Sophia Church to your sightseeing in Sofia bucket list.
For the History Buffs
Ancient Archaeological Complex Serdica
Situated at the heart of the city, one of the most intriguing and interesting sights in Sofia is the ancient archaeological complex Serdica. As you are strolling down the remains of the massive cobblestone streets and exploring the ruins, you can only imagine the glory of what was once a magnificent Roman city. Similar to other remains in the capital, the Ancient Complex of Serdica was found during the construction of the underground system in Bulgaria. The complex is now divided into two parts – the bigger part is freely accessible. Some of the ruins together with a small museum, on the other hand, are part of an exhibition, the entrance to which costs 6 lv for adults.
Regional History Museum
Located right next to the Ancient Complex of Serdica, the Regional History Museum is a must-visit when sightseeing in Sofia. While the museum is quite interesting with its exhibits of royal carriages and thrones and an exclusive collection of items and artifacts from the capital’s history, it is the gorgeous exterior and interior of the building, which will grab your attention. The Neo-Byzantine structure with yellow and red elements was once the Central Mineral Bath building. Unfortunately, visitors are currently unable to dip into the mineral springs inside, however, there are plans to restore the bath to its full potential! The ticket price of the Regional History Museum is 6 lv per adult.
For the Architecture Admirers
Situated right at the center of Sofia, the Largo is one of the most intriguing architectural ensembles in the city. Known as one of the best examples of Socialist architectural style in Eastern Europe, visitors will be able to find the buildings of the National Assembly of Bulgaria, the Central Department Store, the Presidency and the Council of Minister of Bulgaria. Under the large Largo complex, visitors will also find the remains of the Ancient Archaeological Complex Serdica. This combination of architectural styles is another example of the unique fusion of modern and ancient that visitors will be able to find at every corner, while sightseeing in Sofia.
Ivan Vazov National Theater
By far one of the most beautiful buildings in the capital is Ivan Vazov National Theater, so this should be one of your must-see attractions in Sofia if you are an architecture lover. Dating back to the 1900s, the structure has a neoclassical design with fascinating golden statues and decorations. While you are admiring the details, you can also enjoy a cup of coffee or a refreshing drink in the city garden right in front of the building. There is also a small fountain, allowing for an additional feeling of peace and quiet in this quaint location at the heart of the city.
For Nature Enthusiasts
Nature lovers are suggested to check out the following things to see in Sofia:
If you have had enough of the hustle and bustle of the capital, one of the best things to do in Sofia, is to go to Vitosha Mountain. As the Bulgarian capital is nestled beneath the mountain summits of Vitosha, visitors will find out that it is extremely easy to take the cable lift, drive or even hike straight into the heart of the mountain and enjoy the tranquillity of Mother Nature. From the iconic Golden Bridges to the picturesque Boyana Waterfall, there are numerous options for natural sightseeing in Sofia and Vitosha. The medieval Boyana Church, part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites is also one of the must-see attractions in Sofia, which is situated within the territories of Vitosha Mountain.
As the oldest and largest park, Borisova Garden is a spectacular place to spend a sunny day, as you are strolling down the paths and exploring the unique statues. With numerous lakes spread throughout the park, visitors will be able to find peace and quiet, while still being at the heart of the city. Borisova Garden is also a great concert venue during the summer months when you can find numerous free events starting after dusk.
For the Experience Seekers
When in Sofia, do as the locals do! It is impossible to visit the Bulgarian capital, without strolling down the iconic Vitosha Boulevard. As the main commercial and pedestrian street, you can find various restaurants, bars and shops. Make sure to stroll down the entire street starting from Sheraton Hotel all the way up to the National Palace of Culture, in order to be able to fully experience the lively vibe and atmosphere of Sofia. You will quickly find out that Bulgarians love to socialize, so during the warmer sunny months you will find the street packed with locals enjoying some drinks and delicious food.
Pod Lipite Tavern
Speaking of food and drinks, we definitely need to mention Pod Lipite Tavern. With a history of approximately 100 years, Pod Lipite Tavern is a traditional Bulgarian restaurant, which you should be adding to your list of the best things to do in Sofia. Bulgarians love good food, strong drinks and traditional music. And the best way to get a real touch of what this feels like is to have dinner at Pod Lipite Tavern. Make sure to start with rakia and Shopska Salad and then continue with a glass of wine and a hot-plate dish of meats and vegetables.
Follow the Yellow Brick Road
Are you a fan of the Wizard of Oz? If the answer is yes, you will definitely want to grab the unique chance of following the yellow brick road while in Sofia. The yellow cobblestones are one of the most unique symbols of the capital. The entire boulevard from the National Assembly all the way up to the Bulgarian Presidency is lined with golden-looking pavement. During a rainy day, it is a real pain driving along the yellow brick road. On the other hand, it can be a real pleasure to admire the glittering golden cobblestones, just after a spring drizzle. Make sure not to miss following the yellow brick road, as this is one of the best things to do in Sofia.
Are you ready to pack your bags and head to the Bulgarian capital? Which one of the above-mentioned must-see attractions in Sofia attracted your attention the most? Would you love to spend a day sightseeing in Sofia and exploring all the cultural and historic monuments of the city, or would you prefer to dive in and jump straight into the best things to do in Sofia?