Our guide to the best things to do in Sofia showcases the city's remarkable churches and museums, as well as prominent districts and streets. The vibrant capital of Bulgaria is full of art and history, delectable food, and a great nightlife scene. 

    Joining the locals at a chalga (Bulgarian pop-folk) club is one of the most popular ways to have a truly immersive experience in the Bulgarian capital. As Sofia is one of the most underrated cities in Europe, you can explore its many historical sites without jostling with huge tourist crowds. Check out our guide to some of the best things to do in Sofia.

    What are the best things to do in Sofia?


    St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

    Beautiful architecture to marvel at

    • History
    • Photo

    St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is a beautiful Bulgarian Orthodox cathedral dating back to 1882. One of Sofia’s most photographed structures, step inside and marvel at the high ceilings and dazzling chandeliers, as well as relics of Alexander Nevsky displayed in a case next to the altar.

    The cathedral’s central dome is gold plated and decorated with inscriptions of the Lord's Prayer. Visit the crypt to see an extensive collection of Orthodox relics and icons, which are part of the National Art Gallery.

    Location: St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, pl. "Sveti Aleksandar Nevski", 1000 Sofia Center, Sofia, Bulgaria


    photo by Jorge Láscar (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Pirotska Street

    Shopping and people-watching in the city centre

    • Shoppers
    • Food
    • Budget

    Sofia’s city centre is a bustling hub with over 100 stores, restaurants, and entertainment options to choose from. Head down Pirotska Street for some of the best shopping experiences in the city. This area is easily accessible by tram, metro, or trolley bus.

    As the first pedestrian street in Bulgaria, there’s always a bargain to be found since Sofia is what many consider to be one of the least expensive European capitals. Head to a local bakery on Pirotska Street and try a banitza – a Bulgarian-style cheese pastry.

    Location: Pirotska Street, Sofia, Bulgaria


    photo by karel291 (CC BY 3.0) modified


    Mount Vitosha

    Trek or ski the famous snow-capped mountain

    • Adventure

    Vitosha is a towering snow-capped mountain just behind Sofia’s southwestern suburbs. A ski resort is attached to it, making it a popular spot for skiing down the slopes or trekking towards the summit.

    Start at Aleko, the mountain’s ski resort, and make your way up to Vitosha’s Black Peak. The hike is surprisingly light, since the peak is part of a larger plateau, and provides a beautiful sight of the entire city of Sofia. The trip from the city centre to Mount Vitosha is around 30 minutes, so many locals like to gather here to watch the sunset.

    Location: Vitosha, Sofia, Pernik Province, Bulgaria


    photo by Hans Birger Nilsen (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified


    Sofia Central Mineral Baths

    Drinkable hot mineral water straight from the fountain

    • History
    • Photo
    • Budget

    The Sofia Central Mineral Baths are part of the Sofia Regional Historical Museum, which occupies a colourful Neo-Byzantine building dating back to 1906. The baths were used by locals until 1986, which included saunas, massage parlours, and relaxation therapies. 

    The Sofia Central Mineral Baths serve as a backdrop to a lovely park, which is open to the public. A fountain occupying the centre of the garden is fed by hot natural mineral water, which you’re free to try. Locals often line up with bottles in hand to fill up on water.

    Location: 1 Banski Sq, 1000 Sofia, Bulgaria

    Open: Tuesday–Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm (closed on Mondays)

    Phone: +359 2 985 4455


    photo by Octavioyuna (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    National Historical Museum, Bulgaria

    A place to learn about Bulgaria’s long and detailed history

    • History

    Discover the history of Sofia and Bulgaria at the National Historical Museum, which is one of the largest museums in the country. Founded in 1973, it has over 650,000 artefacts relating to fine arts, archaeology, and history. Around 10% of the museum’s collection is on display – permanent exhibits include the Valchitran Treasure (1,300 BC) and Dabene Treasure (2,000 BC).

    With a heavy focus on Bulgaria's 1,300-year-long history, the National Historical Museum offers a detailed story of European civilization, from ancient to modern times. Admission fee costs around 10 lv per adult and 1 lv per child above the age of 7. You can visit the museum for free every last Monday of the month.

    Location: ul.Vitoshko lale 16, Sofia 1618, Bulgaria

    Open: April–October: daily from 9.30 am to 6 pm. October–March: daily from 9 am to 5.30 pm

    Phone: +359 2 955 4280


    photo by Ann Wuyts (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Ivan Vazov National Theatre

    Among Sofia's oldest concert venues

    • Families
    • Budget

    The Ivan Vazov National Theatre hosts popular plays, presentations, and concerts happening almost every night of the week. One of Sofia’s oldest concert venues, it dates back to 1907 and features an ornate main hall that can accommodate 850 people.

    If you’re not planning on catching a show, head for the City Garden just outside the theatre. The open-air park is where you can see locals enjoying a friendly game of chess. You’re welcome to join in on the fun – it’s a good way to connect with friendly locals during your holiday in the Bulgarian capital.

    Location: ul. "Dyakon Ignatiy" 5, 1000 Sofia Center, Sofia, Bulgaria


    Vitosha Boulevard

    An upscale shopping street in Sofia

    • Shoppers

    Vitosha Boulevard is home to most of Sofia’s posh boutiques and brand-name stores. By far the most upscale street in the city, you can enjoy a day of window-shopping, or stop for coffee at one of the many unique cafes lining the street.

    If upscale shopping isn’t your thing, you can marvel at the snow-capped Vitosha Mountain, which acts as the backdrop to this popular road. Vitosha Boulevard also has many elegant lamp posts, benches, and kiosks, providing plenty of photo-ops throughout your visit.

    Location: Vitosha Boulevard, Sofia, Bulgaria


    photo by teodorpk (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Borisova Gradina Park

    The local hangout spot since 1884

    • Families
    • Photo

    Borisova Gradina Park, established in 1884, is the oldest and most recognisable park in Sofia. The park is usually packed with visitors enjoying outdoor activities like jogging and cycling throughout the day. Rows of trees line the avenues leading to different gardens throughout the park.

    You’ll also find onsite sports facilities, including the Yunak and Levski football fields, the Summer Swimming Bath, and a tennis court. Pack a picnic and spend the afternoon enjoying views over Ariana Lake, located in the centre of Borisova Gradina Park.

    Location: Borisova Gradina, Sofia, Bulgaria


    photo by Apostoloff (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified



    Where you can drink rakia and join the locals at a chalga club

    • Nightlife

    Sofia has one of the liveliest nightlife scenes in Europe – Vitosha, located in the city centre, is where you can dance in dark rock clubs and upscale bars until sunrise. The city also has a number of unique nightspots – Once Upon A Time Biblioteka is a vibrant nightclub inside the National Library, while Versus Karaoke Bar lets you belt out to your favourite tunes.

    Party like a locals at a chalga club, named after the Bulgarian music genre. It’s a mix of club, folk, pop beats, and belly dance rhythms by scantily-dressed performers. Make sure to try Bulgaria’s national drink, Rakia (or Rakija), a type of fruit brandy that tastes similar to sake or grappa.

    Fiorella Bertola | Contributing Writer

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