The capital of Bulgaria, Sofia, is the largest city, with 1.4 million inhabitants. Today, Sofia is a dynamic city in Eastern Europe.
There is still dilapidated buildings from its communist history. Despite this, it is a nice city with parks and tourist attractions that are worth visiting. It also hosts many bars and clubs. The city can be explored on foot because everything you need to see is fairly concentrated.
What to visit in Sofia ?
- The Alexender Nevski Cathedral is one of the largest Orthodox church in the world. It stands on the huge place of the same name, surrounded by gardens. It’s very impressive. The building is huge and its golden domes shine on the sunlight. It will remind you the Russian-style architecture.
- The Presidential Palace, the official residence of the President of the Republic built around a large central courtyard where stand the most important remains of the ancient city : the rotunda of St. George from the early fourth century. We do not expect to find such a building in the central courtyard.
- The golden statue of Sofia
- Closed to the city park, the beautiful Ivan Vazov National Theatre, Neo-Baroque.
- The church Saint-Nicolas, Russian style with green and golden bulbs.
- The place of the mosque with the old baths. The building is colorful and beautifully decorated. It currently hosts a museum.
- The covered market.
- At the heart of the Stalinist city, the seat of the Central Committee of the Communist Party
- Do not forget the beautiful Vitosha mountain overlooking the city, just for that Sofia is worth seeing. It takes 20 minutes to get there from downtown.
Our 3 tips to VISIT Sofia
- The Free Sofia walking tour is great for exploring the city while enjoying the explanations and anecdotes of a guide. The tour lasts more than 2 hours and is in English only. Every day, 2 times / day at 11am and 6pm. It starts at the corner of the courthouse (Sudebna Palata).
- If you like sushi, enjoy cheap and varied sushi at SUSHI HAPPY Sofia. In addition, they are made just right in front of you ! Or, in a Bulgarian style, the Happy Bar & Grill. The famous Bulgarian chain offers American style meat assortment and Bulgarian dishes, and salads. This is very good and cheap! Their menu has pictures on it, which is convenient if you do not know all the specialties available in Bulgaria. (See our article on Food in Bulgaria).
- Experience a typical Bulgarian restaurant: the Vodenitzata (??????????). With a traditional meal, you’ll get a show of Bulgarian folk dance, songs and ritual on the embers. The location is outside the city, on Mount Vitosha and you can only access the place by car (taxi), but it is really worth it. Book at this number: +359 2 9671058 or +359 888703103 (mobile). You’ll find there as many tourists than locals. The restaurant is built in an old mill.
Transportation in Sofia
From the airport to downtown
It will not take you more than 20-30 minutes between the airport and the city center by taxi. Pay +/- 10lv if you do not want to be scammed!
Bus number 284 runs between Terminal 2 and the center. Do not forget to get a ticket for your luggage! It starts in front of the arrivals and finish at the University downtown.
To go to the airport or to go out, take a taxi, but beware of scams! It is better to call a taxi than taking one of those who harass you on the street, who are often thieves! If you call, taxis arrive fast and are reliable.
In Sofia, the price should not exceed 10lv.
Here are some taxi companies: OK Supertrans taxi (973 2121), 1 Taxi, “962-22-26″ Yellow Taxi (91119) and Radio CV Taxi (91263). Their prices are + / – 0.70 lv ( 0.35) per km.
Look at the price before getting in the taxi as some taxis have special exorbitant prices for tourists.
Buses & Trams
Buses and tram run from 5.30am-11pm. Tickets can be bought at kiosks next to each station. Take a ticket for big luggage.
Website of the bus station in Sofia
In Sofia, there are two bus stations – national and international.
International Station in front of the railway station in Sofia. National station is just 150m.
Compost tickets within the trams in the small metal box attached along the windows.
- The Church of Bojana
- The Rila Monastery is one hundred kilometers south
- Plovdiv is 150 km
- The very typical village Koprivstica is 110km from the capital