Eight best places to visit when you travel to Sofia

Bulgaria, one of the oldest European countries, is a famous tourist hotspot that beguiles millions of visitors yearly with its immaculate Black sea beaches, numerous architectural wonders, remnants of empires, and other breathtaking landscapes. Bulgaria boasts its vibrant capital city Sofia, a thriving metropolis with a timeless charm, which owes much to its deep history. With its history spanning thousands of years from Antiquity to modern times, Sofia offers a fascinating blend of east and west and gives visitors more to discover than meets the eye. A well-planned visit to Sofia will let you explore remnants of its colonial past while also experiencing a youthful and decidedly modern vibe. Here’s our pick of the eight best places to visit when you travel to Sofia. Let’s explore them.

1. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is the largest cathedral in the Balkans, erected in the New-Byzantine style in 1912. It is the primary tourist attraction of Bulgaria’s capital, located in Sofia city center, adjacent to St. Sophia Church and the Vasil Levski Monument. Built after the end of the Russian-Turkish War of 1878-79, this iconic landmark embodies the memory of the sacrifice made by all those who fought and died in the battle for freedom.

It is a cross-domed basilica featuring a 45m high gold-plated dome, 12 bells, and a splendid interior decorated with Italian marble, Brazilian onyx, Indian alabaster, and other luxurious materials. In the cathedral’s crypt lies a small museum containing the largest collection of Orthodox icons in Europe. Admire the architectural splendor of this awe-inspiring building, discover its lavish design elements, and feel the holy atmosphere. It is soul-fulfilling. This massive structure is spread over an area of 3,170sq meters and lies in the vicinity of the Bulgarian Parliament and the National Art Academy.

2. Ivan Vazov National Theatre

The Ivan Vazov National Theatre is one of the best places to visit when you travel to Sofia. Named after the prominent Bulgarian poet Ivan Vazov, this significant Bulgarian cultural institution is the oldest and the most authoritative theater in Bulgaria. That was built in 1907 by the Austrian architect’s Helmer & Fellner. This exquisite and aristocratic building welcomes you to the magic of the theater to enjoy the repertoire of both contemporary and classical plays staging ten or so premieres per season. It has three stages: the main auditoria that can host 780 people, a smaller 120-seat stage, and a stage on the fourth-floor seating 90.

The Ivan Vazov National Theatre serves as the representative Bulgarian theatrical institution with a deep current of history firmly anchored in its tradition and the protean presence in the present modernity. The 40m high façade faces the City Garden, a popular retreat for Sofia residents that buzzes with life and energy.

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Besides enjoying the Bulgarian play, you can take a leisurely walk past the theatre, gaze upon the impressive façade, soak up the atmosphere of the cozy surrounding, etc.

3. Sofia Zoo

Another best place to visit when you travel to Sofia is Bulgaria’s oldest and largest zoological garden-Sofia Zoo. It is home to around 2000 animals representing 280 species and 40 interesting species of trees and shrubs worldwide. It is situated in the foothills of Vitosha Mountain, about 4.5 kilometers southwest of Sofia. This animal exhibit is the best place to learn about the grand varieties of animals that call Sofia Zoo home, including the

Carnivores like Kinkajou, African lion, Amur tiger, Persian leopard, jaguar, puma, Eurasian lynx, etc.

Herbivores like the Asian elephant, white rhinoceros, hippopotamus, red kangaroo, Patagonian mara, addax, etc.

Primates like brown capuchin, lar gibbon, black-and-white ruffed lemur, pygmy marmoset, etc.

Birds like Egyptian vulture, griffon vulture, tawny owl, barn owl, Eurasian eagle-owl, etc.

Besides these, you can observe aquariums featuring ocellaris clownfish, copperband butterfly fish, blue regal tang, etc. Sofia Zoo has separate admission prices for visitors depending on their age. It is open seven days a week from 9:30 to 18:30 in the summer season (April to October).

4. National History Museum

Sofia is a historical treasure chest of Bulgaria founded thousands of years ago by the Thracian tribes and ruled by several mighty empires, including the Romans and the Ottomans. No landmark will give you a more fascinating and deeper insight into Sofia’s history than the National History Museum, located in the heart of the capital city. With a focus on 1300 years-old rich history of the Bulgarian state, the museum houses over 650,000 artifacts from different Bulgarian times. Bulgaria’s largest museum and the must-see attraction in Sofia showcase an impressive collection of Greek, Roman, and Byzantine columns and monuments from different eras which is a great place to visit.

The displayed objects are linked to archaeology, fine arts, history, and ethnography and include a variety of weapons, traditional costumes, furniture, coins, art & jewelry, mosaics, documents, and photos. While the exhibited items will catch most visitors’ attention, the museum building is worth a visit as it is housed in the former residence of Dictator Todor Zhivkov.

You can pay a visit to the museum any day from 9 am to 5:30 pm (November to March) and 9:30 am to 6 pm (April to October), except on public holidays.

5. Eagles’ Bridge and Lion Bridge

Eagle’s Bridge and Lion Bridge are the other best places to visit when you travel to Sofia. Both bridges are majestic landmarks and symbolic doors to the Bulgarian capital city. The Eagles’ Bridge is built over the river Perlovska and encompasses four statues of eagles, which symbolize its protectors and patrons. Situated next to Vasil Levski National Stadium and the Monument to the Soviet Army, this bridge is the first intersection point from where the Sofia city center is accessed.

Likewise, Lion Bridge is a stone bridge serving as an important junction between two major boulevards-Marie Louis and Slinitsa. The bridge got its name from four massive bronze lion sculptures on each side. The lion is the emblem of Bulgaria, and the four bronze lion figure-decorated bridge is the symbol of the metropolitan area Serdika. The bridge links Central Station to the city center and provides visitors with some great photographic opportunities.

6. The National Palace of Culture

If you are intrigued by the national history and prestigious cultural events, the best place to visit when you travel to Sofia is the National Palace of Culture (NDK). Constructed in 1981 to mark the 1300 anniversary of Bulgaria, NDK is a castle-like monument hosting the largest multifunctional conference and exhibition center in south-eastern Europe.

The National Palace of Culture is the most prominent modern landmark of Sofia that is equipped to host a myriad of events, including concerts, multilingual conferences, exhibitions, etc. Attend the Bulgarian capital concert in NDK and, in case, witness the performance of world-famous singers, musicians, and dancers. The largest multifunctional complex is a venue for over 300 events, so you can attend any of the events (music and film festivals, scientific symposiums, dances, fairs) during your visit to Sofia.

7. Vazrajdane Aqua Park

Sofia’s Vazradane Aqua Park is a recreational spot for visitors to Sofia who look forward to engaging in relaxing and entertaining opportunities. Vazrajdane Aqua Park is stretched over 6,600 sq. meters and encompasses five outdoor pools, a large indoor swimming pool, and a sauna park. The complex fits everyone in your group since it has a recreational pool, a children’s pool, a baby pool, and a hydromassage pool. The complex lies at 4 Bulgarska Morava Street in Zone B5, inside the extensive Vazrajdane Park.

8. Seven Rila Lakes

Famed for an undisputed level of natural beauty, Sofia is a prime adventure playground in Bulgaria. Along with myriad sky-friendly mountains, Sofia has several celestial lakes that not only satiate visitors’ thirst and hunger but also fill their hearts with ecstasy. The Seven Rila Lake on the northwest side of Rila Mountains offers a perfect respite and a way to escape every day for travelers. If the sight of serene, crystal-clear lakes excites you, Seven Rila Lakes is the best place to visit when you travel to Sofia. It is a series of natural chilly glacial lakes found above 2500m above sea level. The cluster of these lakes holds names based on their unique shapes, such as the Tear (the most transparent lake), the eye (an oval-shaped lake), etc.

Coworking in Sofia

As a burgeoning metropolis, Sofia is rapidly catching up with the concept of coworking and a flexible work environment to facilitate young entrepreneurs. With the surge of startups, coworking in Sofia is possible with coworking spaces where digital nomads can work remotely in a professional environment without dishing out a big rent. Coworks Sofia is fun due to a wide array of options for high-quality premises in Bulgaria’s financial hub.

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