Since the end of Communist rule in Bulgaria, Sofia has reinvented itself as a lively, cosmopolitan city. Stroll in the shadows of Byzantine buildings, gold-domed churches and Communist-era monuments to find modern shopping malls, acres of parkland, elegant boulevards and a lively café culture. With some of Europe’s most beautiful architecture and ski slopes on its doorstep, Sofia has plenty to show its visitors.
Marvel at the beauty of the multi-domed Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. Look inside at its Byzantine-style murals. Next to the cathedral, find the sixth-century Church of St. Sofia, which gave the city its name. See the Rotunda of St. George, thought to be the city’s oldest church. The redbrick structure was built by the Romans in the fourth century. Visit the 16th-century Banya Bashi Mosque.
Investigate some of the 650,000 artifacts inside the National Museum of History. Learn about Bulgarian art from the 19th and 20th centuries at the National Art Gallery.
Go on a shopping spree to the city malls. These include the Bulgaria Mall and The Mall, one of the largest malls in Sofia. Stock up on fresh fruit and vegetables at the market on Graf Ignatiev. Take a break from shopping and sightseeing for a drink at a pavement café or picnic at Borisova Gradina Park.
Sofia sits at the foot of the Vitosha Mountain, a 7,513-foot-tall (2,290-meter) peak. Trek along its numerous marked paths in the spring and summer or go skiing in the winter.
To experience Sofia’s nightlife, visit Vitosha Boulevard, Sofia’s main shopping street. Choose from a large concentration of trendy bars and cafés. For music and dance, visit Sofia Opera and Ballet.
Sofia is a compact city. Many sights are within easy walking distance of each other. Alternatively, get around by public transportation or rental car. With thousands of years of history, rich cultural pursuits and a lively social scene, Sofia is a fascinating and increasingly popular vacation destination.