Serving as the capital of Bulgaria, Sofia is a city that makes a trip to Eastern Europe well worth the effort. Not only will you save money, you’ll get to take in gorgeous churches and other structures that are centuries (sometimes over a millennia) old, explore a city that used to be well behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War, and be in nature that is hard to find further west on the European Continent. This dark horse is begging for your attention … so give it a chance. We think you’ll love it!
Start your time in Sofia by exploring any one of its amazing churches. The Cathedral Saint Alexandar Nevski should be first on your list, as it is one the largest Eastern Orthodox cathedrals in the world, as it is able to hold 10,000 worshipers ta full capacity. This Neo-Byzantine beauty was built in the 19th century using fine stone like marble, onyx and alabaster, and with a gold dome soaring 45 metres into the air, it is a sight you should see if your time in the Bulgarian capital is limited.
Boyana Church should be next on your list, since it is much older (constructed in the 10th century) and has a variety of frescoes detailing medieval life. These fact have contributed to it earning recognition from UNESCO as a World Heritage Site
Finally, head on over to Saint Sofia Church, which is one of the oldest churches in the city, with its cornerstone being laid in the 6th century. It is one of the better restored Early Christian religious sites in Eastern Europe, and with design features being made to it during its time as a mosque in the middle of its existence, it is truly a site that visitors ought to see with their own eyes.
Those wanting to soak up the best culture in Bulgaria should attend a shoe at the Ivan Vazov National Theatre. Being constructed in elaborate fashion under the supervision of the city’s creative community in the early 20th century, this palace of the performing arts in one of the best known landmarks in Sofia. Stage shows, operas and ballet performances are conducted here regularly, so ask around for a currents schedule when you get here.
Being a city in one of the satellite nations of the Soviet Union after the Second World War, the influences of communism can still be found all over Sofia, but there is no better place to observe their effect on design then by visiting the Museum of Socialist Art. For 6 leva, you can observe statues of Lenin and other comrades in the sculpture garden, or watch propaganda films inside after viewing paintings that gave life to the struggles of the working class against the capitalist elites prior to becoming a communist nation.
If you haven’t got your fill of museums yet, check out the National Museum of Military History, which displays disused military hardware from days gone by. Planes, missiles, and other instruments of death and destruction can be viewed, and exhibits covering the world wars of the 20th century and the Cold War period can also be observed here, making this place excellent for those that are into this sort of history.
Looming over down Sofia is Vitosha Mountain, a massif peak that serves as a place where active locals go year round to seek out recreation in the outdoors, or a respite from the hectic nature of the city proper. Hiking in summer and skiing in the winter are popular here, while those simply seeking to relax typically make a beeline for the mineral springs, as their soothing waters do their part in unknotting the tense muscles of many stressed out locals.
Looking for a unique, intriguing, and mildly unsettling activity to engage in on your trip through Sofia? If so, be sure to check out the Dextrophobia Rooms, which put you inside a building with locked doors, and the only way to unlock them and find your way out is to successfully decipher clue and solve puzzles found within.
A lot of fun? For many, it is a ball, so be sure to give it a try when you find yourself in the capital of Bulgaria.