If you are one of the ever-on-the-go, super-organised young people, you must’ve already booked into your hotel and found out that the power plugs are indeed European standard 220V with two round sockets. As well as anywhere else, an hour here is still 60 minutes and if you spare only but two, that is hours, you could later boast you have seen the three outstanding sights of Sofia.
The St Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, the largest in Bulgaria and the second largest in the Balkans, is lavishly decorated, possessing a heavenly-voiced choir and bells that overwhelm traffic noise and can be heard for miles around. St Sophia Basilica is the most emblematic of Sofia’s landmarks, giving the city its name and housing centuries’ worth of Sofia history on display at its unique underground museum. Rucksack on back, one can easily walk to St George Rotunda, the oldest surviving building in Sofia, dated to the 4th c. AD, presently operational.
The pedestrian Vitosha Boulevard will offer you boutiques, posh restaurants, alfresco cafes and crowds of people. If you walk down Tsar Shishman Street you can get a bracelet made for you before your eyes, try some homemade pastries or sing along with the musicians and the crowd at a street festival.
As well as all the sights of Sofia, the city has plenty of entertainment, music, fun and adrenaline to offer you. If it’s too early in the day to drop in a bar or a club you can go bowling, play billiards, shoot some paintball with your friends or go skating . Take a break from extreme sports with horseback riding or use up some energy at a climbing wall. Over 100 galleries and museums across the capital city play host to works by classic artists. Meanwhile, their informal counterparts – the graffiti painters – fashion their works out in the streets. Their artwork forms a trail which you can cover on foot.
As the street lights come on, the city rhythm begins to change. After the hectic day, the streets appear enticingly peaceful. Open a door and you walk right into the hubbub of a crowded bar, in the midst of an endless stream of beer pints and clamouring from football fans. If you’re not into live music, just around the corner there are karaoke bars and nightclubs that play every kind of music. Have you been able to hear the Vienna Strauss Orchestra, Deep Purple or Aerosmith live or get an autograph from Madonna? No? Well then, do it in Sofia! You could also try your luck and see if you could beat a one-arm bandit.
Sofia is a welcoming host as well as an excellent starting point for short day trips. Sofia’s Holy Mount, so aptly named, its churches and monasteries keep alive the Bulgarian spirituality. Have you ever seen Pernik locals chasing away evil spirits or the 3rd c. AD Roman fortresses in Tsari Mali Grad? You can grab a rucksack and a pair of skis and head out to the slopes of Vitosha Mountain, only a 20 minutes’ drive from the centre of Sofia or to skiing resorts like Bansko and Panichishte.
If you ever get lost in the city or simply need to replenish your list of ‘must see’ tourist sites or eating outlets, just use our SofiaAroundMe android app.
Go on, visit the sights of Sofia for yourselves!
This article was in partnership with Visit Sofia.