10 Fun & Unique Things to Do in Sofia, Bulgaria | 2024 (with Photos)

Mary Adelana

Mary Adelana - Travel Writer

Last Updated: January 8, 2024

Hey there! I'm Mary, a travel enthusiast who recently explored the vibrant city of Sofia, Bulgaria. Get ready to discover an amazing mix of hidden gems, cultural landmarks, and offbeat attractions that will make your visit truly unforgettable.

Sofia, Bulgaria

With its fascinating blend of European history and style, Sofia, the capital city of Bulgaria, attracts architecture and culture lovers from all over the world.

As one of the oldest cities in Europe, Sofia has witnessed the rise and fall of many civilizations, including the Thracians, Romans, Byzantines, and Ottomans.

The city offers an impressive number of attractions for all tastes. The standard of living is quite affordable compared to the Western countries, making Sofia a low-cost travel option.

Check out 10 fun and unique things to do in Sofia, from visiting historic sites to savoring Bulgarian traditional food.

Most Recommended Thing to Do

Top Choice Hotel

Cleves Este Hotel

Our Top Choice Restaurant

Our Top Choice Bar for Nightlife

Best Time to Visit

Spring or autumn for pleasant weather and fewer tourists.

Average Temperature

The average temperature in Sofia, Bulgaria is moderate.

Transportation Options

Bus, subway, tram, taxi, bicycle, walking, car, ride-sharing.

Average Cost ($, $$, $$$)


My Top Recommendation

Explore Sofia, Bulgaria's vibrant capital city, where ancient history and dynamic modernity collide. Stroll through the city's charming streets, filled with stunning architecture and a lively ambiance - a perfect blend of the old and the new.

Immerse yourself in Sofia's rich history by visiting iconic landmarks such as the awe-inspiring Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, an architectural masterpiece that will leave you in awe. Delve into the city's past by exploring the ancient Roman ruins of Serdica and the medieval Boyana Church, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

What You'll Need to Bring

  1. Passport
  2. Travel insurance
  3. Comfortable walking shoes

What Not to Miss

  1. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
  2. National Palace of Culture
  3. Borisova Gradina Park
  4. Boyana Church
  5. Vitosha Mountain

What to Avoid

  1. Avoid wearing revealing clothing when visiting religious sites.
  2. Avoid drinking tap water and opt for bottled water instead.
  3. Avoid using unlicensed taxis and use official taxi services.

1. Discover Bulgaria's Rich History at the National History Museum

National History Museum

The National Museum of History is a must-see for all history enthusiasts who find themselves in the Bulgarian capital. The exhibition arranged chronologically, will take you on a journey through time from the Middle Ages to the present day.

Discover Thracian treasures, medieval armor, musical instruments, and artworks from the Roman and Ottoman empire. This national historical museum is open every day except Monday. The museum is a great destination for history enthusiasts and offers guided tours as well as self-guided tours.

The National Museum of History in Sofia, Bulgaria is a true treasure trove of Bulgarian history. The museum’s extensive collection covers all aspects of Bulgarian history from the Middle Ages to the present day.

The exhibition arranged chronologically, takes visitors on a journey through time and showcases a wide variety of fascinating artifacts, such as medieval armor, and weaponry.

One particularly interesting section of the museum is dedicated to the Russo-Turkish War, which had a significant impact on Bulgarian and Balkan history.

Whether you are a student of history or simply interested in learning more about Bulgaria's past, a visit to this impressive museum is sure to be an enriching and rewarding experience.

Don't miss the opportunity to explore the National Museum of History and delve into the fascinating history of Bulgaria

2. Sofia Zoo: One of the Best Things to Do in Sofia with Kids

Sofia Zoo

Next door to the National Museum is the oldest zoo in Bulgaria - Sofia Zoo, founded in 1888. A visit to this wonderful zoo is one of the many lovely things to do in Sofia. It is home to over 1,400 animals of more than 250 species.

An interesting fact about the zoo is that it has a special breeding program for endangered species, such as the Balkan lynx and the Persian leopard. Besides animal showings, Sofia Zoo has a botanical garden with more than 200 species of plants.

If you are looking for a relaxing day out, Sofia Zoo is definitely worth a visit. It's a great opportunity to get up close to some of the world's most fascinating animals and learn about their behavior and habitats. The zoo is divided into several areas based on habitats, such as the African Savannah, Tropical Rainforest, and Arctic Tundra.

In addition to the breeding programs, the zoo also participates in international conservation efforts and has won awards for its work in preserving endangered species. And for those interested in flora as well as fauna, the botanical garden is a great place to explore.

Overall, the National Museum of History and the Sofia Zoo are both fantastic attractions that are not to be missed on a visit to the Bulgarian capital.

Whether you are interested in history, or wildlife, or just want to relax and enjoy some beautiful surroundings, there is something for everyone to enjoy at these two wonderful locations.

3. Walk Through the Ancient City of Serdika: UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Ancient City of Serdika

The remains of Serdika are one of the main attractions of Sofia, Bulgaria, moreover, free of charge for visitors. Take a free walking tour of the ancient site and learn about Bulgarian history.

Founded by the Thracians in the 5th century BC and conquered by the Roman empire in the 1st century AD, today these remains lie near the Serdika metro station. Fascinating to think that they would never have been discovered if the subway system had not been built.

Feel like a resident of an ancient civilization as you stroll through the old buildings and streets. Be amazed by the Roman amphitheater, one of the most impressive Roman ruins in the central location.

After walking through the ancient city of Serdika, be sure to check out the UNESCO World Heritage sites in Sofia. One of the most famous is the Boyana Church, which dates back to the 10th century and is renowned for its frescoes. The church is located at the foot of the Vitosha mountain and is easily accessible by public transport.

Another must-see UNESCO site is the Rila Monastery, located just outside of Sofia in the Rila Mountains. The monastery was founded in the 10th century and is known for its stunning frescoes and impressive architecture. Visitors can also enjoy hiking and other outdoor activities in the beautiful surrounding landscape.

Whether you are interested in ancient history, and religious sites, or simply appreciate beautiful architecture and art, the UNESCO sites in and around Sofia are definitely worth a visit. So, put on your walking shoes and get ready to explore the rich cultural heritage of Bulgaria

National Art Gallery

The charming pedestrian street, located in the center of the city, is a must-see for travelers in Europe's vibrant metropolis.

It is one of the main shopping and entertainment areas of the city, flanked by numerous restaurants, cafes, bars, and stores selling everything from clothes to souvenirs. Plus, here you can admire the many works of street art and try the traditional Bulgarian food.

In 2020, Vitosha Boulevard underwent a major renovation to upgrade the area's environment, with a significant increase in public green space, so be sure to visit it again if you've already seen it.

After strolling down Vitosha Boulevard, make sure to head over to the National Art Gallery, located in the former royal palace. The gallery houses over 50,000 pieces of Bulgarian art, including works by famous Bulgarian artists such as Vladimir Dimitrov and Zlatyu Boyadzhiev.

You can see a vast collection of Bulgarian art, ranging from medieval times to the present day. The palace itself is an impressive piece of architecture, built-in 1882 in a neo-renaissance style.

Don't miss the opportunity to see some of the finest works of art in Bulgaria in a grand palace setting. This is your chance to learn about Bulgarian folklore.

5. Explore Vitosha Mountain: One of the Best Things to Do in Sofia All Year Round

Vitosha Mountain

There is a time to explore ancient ruins and there is a time to go snowboarding. Just 20-30 minutes from the city center, Sofia offers breathtaking panoramic views and captivating scenery at Vitosha Mountain.

A variety of outdoor activities can be enjoyed here, including hiking, skiing, and snowboarding. Accommodation is likely cheaper than in other European ski destinations with budget-friendly guest houses.

If you are coming in the summertime, you can experience picturesque hikes through mountain forests and meadows.

After a day of exploring the mountain, don't miss the opportunity to visit the nearby Boyana Church, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located at the base of the mountain. This medieval church features beautiful frescoes from the 13th century and is a must-see for history and art enthusiasts.

Another nearby attraction is the National History Museum, just a short drive from the mountain. Here you can learn about the fascinating history, including the Roman Empire and Ottoman Empire eras.

With its central location, Vitosha Mountain is the perfect escape from the bustling city, offering visitors a chance to immerse themselves in nature and explore Bulgaria's rich cultural heritage.

6. Experience Paragliding in Sofia or Go on Some Free Walking Tours

Paragliding in Sofia

We have something for thrill-seekers and something for the ones who want to be on the safe side. For those interested in more extreme sports, visit some of the most recommended places for paragliding in Sofia - Vitosha or Simeonovo.

Take a bird's eye view of the natural beauty around Sofia and be left with unforgettable memories as you glide through the sky. Depending on the wind conditions, the flight time can vary, but it is usually 15-30 minutes, and ticket prices start at $100.

After you've had your adrenaline rush from paragliding, take a stroll through Sofia's rich cultural heritage. Start by visiting the Ivan Vazov National Theater, which is just a few minutes away from the landing site. The theater, which is Bulgaria's oldest and most prominent theater, offers a glimpse into the country's rich artistic history.

Next, head to the Sofia History Museum, where you can delve into the city's fascinating past. It houses over 40,000 exhibits, including ancient artifacts, photographs, and documents that provide a comprehensive insight into the city's history.

Another nearby attraction worth exploring is the St. George Rotunda, the oldest building in Sofia. The Orthodox Church dates back to the 4th century and is a fascinating example of early Christian architecture.

If you're interested in exploring the city's diverse religious landmarks, the Banya Bashi Mosque, the largest mosque in Sofia, and the Church of St. Nedelya, located next to the Arena di Serdica Hotel, are must-sees.

For a deeper dive into Bulgaria's culture and history, visit the Earth and People National Museum and the National Institute of Archaeology Museum. The latter boasts a vast underground museum that showcases the city's Roman past.

Lastly, make sure you take a relaxing dip in the Central Mineral Baths, a historic complex that features an array of hot springs and spa facilities.

7. Visit St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and Nearby Attractions

St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

Visit St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, the symbol of Sofia and arguably the most impressive Orthodox church in the world. This medieval church will impress you with its greatness and spectacular collection of religious art.

Named after a Russian prince, the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral commemorates the Russian soldiers who fought for Bulgaria, representing the close military history between the countries.

The cathedral's stunning golden domes and intricate architecture make it a must-see for visitors interested in religious art and history. Don't miss the opportunity to climb the bell tower, where you can enjoy a breathtaking panoramic view of the city.

A short walk from St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, visitors can explore the impressive National Art Gallery and former royal palace. Exploring these historic sights is one of the most interesting things to do in Sofia.

Located nearby is the Church of St. George, a beautiful 4th-century Roman building with impressive frescoes. The Earth and People National Museum and the Soviet Army monument are also in the vicinity, where you can learn about Bulgaria's complex history and the country's role in World War II.

For those interested in Russian history, a visit to the nearby Russian Church is also recommended. After exploring these cultural landmarks, head to the city's central mineral baths, a beautiful historic building that has been turned into an underground museum.

The Arena di Serdica Hotel, which incorporates Ancient Roman ruins into its design, and the Banya Bashi Mosque, the largest mosque in Sofia, are also worth visiting.

8. Take a Tour Around the City in a Soviet Trabant Car

Soviet Trabant Car

To see Sofia from a unique perspective, rent a Trabant car and immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the Soviet era. The vehicle is not particularly fast, but the experience of driving a retro car in Sofia is quite memorable.

The Trabant was a popular car produced in East Germany during the Soviet Era, and it has become a nostalgic symbol of the period. At that time the Bulgarian Communist Party was the ruling political force in Bulgaria, as part of the Soviet Bloc.

On the road, you will be able to see the national theater, the famous Sofia History Museum, Saint Sofia Church, George Rotunda Church, Earth and People National Museum, and many other attractions. Please note that the Trabant car might not be in function if you are visiting during the winter months.

9. Get Inspired at the National Palace of Culture or at the Earth and People National Museum

National Palace of Culture

The National Palace of Culture in Sofia is a must-see for anyone interested in culture and contemporary art. Located in the heart of Sofia, the complex has several exhibition halls, a movie theater, a library, and many other venues.

Various events such as concerts, festivals, exhibitions, and conferences are held at the National Palace of Culture throughout the year. Among the numerous iconic events that took place here are the Sofia Film Festival, the Sofia Science Festival, and Sofia Fashion Week.

If you buy tickets in advance, you can also visit Ivan Vazov National Theatre.

Another great museum to visit in Sofia is the People's National Museum. This is one of the best things to do in Sofia, Bulgaria for history buffs. Located in the city center, it offers a fascinating insight into Bulgaria's military history but also their everyday life back in the day and culture.

Here you can see a diverse collection of artifacts, including traditional costumes, jewelry, weapons, and household items. The museum also features interactive displays that showcase the country's folklore and traditions.

While in the city center, be sure to visit the Bell Tower of the Church of St. George and the Russian Church, two beautiful landmarks that offer a glimpse into Sofia's architectural history. Sveta Nedelya Church (Sveta Nedelja) is also nearby. For those interested in Soviet history, the nearby Monument to the Soviet Army is also worth a visit.

10. Discover Sofia's Culinary Scene on a Guided Tour and Explore the National Parks

Guided food tour

If you're looking for a true taste of Bulgarian culture, there's nothing better than immersing yourself in delicious traditional food. Get to know Sofia's food scene more authentically by going on a culinary tour with a local guide who knows all the best places.

Explore hearty dishes like banitsa, kebapche, and tarator at Sofia's best restaurants, markets, and street stalls. Once you've indulged in Sofia's culinary delights, it's time to burn off those calories by visiting the nearby national parks.

Vitosha National Park is a must-visit for its breathtaking landscapes and diverse flora and fauna. The park is ideal for hiking, skiing, and snowboarding, and you can also enjoy the stunning views from the cable car.

For those looking for a quieter and more secluded experience, head to Rila National Park, home to the highest peak in the Balkans and the famous Rila Monastery.

You should try to go on a separate tour to visit Rila Monastery and visit the local restaurants nearby to enjoy Bulgarian food. Obviously, both parks offer a perfect retreat from the hustle and bustle of city life.

FAQs About Things to Do in Sofia, Bulgaria

Now, let's see some frequently asked questions about tours and fun things to do in Sofia, Bulgaria.

How do you get to Sofia?

Sofia Airport is only 10km from the city center, which makes it convenient for travelers to get into Sofia. From the airport, you can take the metro from Terminal 2, which takes 26 minutes with stops.

An alternative, more convenient option is a private airport shuttle, which takes only 15 minutes or less, and guarantees a comfortable ride to your hotel.

What are the best things to do in Sofia Bulgaria for history buffs?

The best things to do in Sofia for history buffs include the Sofia Church of St. George, Sofia Synagogue, the Banya Bashi Mosque - the only functioning mosque in Sofia, the central mineral bathhouse, and the National Museum of History (which houses over 650,000 artifacts including Ancient Thracian treasures, Islamic art, and Italian marble).

What are the best things to do in Sofia on a budget?

The best things to do in Sofia on a budget include free walking tours and sightseeing of Sofia's main attractions with an experienced guide in the friendly company of other tourists.

Also, take advantage of free admission to museums and galleries such as the National History Museum and the National Art Gallery. Borisova Gradina Park is another free place to visit in Sofia.

What are the best attractions for first-timers in Sofia, Bulgaria?

The best attractions for first-time visitors to Sofia include Vitosha Boulevard, the City Garden, and Banya Bashi Mosque (Sofia's only mosque or only functioning mosque. visit the Sofia Synagogue (the largest synagogue in Southeast Europe), and the Central Mineral Baths.

Summing up: 10 Fun & Unique Things to Do in Sofia, Bulgaria

Sofia is a city that offers something for everyone, from exploring its rich military history to experiencing the vibrant cultural scene.

Visitors can take in the breathtaking architecture of Saint Sofia Church, George Rotunda Church, and Boyana Church, or visit the stunning Rila Monastery.

Foodies can indulge in delicious Bulgarian cuisine, while art lovers can appreciate the many works of street art scattered throughout the city.

The National Theater and Sveta Nedelya Church are also great places to immerse yourself in the cultural scene. With easy access from Sofia Airport, there are plenty of things to do in Sofia that will make your visit unforgettable.