Things to do in Sofia

The city offers sights like onion-domed churches to ski slopes and hiking trails all within an arm's reach.

Our most recommended things to do in Sofia

From Sofia: Rila Monastery & Boyana Church Small Group Tour

1. From Sofia: Rila Monastery & Boyana Church Small Group Tour

Depart Sofia at 09:00 AM sharp, and relax on the 2-hour drive to the Rila Monastery in the Rila Mountains. Upon arrival, explore the largest and most important Orthodox cloister in Bulgaria. Admire the arcaded balconies, and discover unique frescoes by one of the most famous painters of the Bulgarian National Revival period. See gilded iconostasis and enjoy the fabulous mountain views. Hear the story of the monastery from your guide before enjoying some time to explore the monastic complex on your own. Learn more at the museum, or purchase souvenir icons and other items in the nearby shops. Take some time to refuel with lunch at one of the local restaurants, where you can purchase local specialties such as mekitsi (a traditional Bulgarian dish of kneaded dough made with yogurt that is deep-fried). Depart at 01:30 PM and travel to Boyana Church in the suburbs of Sofia. See the historically significant frescoes of the Byzantine building, and hear how they started the fashion for illustrating biblical figures with emotions and placing them alongside the local aristocracy. With an estimated arrival time at the church of approximately 03:40 PM, enjoy about 30 minutes to explore. Leave at around 04:10 PM for the drive to Alexander Nevski Cathedral in Sofia city center by 04:30 PM to 05:00 PM.

From Sofia: Rila Monastery and Boyana Church Day Trip

2. From Sofia: Rila Monastery and Boyana Church Day Trip

Experience the religious history of Bulgaria on a day trip to the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Rila Monastery and Boyana Church from Sofia. Follow your guide around the monastery to learn about this epic site or choose to explore it on your own before viewing Boyana Church's ancient frescoes. Meet your friendly group for the day near Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. Settle down in your seat and set off out of the city as you drive along scenic roads with picturesque views of rural Bulgaria. Arrive at Rila Monastery, the largest Eastern Orthodox monastery in the country. If you've booked the tour, follow your guide around the historic site and learn about the main frescoes. If you're an explorer you can visit the museum, take photos, and check out the church at your own pace. Then start your journey back to Sofia with one more important stop along the way. Enter the medieval Boyana Church and stroll within the ancient walls, studying the artistic frescoes which make this place so special.

From Sofia: 7 Rila Lakes and Rila Monastery Self-Guided Trip

3. From Sofia: 7 Rila Lakes and Rila Monastery Self-Guided Trip

Depart Sofia in the morning and travel by shuttle bus with a friendly English-speaking driver. Journey in air-conditioned comfort to Panichishte in the beautiful Rila National Park. Get briefed on arrival by your driver, who will tell you the different options and routes you can take up the mountain. Ride the chairlift to the 7 Rila Lakes, where you will get 5 hours of free time to go on some amazing nature walks independently to experience the glacial lakes from different perspectives. Board the shuttle bus at the agreed meeting point and relax on the 2-hour drive to Rila Monastery in a deep valley of the Rilska River. Founded in the 10th century, the monastery complex is regarded as one of Bulgaria's most important cultural and historical monuments. Get 1.5 hours to explore the largest Eastern Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria at your own pace. Then, return to Sofia in the evening and get dropped off at the meeting point.

Day Tour from Sofia to Skopje, North Macedonia

4. Day Tour from Sofia to Skopje, North Macedonia

Discover Skopje, the capital of Macedonia, on this full-day trip from Sofia. During this day tour to Skopje, you will have the chance to explore the city's highlights and hear its rich history and culture from your guide.  Be picked up from your accommodation in Sofia and board an airconditioned vehicle. Relax, and take in the countryside on the transfer to Skopje. Once in Skopje, begin your walking tour of the at Skopje Fortress. Admire sweeping views of the city from the fortress before heading to the Church of the Holy Savior, home to fantastic iconostasis. Continue towards the Sultan Murat Mosque and the Old Bazaar, where you can witness the remnants from Ottoman Period.  Listen as your guide tells you about Skopje's history as one of the main trade centers in the Balkans. Stop a typical Macedonian restaurant where you can purchase a delicious lunch before crossing the Vadar River explore the other side of the city.  Visit the new neo-classical square and continue to the Mother Teresa memorial house. End your walking tour at the newly built triumphal arch Porta Macedonia. Journey back to Sofia and be dropped off at your hotel or accommodation. 

From Sofia: Shuttle Tour to Rila Monastery & Boyana Church

5. From Sofia: Shuttle Tour to Rila Monastery & Boyana Church

The tour departs early in the morning in front of Alexander Nevski. Your first stop will be the great UNESCO Boyana Church located on the outskirts of Sofia consisting of three buildings. The eastern church was built in the 10th-century, then enlarged at the beginning of the 13th by Sebastocrator Kaloyan, who ordered a second two-story building to be erected next to it. After exploring it, head to Rila Monastery, where you will admire the impressive architecture, frescoes and learn about the history of the monastery from your guide. During the guided tour in the inner yard and the monastery museum, discover the most precious pieces that are kept from the past and all the facts and stories about the largest Bulgarian monastery complex. After your monastery tour, enjoy about 2.5 hours of free time for food and shopping.

Sofia: Seven Rila Lakes Snowshoe Walk & Thermal Spring Pools

6. Sofia: Seven Rila Lakes Snowshoe Walk & Thermal Spring Pools

Dramatic landscapes and breathtaking alpine sceneries, centuries old pine forests and rugged mountain peaks make the Seven Rila Lakes circuit one of the most beautiful areas in the Rila Mountains National Park. Enjoy a gentle snowshoe walk in the picturesque Seven Rila Lakes area followed by relaxation in the thermal water pools of Sapareva Banya Spa Resort, fed by one of the hottest springs in Europe. All this within a day tour from Sofia. Your guide will pick you up early in the morning from your hotel in Sofia for a wonderful journey to the Rila Mountains. You will arrive within 1.5-hours to Pionerska Mountain Hut from where you will take a chairlift to Rila Lakes Hut, situated high above the tree line at 2150 meters above sea level. The walk will begin from the hut in the direction of the Kidney, the third of the Seven Rila Lakes. Along the way, admire breathtaking alpine sceneries of jagged peaks and frozen mountain lakes. After a short break and a cup of warm tea at the lake, you will head toward Rila Lakes Hut and descend via the chairlift to the van and have a short transfer (20 minutes) to Sapareva Banya Spa Resort, where you will be able to relax deeply in the thermal pools fed by hot spring waters.

Sofia: Lovech, Devetaki Cave and Krushuna Waterfalls Tour

7. Sofia: Lovech, Devetaki Cave and Krushuna Waterfalls Tour

Your tour begins as you are picked up from your hotel/accommodation in Sofia. After an approximately 2-hour drive, you will reach Lovech. From there you will begin exploring the old quarter of the city. You will walk through the small cobbled streets, traveling back in time as you admire the typical 14th-century houses. You will then take a detailed trip to the Vassil Levski Museum, before continuing your walk to the Hisarya Fortress. The last site in the town to which you will pay attention is the famous Covered Bridge, a masterpiece of Bulgarian architecture which was built by Master Kolio Ficheto. Following the bridge, you will continue your trip with a 20-minute drive to your next stop, Devetashka Cave. Once there you will have some time to walk around the stunning cave, and will proceed to the Krushuna Waterfalls (a 20-minute drive from Devetashka Cave). There you will discover a unique natural wonder where you can take a walk through the beautiful forest and along the stream that has formed this beautiful cascade of blue waterfalls. Following this waterfall visit, your tour will then end with drop off at your point of origin.

From Sofia: Rila Monastery, Scenic Train Ride & Bansko Town

8. From Sofia: Rila Monastery, Scenic Train Ride & Bansko Town

Explore the best of Bulgaria on a day trip from Sofia, combining a visit to UNESCO Rila Monastery, a scenic mountain train ride, and a stop in Bansko Old Town. Enjoy roundtrip transportation and explore the area at your own pace. In the morning, meet your host at a central meeting point and board the shuttle bus for a transfer to the Rhodope mountains. Ride the last operating narrow gauge train in Bulgaria and enjoy the scenic rail journey through the mountains. Experience the local lifestyle of Bulgarian people living in rural areas. Get off the train and, after a short minibus transfer, reach Bansko town. Explore historical Bulgarian architecture in the Old Town of Bansko. Discover authentic restaurants to try traditional cuisine. Board the shuttle bus in the afternoon for a minibus transfer to Rila National Park. Explore the UNESCO-listed Rila Monastery complex, marvel at the frescoes of the main church, and visit the medieval tower. Wander down quiet outdoor corridors adorned with beautiful frescoes, and see gold-plated iconostasis and valuable icons from the 14th to the 19th centuries. Learn more about the history of the site at the museum, where highlights include the double-sided crucifix of the Rila Cross. Finally, board the minibus back to Sofia in the afternoon and get dropped off at the central meeting point.

From Sofia: Full-Day Tour to Rila Monastery and Boyana

9. From Sofia: Full-Day Tour to Rila Monastery and Boyana

Spend the day exploring 2 UNESCO World Heritage Sites located outside of Sofia, Bulgaria's capital city. Begin by meeting with your local guide at behind St. Alexander Nevski Cathedral in Sofia who is ready to make the best of your day, sharing historical facts and insider tips. Sit back and relax for the next 2 hours as your English-speaking driver transportsyou to Rila. Upon arriving, spend 2 hours exploring the area and visiting the Rila Monastery, the largest and most famous Eastern Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria. Then enjoy lunch at a local restaurant that features a specialty of grilled trout. Hop back in the van for another 2-hour journey, eventually arriving at Boyana Church, a medieval Bulgarian Orthodox church on the outskirts of Sofia. Check out the elaborate frescoes that have made this site famous, before your tour returns you to your meeting point.

Sofia's Hidden Bars: 4-Hour Pub Crawl

10. Sofia's Hidden Bars: 4-Hour Pub Crawl

Explore Sofia’s hidden nightlife gems on a 4-hour pub crawl. Meet people at some of the favorite hangouts in the city. If you’re a solo traveler this is a great way to socialize with locals and meet travelers from all around the world. The guides are a unique part of this experience. They’ll take the time to get to know you and at the end of the night you’ll have made some new friends. Enjoy a free beer at the first stop, then proceed to a second bar where you can enjoy an alcoholic dessert with anything you buy. Enjoy another free beer on tap at the third stop and then free admission to the club selected for the night.

Available activities

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  • Sofia history tours
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  • Day trips from Sofia
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Frequently asked questions about Sofia

What top attractions are a must-see in Sofia?

What are the best day trips and excursions from Sofia?

The best day trips and excursions from Sofia are:

Rila Monastery

Other Sightseeing Options in Sofia

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What people are saying about Sofia

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 3,946 reviews

La guida è stata molto gentile e disponibile. Esperienza divertente. Segnalo alcuni problemi con la scrittura del pacchetto, noi abbiamo preso quello da 45 euro che aveva dentro la guida ma in realtà abbiamo scoperto dopo che all'agenzia risultava che avessimo pagato solo i trasporti

Nice trip. Small group. Guide tour tells us about a lot of interesting facts. A good mix of walking of the cityband free time to eat and look around by ourselves. Worth it.

This was one of the best walking tours. We learned so much about Sofia’s communist past. Our guide, Vasil, was not only knowledgable, but also approachable and fun.

My guide, Alex, was fantastic! Great pacing, good planning, and very knowledgeable (he's a history teacher afterall!)

Nick was fantastic and knowledgeable and made it a great trip.