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.

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Our most recommended things to do in Sofia

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

1. 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.

From Sofia: Rila Monastery & Boyana Church Small Group Tour

2. 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.

Sofia: Rila Monastery Trip w/ Boyana Church & History Museum

3. Sofia: Rila Monastery Trip w/ Boyana Church & History Museum

Board the shuttle service behind St. Alexander Nevski Cathedral in Sofia city center. Then, head to the medieval Rila Monastery in the spectacular Rila Mountains. Depending on the tour option selected: visit the UNESCO Boyana church and/or UNESCO Boyana church on the way to the Rila monastery. Get over 2 hours of free time to explore the complex, founded by the hermit monk Ivan Rilski in 927 AD. Marvel at the frescoes of the main church and visit the medieval tower independently. Wander down quiet outdoor corridors adorned with beautiful mosaics, and see gold-plated iconostasis and valuable icons from the 14th to 19th century. Learn more about the history of the site at the museum, where highlights include the double-sided crucifix of the Rila Cross. See the old bakery and other monuments, including the residential area of high stone walls and little windows. Board the minibus back to Sofia in the afternoon and get dropped off at the pick-up point on arrival.

The Seven Rila Lakes: Full-Day Tour from Sofia

4. The Seven Rila Lakes: Full-Day Tour from Sofia

Enjoy a full-day trek into the Rila Mountains to explore the most picturesque area near Sofia and one of Bulgaria's most beautiful natural sites, the Seven Rila Lakes. This group of glacial lakes lies between 6,900 and 8,200 feet (2,100 and 2,500 meters) above sea level, surrounded by rugged peaks and deep valleys. Leaving from Sofia, you will drive for 90 minutes to reach the Panichishte resort area, where you board the chairlift to the Rila Lakes mountain hut. From here you will continue on foot to explore the landscape and its majestic blue pearls – the Eye, the Tear, the Kidney, the Twins, the Trefoil, the Fish Lake and the Lower Lake. The route is not difficult and can be altered on the spot depending on fitness levels or strength, following either more gentle routes or steeper gradients. Take your chance to explore the Blue Pearls of the Rila Mountains, the Seven Rila Lakes.

Plovdiv: Full-Day Small Group Excursion from Sofia

5. Plovdiv: Full-Day Small Group Excursion from Sofia

This full-day trip begins with a 2-hour drive from Sofia to Plovdiv, one of Europe’s oldest towns. On a guided walking tour, discover the history and culture of this 8,000-year old city that was settled by Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman and Bulgarian civilizations. See the sights of the old town, including museums, historical monuments and revival period houses lining the cobbled streets. Explore the Ethnographical Museum and the impressive Roman Theater. An English-speaking guide will accompany the group throughout the day and will point out the most interesting architectural and cultural treasures of the region and provide commentary on modern life in Bulgaria.

From Sofia: Shuttle Tour to Rila Monastery & Boyana Church

6. 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.

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

7. 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 at 9:00 behind St. Alexander Nevski Cathedral in Sofia. Sit back and relax for the next 2 hours as your friendly, English-speaking drivers transport you 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 which features a specialty of grilled trout. Get 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: Guided Street Art & Stunning Graffiti Walking Tour

8. Sofia: Guided Street Art & Stunning Graffiti Walking Tour

You are about the hunt down the graffiti and street art of Sofia on your own or with your friends. Follow the paths of the urban art and get know featured artists and the stories behind the walls! Your tour wil start at Statue of Sofia and end up near by. While exploring the artsy and a bit hidden central part of Sofia, you will learn about the styles of graffiti, where is the difference to street art and who are the most influential artists on the streets. During the walk you will have a chance to feel the unique vibe of Sofia while trying to escape from the big boulevards. Along the way we will see graffiti walls, murals, street art, created by Bulgarian and International artists and learn about the process and stories behind each piece. Who knows, we might even get lucky and catch an artist at work..... or you will start your street art career.

Sofia: Communist Walking Tour

9. Sofia: Communist Walking Tour

Discover the main landmarks of communist history in the city of Sofia. Start your tour by passing by the former headquarters of the Bulgarian Communist Party. Continue on to see buildings such as the secret police investigation facility and the destroyed mausoleum. Head on towards the monument of the Soviet army and the National Palace of Culture. During the 3-hour-long walking tour, learn about the theory of communism and what Marxism-Leninism is. Find out about the history of communism in Bulgaria, the pros and cons of the period, and the relation between the communist government and religion, industry, economy, culture and everyday life of the people. End the tour with a fresh perspective on the city and a new insight into the country's communist past. 

From Sofia: Day Tour to Nis, Serbia

10. From Sofia: Day Tour to Nis, Serbia

During this day tour you will travel through history with the professional lead of your guide. Your journey through time will start from the Roman period, when Nis gave to the world the Roman Emperor, Constantine the Great. You will then continue through the Middle Ages and the period of the Ottoman rule, which left constructions like the Nis Fortress and the Skull Tower, a symbol of the struggle for freedom and independence from the Ottomans, as well as a representation of the violence of the time. The latter of the tour will pay attention to modern history, in particular the period of Nazi occupation of former Yugoslavia by visiting a Nazi concentration camp. Following this concentration camp visit, it will be time for some rest. During this stop you will have the chance to taste typical Serbian cuisine, which is one of the most delicious of the Balkans. You will also have free time for a walk in the historical old part of the old city. At the conclusion of your tour, you will be returned back to your accommodation in Sofia.

Frequently asked questions about Sofia

Other Sightseeing Options in Sofia

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What people are saying about Sofia

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 2,882 reviews

Very nice trip, we enjoyed a day long tour around places you must visit if you come to Sofia as the botana church, the national history museum and the monastery of rila. We had time enough to visit each place, specially at the monastery where you have plenty of time to relax and have a meal or a local breakfast. The guide was very nice with as and explained us many historical things while traveling even we didn’t hire a guided tour option. A totally recommended experience!!

Great tour, liked the fact that it was a minivan and not a big group. The guide was extremely informative and ready to answer all questions. Would definitely recommend.

The tour was very good value. Easy to meet up, comfortable journey. The guide was really pleasant and friendly and very informative.

Excellent day and even though it is self guided we were still provided with so much info

The guids are excellent. Pro, with a lot of knowledge.