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: 7 Rila Lakes and Rila Monastery Self-Guided Trip

2. 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 and Boyana Church Day Trip

3. 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.

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. 

Sofia: Lovech, Devetaki Cave and Krushuna Waterfalls Tour

5. 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.

Plovdiv and Koprivshtitsa Full-Day Tour from Sofia

6. Plovdiv and Koprivshtitsa Full-Day Tour from Sofia

A 2-hour drive from Sofia will take you to the city of Plovdiv, Bulgaria’s second largest city and one of its oldest towns. Within 2-3 hours of walking along the city, you will discover the history and culture behind a 7000-year old settlement, written by the Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman, and Bulgarian civilizations. You can enjoy sightseeing in the Old Town with its museums, historical monuments, revival period houses, lined with souvenir shops cobbled streets or get impressed by the rich Ethnographical Museum and the ancient Roman Theater. Feel the atmosphere of this artistic and trades center and enjoy a lunch at the local restaurants. Next stop on your way back is the charming town of Koprivshtitsa with its fascinating history and authentic 19th-century architecture. Spend the rest of the day in the leisure of this small and picturesque city situated in central Bulgaria, spread amongst the slopes of the Sredna Gora Mountains, that carries a specific spirit of tranquillity and eternity. Once a scene of battles for the liberation of Bulgaria, now the city is turned into a museum of the Revival Period of Bulgaria. Here you can visit the homes of some of the most eminent Bulgarians, writers and rebels, admire the vast collections of ethnographical treasures, including ancient weapons, intricate national costumes and stunning jewellery.

The Seven Rila Lakes: Full-Day Tour from Sofia

7. 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 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, 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, and the Seven Rila Lakes.

Transfer from Sofia airport to hotel in Sofia OR vice versa

8. Transfer from Sofia airport to hotel in Sofia OR vice versa

Arrive at the Sofia airport and feel comfortable knowing that your driver is waiting for you and you will get to your hotel smoothly and fast. You will not need to look for taxis and to negotiate prices. Get out of the custom area and meet your driver that will be holding a sign with your name. Get help with your luggage and enjoy a smooth and pleasant transfer to your hotel. On the way you can ask questions and get some information about the buildings that you will see around. You can also get some general information about the currency, restaurants or sites to visit. Basically the drive from the Sofia airport to the central part of Sofia takes between 20 and 35 minutes (depending on the traffic).

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: Shuttle Tour to Rila Monastery & Boyana Church

10. 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.

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 2,882 reviews

Really enjoyed Boyana Church, small but so beautiful, and the monastery is well worth the trip. Bus left on time and was comfortable. Everything was well organised. My only tip is that there are no toilets open where the busses leave from so ensure you use a toilet elsewhere before you get on the bus !

Guide was very nice and funny. Provided maps for the hike & monastery and then we were left to explore at our own pace. There was plenty of time to complete the full hike and to enjoy our packed lunches at the end.

So much fun - Friday night worked really well as a solo traveller, met some great people, real range of ages and nationalities.

Although the long hours, Very nice and comfortable van to travel with

Sure it was a great adventure with amazing views ...I recommend it