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: 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.

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.

Day Tour from Sofia to Skopje, North Macedonia

4. Day Tour from Sofia to Skopje, North Macedonia

Skopje is the capital of Macedonia situated approximately a 4-hour's drive from Sofia. During this day tour to Skopje, you will have the chance to explore the city and its rich history and culture.  Your day tour will begin once you are picked up from your hotel or accommodations in Sofia then begin your 3-hour transfer to Skopje. Once in Skopje, you will begin your walking tour of the city beginning at Skopje Fortress where you can admire the wonderful view of the city. The next site you will visit is the Church of the Holy Savior, home to fantastic iconostasis. From there you will continue towards Sultan Murat Mosque and the Old Bazaar, where you can witness the remnants of the Ottoman Period and Skopje's history as one of the main trade centers in the Balkans.  After stopping for lunch at a typical Macedonian restaurant you will continue your walking tour crossing the Vadar River to start your exploration of a new part of the city. Here you will visit the new neo-classical square and continue to Mother Teresa memorial house. The walking part of your tour will end at the newly built triumphal arch Porta Macedonia. You will then journey back to Sofia and your tour will end once you are dropped off at your hotel or accommodations. 

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: Lovech, Devetaki Cave and Krushuna Waterfalls Tour

6. 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.

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 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.

From Sofia: Bus Transfer to Rila Lakes

8. From Sofia: Bus Transfer to Rila Lakes

Use a shared shuttle bus service which offers direct transportation from Sofia to the 7 Rila Lakes. The transfer starts with an early morning pick-up from centrally located meeting place in Sofia behind the Alexander Nevski Cathedral. Meet your driver for a comfortable direct journey to the Rila National Park. Arrive at the parking of the chair lift around 09:00 AM. Enjoy some free time for a self-guided tour of the 7 Rila Lakes area. You have more than 7 hours to explore this beautiful part of Rila mountain. Leave the parking of the chair lift in the afternoon and arrive back in Sofia city around 7:00 PM at the original central departure location.

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 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.

Plovdiv and Koprivshtitsa Full-Day Tour from Sofia

10. 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.

Frequently asked questions about Sofia

What top attractions are a must-see in Sofia?

Planning Your Visit

  • How many days to spend in Sofia?

    You can spend three days exploring the city's top attractions and jump into local
    culture. Add another day for a trip to Mt. Vitosha.

  • Getting around

    Exploring the center by foot is the best way to tour the city. However, it has public
    transportation to get you where you need to go. If you plan to visit Mt. Vitosha,
    it's about 20 minutes away from the city. Take a taxi to Dragalevtsi chairlift,
    which is also close to the monastery. The lift stops at the tree line, and you'll find
    hiking trails around this area, or ski slopes if you happen to arrive in winter.

  • Where to stay in Sofia

    Base yourself in the heart of the city, so that you have the sightseeing activities at
    your doorstep. You'll find bars, cafés and restaurants on and around Vitosha
    Blvd.

Good to know

  • Language
    Bulgarian
  • Currency
    Bulgarian Lev (лв)
  • Time Zone
    UTC (+03:00)
  • Country Code
    +359
  • Best time to visit
    The winter sport enthusiasts should visit in December and January when snow is thick on Mt Vitosha. Summer (July and August) is peak time for heat and tourists, and is a perfect time to visit the beautiful parks. If your a jazz fan - then visit in November during the International Jazz Festival!

Other Sightseeing Options in Sofia

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What people are saying about Sofia

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 2,820 reviews

It was a lovely day out to see a bit of Serbia from Bulgaria ... Peter our guide was great and had so much information about the country and made the day enjoyable and he took us to a winery where we had a Serbian lunch amongst the locals which made the day trip special... Nis is lovely and I can recommend the day trip from Sofia.

Thanks to travel agency. The van is clean and confortable. The guide and driver is very good in explaining every details and on Time .. thanks also to the Local guide from North Macedonia .. Everything is in the perfect time to travel and enjoyed on Day tour .

Great day trip, Martin the guide was very informative and funny. We got to Boyana church 1st so was very quiet, also Rila monastery was not too busy and we had plenty of time to look around and grab food.

This tour is fantastic . With Entertainment and delious dinner . The Tour and restaurant is amazing Thanks getour. Till next time. Regards to management and staff

Good tour guide. Coach was comfortable. Suitable time spent on the places visited