Sofia
Off the beaten track

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Our most recommended Sofia Off the beaten track

Sofia: Adventure Tour to Plovdiv and Rhodope Mountain

1. Sofia: Adventure Tour to Plovdiv and Rhodope Mountain

Your tour starts with pickup from your hotel/accommodation in Sofia at 8:00AM. After an approximate 1.5-hour drive, you will reach Plovdiv. Once there you will visit the highlights, such as the 1st-century Roman Theatre, the 2nd-century Roman Stadium, the oldest mosque on the Balkans, and an old pharmacy. You will then have the chance to take a walk through the Old Town where you can observe the typical Revival Period houses, museums, and narrow cobblestone streets. Scheduled throughout your itinerary are visits to 5 sites, as well as the top of the main hill which provides great views over the whole city. After you finish your exploration of Plovdiv, you will drive south to the Rhodope Mountain. This road is very scenic, and you will soon reach Vucha Dam where you will be picked by a boat before being taken to a place where you can enjoy lunch. Whist at this scenic location, you can also enjoy a nice walk up to the cliffs, a boat trip on the reservoir, and take the opportunity to hire a waverunner. At the conclusion of this unforgettable experience, you will head safely back to Sofia.

Sofia: Struma River Rafting Tour and Rila Monastery Visit

2. Sofia: Struma River Rafting Tour and Rila Monastery Visit

Your tour will start at 9:30 AM from your meeting point in Sofia, behind the Alexander Nevski cathedral. After a 2-hour drive, you will reach the gorge where your activity will begin. You will have a safety briefing by your professional instructor, before receiving your equipment and final instructions before the action begins. Your rafting activity will take approximately an hour and a half, and a vehicle will wait for you at the end of it to transport you back to the base where you will return the equipment and dress up. If your appetite has increased throughout the adrenaline rush, you will have the option to have lunch nearby. After the rafting activity, embark on a one-hour road trip to Rila Monastery for a self-guided visit with a personal audio guide in English, Spanish, Italian, Russian, and German. At the conclusion of your activity, you will be returned to Sofia.

From Sofia: Serbia and Macedonia Trip

3. From Sofia: Serbia and Macedonia Trip

An English-speaking driver will pick you up from your hotel in Sofia at 9:00AM and, after about a 2-hours drive with various landscapes to admire along the way, you will reach the Serbian border. After crossing the border you will go the nearby town of Bosilegrad (the former Yugoslavia's main state) before you cross back over the border with Bulgaria and head for Northern Macedonia. After another short drive, you will arrive at the beautiful Monastery of Osogovo – an incredibly powerful place in the hills from the 12th Century, which was later turned into a mosque by the Ottomans, and then again converted into a church. This place is very scenic and peaceful - take time to go for a walk around the area. Afterwards, you will have lunch in a nice restaurant with good Macedonian grill (meat or fish) and Skopsko beer, of course.

Rila Monastery and Boyana Church Full-Day Tour

4. Rila Monastery and Boyana Church Full-Day Tour

After pickup from any accommodation in Sofia, your journey through over 1,000 years of Bulgarian cultural history begins. Make the 2-hour drive to the Rila Monastery via air-conditioned bus into the dense pine forests of Rila Mountain. Upon arriving, explore the monastery, which was founded in 927, at your own pace with 2 hours of free time. Amble the 21-acre complex, taking in the colorful and unique traditional Orthodox architecture. Gaze at the 5-domed church, with its numerous altars, side chapels, and gold-plated mosaics. Take in the beauty of the tranquil mountain environment surrounding the peaceful place of worship. Afterwards, you’ll have lunch, before heading on to your next destination. Only a couple of miles away from the monastery into the forest is St. Ivan Rilski Cave, where St. Ivan of Rila took up residency in the early 10th century. Experience a sacred site of tremendous importance to Bulgarian Orthodox Christians. On the way back to Sofia, you’ll pass through Boyana Church, famed for its elaborate frescoes dating back to the 11th, 13th, 15th-17th, and 19th century. Afterwards, you’ll be transported back back to your accommodation in Sofia.

From Sofia: Europe's Oldest City, Plovdiv including Pickup

5. From Sofia: Europe's Oldest City, Plovdiv including Pickup

Plovdiv, the second biggest city in Bulgaria, is considered to be one of the oldest settlements in Europe, with more than 7000 years of history. Plovdiv is situated on the crossroads between the West and the East, amid the fertile plain of Thrace, where history and modernity go hand in hand. See how culture and art have always thrived in this city as you explore a vivid medley of shapes, styles, and colors. The city is home to the fabulous remains of the Ancient Roman Empire – the Roman Stadium, the Roman Forum, and the Amphitheatre. During your time in the city, you can discover the Old Town of Plovdiv, situated on the three hills of the ancient Trimontium. See the houses from the National Revival period, which  have been proclaimed an architectural open air museum. Discover many of the main sights in the area with a guide.

Day Trip to Vitosha, Boyana Church and Dragalevtsi Monastery

6. Day Trip to Vitosha, Boyana Church and Dragalevtsi Monastery

You tour starts at 10:00 AM when your guide will collect you from your hotel. You will travel by car to the Boyana Church, UNESCO historical place, dating back to the 10th century, which has unique and very well preserved frescoes and pictures from the period of 11th-14th century. You will have the chance to learn their history. Next, your trip will continue with a visit to the Dragalevtsi Monastery, also situated in the Vitosha Mountain. This still active monastery is probably the oldest of its kind in Bulgaria. It was built around the year 1345, then abandoned only 40 years later during the time of the Ottoman invasion, just to be brought again to life in the middle of the 15th century. It contains colorful murals and it is revered as one of the hiding places of the great Bulgarian national hero, Vasil Levski. Finally, you will head to some of the high spots in Vitosha from where you can see amazing views of Sofia from above. There are also several hiking paths that start from the viewpoint, so you can also opt for some walking in the mountain if the weather is good. Finally, your guide will take you back to your hotel. The duration of the whole tour is about 4-5 hours.

Sofia: Panoramic Flight Around the Seven Rila Lakes

7. Sofia: Panoramic Flight Around the Seven Rila Lakes

Delight in an unforgettable experience flying over the natural wonders of the Seven Lakes in Rila. Soar for 1 hour in a Cessna 182 and admire the brilliant blue lakes wrapped in jaw-dropping mountain ranges. Make your way to Lesnovo airport for take-off and sit back and relax during your flight. Marvel at close-up views of some of the most stunning summits on the highest mountain range in the Balkans, Rila. As well as the Seven Lakes and Rila mountain range, enjoy spectacular views of the biggest dam in Bulgaria, Iskar, as well as the scenery of the Bulgarian countryside outside Sofia.

From Sofia: Full-Day Krushuna Waterfalls & Devetashka Cave

8. From Sofia: Full-Day Krushuna Waterfalls & Devetashka Cave

The Krushùna Falls will offer an excellent opportunity for a full-day escape from the city, especially during the hot summer months when one can enjoy a nice walk up the cascade and a refreshing dip into the natural pools along the way. The falls are the largest travertine cascades in Bulgaria, unique with its picturesque scenery, lush vegetation, numerous round shaped terraces and small natural pools with mineral water.  The main waterfall is about 20 meters high and it splits into several smaller ones along its way down the soft limestone rocks. There is a path that allows visitors to go up the river and get to the spring of the waterfall hidden in a cave. Along the way, there are steps and bridges so that one can get the best views of the cascades, pools and mossy rocks. In the rocks around the Krushùna Falls, one can spot a few ancient caves that were inhabited by Christian hermits practicing Hesychasm, an Eastern Orthodox mystical tradition of prayer in solitude and seclusion, in the 8th to 14th-centuries. The cave next to the waterfalls consists of an enormous open chamber illuminated by seven holes in the ceiling.  The Devetàshka cave is a picturesque karst cave near the waterfalls. Unlike other caves, Devetàshka is well lit and its floor is covered by lush greenery, especially in spring and summer, so sometimes, it is hard to believe that one is actually underground. The tour will start early in the morning from your hotel. By car, you will go with your professional guide to the waterfalls. After exploring the site, you will have a lunch in a local restaurant. Afterwards, you will head to the cave. Later, you will head back to Sofia.

Sofia: Black Peak-Vitosha Mountain Snowshoeing Day Trip

9. Sofia: Black Peak-Vitosha Mountain Snowshoeing Day Trip

Your guide will pick you up in the morning from your hotel or address in Sofia for a wonderful journey to Aleko Mountain Resort, situated within an hour drive from the city center at 1,840 meters a.s.l. The guide will help you with snowshoe binding adjustments and give you a short briefing regarding the simple techniques of walking with them before heading towards the highest peak of Vitosha Mountain (Cherni Vruh, 2290 m a.s.l.). The walk in the winter wonderland begins with a gentle ascent, and soon you will get above the tree line admiring great panoramic views. You will reach the top of the mountain in about 2-hours, where you will have a break for a warm herbal tea provided by the guide, before heading back towards Aleko Resort, enjoying the wonderful views of the Bulgarian capital. At the end of the walk, you will have a transfer to the city, where your guide will leave you at your place.  

Sofia: Spa Nature Tour to the 7 Rila Lakes & Sapareva Bany

10. Sofia: Spa Nature Tour to the 7 Rila Lakes & Sapareva Bany

Your day trip will start early in the morning with a pick-up from your hotel. Your professional guide will take you to the the highest mountain on the peninsula, Rila, just 1.5-hours away from the capital Sofia. Then, with the Panichishte resort cable car, you will head to the Seven Rila Lakes Cirque. The hike will take around 3-hours.  If you wish to make your walk harder or easier, your guide will be able to adjust the group program accordingly. All seven of the lakes have their own name which reflects its typical shape or characteristics. They are situated between 2,100 and 2,500 meters above sea level. The day trip will continue with a visit to the capital of the thermal spa on the peninsula called Sapareva Banya. There, you will have the unique opportunity to dive into the hot thermal waters and enjoy the magnificent panorama at the outskirts of the mountain. You'll also find the hottest geyser in Europe there. Mineral water is highly regarded and used as a cure by Thracians and Romans. Saparevian mineral water is clear and colorless with a smell of hydrogen sulfide, hyper thermal (temperature 103 °C), hydro carbonate, sulphate sodium, fluorine, silicon and sulfate. Hydrogen sulfide is 15.5 milligrams/ liter. It is claimed that the water treats disorders of the musculoskeletal system, nervous system and upper respiratory tract. After the spa, your guide will take you back to your hotel.  

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What people are saying about Sofia

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 36 reviews

It's a wonderful experience! Our guide, Maria, told us everything there is to know about this beautiful city. In addition, Maria is teeming with knowledge not only about Plovdiv but also about Sofia and Bulgaria in general. She is a very nice and approachable person and will be happy to answer all questions. We rode with an extremely comfortable car, visited the old town, the main street and ended up having free time for lunch, coffee and other. I definitely recommend if you have extra time in Sofia

This tour was very fun and the guide had a great energy. We were picked up right in front of our accommodation and driven in a comfortable van towards the monastery. The guide was wonderful and it was cool to drive through the Bulgarian villages. Lunch comes with the tour which was a traditional Bulgarian meal.

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 .

Maria has been an excellent guide and driver, at all times she solved our doubts about Bulgaria and made the entire excursion very enjoyable. A very pleasant company when exploring the monastery.

Maria was absolutely brilliant. Her passion and extensive knowledge made the trip much better. She is a credit to her company.