So you’re looking for what to do in Sofia in one day. Bulgaria is one of the most eye-opening places we have travelled to so far, it has beauty, history and so much more to offer. While we spent a whole month travelling around Bulgaria we did like to pack plenty in one day, and we believe you can do just the same.
That said, if you can spend more than one day in Sofia we suggest you do so, there’s so much to experience in this capital city of Bulgaria.
What To Do In Sofia In One Day
What better way to see the city of Sofia, than on a completely free walking tour. The tour departs from the courthouse in the city centre daily at 10 am, 11 am and 6 pm – every day of the year, regardless of the weather!
The tour takes around two hours and is filled with photo ops, culture and history. If you’re only here for one day and manage to do one thing only. I’d make it this! Check out the Free Sofia Tour website to learn more.
The tour is a great way to learn more about Sofia and the history of the city. It is one of my must things to see in Sofia as the tour takes you to all the key points you may have heard or read about before your visit. The city is a beautiful place and is constantly moving forward while preserving the amazing history of the predecessors.
Balkan Bites is the very first free food tour in the world!
The tour starts at 2pm daily (excluding national holidays), it lasts around 2 hours and leaves from Park Crystal in front of the big head statue of Stefan Stambolov. The food tour is very, very popular and only has a limited number of spaces available so try and arrive around 15 minutes before it’s due to leave to guarantee your spot.
The guide is very informative about the foods and takes you to a number of different restaurants to sample the very different takes on Balkan food. I enjoyed the tour as I really enjoyed finding out more about the culture and who wouldn’t enjoy tasting different food?
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
The St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is a Bulgarian Orthodox cathedral in Sofia. Opened in 1912 the cathedral is free to enter. This is known to be one of the largest Eastern Orthodox cathedrals in the world and is seen as one of Sofia’s primary tourist attraction.
Named after St. Alexander Nevski, a Russian Tsar who saved Russia from invading Swedish troops in 1240 and the patron saint of Tsar Alexander II, who was also referred to as Bulgaria?s Tsar Osvoboditel (Liberator), since it was his troops that finally brought about Bulgaria?s liberation from Ottoman rule. The foundation stone of Sofia?s biggest church was laid in 1882.
There isn’t much chance of you missing this beautiful building while in Sofia and it is a must on things to see in Sofia.
Saint Nikolas Russian Church
Located just a short stroll away from the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, the Russian Church is a popular sight to see in the city of Sofia. The Church itself is known as the ‘ prettiest church in Sofia’ and it isn’t hard to see why when the church is covered in Majolica tiles.
The church was designed by Russian architect Preobrajenski and built by Russian workers. Some of the workers had also worked on the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. The church was built in 1914 as Russian revival style and was to copy the original Russian churches from the 16th Century. The bells within the church were donated by the Russian King Nikolay II.
The interior of the church is quite modest and plain compared to its highly decorative exterior. This is such a pretty and outstanding building to visit in Sofia and should be on everyone’s things to do in Sofia Bulgaria list.
Visit The Roman Ruins
If you head on the free walking tour you will spend a brief 10 minutes here. But that is not long enough to get a full feeling of what you are seeing. If you don’t end up on the walking tour this is definitely one the things to see in Sofia. It is a magnificent ruin that has been preserved to last for thousands of years.
You will see that there are 2 colour bricks, the very top layer is a recent addition. This is to create a protective layer over the original walls.
This has been done to make the walls stronger as they are open to all the elements. The ruins carry on into the underground transport system at the main hub of the city. The trail then leads you further away from it then turns into the Amphitheatre of Serdica.
In the underground section, it turns into a museum and there are boards of information and glass barriers. There is a lot of things to see in Sofia in terms of the ruins as the history and architecture is so rich.
Amphitheatre of Serdica
This is the old amphitheatre originally from the Ancient Roman city of Ulpia Serdica, now known as Sofia. The sight was first discovered in 2004 and was excavated in 2005 and 2006.
The amphitheatre itself is spread across 2 adjacent sights in the city. The theatre itself was built in the 3rd and 4th centuries and has now been preserved. It is now on display to show the public and tourists the history of the city.
This is such a beautiful sight that it cannot be missed, there are inscriptions and notes on boards dotted around with sketched to what the original would have looked like.
St. George Rotunda
The St.George Rotunda is an early Christian red brick building that is considered to be the oldest building in Sofia. This is in a courtyard surrounded by commercial buildings and the Sheraton Hotel. The contrast between the two is very surreal and worth seeing.
The building was built in the 4th century by the Romans and is a cylindrical domed structure and built on a square base. The building has been knocked down by Huns, rebuilt as a church and used as a mosque by the Ottomans.
St George Rotunda has to be one of the must-see places on what to do in Sofia in one day guide. Even though the building itself appears simple, it is exquisite to see the small details.
The Vitosha Mountain
Last on my list of what to do in Sofia in one day, but by no means least is Vitosha mountain. In the winter this can be a great place to ski and in the summer, a great place to hike.
Public transport is available to the summit of the mountain is available. Firstly, take the 9TM from the National Palace of Culture – get off at the last stop Hladilnika. Then you’ve got two options;
Bus 66: This will take you to Aleko. Just below the highest peak of the mountain, this is the highest you’re able to get with public transport.
Bus 64: This will take you to nearby Boyana Church. From there you can choose the hiking paths to Boyana lake or Boyana waterfall.
While transport to get to the site isn’t free, hiking the mountain itself costs nothing and is well worth a visit. This is the iconic mountain located near the city of Sofia. It is a popular attraction for tourists and visitors throughout the year.
Though we didn’t go up the mountain we walked to a nice spot in the city. We got an awesome view even with a little mist in the air. If you are into hiking and walking this is a great activity to do.
Visit A Museum
Like many capitals, Sofia has plenty of museums to attract everyone inside. There is as you can imagine a museum for pretty much anything and everything.
You can visit them all (more than likely take a couple of days) or you can pick and choose the ones that interest you the most. There, of course, are entry fees to the museums so if you are on a budget remember to work that in.
Visiting just one of the museums in Sofia can give you a huge background to what life was like and how it is now. Here are the options of museums available in Sofia:
- National Institute of Archaeology with Museum
- National Museum of History
- National Museum of Military History
- Museum of Socialist Art
- Sofia History Museum
- National Museum of Natural History
- National Art Gallery