What to do in Sofia in one day – the best Sofia tourist guide for 1 or more days.
- Is Sofia worth visiting – Totally, this is one of the most inexpensive cities in Europe.
- Is English spoken in Sofia – Yes, you won’t have any problems in most of the cases.
- How much time do you need – You’ll need 1 or maximum 2 days for the city.
- Map of the itinerary
- Morning – Visit the History Museum and explore some medieval churches.
- Afternoon – See the most remarkable buildings in Sofia.
- More things to do in Sofia – find out more attractions that should be on your list.
- Recommended tours – take a Communist car tour or take a day trip to Plovdiv or Rila Monastery.
- Getting around the city
Sofia is the capital of Bulgaria and its largest city. The history of the city could be traced to the Bronze Age, when Sofia was a settlement of a Thracian tribe, Serdi. From here comes the initial name of the city – Serdica. The current name derives from Saint Sofia Church. When the city was part of the Roman empire, Constantine the Great often referred to the city as “Serdica is my Rome”.
I don’t remember the exact moment I fell in love with this city. Was it while I was walking on the small streets between old houses in the city centre? Was it while riding a tram through a park, surrounded by nothing but endless greenery? Or was it at the moment I found out that this city has so much to offer? I don’t know, maybe Sofia stole my heart piece by piece in every moment spent here in the capital. It’s not my hometown, but I love it as one.
Is Sofia worth visiting
Totally! Sofia is one of the cheapest destinations in Europe. Moreover, the city is not so touristy as the other European capitals. Awesome place with a lot of history, great nightlife and delicious culinary scene, Sofia has so much to offer!
If you’re a mountain lover, the city won’t disappoint you, too. Sofia is situated at the northern foot of Vitosha Mountain. It super easy to escape the busy city life and enjoy fresh air amongst nature even for a day.
Is English spoken in Sofia, Bulgaria?
In most of the cases, you’ll get by speaking only English. If you need help, ask younger people. Most of the older people don’t speak English (even the workers in the public transportation system). The staff working in the restaurants around the city centre speak English and usually there are English menus.
How much time do you need to see Sofia
You’ll need from 1 to 2 days.
You can easily tour the main attractions that are gathered in the city centre. Use the rest of your time to take some day trips and explore Bulgaria.
This 1 day in Sofia itinerary will show you the best of the city plus some interesting museums.
What to do in Sofia in one day itinerary – map
Morning – Visit the History Museum and explore some medieval churches
How to spend 1 day in Sofia?
08:30 AM – 09:45 AM
Start your day with a breakfast at Factory Rainbow (Фабрика Дъга).
09:45 AM – 10:00 AM
Banya Bashi Mosque (Баня баши джамия)
Banya Bashi Mosque is a 16th-century mosque. It was built over natural thermal spa. From here comes the name of the mosque – Banya Bashi, which means many baths.
10:00 AM – 11:00 AM
Sofia History Museum (Регионален исторически музей София)
Sofia History Museum is housed in a magnificent building of former mineral baths. The museum shows the history of Sofia from 6000 BC up to 1940 through over 1000 exhibits. Some of the highlights are a golden carriage clock and a golden chariot from the palace of Versailles.
To learn more about the history of the city, take a guided walking tour of Sofia.
11:00 AM – 11:15 AM
Statue of Sveta Sofia (Статуя на Света София)
The Statue of Sveta Sofia is now standing on the place where once the statue of Lenin existed. The statue was erected in 2000 in honour of the patron of the city, Sveta Sofia.
11:15 AM – 11:30 AM
Church of St. Petka of the Saddlers (Църква Света Петка Самарджийска)
Church of St. Petka of the Saddlers is a medieval church dedicated to a Bulgarian saint from the 11th century.
11:30 AM – 12:00 PM
St. Nedelya Church (Църква Света Неделя)
St. Nedelya Church is a medieval church right in the city centre. The highlight is the remains of the Serbian king Stefan Milutin who is buried inside the church.
12:00 PM – 12:30 PM
Church of St. George (Ротонда Свети Георги)
Church of St. George is one of the oldest buildings in Sofia. It was built by the Romans around the 4th century.
12:30 PM – 01:00 PM
The Presidential Palace is an impressive building from 1950. You can see the ceremony of the change of the guards every hour on the hour from 08:00 AM to 08:00 PM.
01:00 PM – 03:00 PM
Stop for a lunch at SkaraBar 2 or Boom! Burgers & Booze. SkaraBar 2 serves the best meatballs and spare ribs in Sofia.
For awesome burgers, go to Boom! Burgers & Booze (they also have a tasty vegetarian option).
Afternoon – See the most remarkable buildings in Sofia
03:00 PM – 03:15 PM
Saint Sofia Church (Храм Света София)
The history of Saint Sofia Church dates back to the 6th century AD. It is the second oldest church in the city. In the 14th century the city, known at that time as Sredets, was named after the church – Sofia.
03:15 PM – 03:45 PM
St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral (Храм-паметник Свети Александър Невски)
St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is a must-see site and it is one of the largest Eastern Orthodox cathedrals in the world. The cathedral is devoted to all Russian soldiers that lost their lives during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878. The name of the cathedral is also connected to Russia. Saint Alexander Nevsky was a Russian prince who lived in the 13th century.
03:55 PM – 04:15 PM
Russian Church (Руската църква)
If you look at the Russian Church, you would probably think that it came from a fairy tale. It is so small and picturesque. The church was built in 1914 to serve as an official church of the Russian Embassy.
04:15 PM – 04:30 PM
Ivan Vazov National Theatre (Народен театър Иван Вазов)
Ivan Vazov National Theatre is one of my favourite buildings in Sofia. Its facade and interior are truly remarkable. The theatre is the oldest one in Bulgaria. The park in front of it is a well-known spot for meetings.
04:45 PM – 05:00 PM
Sculpture of Petko and Pencho Slaveykov (Статуя на Пенчо и Петко Славейкови)
This is a sculpture of two famous Bulgarian poets, father and son. The sculpture of Petko and Pencho Slaveykov is a famous spot to take a photo.
This is the most famous boulevard in Sofia. It’s filled with nice cafes, restaurants and shopping stores. This is the place you need if you want to sit with a cup of coffee or cocktail and watch the world go by.
On your way don’t miss to stop at Confetti for the best gelato in Sofia.
For dinner try Shtastliveca (Щастливеца) or Made in Home. For more traditional Bulgarian cuisine go to Shtastliveca. If you search for modern Bulgaria food, visit Made in Home (and don’t miss to try the desserts).
Try the cocktails at Memento Cafe or Sputnik Bar. Or book a pub crawl tour, that will take you to some of the hidden bars of Sofia.
More things to do in Sofia, Bulgaria
If you have more than 1 day in Sofia, check out these places and day tours.
Take a Communist tour of Sofia
Kvadrat 500 (Квадрат 500)
Kvadrat 500 is the newest art museum in Sofia. Over 2,000 artworks from all over the world are represented in the museum. You can see paintings from Delacroix, Renoir, Picasso and of course the most famous Bulgarian artist Vladimir Dimitrov – Maistora.
National Art Gallery (Национална художествена галерия)
The National Art Gallery occupies a former royal palace. It was built after Bulgaria’s proclamation of independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1878. The construction started in 1880 during the reign of Prince Alexander of Battenberg, first monarch of Bulgaria. Ballrooms, a throne hall, a dining room and a winter conservatory were situated on the second floor of the palace. The chambers of officers on duty and administrative cabinets were on the first floor.
The National Art Gallery is established in 1934 and since 1946 it is housed in the palace. The gallery houses a great collection of contemporary Bulgarian art from the period 1878-1990. The collection contains more than 30 000 masterpieces of paintings, sculptures and prints.
National History Museum (Национален исторически музей)
Located at the foot of Vitosha mountain the National History Museum is a bit out of the city centre. Yet, it definitely deserves the trip, especially if you are a history buff. The museum is housed in a former government residence. It is the place where the last communist leader was removed from power in 1989. As you see the building itself is a part of the Bulgarian history.
The National History Museum is one of the largest on the Balkans. It contains more than 650,000 exhibits that represent the history of the country from 8,000 years ago to present days. Only 10% of these valuable items are exhibited in the museum. What really stunned me were the treasures from the Thracian times, especially the one from Panagyurishte.
National Museum of Military History (Национален военноисторически музей)
The National Museum of Military History shows the history of the Bulgarian military from the First Bulgarian Empire to nowadays. It represents almost 30,000 military artefacts, exhibited in indoor and outdoor areas. This is only a small part of the fund of the museum, which contains almost 1,000,000 military items. The outdoor exhibition area displays more than 230 models of field artillery, aircrafts, naval armaments and many more.
National Archaeological Museum (Национален археологически музей)
The museum occupies one of the oldest and largest preserved buildings from the age of the Ottoman Dominion – Büyük Mosque. The mosque is built in the 15th century under the rule of Mehmed II. During the Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878) the abandoned mosque was turned into a hospital and later into a library.
The mosque houses the National Archaeological Museum since its establishment in 1892. Some of the highlights are a magnificent replica of the Madara Rider and Valchitran and Lukovit treasures. Last Sunday of the month is a free admission day.
National Museum of Natural History (Национален природонаучен музей)
The National Museum of Natural History is the oldest museum in Bulgaria. It was founded in 1889 by Prince Ferdinand to house his collection of butterflies, birds and mammals. Today the exhibition occupies 15 halls on 4 floors.
Museum of Socialist Art (Музей на социалистическото изкуство)
Museum of Socialist Art represents the history of the communist regime in Bulgaria from 1944 to 1989. The indoor and outdoor exhibitions feature paintings and sculptures from the communist period. Among them is a giant statue of Lenin, that once stood right in the city centre.
Sveti Sedmochislenitsi Church (Храм Свети Седмочисленици)
Sveti Sedmochislenitsi Church is an Orthodox church from 1903. The church was built from the remains of an abandoned mosque, that was once standing in that place. The mosque was known as the Black Mosque because its minaret was made of dark granite.
National Palace of Culture (Национален дворец на културата)
National Palace of Culture is an exhibitions centre, housed in a typical Soviet building.
Park Kambanite (Камбаните)
The name of the park means “The Bells”. It is a monument located on the outskirts of Sofia. It was commissioned by Lyudmila Zhivkova, the daughter of the former communist head of state. The occasion was the Year of the Child in 1979. More than 90 countries donated bells for the cause. You can see bells from countries that don’t exist anymore like USSR and the German Democratic Republic.
To reach the monument take the underground line M1 (direction Business Park Sofia) and take off at the last stop. From there it’s about 1km walk. The area is not very lively, so avoid visiting after dark.
Vrana Palace is a former royal palace on the outskirts of the city. Tsar Ferdinand I commissioned the construction at the end of the 19th century. A huge park surrounds the palace. There is even a dog cemetery! You can visit the park during the weekends from 10:00 AM to 17:00 PM. However, the palace is closed for visitors.
To get to the park you have to take bus 505 (once per hour) from station Orlov most.
If you are in Sofia in December, don’t miss the Christmas Market (Deutscher Weihnachtsmarkt Sofia). The market is situated in the City garden, next to Alexander Battenberg Square. It is open daily from 11:00 AM to 09:00 PM till 22 December. The market is really small, but don’t miss it, especially if you are a fan of Christmas cookies, mulled wine and sausages.
Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (Министерство на земеделието)
It’s one of the most gorgeous buildings in Sofia, especially at night.
Rila Monastery and Boyana Church
Take a day tour to Rila Monastery, the largest and most famous Eastern Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria. Boyana Church is a medieval Bulgarian Orthodox church famous for its 13th-century frescoes.
Plovdiv and Asen’s Fortress
Take a day tour to Plovdiv, one of the oldest cities in Europe, and the medieval Asen’s Fortress.
Explore the famous sandstone formations Belogradchik Rocks on a day tour from Sofia.
If you’re a mountain lover, don’t miss it. Find out how to get to Vitosha Mountain from Sofia.
The Seven Rila Lakes
Take a full-day hiking tour to the Seven Rila Lakes from Sofia. Find out why these glacial lakes are known as the Blue Pearls of the Rila Mountains.
Saeva Dupka and Ledenika Caves
Visit the two most famous caves in Bulgaria. Saeva Dupka cave was an inhabited place during the Roman times. Ledenika features stalactites and stalagmites that date back a thousand years.
Take a day tour to another country
You can easily visit Nis in Serbia and explore the Roman ruins at Medijana. Or tour the Poganovo Monastery, known for its artworks and treasures.
I recommend these Sofia tours
Getting around the city of Sofia
Sofia has a very cheap public transport. However, if you stay in the city centre, you probably won’t use any, except taking the underground to Sofia Airport. The underground runs every day from 05:00 AM until midnight.
There are two underground lines M1 and M2 crossing at Serdika Station. To get to Sofia Airport take line M1 in direction Sofia Airport. You can buy tickets from every station from booths or ticket machines. The ticket is valid up to 30min after purchase, so don’t buy in advance.
Find more information about the public transport in Sofia here.
Where to stay in Sofia
Luxury option – Sense Hotel Sofia – a boutique hotel with an amazing panoramic rooftop bar.
9.0/10 Rating – See reviews and images of the hotel
Mid-range – Central Hotel Sofia – a 4-star hotel with modern rooms, tasty breakfast and an underground parking.
8.7/10 Rating – See reviews and images of the hotel
Apartment – Vitosha Apartments – comfy apartments with a perfect location, close to the main shopping street, Vitosha Boulevard.
9.1/10 Rating – See reviews and images of the apartments
For more awesome places check out where to stay in Sofia.
What are your favourite places to visit in Sofia?
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About the author
|I'm a travel blogger based in Sofia, Bulgaria. Travelling has always been my passion and I love to discover new places and cultures. I want to show you how easy it is to organize your vacation all by yourself.|
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