20 Budget Tourist Attractions to visit in Sofia, Bulgaria

Do you know what I love most about a city? When I don`t have to walk very much, to see all the interesting places. Perhaps this is the charm of Sofia, the fact that in two square kilometers, right in the city center, you can find almost all the tourist attractions, with more than 2,000 years of history, full of archaeological vestiges, churches, cathedrals, imposing buildings painted in strong colors and crazy nightlife. Sofia is breathing differently than the rest of Europe, developing slowly and non-commercially, lacking mass tourism. It's a special city that either gets to your soul at first glance, or you can give it a second chance. This is my guide for a successful holiday in Sofia! I spent a week, but if you only have a few days, you will still be able to check all tourist attractions :)

❤ How much will it cost you all these sights and experiences? Very little (somewhere around 50 euros) with all the special activities included !!! Because Sofia is one of the cheapest European capitals so is perfect for travelers on a budget! ❤

20 tourist attractions in Sofia, Bulgaria

1. Alexander Nevski Cathedral  

Like any serious tourist, I started visiting Alexander Nevski Cathedral, the emblem of the city, an immensity that rises in the middle of the city center. What I particularly enjoyed is the enormous space left freely around the cathedral so I could photograph it from all angles. We all look little ants in front of her. It dates back to 1912 and is one of the largest Orthodox churches in the world!


Chatedral-Alexander Nevski-Sofia-Bulgaria

2. Antiquities Fair  

Immediately near the Cathedral is a small market where local artists showcase their creativity: paintings, sculptures, Matroska, old coins, jewelry boxes, and many icons. Because I like to support the local community, I bought some small souvenirs from here.



3. The Russian Church  

It was love at first sight! The facade painted in green pistachio, with golden turrets, a jewel that cannot be unnoticed. The interior, though small, is covered with frescoes from floor to ceiling. The faith of the place says that whatever you pray here will be fulfilled. Now I'm waiting patiently.



4. Museums in Sofia  

As soon as I left the church, my phone showed me a list of impressive museums, all within a very small distance. I was lost. Which one to visit? Obviously, I could have seen them all because I stayed for a week in Sofia but I didn't make an ambition out of it. I've seen hundreds of museums in my life, so I'm going to visit only two. For those who want to check them all, this is the complete list:

*** The Boyana Church (included in the UNESCO World Heritage) is 13 km from the city center
*** The National Museum of Earth and Man
*** National Museum of Archeology
*** National Gallery of Foreign Art
*** National History Museum
*** National Military Museum
*** National Museum of Natural History
*** National Polytechnic Museum


 5. National Art Gallery  

The National Art Gallery conquered me through a huge, imposing exterior, house by the former Royal Palace, so I thought it was probably worth it. I visited a temporary exhibit, quite interesting, displaying some dozens of golden flies. All of the exhibits had explanations in English, which amazed me (considering local people don't speak that much English). My favorite part of the museum was the Royal Rooms, similar in a way with those in the Palace of Versailles, but on a smaller scale without the opulence, they got in Paris.




6. Ethnography Museum  

On the ground floor of the Royal Palace, there is a second museum, less impressive in my opinion. It has enormous potential, it could reveal the life, culture, and traditions of Bulgaria in detail, but unfortunately, apart from some popular costumes, I haven't seen anything interesting. Instead, I think I spent more time in the souvenir shop that is more attractive than the museum itself, with many traditional items, rose oil, rose chocolate and other local products. Bad luck, after all, I suppose we didn't choose to visit the best museums in Sofia.




7. The Theater 

My favorite building in Sofia is undoubtedly the National Theater (called "Ivan Vazov", erected in honor of the Bulgarian national hero with the same name). It is the largest and oldest theater in Bulgaria and has become one of the main points of interest in Sofia because of its privileged location (right in the city center) and its neoclassical architecture. Architecturally speaking, it`s very beautiful, and the fountain in front of it, somehow it frames its beauty!



8. Vitosha Boulevard  

The city's promenade, relaxation, and entertainment area are taking place on Vitosha Boulevard, where the terraces are directly aligned on the boulevard (many have glass walls and heating/ AC depending on the season). Most of them are hip-chic with modern concepts, aligned with the European standard, but the prices are lower than any Western Country. Sofia is a good city for tourists, at very low prices, so be ready to enjoy :)


9. A night of fun with Pub Crawl Sofia 

In Sofia, it's not easy to get in touch with locals, because most of them don`t speak English. But I wanted to have fun, locally, so my friends recommended me a Pub Crawl. Practically for 20 leva, we went to 3 bars where shots and beers were served to us (included in the price). There is an organized event, with a local guide. We were about 20 people and sincerely this tour was among the best in my life. All the venues are secret pubs, one in the basement, one upstairs and one is somehow hidden in the streets, places that are known only by the locals, interesting as a concept. After midnight we ended up in the best club in Sofia (where the entrance was paid for us by the guide), a huge club with many rooms, different kinds of music & DJ !!! A total madness, but damn, how good it was! I felt like in 20`s :))))


10. The Communist Party building  

Okay, let's go back to the city circuit. Although I am not a fan of communist architecture, I must admit that this building and the other two big buildings built to the left and to the right, are very impressive and beautifully dominate the whole city center. It offers a clearer perspective on the history of Sofia. Too bad, access is forbidden inside.


11. The changing of the guards  

In front of the Parliament, the changing of the guards takes place each hour, a kind of mini-show like in London, but it's not so crowded. It's impossible to miss it because all the tourist attractions are around and you can somehow get there at the right time.


12. St. George Church 

Let me tell you one of the wonders of the city: The oldest church in Sofia (dating back to the 4th century) is inside the garden of the Government Building. Strange isn't it? If you miss the little arcade through which you enter, you will never know about this treasure. The church is built entirely of bricks, and the surrounding ruins can be seen taking a walk around the complex. It's free!


13. There are two free tours in Sofia (City Tour and Culinary Tour)  

Nop, I didn`t do any of them, because when you have a week at your disposal, you have time to make your own tour, discover everything at your own pace. I had my own culinary tour, I choose daily one of the top restaurants in Sofia. But if you stay only one day, 2 or 3, then maybe you should try them out and go with the guide, which will explain the details and it will surely lead you to all the secret places that sometimes are not so easy to find (example the church above) !!! For those who wish to do so, I leave you the links below:

* Experiences you can have yourself. Free Tour of Sofia and Free Culinary Tour in Sofia *




14. Thermal water fountain  

The public baths with thermal water have been closed and the building now houses Sofia's history museum. From an architectural point of view, the building is gorgeous (yes, there are many beautiful buildings in Sofia). To my joy, I saw in a corner, a fountain where the locals fill their pots with water. This water flows uninterrupted from the 4th century, day and night, so I was curious to try it. To my disappointment, it doesn't taste so good, is somewhat strong and unpleasant.


15. Relaxing day at the Spa - Hotel Earth & People  

Sofia is the capital of thermal waters, so going to the SPA (at least an afternoon) is recommended if you want to have a complete experience in Sofia. My friends told me that this SPA is the best in the city and I understand why. It's a luxurious SPA at very reasonable prices. I was spoiled with chromotherapy jacuzzis, relaxed in the Himalayan salt room, made some long hours in the saunas (there are four types, all with large rooms) got a dip in the swimming pool and tried out the emotional showers ...Yes, this is the best place to relax in Sofia!!! They offered us free slippers and towels, so I went without baggage.

* My can also have these experiences. Information at >>> Earth and People SPA & Hotel 




16. Serdica archaeological site  

How would it be to build a metro station and find a whole ancient city while digging it ??? That's what happened in Sofia in 2010, and now all the Roman city is displayed in front of us, next to the metro station. The place is quite large and well preserved, open to the public non-stop. There are chambers, mosaics, pieces of pots and columns and the altar of an early Christian church. The city was very large and impressive for its time and was considered the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire because of its strategic location and riverside proximity. For me, this place is a true lesson of history.




17. The Banya Bashi Mosque is unique in Sofia   

Just next to Serdica Metro Station is this 1576 Mosque, with some beautifully painted decorations and a big dome. The interesting fact about Banya Bashi Mosque is that they were forbidden to use the "call for prayer" so if you don't pass by, you have no chance to guess, that there is a mosque in Sofia.



18. The Mentalist Escape Room 

Some tourist attractions in Sofia are the ones you cannot get out of. The Mentalist is the biggest escape room in town, and we found it exactly right next to Serdica archeological place.  In case you wonder if a week in Sofia is too much, believe me, I had no time to get bored. Given the low prices, you can do all the activities that go through your head. How was The Mentalist experience? It was super hard !!!! There are 4 rooms to choose from and I choose the scary / thriller one, for a boost of adrenaline. For an hour I had to make puzzles, discover various figures, keys, logical combinations, clues, to get out before Mark catches me in the house of madmen 'The asylum`). Honestly, this game is not just a game ... it's a lot of thinking !!! I recommend all adults :)))

* My experiences can also have you. Information at >>> The Mentalist Escape Room *


19. The Culture Palace is another Communist-style extravagance and the panoramic view of Sofia  

At 3 metro stops from the city center, there is the Cultural Palace. The building itself for me is no attraction, but the big gardens are a good place to relax. Besides, if you want a touristic photo of Sofia, here you`ll find the `Sofia name`. Another advantage is that at 300 meters is the "View restaurant"  with a rooftop terrace, from where you can see the city's panorama !! The views are great, food is also WOW!






20. The Apartment Bar

Let me tell you a non-commercial tourist attraction. It's called `The Apartment Bar`, an apartment turned into a brilliant idea. Basically, you can lay in bed with your friends, sit on the balcony or in an intimate corner of the apartment and buy a drink from the kitchen. People take their shoes off and make themselves comfortable. I liked the concept a lot, so I totally recommend it.



Thanks for visiting,
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