7 Essential Things to Do in Sofia and Around

Sofia is pretty, fun and cheap! It is the second oldest capital in Europe, after Athens, making this city also rich in history. When I got to Sofia, I was surprised on how kind the people were and the amount of activities to do in the city and nearby.

One of the things that called my attention was the amount of activities (most of them free) that you can do when you travel in Sofia.

Therefore, I prepared a very short list of things that you must do when you visit Sofia. This are the essentials for you to get to know this place better!!


Sofia Free Tour

The Sofia Free Tour is organized by a NGO called “365” because they work all year long. This is perfect if you just arrived to the city and wish to know more about it. The guides make a great job telling you the story of the city and take you to the main areas such as the Tolerance Square, National Theater, Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and more.

Where does it take place?

The starting point of the Sofia Free Tour is in the Palace of Justice.

The following are the time schedules:

May-Oct: 10 AM, 11 AM & 6 PM
November-April: 11 AM & 6 PM

It usually lasts 2 hours. There is no need to book in advance, just show up. Do not forget to tip if you think that the tour was good.


Free Food Tour

The Sofia Free Food Tour is organized by a NGO called “Balkan Bites“. They are really proud to show the delicious Bulgarian cuisine to the travelers and announce themselves as the “First Free Food Tour in Europe”. Yes, its for FREE!

The tour involves going to different restaurants, burger shops and pastry places. I definitely recommend this tour since Bulgarian food is exquisite and not very well known internationally.

Where does it take place?

The Sofia Free Food Tour by Balkan Bites starts every day at 2 P.M. at Park Crystal in front of the big head statue of Stefan Stambolov. The duration of the tour is approximately 2 hours.

You should book in advance if you can. They only have 30 spots per day and the fill up very quickly.

Visit their website here: http://www.balkanbites.bg/


Vitosha Mountain Free Tour

Another amazing free tour in Sofia is the Free  Hike Tour organized by an NGO called “Sofia Green Tour“. This tour takes you to the Boyana Waterfalls and Boyana Lake in the Vitosha Mountain. It is the perfect option if you want to see some nature outside the city.

The tour guide makes an effort for everyone to enjoy it. Remember to bring a proper shoes for hiking and water. Even though its a very easy hike, sometimes the weather can affect the terrain conditions.

Where does it take place?

The meeting point is at the National Theater “Ivan Vazov” everyday at 11:00 A.M. From there you share a taxi between the participants which will take you to the Boyana Church. The cost of the taxi per person should not be more than 3-4 leva.

If you wish to read more about the Free Hiking Tour, click here.


Free Bike Tour

Yes! There is a Free Bike Tour which is also organized by NGO “Sofia Green Tour”. If you have a bike, you should try this tour. If you don´t have a bike, you can rent one at Sofia Bike Rental for 10 leva.

The tour takes you to the city landmarks and later to the Sofia parks. It usually covers 18 km and takes 3 hours with the stops.

Where does it take place?

The meeting point is at the National Theater “Ivan Vazov” everyday at 11:00 A.M. Sometimes the tour does not take place if the weather conditions are not the best.

To read more about the Free Bike Tour, click here.


Rila Monastery

Day-trip to the Rila Monastery

The Rila Monastery is the most famous monastery in Bulgaria. It is was built over 1000 years ago in a very quiet area located 2 hours outside Sofia surrounded by the Rila Mountains. The colorful paintings on its walls and the display of gold inside makes it a place worth visiting for half a day.

I recommend taking the day tour from Hostel Mostel which costs 40 leva. Besides the Rila Monstery, the driver takes you to a hidden monastery in a cave inside the mountains. Personally, I found this more interesting than the Rila Monastery.


Seven Rila Lakes

Day Hike at the Seven Rila Lakes

This was one of my highlights in Bulgaria. The Seven Rila Lakes are located just one hour and thirty minutes away from Sofia. The best ways to get there are: 1. By Car or 2. Booking a Tour through Traventuria.

Since I didn´t have a driver´s license, I decided to go for Option B.

Traventuria offers several tours around Sofia and they have excellent ratings in TripAdvisor. The tour starts at 7:00 A.M. behind the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and finishes around 5:00 P.M. When you get to the parking, you have to take a cable lift that leaves you at the starting point of the different trails.

There are many day hikes around the Seven Rila Lakes and they are usually Easy-Intermediate Level. There are also huts on the mountains if you wish to stay overnight.

If you wish to learn more about the Seven Rila Lakes with Traventuria, click here.


Free Pub Crawl with Hostel Mostel

Hostel Mostel is one of the best hostels in Bulgaria. The dorm/room rate includes: breakfast, dinner, coffee, tea and one beer per day. The vibes in this place are great and the staff is awesome. Besides the regular services, Hostel Mostel offers a guided Pub Crawl during the weekends. They take you to three or four bars and usually end the crawl at Fridays or Terminal 1.


I hope that you enjoyed this post!

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2017-10-01T13:57:54+00:00 October 2nd, 2017|Europe|