Sofia was never in my travel itinerary. I had planned for a week in Bucharest and when I had covered pretty much all the places around Bucharest, I was not sure what else to do. And that’s when I stumbled upon Sofia in Bulgaria. I had also considered Budapest in Hungary. But after researching on the cheap modes of transport to both these places – I decided Sofia.
About the city…
Sofia is the capital city of Bulgaria. The city has a history of more than 2000 years, including all the occupation of Greek, Roman, Ottoman and Soviet. The city has amazing monuments and landmarks reflecting the history. And there are churches dating back to 11th century as well. So if you love history, then definitely make a visit to Sofia.
Get into the city
Sofia has its own airport and there are flights to get to Sofia from all parts of Europe. However the cheapest way to get to Sofia is through FlixBus. I took an overnight (8 hours) journey into Sofia from Bucharest. The return bus tickets costed around 30 Euros.
Note: Passport and visa is checked at the border. So ensure to have a valid passport and visa to enter the country.
Things to do
There are many museums and landmarks that are in the city of Sofia. All of these are beautiful and a must visit. But since I had only 7 hours (only during day light) in the city, I decided to cover the below places:
- Number 1 on the list must be Boyana Church. This church is absolutely brilliant. It has the architectural structures from 11th, 13th and 19th centuries in the same complex. The interiors of the church is mind blowing. It has two layers of murals on the walls of the 11th century part of the building – the murals that were painted in 11th century and then the layer on top of it which were painted in 13th century. I loved this place.
There is an entrance ticket for the church 10 Lev.
Note: Pictures cannot be taken inside the church.
- Visit the National History museum. This has so many artifacts from various era of Sofia. This is a place where one can spend at least couple of hours easily. It is a huge complex and there is also a small cafe at the back of the building.
This has an entrance fee as well, but when bought with Boyana church, it costs only 12 Lev.
- Bells park or Kambanite bells valley – This is famous only among the locals but this is worth a visit. The park was established in 1979. An International Children’s Assemble event called ‘Banner of Peace’ was organised at this park and each child representing a country was asked to get a bell. There are around 108 bells around the park. I was in awe when I saw so many bells around the complex and these bells were gifted from different countries around the World – How cool is that!
There is no entrance fee to this park.
- Ride the colourful tram – Sofia has many colourful and pretty trams around the city. It is a wonderful way to travel around and it is really cheap – costs as less as 1.50 Lev. So definitely get a pretty picture.
- Visit the Russian church – It is absolutely surprising the way this church has been built. The altar is on the side and not at the front. Definitely worth a visit.
There is no entrance fee.
- Picture with the guards – The President Palace has two guards at the gate and they change every hour. These guards do not laugh or talk or even react when touched – so I was told! I decided only to get a touristy picture with them and I did not push them to any limits by even trying to go near them.
- Visit Aleksander Nevski Cathedral – It is rich and it is in the middle of the city. So definitely visit this cathedral.
There is no entrance fee to this cathedral. However, if you need to take pictures then it cost about 10 Lev.
- Feed the pigeons – Sofia has many parks and these parks have pigeons. It is wonderful to relive a moment from ‘Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge’ and feed these pigeons. Note: I did not find Shah Rukh anywhere close.
- And lastly, definitely not the least, try Bulgarian food. I tried a dish at a local restaurant and the food was beautiful and delicious.
The dish that I tried was Chicken Kavurma – Chicken breast with mushrooms, onions, roasted peppers, tomato sauce, white wine and parsley. It costed around 12.99 Lev.
- Bus tickets = 30 Euros
- Tram ride = 0.8 Euro (1.5 Lev)
- Sofia tour with car = 51 Euros (AUD 82.45)
- Tips = 5.2 Euros (10 Lev)
- Lunch = 6.65 Euros (12.99 Lev)
- Cafe = 2.6 Euros (5 Lev)
- Toilets = 1 Euro (2 Lev)
Total expenses = 97.25 Euros (AUD 157.8)
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