What to see in Sofia in one day

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Martí Micolau
@martimicolau
SOURCES CONSULTED:

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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You are headed to Eastern Europe and would like to include in your trip too a trip to Bulgaria? You can't not dedicate at least one day discovering Sofia, the capital of the state, the third oldest in the whole continent after Rome and Athens. In addition to being the capital, it is also the largest city in the country but, despite this, it is rather small in size and that is why it is possible to visit the main attractions in a single day. All the main places of interest are gathered in the center, without going further we begin our visit to the Bulgarian capital immediately.



Index

  1. One day itinerary in Sofia: Morning
  2. One day itinerary in Sofia: Afternoon
  3. One day itinerary in Sofia: Evening
  4. User questions and comments

One day itinerary in Sofia: Morning

1 - Ponte dei Leoni, Women's Market

Your route will start in the north of the city, where the Bridge of the Lions, one of the most famous in Sofia, which takes its name from four statues representing these majestic felines. The bridge also allows you to pass over the Vladaiska River. Not far away, you will come across the so-called Women's Market, the largest fresh produce outlet in the city. Very popular with citizens, it offers the opportunity to completely immerse yourself in the city atmosphere and, perhaps, make some purchases of typical local products.

2 - Sofia Synagogue, Covered Market, Sofia History Museum, Banya Bashi Mosque

A short distance away is the Sofia Synagogue, the largest Sephardi synagogue in all of Europe: its capacity allows the entry of over 1200 faithful. Inside there is a huge brass candlestick that weighs 2250 kilos! Leaving the Synagogue and walking a few steps you will come across the Covered Market (Central Hali Shopping Center), active in the city since 1911. You haven't had breakfast yet, we recommend going to Bul. "Stefan Stambolov" 3 at Furna, you can recharge your batteries for around 8 Euros per person. In the area there are also the Municipal Baths, housed in a truly majestic and beautiful building. Dating back to 1913, they were in operation until 1986 and then abandoned. After a restoration work, the building now houses the Sofia History Museum. Just behind the building of the baths are the Public Fountains, that is a series of fountains from which drinking water flows. Citizens use them to fill bottles and other containers for free, they are convenient and widely used. Returning to the main road, Bulevard Maria Luiza, you will arrive at the Banya Bashi mosque, dating back to 1576 and, to date, the only one still used in all of Sofia and the largest in the whole country. The building itself is not very opulent but elegant in appearance, it is possible to visit the interior avoiding the prayer times.



In summary:

  • Distance traveled: 2,7 km / 34 min
  • places visited: Lions Bridge (free), Sofia Synagogue (2 leva, about 1 Euro), Covered Market (free), Municipal Baths (free), Public Fountains (free), Banya Bashi mosque (free)
  • Panoramic tour with breakfast included
  • where to have breakfast: Furna, bul. "Stefan Stambolov" 3

One day itinerary in Sofia: Afternoon

1 - Archaeological remains, Sofia Monument, Russian Church of Sveti Nikolai

Near the metro station Serdica are present the archaeological remains of the ancient city. It is a very suggestive route, it is in fact possible to walk among the ruins, which among other things have been brought to light very recently, during the works for the construction of the subway. From this position it is impossible not to see the Monument in Sofia, the symbol of the city. It is a 24 meter high pillar and represents a woman holding a laurel wreath in her right hand, while an owl is placed on her left arm. Both are symbols of wisdom, which in the Greek language is indicated with the word "sofia".
Not far away is the Russian Church of Sveti Nikolai, adorned by golden domes and mosaics of an unusual teal color. These two elements create a very original contrast with the white of the facades, the church is very small but it is certainly worth a visit.
At this point you will have to recharge your batteries, for a good lunch we recommend the DARO restaurant, at ul.Angel Kanchev 20, at an average price of 12 Euros per person.



2 - Sveta Nedelya Cathedral, Sveti Georgi Rotunda, Presidential Palace, National Art Gallery.

The next stop is there Sveta Nedelya Cathedral. It is a truly majestic and richly decorated religious building, especially inside, thanks to multiple frescoes and a large chandelier positioned in the center. In ul. Suborna you will meet the Rotunda of Sveti Georgi (Rotonda di San Giorgio), the architectural work oldest in the whole city. Surrounded by a series of large buildings, there is a small brick-colored church, with a circular plan, dating back to the th century. The building is constantly undergoing restoration work and, although admission is free, tourists are encouraged to purchase a souvenir to finance the work. The interior is very nice, the walls are covered with ben three layers of frescoes, as well as the vault of the dome.
After the visit, reach the Presidential Palace and its square, where you can't miss the Changing of the Guard, which takes place every hour. Returning towards ploshtad Knyaz Aleksandar I you will reach Royal Palace, the building that now houses ben two museums, That Ethnographic and National Art Gallery. Depending on the time left you may be able to visit one of the two.

In summary:

  • Distance traveled: 3,9 km / 50 min
  • places visited: Serdica ruins (free), Sofia Monument (free), Sveta Nedelya Cathedral (free), Royal Palace (free), Russian Church of Sveti Nikolai (free)
  • Historical-Artistic Tour of Sofia
  • where to have lunch: DARO, at ul. Angel Kanchev 20

One day itinerary in Sofia: Evening

1 - Sveta Sofia Church, Sveta Sofia Underground Museum Necropolis, Aleksander Nevski Cathedral

The day is about to end but there are still some sights to see in Sofia. The first is the Church of Sveta Sofia, certainly less attractive as regards the exterior, but which contains a real treasure under its foundations. The Sveta Sofia Underground Museum Necropolis is an archaeological site that allows you to reconstruct the history of the church, based on the various building layers that have been recovered. They are also present part of ancient mosaics, as well as Byzantine and Roman remains. The last attraction to see is the Aleksander Nevski Cathedral, another symbol of the city, a majestic building that dates back to the period between 1882 and 1912. It was erected to celebrate the memory of the 200.000 Russian soldiers which perished during the Russo-Turkish war for Bulgarian independence.



2 - Dinner and walk along bul. Vitosha, the shopping street

Now head to what is considered the shopping street of Sofia, bul. Vitosha. It is located right near the city center, where you will also find the Shtastliveca Vitoshka restaurant, which offers typical Bulgarian dishes for around 12 Euros per person.

In summary:

  • Distance traveled: 3,2 km / 40 min
  • places visited: Church of Sveta Sofia (free), the Sveta Sofia Underground Museum Necropolis (around 3 Euros), Aleksander Nevski Cathedral (free), bul. Vitosha (free)
  • Sofia Pub Night Tour
  • where to dine: Shtastliveca Vitoshka restaurant, bul. "Vitosha" 27

Before leaving: useful tips

  • Although Bulgaria has been part of the European Union since 2007, it still maintains its national currency which is the Bulgarian Lev (BGN).
  • The climate of Sofia is continental type, winters are cold and summers relatively hot. It is therefore important to wear warm clothing during the winter season and dressing in layers in the spring - summer - autumn period. During the winter they are frequent snowfalls.
  • Consider purchasing the Sofia Card, which entitles you to free rides on public transport and some discounts at affiliated businesses and places of interest. In any case, museums are cheap and churches are free, you usually pay - and a lot - to photograph the interiors of places of interest.
  • If you decide to extend your visit to Sofia, take a look at our accommodation offers

What not to see: the attractions that are better to give up

In Sofia they are present numerous museums, including that of History, the Archaeological, the ethnographic and the Art Gallery. There is no time to visit them all. You will probably be able to barely see one.


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