History in Sofia is rich and diverse
For the keen historian, a visit to Sofia is an absolute must. One of Europe’s oldest cities, it contains ruins and landmarks representing seven Millennia. Significant excavation work recently unveiled a host of ruins built by the Romans almost 2,000 years ago, when Sofia was called ‘Serdica’. These are open for tourists to view and are referred to as the Ancient Serdica Complex, they are a truly magnificent site that really puts Bulgaria on the historian’s map.
It isn’t just the Roman’s that settled here in Sofia. The city’s landmarks also represent the Greeks, Ottomans and Soviets; famous sites such as the 13th Century medieval Boyana Church and the 4th Century St. George Rotunda Church are must-sees for any tourist. Complementing its history-rich landmarks are a whole host of museums and galleries, each paying tribute to a different era of life cultivated in Sofia. Be sure to add marvels such as the Sofia Archaeological Museum, the Sofia History Museum and the National Museum of History to your agenda while in Sofia./p>
A city with bustling nightlife to suit all tastes
Sofia’s nightlife rivals that of any other party destination in Europe and has a bustling array of clubs and bars that often stay open until after sunrise. The city has something for everyone but is particularly well-known for its value-for-money nightlife, great for those travelling on a budget. One of the most famous end-spots for a big night out is the city’s Art Hostel Bar, which is a centre-point for both visitors, locals and budget travellers.
Sofia is a youthful city, and therefore you will find many diverse and experimental clubs, bars and restaurants, including many hip new places popping up all over town. Long-time favourites such as the Bedroom Club, Wake Up Sofia Club, Yalta, Culture Beat and Club Studio 5 continue to draw large crowds, particularly on weekend party nights, and are perhaps some of the city’s most well-known spots for revellers. However, Sofia’s mainstream nightlife is complemented by its host of specialist, themed and underground venues that really offer something for every taste – from heavy metal to chalga bars.
Whatever your musical tastes, head on down to Vitosha Street, which is one of the main areas for nightlife. Here you will find local favourites such as The Cocktail Bar, where, as the name suggests, you can sample some of the finest cocktails in town while sitting back and enjoying the venue’s laid-back vibe. This is one of the pricier venues in the area, but you will find plenty of affordable alternatives nearby. Just venture down one of the area’s many pretty, hidden streets and you are sure to find value for money drinks of any type. On Fridays, many bars and clubs host ‘ladies’ nights’, where ladies get in free and can often claim several free drinks.
An ideal destination for outdoor pursuits
Sofia sits at the foot of the Vitosha Mountain, which is one of Eastern Europe’s most famous ski resorts. Experience the breath-taking scenery of Sofia below and breathe fresh mountain air as you glide down the mountainside. Vitosha is a magnet for both keen skiers and beginners alike when the high season hits around Christmas. The resort offers a much cheaper alternative to some of its more expensive counterparts in the Alpine resorts of Western Europe, so you can come here safe in the knowledge that your trip won’t be breaking the bank – but will be just as fun! Another attraction of skiing in Vitosha is its proximity to the country’s capital city, and many visitors decide to extend their ski holiday with a city break in Sofia’s centre. Furthermore, you can take the gondola lift up to the ski resort from Sofia’s ring road, a 20-minute ride that offers spectacular views of the city.
It isn’t just skiers that a holiday to Sofia can cater for. The city is surrounded by beautiful parkland that, come the summer, is full of those that love the great outdoors, basking in the sun or taking part in casual outdoor games. Those that enjoy pursuits such as hiking and cycling will find an array of trails – from the easy to the extreme – around both Sofia’s green spaces and the epic Mount Vitosha.
Another of Sofia’s draws is that it sits just a stone’s throw away from many beautiful places, which can all be experienced as day tours. Just a short drive outside the city and one can take part in activities such as food and wine tasting in the countryside, visit the thermal baths, marvel at the stunning lakes around Mount Vitosha and hike or horse ride to the Rozhen Monastery and Melnik Pyramids.
Enjoy quirky art cafés and shows
Sofia is a city that is also full of hidden quirks. For example, its puppet show, hosted by the Sofia Puppet Theatre, is one of the best cultural activities you can see in Sofia. In operation for more than 60 years, it puts on regular adaptations of plays like Snow White and the Three Little Pigs – and even Shakespeare.
You can also find many quirky little cafés in Sofia, many of which are hidden away down tiny alleyways. Antrakt is a café-gallery, where – as well as enjoying a local wine or coffee – you can watch various intriguing alternative art, music and theatre shows. Adi’s Cook and Book Café is another firm favourite – a beautiful place to chill out with a good book while taking in some of the venue’s unusual and enchanting décor.
So whatever you prefer in a holiday, anything is possible in beautiful Sofia – a city that really caters for everyone.