Despite being continuously inhabited since at least 7,000 B.C. (and claiming its fair share of Cold War bunkers and Communist-era buildings) Sofia has become a modern destination. With excellent restaurants and shopping, plus an impressive number of public parks, Bealby likens it to Prague, Budapest, or Berlin—only quirkier and more affordable.
How much time you’ll need: Two to four days
What to see and do: Sofia’s wide boulevards, such as Oborishte Street and Vitosha Boulevard, are lined with cafes, art galleries, and fashionable shops—and they double as prime spots for people-watching. Most restaurants offer regional variations on classic Balkan dishes (think grilled-meat platters and oversized salads). Standouts include A:Part:Mental, set in an apartment with uniquely designed rooms and a menu of vegetarian and vegan offerings, and Rose, a light-flooded, pan-European lunchtime spot that transitions to a violet-hued cocktail bar by night.
Don’t Miss the Best Places To Visit in Sofia
But Sofia’s history is too fascinating to be ignored. Look no farther than the gold-covered domes of the Alexander Nevski Cathedral, the underground catacombs of Saint Sofia, and the ancient Roman complex of Serdica, which was restored in 2016. Now the fourth-century ruins are protected by a large, glass dome through which visitors can take in the bustling urban activity above—a perfect mix of age-old culture and modern-day buzz.
Where to stay: At the slick Sense Hotel Sofia, you can view the palatial National Assembly and the Alexander Nevski Cathedral through floor-to-ceiling brass shutters.
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Restaurants, Bars & Night Clubs in Sofia