Sofia, the charming capital of Bulgaria, is one of eastern Europe’s greatest secrets. This is a place where you’ll discover fascinating history at every turn, whether it’s in the many museums, or the beautiful churches and cathedrals, or just while strolling through the streets, which are layered with Thracian, Roman and Ottoman remains. But Sofia holidays aren’t just a hotspot for history lovers – the mountain-ringed city is a jumping-off point for some of the region’s best ski slopes, so you can hit the runs of Mount Vitosha during the day and explore its hip bar scene by night.
Holidays to Sofia are also wonderfully laid-back. Everything is walk-able, with some of Bulgaria’s best shops, restaurants, bars, theatres and historic sites all just a few minutes’ ramble – or a straightforward journey on the metro – from each other. And the city is refreshingly green, with plenty of perfectly manicured gardens, tranquil parks where locals gather to play chess, and tree-lined squares and boulevards to explore. By night, Sofia has a tremendous variety of entertainment on offer, so whether you’re looking for a romantic meal of hearty Bulgarian food and wine, or an evening sampling vegan cocktails in its trendiest bars, you’re in the right place.
The intricately designed gold and spearmint-green Alexander Nevsky Cathedral was built in 1882. Today, its huge Neo-Byzantine domes are best photographed from its southwest corner.
Ancient Serdica Complex
This collection of eight Roman streets was discovered when the city’s metro was under construction. Pop by during metro opening hours to see the remains.
St George Rotunda
The oldest building in the city has curvy 4th-century red-brick walls, but the real joy is the interior, home to well-preserved frescoes from the 4th and 10th centuries.