Top attractions in Sofia
Our most recommended things to do in Sofia
1. From Sofia: 7 Rila Lakes and Rila Monastery Self-Guided Trip
Depart Sofia in the morning and travel by shuttle bus with a friendly English-speaking driver. Journey in air-conditioned comfort to Panichishte in the beautiful Rila National Park. Get briefed on arrival by your driver, who will tell you the different options and routes you can take up the mountain. Ride the chairlift to the 7 Rila Lakes, where you will get 5 hours of free time to go on some amazing nature walks independently to experience the glacial lakes from different perspectives. Board the shuttle bus at the agreed meeting point and relax on the 2-hour drive to Rila Monastery in a deep valley of the Rilska River. Founded in the 10th century, the monastery complex is regarded as one of Bulgaria's most important cultural and historical monuments. Get 1.5 hours to explore the largest Eastern Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria at your own pace. Then, return to Sofia in the evening and ...
It was amazing trip to rila mountain and rila monastry. We really enjoyed the trip.
2. From Sofia: Rila Monastery & Boyana Church Small Group Tour
Depart Sofia at 09:00 AM sharp, and relax on the 2-hour drive to the Rila Monastery in the Rila Mountains. Upon arrival, explore the largest and most important Orthodox cloister in Bulgaria. Admire the arcaded balconies, and discover unique frescoes by one of the most famous painters of the Bulgarian National Revival period. See gilded iconostasis and enjoy the fabulous mountain views. Hear the story of the monastery from your guide before enjoying some time to explore the monastic complex on your own. Learn more at the museum, or purchase souvenir icons and other items in the nearby shops. Take some time to refuel with lunch at one of the local restaurants, where you can purchase local specialties such as mekitsi (a traditional Bulgarian dish of kneaded dough made with yogurt that is deep fried). Depart at 01:30 PM and travel to Boyana Church in the suburbs of Sofia. See the ...
I was glad to find an option to book transport only to Boyana Church and Rila Monastery on the same day, without a guided tour. Driving is the easiest way to visit both places on the same day, but I prefer learning about cultural sites through reading and exploring on my own. I was impressed by how carefully everything was scheduled so that we could maximize our time at each place without waiting.
3. The Seven Rila Lakes: Full-Day Tour from Sofia
Enjoy a full-day trek into the Rila Mountains to explore the most picturesque area near Sofia and one of Bulgaria's most beautiful natural sites, the Seven Rila Lakes. This group of glacial lakes lies between 6,900 and 8,200 feet (2,100 and 2,500 meters) above sea level, surrounded by rugged peaks and deep valleys. Leaving from Sofia, you will drive for 90 minutes to reach the Panichishte resort area, where you board the chairlift to the Rila Lakes mountain hut. From here you will continue on foot to explore the landscape and its majestic blue pearls – the Eye, the Tear, the Kidney, the Twins, the Trefoil, the Fish Lake and the Lower Lake. The route is not difficult and can be altered on the spot depending on fitness levels or strength, following either more gentle routes or steeper gradients. Take your chance to explore the Blue Pearls of the Rila Mountains, the Seven Rila Lakes.
Rade was a great guide who was informative and friendly (worth the extra cost!). Would recommend doing the lakes if you have the opportunity to.
4. From Sofia: Bus Transfer to Rila Lakes
Use a shared shuttle bus service which offers direct transportation from Sofia to the 7 Rila Lakes. The transfer starts with an early morning pick-up from centrally located meeting place in Sofia behind the Alexander Nevski Cathedral. Meet your driver for a comfortable direct journey to the Rila National Park. Arrive at the parking of the chair lift around 09:00 AM. Enjoy some free time for a self-guided tour of the 7 Rila Lakes area. You have more than 7 hours to explore this beautiful part of Rila mountain. Leave the parking of the chair lift in the afternoon and arrive back in Sofia city around 7:00 PM at the original central departure location.
Great, my recommendation: do not choose a tour with the monastery, you will have to take a shorter track in the mountains. A longer track is so much more beautiful and well worth it!
5. Plovdiv: Full-Day Small Group Excursion from Sofia
This full-day trip begins with a 2-hour drive from Sofia to Plovdiv, one of Europe’s oldest towns. On a guided walking tour, discover the history and culture of this 8,000-year old city that was settled by Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman and Bulgarian civilizations. See the sights of the old town, including museums, historical monuments and revival period houses lining the cobbled streets. Explore the Ethnographical Museum and the impressive Roman Theater. An English-speaking guide will accompany the group throughout the day and will point out the most interesting architectural and cultural treasures of the region and provide commentary on modern life in Bulgaria.
Our guide Dafi was very good, comunicative and helpfull. The van was new, with a good driver. Plovdiv is a beatifull city. Not sure if it is always like that, but worth mention that the group was mainly elderly and families.
6. Rila Monastery Day Trip from Sofia
Board the shuttle service behind St. Alexander Nevski Cathedral in Sofia city center. Then, head to the medieval Rila Monastery in the spectacular Rila Mountains. Get over 2 hours of free time to explore the complex, founded by the hermit monk Ivan Rilski in 927 AD. Marvel at the frescoes of the main church and visit the medieval tower independently. Wander down quiet outdoor corridors adorned with beautiful mosaics, and see gold-plated iconostasis and valuable icons from the 14th to 19th century. Learn more about the history of the site at the museum, where highlights include the double-sided crucifix of the Rila Cross. See the old bakery and other monuments, including the residential area of high stone walls and little windows. Board the minibus back to Sofia in the afternoon and get dropped off at the pick-up point on arrival.
It was approximately for 2 hours drive to the destination, kind instruction was given to the participants. Even though there was the trace of snow that had been still remained in Rila, it was not so much cold than I expected in the mid of February when I had the tour. The time in the Rila Monastery was approximately for 3 hours (12.00 arrival, 15.00 to get on the car for return, verily enough, everything was possible, including museum, restaurant, strolling around the monastery that has the water fountains, drinkable waters, famous for clean, non chemical.) The fascination of this destination is not only the renowned sanctity, but also the surrounding environment, rocks and mountain ranges, superb scenery of Bulgaria can be enjoyed on journey.
7. From Sofia: Full-Day Tour to Rila Monastery and Boyana
Spend the day exploring 2 UNESCO World Heritage Sites located outside of Sofia, Bulgaria's capital city. Begin by meeting at 9:00 behind St. Alexander Nevski Cathedral in Sofia. Sit back and relax for the next 2 hours as your friendly, English-speaking drivers transport you to Rila. Upon arriving, spend 2 hours exploring the area and visiting the Rila Monastery, the largest and most famous Eastern Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria. Then enjoy lunch at a local restaurant which features a specialty of grilled trout. Get back in the van for another 2-hour journey, eventually arriving at Boyana Church, a medieval Bulgarian Orthodox church on the outskirts of Sofia. Check out the elaborate frescoes that have made this site famous, before your tour returns you to your meeting point.
The guide told us everything about the Church of Bojana and Rila. He was very friendly and we had anough free time to take photos usw...
8. Sofia: Lovech, Devetaki Cave and Krushuna Waterfalls Tour
Your tour begins as you are picked up from your hotel/accommodation in Sofia. After an approximately 2-hour drive, you will reach Lovech. From there you will begin exploring the old quarter of the city. You will walk through the small cobbled streets, traveling back in time as you admire the typical 14th-century houses. You will then take a detailed trip to the Vassil Levski Museum, before continuing your walk to the Hisarya Fortress. The last site in the town to which you will pay attention is the famous Covered Bridge, a masterpiece of Bulgarian architecture which was built by Master Kolio Ficheto. Following the bridge, you will continue your trip with a 20-minute drive to your next stop, Devetashka Cave. Once there you will have some time to walk around the stunning cave, and will proceed to the Krushuna Waterfalls (a 20-minute drive from Devetashka Cave). There you will discover a ...
We were picked up by a cheerful, bubbly guide, Nadia from the Bultrips. She is a lovely guide, with a lot of energy. She shared much about the places we went to. Though it was a very cold day with only us visiting those places, Nadia made it so special for us and brought us a to great lunch place. She also bought us some chocolates at the Lovech town which was delicious! The caves were indeed magnificient and the town of Lovech is such a peaceful town.
9. From Sofia: Seven Rila Lakes & Rila Monastery Full-Day Tour
This full-day tour is designed for active people wishing to combine a trek to natural wonders, with a tour of the most visited tourist attraction in Bulgaria, the magnificent Rila Monastery. Departing Sofia, you will head for the Rila Mountains, where you will enjoy a moderate hike through what is arguably the most distinguished area in the mountains, the 7 Rila Lakes. After a transfer of approximately 90 minutes, you will reach the region of Panichishte, where you will board a chair lift to the Rila Lakes hut. Consisting of a group of glacial lakes, the 7 Rila Lakes is located at an altitude of between 6,900 feet (2,100 meters) and 8,200 feet (2,500 meters) above sea level. Surrounded by rugged peaks and deep valleys, you will see spectacular views as you walk through its pearls, such as The Eye, The Tear, The Kidney, The Twins, The Trefoil, The Fish Lake and The Lower Lake. The rout...
Our tour guide Petr was really friendly and helpful. Unfortunately the chairlift to the mountain was closed due to the hard wind. Therefore we didn't go to the lakes but visited a waterfall and natural piramides. That was also very beautiful. However we had to drive longer. The rila monastry was amazing!
10. Plovdiv and Koprivshtitsa Full-Day Tour from Sofia
A 2-hour drive from Sofia will take you to the city of Plovdiv, Bulgaria’s second largest city and one of its oldest towns. Within 2-3 hours of walking along the city, you will discover the history and culture behind a 7000-year old settlement, written by the Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman, and Bulgarian civilizations. You can enjoy sightseeing in the Old Town with its museums, historical monuments, revival period houses, lined with souvenir shops cobbled streets or get impressed by the rich Ethnographical Museum and the ancient Roman Theater. Feel the atmosphere of this artistic and trades center and enjoy a lunch at the local restaurants. Next stop on your way back is the charming town of Koprivshtitsa with its fascinating history and authentic 19th-century architecture. Spend the rest of the day in the leisure of this small and picturesque city situated in central Bulgaria, spread amongst...
Well organized day trip. Our guide was very knowledgeable and showed us all the important locations and their history. You also get some free time to explore for yourself. Definitely recommended
Frequently asked questions about Sofia
What top attractions are a must-see in Sofia?
The must-see attractions in Sofia are:See all must-see sights in Sofia
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Planning Your Visit
How many days to spend in Sofia?
You can spend three days exploring the city's top attractions and jump into local
culture. Add another day for a trip to Mt. Vitosha.
Exploring the center by foot is the best way to tour the city. However, it has public
transportation to get you where you need to go. If you plan to visit Mt. Vitosha,
it's about 20 minutes away from the city. Take a taxi to Dragalevtsi chairlift,
which is also close to the monastery. The lift stops at the tree line, and you'll find
hiking trails around this area, or ski slopes if you happen to arrive in winter.
Where to stay in Sofia
Base yourself in the heart of the city, so that you have the sightseeing activities at
your doorstep. You'll find bars, cafés and restaurants on and around Vitosha
Good to know
- Bulgarian Lev (лв)
- Time Zone
- UTC (+03:00)
- Country Code
- Best time to visit
- The winter sport enthusiasts should visit in December and January when snow is thick on Mt Vitosha. Summer (July and August) is peak time for heat and tourists, and is a perfect time to visit the beautiful parks. If your a jazz fan - then visit in November during the International Jazz Festival!
Other Sightseeing Options in Sofia
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What people are saying about Sofia
We had the most amazing time. This tour is a must! The rocks are so beautiful. You don't have to be a good hiker to do it. The car ride is worth it. And after seeing the castle they bring you to an hidden space with a beautiful view. I reconment this so much. Our tour guide was really chill and had so many good stories/info!
Perfect service and a lot of in information was given by our driver! We really recommend :))
It was amazing experience. Rila Monastery is definetely worth to see
The guide Todor was so nice. And the 7 lakes were very beautiful !
Guide superb! Wonderful experience! Reasonable price!