Perhaps not your first choice of holiday destination, Sofia offers a sophisticated beauty. One reflected by its ancient architecture and historical landmarks. Bulgaria may not be 1st on the tourism map, but this allows it to remain a somewhat hidden European gem. Visiting this city for a 36-hour getaway will leave you immersed in its rich empirical history, and stunning sense of character.
Get straight into the spirit of Sofia, by visiting the Antique Market. We hope your haggling skills are top notch, as you might have to negotiate to secure some beautiful Bulgarian treasures, and potentially sort out all of your souvenirs at the beginning of your trip. Should you venture around the Cathedral, you will find a world of traditional fabrics and rugs for sale.
Speaking of the Cathedral, we’re sure you’ll have some time to venture inside this gold-plated wonder. The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral was constructed in the early 20th century, and is one of the largest Eastern Orthodox Cathedrals in the world. It was built as a memorial to 200,000 Bulgarian, Belaorussian, Ukrainian, and Russian soldiers who lost their lives in the Russo-Turkish War.
Designed by renowned Japanese architect, Kisho Kurokawa; Hotel Marinela was built with a top floor room that offers a unique view of Sofia. However, this isn’t the most impressive feature of this city haven. Kurokawa created a Japanese Garden installation, which he modelled on the 400 year old Japanese Garden of Hotel New Otani, in Tokyo. This peaceful space offers an escape from the fast pace of the city, where you can leave your stress behind and immerse yourself in the flora and fauna.
Alternatively, the Sofia Hotel Balkan offers you the perfect balance between luxury and classic design. Once described as “re-defining the concept of space,” this Bulgarian landmark is located in the heart of Sofia, in short walking distance of iconic galleries, museums, and monuments. For those of you who are avid history lovers; the foundations of the Sofia Hotel Balkan are the remains of an ancient Roman fortress, the remains of which can still be seen around the hotel.
What better way to start your first full day in this marvellous city, than to indulge in a lavish breakfast at Villa Rosiche. This café is considered by to be a Bulgrian staple, by both locals and tourists. Serving a perfect mix of sweet and savoury dishes, we are sure Villa Rosiche will satisfy your gastronomy needs! We recommend the chestnut cake.
The Sofia Public Mineral Baths were designed by the notable Bulgarian architect, Petko Momchilov. Now an exhibition space and museum, it still captures a spirit of community, as locals frequent this venue to take away free hot mineral water.
During the Bulgarian Revival, the city’s Grand Mosque was decommissioned. The building however, is now the site of The Museum of Archaeology. Here, you will be educated on the many architects that Bulgaria has amassed throughout their past of power and conflict.
Right, we get it; by this point your mind needs a bit of relaxation after an intensive morning. So why not dine on lunch at Chef’s. You are in for a true delight with this exciting restaurant. Aptly named ‘Chef’s,’ this restaurant was started by some of the country’s top chefs. Recently relocated to Lozenets, Chef’s menu offers traditional Bulgarian dishes with an Asian twist. This is accompanied with fine Bulgarian wines. The menu includes dishes such as; Crispy Duck, Pad Thai, and Turbot Fillet.
Europe’s largest conference centre, The National Palace of Culture encapsulates socialist architecture within its harsh and minimalist design. With regularly changing shows, you will be exposed a plethora of experimental performances and cinema; along with poignant art pieces that permanently reside at the palace.
At quite a few points in your Bulgarian adventure you would have come across the footprints of the Roman empire. However, there is something supremely unique about the Serdica Amphitheatre. When first constructed, this was one of the largest of amphitheatres of its time. Now embedded into the design of the Arena Di Serdica Hotel, you can view the remains of this historical structure through the hotel’s specially-designed gallery.
It’s time to sit back and enjoy the delights of Bulgaria’s national theatre. A highly respected establishment in Bulgarian society, watching a show here is truly an honour. The theatre is known to seek out the country’s best actors and stage directors for their performances. So, make sure to book your tickets in advance to avoid disappointment!
Sage Bistro is our recommendation for your dinner plans this evening. A hideaway for true food lovers, Sage Bistro serves traditional Italian cuisine, fused with Bulgarian produce. You can expect to dine in a welcoming atmosphere; accompanied with fine wine.
Kickstart your evening’s entertainment at the 5L Speakeasy Bar. Hidden in the cellar of an inconspicuous Bulgarian building, the 5L Speakeasy Bar transports you back to the US 1920s prohibition era. The immersive atmosphere of this unique venue is enhanced by Bulgaria’s historical landscape. You can expect to find welcoming staff, with bartenders who can put together a personalised cocktail, at your request.
If you choose to stay at the Sofia Hotel Balkan, then you will already have an idea of this end-of-the-night suggestion. This is because, we recommend spending the last of the evening in the Viva! Casino Sofia, which is located in the Sofia Balkan Hotel. Styled to reflect a tropical paradise, the Viva Group have designed this 24-hour venue to provide the utmost gaming pleasure, in a safe and welcoming environment. While away your hours testing the boundaries of your holiday luck!
Whilst you recuperate from the events of the previous night, spend your last morning enjoying the sights of the Boyana Waterfall and Vitosha Mountain. Surprisingly, these wonders are located less than half an hour away from the city centre. Thus, you don’t have to worry about travelling to far out, and missing your flights! En route, make sure to stop at Boyana Church. This landmark is registered as a UNESCO World Heritage, and has survived since its erection in the late 10th century. Remember to take food with you, to picnic at this picturesque location.