Last Updated on August 15, 2019 by Michael

If you are planning a holiday to Sofia it is worth checking out some of the gems that are tucked away in this beautiful city. The Bulgarian capital is increasingly popular with tourists from Europe, so if you want to avoid the crowds on your travels, a visit to these attractions should be on your itinerary.

Hike Vitosha Mountain

Vitosha Mountain hiking trail
Photo by Leon Hart

Sofia developed around the foot of Vitosha Mountain, providing a picturesque backdrop for the city. A taxi ride from the center of Sofia to the mountain costs around 10 leva ($7 USD). From the base you can hike up well-trod trails to exploring the beautiful wooded mountain. One highlight is Golden Bridges, where a small cafe provided a good stopping point for a quick snack and a look at the view.

The Boyana Waterfall is also located on the mountainside. It’s a difficult climb to reach the top of this stunning waterfall so it’s only recommended for serious hikers.

Brush up on your Socialist Art

sofia lenin statue museum of socialist artPhoto by Times of Malta

Hidden away behind a shopping center right in the middle of Sofia is the Museum of Socialist Art. Formally known as the Museum of Totalitarian Art, the gallery and open-air courtyard house relics of Bulgaria’s Communist past, offering visitors an intriguing glimpse behind what Winston Churchill called “the Iron Curtain.”

It’s surprising that the relics on display were not destroyed following the fall of communism in Bulgaria. A must visit for all fans of 20th century history and a fantastic view of propaganda.

Ring the Bells Monument at Kambanite

Sofia Kambanite bellsPhoto by Wikimedia

Conceived in 1979 as a lasting monument to the United Nation’s designated Year of the Child, the Bells at Kambanite offers a very different experience from most other tourist attractions. The bells represent children and children’s organizations from around the world, and while the bells are only supposed to be rung by children, you’ll see many adults unable to resist temptation.

Roam to the Amphitheatre of Serdica

If you love ancient history, then visit the ruins of the Roman Amphitheater of Serdica. The city of Serdica was an important outpost of the Roman Empire, acting as a key political hub. The amphitheater was uncovered during construction of another building in 2004. Further architectural detective work followed and the full extent of the discovery was revealed.

This amphitheater is the only one which combines the classic amphitheater layout with a Roman theater, making this a must for any fans of ancient Roman architecture.

 Slither to the Snail Home

snail house bulgaria
Photo by Wikimedia

Amid the usual tourist attractions in Sofia are a few unique spots, none more so than the Snail Home. Given the name, you might think it’s a museum devoted to snails. But it’s far more interesting than that. Built in 2009, the Snail Home is an apartment building designed in the shape of a snail. Don’t miss this one on your itinerary; but you can take your time getting there, it’s not going anywhere soon.