Your Local Guides Bulgaria and Balkans offers individual City tours of Sofia with licensed tour guides, who have deep knowledge about the city and know the most interesting places and facts.
We have several options of this tour:
Classical city tour of Sofia – walking tour for 2-3 hours. Includes The historical central part of the city with all of the interesting stories about the capital and Bulgaria as well.
Sofia by night – Bulgarian capital is amazing by night. Sometimes much more than by the daylight. The tour is on the same route like the classical one.
City tour of Sofia + Boyana Church and National Museum of History – 5-6 hours, walking and with car. Includes the classical city tour, the UNESCO site Boyana church with the amazing Pre-Renaissance frescos and the National Museum of History with the rich collection of artefacts of the history on our land.
City tour of Sofia + Boyana Church and Vitosha mountain – 5-6 hours, walking and with car. Includes the classical city tour, the UNESCO site Boyana church and short driving tour among Vitosha. The mountain above Sofia is a National Nature reserve with beautiful forest and spectacular views to the city.
The Great Sofia city tour – The classical city tour, Boyana church, National Museum of History, National palace of culture, The Bells Museum and Vitosha mountain. 6-7 hours walking and with car.
Boyana waterfall – 4-5 hours hiking with medium to high difficulty depending on the season. It is not suitable for the winter period. It’s safe, though it’s steep and slippery. The waterfall is in Vitosha mountain.
The capital of Bulgaria is also a perfect start point to many deferent Day tours from Sofia. Most of the absolutely beautiful sites in Bulgaria are only on few hours driving from Sofia.
Explore the History and Nature of Sofia
Sofia is the capital of Bulgaria. It is not only political and administrative center, but is also the largest city in Bulgaria. According to unidentified data, the population is about 2 million. Its history started back in ancient times, but the most famous and great was during the Roman Empire.
Serdica, the name of the city in those days, use to be one of the most important urban centers in the whole Roman Empire. Situated on the very important roman road “Via Militaris”, Serdica was a capital of a huge province and an important center of the early Christianity. Here was proclaimed the very first Edict of Toleration by emperor Galerius and granted Christianity with status of “religio licita”, i.e. recognized and accepted by the Roman Empire. This shows the role of the city in the earliest years of the Christianity, and even more. The emperor Constantine the Great said “Serdica is my Rome” and planned to build the new Christian capital of the Empire here. The contest was won by Byzantium, because of the better location, but still, it was a great recognition for the city as very important center. Of course, in our tours are included the roman ruins and we usually start from there.
What you can see:
- The oldest preserved building in Sofia – The Church of St George from 4th century AD
- The ruins of the central part of the roman city Serdica from 1st to 7th century AD
- Cardo Maximus and Decumanus maximus – the original roman streets of Serdica
- St. Sofia Church from 4th and 6th century AD
From the beginning of 9th century AD, Serdica is included in the territory og the First Bulgarian Empire and the name of the city was changed to Sredec. Until the end of 14th century, the city use to be very important center of the western Bulgarian province. From this medieval period are well preserved not so many buildings. Here in Sredec was born one of the greatest Bulgarian kings – Samuil, strong leader and great warrior, founder of a dynasty known later as Samoul’s dynasty and still bone of contention between Bulgaria and Macedonia. Ask us about this story, because it’s better than any Mexican tv drama.
What you can see:
- Boyana Church – UNESCO site with extraordinary frescos from 13th century
- Dragalevci Monastery
- Medieval collection in the National Museum of History
Bulgaria is under Ottoman rule on the end of 14th to the end of 19th century. Very long and hard times for our people, because we lost not only the freedom, but practically everything. However, even in the dark times, Sofia manage to preserve the important role and again is administrative capital of province. Somewhere in this ages the city became known as Sofia. It was because of the church St. Sophia. The Ottomans built a great number of mosques and other typical buildings, but not so many of them survived after the liberation. Another one curios story we have about this, so added it in your list as a second question to your local guide.
What you can see:
- Banya Bashi mosque 16th century – the very first project of the greatest ever Ottoman architect, Mimar Sinan.
- The Buyuk Mosque – today National Archaeological Museum
SOFIA AFTER THE LIBERATION OF THE OTTOMANS
Bulgaria is liberated in 1878 and soon after the end of the liberation war, Sofia was proclaimed as a capital of Bulgaria. In order to be organized as a modern European city, almost everything was destroyed and the new capital was rebuilt again. 95% of the buildings and parks in the city center are from this period – 19th and beginning of 20th century. The eclectic style is dominant, but still is beautiful. Question 3 of you list could be about the yellow pavement!
What you can see:
- The King palace – today National Art Gallery and Ethnographic museum
- The National Theatre “Ivan Vazov”
- The Russian Church
- The Central Military club
- The Central Bath House – today Museum of Sofia
- The Synagogue
- The Cathedral “Alexander Nevsky”
- The University of Sofia “St. Kliment from Ohrid”
- The Parliament
- The Tzar Liberator monument
9 of September 1944, the Soviet Union Red Army literally occupied the country and put a puppet government to lead Bulgaria. So, that’s how Bulgaria became part of the Eastern block for 45 years. In the first years of communism Sofia as a capital was reorganized and here were built a lot of new impressive buildings to serve to the new regime. In the heart of the city was organized new square known as “The Largo” with the General Headquarter of Bulgarian Communist Party or shorter “The Party House”. Most of the buildings from this early communist period are in Brutalist architecture style or also known as Stalinist Empire style. Not only the city center, but all of the big Neighborhoods were built between 1950-1980.
What you can see:
- The “Party House” and the Triangle of Power
- The Red Army Monument
- The National palace of Culture
- The Bells Monument
Today Sofia is a home of almost 20% of the population of Bulgaria. Modern, eclectic, dynamic, busy and fast growing, the city defends its motto – Ever Growing, Never Aging. A lot of international companies choose Sofia as a place with excellent business climate and expand their activities here. Sofia can offer high quality hotels, restaurants, services and hundreds of interesting places. The international airport is very close to the city, no more than 10 minutes with car from the central parts.
The city occupies the southern part of a relatively large field, surrounded by 5 mountains. The highest of them is Vitosha Mountain with a height of 2290 m. From the north, the Sofia Field is protected by the Balkan Mountains, the longest mountain range in SE Europe and giving its name to the whole peninsula. The longest river in Bulgaria Iskar crosses the field and is the only river in Bulgaria that crosses the Balkan from south to north.
Besides is the only one capital in Europe, located near to a high mountain, Sofia is also the only European capital, through which no major river passes. Yes, we don’t have big river, but we have hot mineral spring in the very center of the city. All these natural features of the region were the reason the first settlement to be erected here 6500 years ago and to continues to develop until today.
Do not forget the motto of the city – Ever Growing, Never Aging!