10 THINGS TO SEE AND TO DO IN SOFIA, BULGARIA

Sofia, an awesome place to visit!

Many iconic buildings, places and architecture, roman ruins over the city center, numerous green areas, friendly locals and delicious traditional food (at least we loved it). On top of all of this, Sofia it’s also a budget travelers destination.

What more could travelers wish for?

There are a lot of interesting things that you can see and do in Sofia. The main sights are concentrated in the City Center, so we have listed top 10 places that impressed us and maybe will help you to plan your visit in the capital of Bulgaria. Beside the photos, we also highlighted some information that we found interesting.

Read the list below to find out how to experience it for yourself.

 

Church of St. George Sofia

Church of St. George, Sofia

 

Church of St. George which is considered to be the oldest building in Sofia, dates back to the 4th century and together with ruins of the Antic town Serdica now is surrounded by the buildings of  Presidential Palace.

 

 

 

Aleksander Nevsky Cathedral, Sofia

Aleksander Nevsky Cathedral, Sofia

 

Aleksander Nevsky Cathedral  (my personal favorite) the biggest and most gorgeous Christian temple in Bulgaria. It was nice to find out that the cathedral crypt houses the largest collection of Orthodox icons in Europe. Getting inside we could pray and admire the splendid examples of the art of iconography.

 

 

Saint Sofia Church

Saint Sofia Church

 

Saint Sofia Church that gave the name of Sofia to the city. It is located in the city center and its underground level is turned into a museum where you can stroll in old-time catacombs. We couldn’t enter because it was closed due to Christmas holiday.

Next to the church there is the monument to the Unknown Soldier commemorating Bulgarian soldiers who died protecting their country.

 

Nedelya Church, Sofia

Nedelya Church, Sofia

 

Nedelya Church, this is a church with a sad history… in 1925 a terrorist attack was carried out, aimed to kill the Bulgarian Tsar Boris III. He was not killed because delayed with a half an hour, anyway this attack brought a tragic end for a lot of people which were inside the church.

P.S. Bulgarian people often use this example when they are late 😊

 

Petka Church, Sofia

Petka Church, Sofia

 

Petka Church was constructed in the 14th century by saddle makers. It is very short because churches built during the Ottoman period couldn’t be higher than a soldier on horseback, so they were partially buried. This is the first time when we enter in such a small church, however it filled our souls with pace.

It worth.

 

Church St. Nicholas Miracle-Maker , Sofia

Church St. Nicholas Miracle-Maker , Sofia

 

 

Russian Orthodox Church St. Nicholas Miracle-Maker  surprised us with its beautiful architecture and ornamentation.

 

 

 

Saint Sofia Monument

Saint Sofia Monument

 

Saint Sofia Monument probably the most famous monument in Sofia, it is a 24-meter-high bronze statue.

It’s a symbol of the city because St. Sofia is city’s patron.

 

 

 

Yellow Cobbles, Sofia

Yellow Cobbles, Sofia

 

Step on the Yellow Cobbles that cover the area around the National Assembly and then down towards the National Gallery of Art & Ethnography Museum. It is something that we found amazing in Sofia and we though that the bricks are colored in yellow. When we asked our guide, he explained that the cobbles were made in Hungary and were a wedding gift to Tsar Ferdinand I from the Austro-Hungarian emperor. The bricks are a symbol of Sofia and are not colored, they are made from a very expensive and special yellow material.

 

 

Ivan Vazov National Theater

Ivan Vazov National Theater, Sofia

 

 

Ivan Vazov National Theater,  we really love this stunning building, considering to be one of the most ornate in Sofia. It was constructed by the Austrian architects Helmer & Felneris in 1907.

 

 

 

Public Mineral Baths, Sofia

Public Mineral Baths, Sofia

 

Public Mineral Baths, this building with elegant style and architecture was a public bath with separate facilities for men and women. They come here to relax and interact with each other’s.

It was like Facebook today 😄

Nowadays the building hosts a permanent exhibition of the Sofia  History Museum. The Public Baths is located near the Central Mosque. 

 

 

 

 

Sofia culture and architecture are very special because it reflects the influences from every historical period it has gone through.

Learning about the history of Sofia made us curious to explore more and we decided to spend the last day of our trip in Plovdiv – another city full of history and interesting facts.

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OUR TOP 3 EXPERIENCES FROM SOFIA

Did you ever wake up in the morning and had no idea what to do for the next 2 or 3 days …?                           – we experienced it before Christmas Eve as we decided not to go to home this year.

Solution …? – hmm, we opened google maps and found that Sofia is at just 500 km far away from Bucharest. So, it took just few seconds to make the decision … no words needed, just look at each other … in only 30 minutes we already were on our road trip.

Joining the free tour in Sofia

One of the most affordable and interesting way to discover Sofia is by joining the local guides from Free Sofia Tour . Niki was our amazing guide, that shown and told us the most important places and facts about the capital of Bulgaria. As we joined the tour on Christmas Eve, our small group were of 6 tourists from 4 different continents, which was nice 😊

The most amazed thing that for sure I will not forget about Sofia is the Square of Tolerance where you can find the temples of the 4 major religions: a mosque, a Catholic cathedral, an orthodox church and a synagogue. Sofia is unique in Europe, by having these places of worship for four major religions so close together.

Square of Tolerance, Sofia

Square of Tolerance, Sofia

I am grateful that our guide shared with us the strategic point where we saw all those temples together …it gave me an inner emotion full of peace.

Great experience – In just few hours we get a bunch of information about Sofia and we interact with friendly people.

Strolling through the city

Before visiting Sofia, many time I heard the phrase “Sofia is a city of contrasts”.  So, to get convinced about this, we went for a walk through the city.  Look at these photos and tell us if you feel the same…

Church of St. George, Sofia

Aleksander Nevsky Cathedral, Sofia

 

Saint Sofia Church

Ivan Vazov National Theatre, Sofia

 

 

Roman ruins, Sofia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Public Mineral Baths, Sofia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you curious to know more about any of these places, check our article 10 Things to see and to do in Sofia

Enjoying the Vitosha mountain

Sofia is located at the foot of the Vitosha mountain, that makes it’s an uncommon capital. Anytime you can have a break from the city and be in contact with nature.

From almost any location in the city, we could glimpse the beauty of the mountain. It creates a perfect frame for the historical buildings and for all tourist attractions.

Taking our car and driving from Sofia up to the mountain was the best thing we could do on the Christmas day. On the top of Vitosha we breathed clean air, enjoyed the beautiful snowy scenery and the amazing view over the city.

Vitosha Mountain

I will never forget the beautiful sunset. We were so lucky to see it.

Sunset seen on Vitosha Mountain

I could not take my eyes off … it was wonderful.

This was a perfect way to recharge our batteries 😊

After a cold and fresh walk, we get very hungry 😋

Excellent occasion to eat an authentic Bulgarian food. We were at Izbata Tavern, welcoming place with typical Bulgarian interior, tableware with traditional tint and folk music. Here we taste the amazing Bulgarian cousin, that we liked a lot. For appetizers we ate Eggplant chaviar and main dishes Veal satch and Kavarma. 

Izbata Taverna in Sofia      

Appetizers at Izbata Taverna in Sofia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This tavern is part of tourist attractions from Sofia.

Trying traditional cousin is another great way to experience a destination.

Accommodation? –  a lot of great options for affordable prices. We chose “BW Premier Collection City Hotel” as it looked to meet our needs: good breakfast, central location, parking and excellent rate on booking submitted by more than 1000 reviews. It come up to our expectations. 😊

Sofia will remain in our hearts as a city full of history…that was conquered by different imperial powers which had left their marks… and in the end created this unique culture.

P.S. Visiting Sofia we managed to add one more capital in our bucket list for 2017 🤗

 

VASA MUSEUM- MOST VISITED MUSEUM IN SCANDINAVIA

When we decided to visit VASA Museum we didn’t expect to be such impressed. It exceeded our expectations by many times.

The first thought upon entering the museum was: This is history coming alive.

 

The ship itself is amazing. Somehow…it remembered us the Pirates of the Caribbean movies 😄

Located on the island of Djurgården, VASA is the most visited museum in Scandinavia. The museum hosts a beautiful piece of history… the world’s only preserved 17th century ship.

It is unbelievable that after 333 years (1628-1961) under water the ship has been restored, and now we can see more than 95 percent of the original ship.

The museum offers us a really unique artwork. We found a lot of information about the history of the ship, life on the board and what caused its sinking by ten different exhibitions that are exposed around the VASA ship.

The 8 things that we find interesting from the exhibitions are:

 

  • For one ship of the VASA’s size, roughly 1,000 oaks were needed.
  • In the VASA, there were 8,558 iron bolts and about 20,000 wooden nails. The largest bolts measured two meters.
  • The VASA weight was estimated at 700 tons.

 

 

 

 

  • The cook made food for all the crew. The largest cooking pot was a 215- litres iron cauldron.
  • Food ration per man and month: bread ½ barrel, meat and dried fish 8.5 kg, dried peas- 16.2 litres.

 

  • In the year 1628, Vasa was to have had a crew of 145 mariners and 300 soldiers.
  • Sailors were paid partly in cash, partly in clothes and rations. Annual salary for senior captain – 475 dalers, master- 152 dalers, ordinary seaman- 57 dalers and ships’s boy-38 dalers)
  • The majority of the skeletons in the Vasa are identified as men, as would be expected, but there are also two women and a few, whose sex cannot be determined.

The historic collections contain many things that were found in the ship; from tools to decorative pieces, as well as personal belongings from the crew.  Inside the museum you can watch the movie in alternating languages which explained about the building and the recovery of the VASA.

 

 

We spent more time in this museum than planned. Definitely a nice surprise that is worth a visit.

We hope that VASA will be preserved for many years, so more people could visit, wonder, and imagine what kind of life our ancestors had, compared to this technological era.

Enough to entertain those who immediately get bored when visiting a museum 😄

Hope we made you curious to visit the VASA Museum. If you are looking for other activities in the capital of Sweden, be inspired by OUR TOP 3 EXPERIENCES FROM STOCKHOLM.

 

 

 

OUR TOP 3 EXPERIENCES FROM STOCKHOLM

 

This already became a tradition, to celebrate my birthday in a new city. This year we decided to explore the beautiful capital of Sweden, Stockholm.

Worth it every second. Stockholm is the city to feel, to see, to explore and to enjoy each moment.

From our escape we noticed that Stockholm is clean and super organized city, the nature is amazing; thanks to the citizens – nice people who care and love it a lot. It is definitely a beauty.

We didn’t have time to get bored, coz Stockholm is known by its museums, architecture, islands, bridges, cafes, restaurants and souvenir shops which forms a magic frame.

Strolling through the historical heart of Stockholm

Luckily Stockholm is nice for strolls.

Walking through the streets of this beautiful city it was really engaging. This was the best way to enjoy the architecture, interacting with locals and feel the vibe of the city. We planned our walk in order to see the most famous sights as:

Stortorget

 

 Gamla Stan, which is the oldest and one of the most popular districts. Stockholm’s foundation begun here in the 13th century.

 

 

Alley of Marten Trotzig, the narrowest street in Stockholm. The alley has an interesting, historical charm and a funny legend.

It’s said that, when you pass through this street you need to touch both sides, think on a wish and it will come true.

I’ll keep you posted if this works 😀

 

 

 

 

The Great Church  officially named Church of St. Nicholas and informally called Stockholm Cathedral.  

A nice church with a sunning architecture.  Many royal marriages took place here.

 

 

 

The Iron Boy Statue known as “the little boy who looks at the moon”

It is Stockholm’s smallest statue, having only 15 cm high. It said that the sculpture brings good luck to anyone who caresses the boy’s head or offers a small gift to him. Both are done frequently as you can see in the photo. The head is completely polished from all loving hands and there are some coins given as a gift.

 

 

We also did the free walking tour in Stockholm, and it is a great way to learn about the city and its history. The tour guide was friendly and stories she told us plus the views made this experience great.

The waterfront area Strandvägen is one that I loved the most, as I am always happy close to the water. We also find the Parliament House close by.

 

 

 

 

 

After admiring the beauty architecture from the old city, we decided to follow the Monteliusvägen, a walking path lined with charming houses in one side and stunning view over the city on the other side. We could enjoy a magnificent view of Lake Mälaren, City Hall, and Riddarholmen.

It was lovely.

Stockholm gave me the best gift, by joining three of my pleasures: enjoying the history area, walking through the waterfront promenade and a stunning view of the city from the top.

Vasa Museum

This was a surprise. The Vasa is one of the few museums that literally took our breath away.

The minute, We entered the museum and saw the incredibly preserved 17th century ship, we was amazed. The ship is really gorgeous and we are very grateful that I could see such a unique art treasure as it is VASA.

We heard and learned about these epic ships in school or from books but till this moment I didn’t realized just how gigantic these wooden vessels were in reality.

The Vasa remains in amazing condition, giving us a peek into the past. It is unbelievable that after 333 years (1628-1961) under water the ship has been restored, and now we can see more than 95 percent of the original ship.

It says that Vasa is the most visited museum in Scandinavia, We are happy to be one of that over one million visitors a year.

The museum offers a very informative exhibition about the life on board. If you want to find more, check out the VASA MUSEUM- MOST VISITED MUSEUM IN SCANDINAVIA.

Stockholm Subway Art

 Just … wow.

It’s amazing how artists turn ordinary places into magnificent jewel.

Traveling by subway I felt like I have step into an exciting story full symbolism. Metro in Stockholm is not just a transport between two places. From about 100 subway stations over 90 are decorated with art works, paintings, sculptures, engravings, mosaics and installations … It’s marvelous.

About 150 talented artists have transformed the city’s subway into a world of colour and visual stimulation, now called ‘world’s longest art exhibit’. It stretches for 110km.

Hopping from stations to station, some of them impressed me a lot. Let enjoy the photos.

 

 T-CentralenThis blue mural shows the silhouettes of workers, vines and flowers that gave me a feeling of calm and wander. The artwork of this station reflects the beginning of the subway and the continuity of this art treasure.

 

 

 

 

Kungsträdgården This station painted in such bright colours helps to plant a smile in the mind of people waiting for the next train. The using of green symbolise the nature and life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Solna Centrum metro station is painted bright red with a lot of green trees and various animals. The paintings from this station raise two big social questions like deforestation and rural depopulation.

 

 

 

 

 

Universitetet station displays a world full of science and knowledge. This station promotes democracy and human rights.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tekniska högskolan this station features themes of tech and the four elements: earth, water, air and fire.

 

 

 

 

 

 

StadionThis station coloured in blue and with rainbows everywhere makes me happy. I liked a lot the big rainbow that stretches across the tunnel between platforms. It represents the Olympic Games rings.

 

 

 

 

There’s no better way to indulge our love for art than to visit the Stockholm Subway.

I think that the cave stations, which I enjoyed in Stockholm, are not found anywhere else in the world. This makes the Stockholm Metro unique and worth to visit.

If you ask me what I have done on my birthday.

This answer succinctly summarizes my birthday in Stockholm, where I ate plenty, sight saw endlessly and naturally fell in love with the capital of Sweden.

This city became a place in which I promised myself I will come back.

 

OUR TOP 3 EXPERIENCES FROM LUXEMBOURG

Well, that was a surprise!

My favorite new country of this year is most probably going to be LUXEMBOURG. I absolutely enjoyed the weekend I spent there!

Our trip in Luxembourg begins by strolling through the city in order to explore the places, history, culture and of course to interact with the people.

Luxemburg City has impressed us with its unique sights like Notre-Dame Cathedral, Grand Ducal Palace, Gëlle Fra Memorial, Adolphe Bridge, City Hall, Statue de la Grande Duchesse Charlotte, Chemin de la Corniche and its UNESCO world heritage site (Casements and Old City).

We started our adventure with a delicious lunch and aphrodisiac sweets at the Chocolate House by Nathalie Bonn. Here I have experienced the best chocolate spoon until now. The atmosphere was unique as we could admire the Grand Ducal palace while enjoying our amazing lunch.

As I am a view lover of the cities from the above, Chemin de la Corniche was a real highlight of my trip to Luxembourg which provided a brilliant view of the old part of the city. I was here twice, once during the day, to get clear views of the stunning architecture, and once at night, to see how the city is unveiled by the lights at night.

Experiencing this wonderful view, I can understand the reason why the Chemin de la Corniche is called “the most beautiful balcony of Europe”.

Beside the panoramic view from the balcony here is also located the symbol known as Birthplace of Luxemburg.

Mostly, all the architectural jewels and monuments of Luxemburg City got my attention.

Since my husband is a football fan, we couldn’t miss the chance to watch a football match of his favorite team, in a very nice sport-bar. The food was delicious and the atmosphere very friendly.

For something more dynamic we have experienced the nightlife in the city. The atmosphere was really joyful and safe. We had a great night out having fun in more bars and clubs around the Mousel brewery area in Clausen and nearby Grund.

If you plan to explore the city at night, you might take a nap of an hour at 5 pm in order to be fresh later.

Luxembourg City is a modern city with a lot of history. It is the city for all type of tourists, those who love theatres, architecture, museums and for those who want to experience the nightlife, delicious food and friendly spirit etc.

Vianden Castel

After a day of enjoying the beauty of Luxembourg City, the next day we decided to visit the historical Vianden Castel.

After about 30 minutes by car from Luxemburg City, at the last corner on our road trip, we had the “WOW” reaction, being really impressed by the castle’s architecture and authenticity. The strategic location gave us the chance to have a wonderful view of the castle and get fabulous photo shoots. It is magnificent.I had a nice feeling looking to the nature colored in the most beautiful autumn shades that surround the castle standing proudly on the hill above the Vianden town. This picturesque image brought me closer to the history of this architectural pearl of Luxemburg.

Oh, and the rain…

We couldn’t use the chairlift due to the meteo conditions but despite that, we had an excellent time in Vianden town, appreciating the colorful houses, nature, streets and breathing fresh air … all this bouquet gave us an unforgettable experience.

Vianden is a perfect place for a little break from a big city.

Vianden was just like in a fairy tale. No more words, just look at the photo that reflects better the wonder…

European Museum Schengen – half an hour to learn a bunch

Many of the people wouldn’t be aware of the existence of this historical place, at the borders of Luxembourg, France and Germany, considered as birthplace of Schengen countries.

The museum is small but full of interesting information about the concept of united Europe and the history leading to the Schengen Agreement from 1985.

The expositions are trilingual (German, English and French). Very interesting setup, multiple photos, artifacts, interactive information stations, all of this helps to bring the history closer to us.

In front of the museum, there is a beautiful pedestrian walkway. I had a great feeling seeing all the Schengen flags and metal plates on the ground with names of the countries on it.

As it was a sunny autumn day, we took advantage and had a relaxing picnic, followed by a discussion about how we can contribute to the improvement of the European Union. It was a great time with a view of the Moselle River.

This was an amazing day spent in the tiny town of Schengen that reflects a very nice image with the museum, Schengen flags, the monument of 3 steel pillars, picnic on the Moselle River and the information that we found about the significance of this place.

I still can’t get over how beautiful Luxembourg is. It is the first country that I have visited where so many cultures, mentalities and languages act in accordance and perfect balance.  I am grateful for having the opportunity to experience this harmonious diversity.