The 'Sofia' sign at the National Palace of Culture, marking a cultural landmark.

Sofia in 2 Days Itinerary: The Top 15 + 1 Must-Visit Spots

What do you think about an amazing weekend in Sofia, Bulgaria? Explore Sofia in 2 days and discover all the hot spots in this vibrant Balkan city!

Sofia is among the oldest cities in Europe with a history of almost 7000 years.

Despite this, it has been known by its current name only since the 14th century.

It is a city with a rich history, having been occupied by the Romans, Byzantines, Ottomans, and Russians over the centuries.

The main attractions in Sofia are its impressive orthodox churches.

A father and child playing in front of a striking, traditional Orthodox church in Sofia.

However, there are also many other newer monuments or hot spots worth visiting.

Moreover, in recent years, the city’s historic center has adopted European rhythms, so you’ll also find many nice cafes, restaurants, and bars depending on your mood.


How Many Days Are Enough to Visit Sofia?

A striking red building in the center of Sofia, Bulgaria, capturing passengers attention.

The scenario of exploring Sofia in 2 days is entirely realistic.

The city’s historic center is relatively small, so you won’t need more days to wander around it.

It depends, of course, on how much time you want to spend in museums or other events.

If you decide to stay a third day, then you might consider a day trip to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed sites of Rila Monastery and Boyana Church.

This highly-rated tour is the one I’d recommend checking out.

Alternatively, contemplate adding a day trip to Vitosha Mountain to your itinerary.

It is the large mountain south of Sofia that can be seen from the city center.

A beautiful nature park with lots of greenery, lakes, trails, a cable car, and a ski center.

It is about an hour from Sofia by public transport or almost half an hour by car.


Is Sofia, Bulgaria, Worth Visiting?

Graffiti of a woman in a yellow dress holding a baseball helmet, painted on a building wall.

Personally, yes, without any hesitation.

Just don’t have very high expectations.

Sofia is a small capital in the process of development that is still seeking to find its European identity.

In recent years, its appearance has changed, and its historic center has been reformed with nice pedestrian streets, shops, cafes, and restaurants.

Seeing Sofia in 2 days is the best choice, as it is neither Rome nor Prague.

However, it is a city with some very interesting attractions and plenty of affordable options for accommodation and food.

Also, you’ll usually find cheap flight tickets, so why are we even discussing this?


Where to Stay for 2 Days in Sofia?

Panoramic view of the 5-star Intercontinental Hotel in Sofia, a top accommodation choice for a 2 days stay.

Definitely stay in the historic center or at least within walking distance of it to be able to approach it on foot.

If you want comfort and luxury, you will choose the Grand Hotel Sofia, a 5-star hotel in the heart of the city next to all the top attractions.

Large rooms with all the amenities, wonderful views, a unique collection of more than 400 oil paintings, a gourmet restaurant, a gym, and a spa.

The selection of the Intercontinental Sofia, an IHG Hotel, is also logical, given its excellent location in the city center.

If you are looking for a more affordable option, you will find it at Design Hotel 36, also in the heart of the city and with a distinctive design as its name suggests.

Add to your options the Sofia Place Hotel by HMG, a cozy hotel in a neoclassical building in the absolute center, next to the main pedestrian street of Vitosha.

Of course, the cheapest accommodation option is a hostel with rooms for 4 or 6 people and a shared bathroom.

The Bla Bla Hostel is a decent choice in this category.


How Do You Get to Sofia?

People walking at the international airport in Sofia, Bulgaria.

You will most likely arrive in Sofia by air, so the question is how to get from Sofia International Airport to the city center.

The cheapest options are, of course, the metro and the bus.

The metro station is located right outside the airport building (terminal 2).

Line 4 is the one that reaches the airport, and in about 30 minutes, you will be in the city center.

The entrance of the metro station at Sofia airport, illuminated at night.

As another option, you can use buses 84 and 184 (terminal 1), but it will take a little longer to get there.

If you want to avoid the hassle of public transport, you can use a pre-booked taxi and be in the heart of Sofia in less than 20 minutes. Welcome Pickups is the service I use in these cases.

An important tip: if you use public transport, you will need to have Bulgarian levs with you.

Bulgaria does not yet use the euro yet, although it is an EU member.

The metro ticket machines do not accept euros or cards.

So, you will need to exchange some money at Sofia airport.

There is a currency exchange, although the exchange rate at the airport is not the best.

It is more advantageous to exchange a small amount of money at the airport and the rest in the city center.

At the Nikar exchange offices in the center of Sofia, you will find good exchange rates.

Alternatively, you can use a Revolut card to withdraw money from an ATM without incurring fees for withdrawals up to 200 euros per month.


Sofia in 2 Days: Day 1

The recommended route for your first day


1. National Palace of Culture Park (NDK)

Panoramic view of the National Palace of Culture in Sofia, Bulgaria, the best place to start your 2 days itinerary.

Why: A landmark of Sofia and a meeting point for tourists and locals.

The NDK (National Palace of Culture) is a massive, imposing building that hosts cultural events and conferences.

It opened in 1981 to commemorate the 1300th anniversary of the founding of Bulgaria.

With its socialist aesthetic, it impresses with its size: 123,000 square meters, 8 floors, and 3 basements.

It usually hosts exhibitions, concerts, performances, and conferences, though I personally found it closed when I visited.

A large park with gardens, fountains, and outdoor cafes stretches in front of it, depending on the season.

You’ll also find many street vendors from whom you can buy chestnuts or corn.

It’s a nice spot to start your exploration of Sofia since it’s located next to Vitosha Boulevard, the city’s main commercial pedestrian street.

Map


2. Vitosha Boulevard

Crowds walking along the famous Vitosha Blvd in central Sofia, a highlight for any 2 days itinerary.

Why: The heart of Sofia’s tourist center beats here.

Vitosha Blvd is named after the neighboring Vitosha Mountain, which looms impressively over the city’s suburbs.

It’s the city’s most commercial pedestrian street, full of shops, restaurants, and cafes.

Clothing and cosmetics stores next to cafes and pastry shops line both sides of the street.

You’re in a high tourist zone, so prices are higher compared to other neighborhoods.

However, a stroll down Vitosha Blvd is not only a must but also a pleasure.

The 'Rose of Bulgaria' store front on Vitosha Blvd, decorated with flowers and pink-lettered stickers.

If you love cosmetics, note that the rose is Sofia’s signature.

Don’t be surprised to see it featured in many shop windows.

Map


3. Cathedral of Saint Nedelya

Distant view of Cathedral of Saint Nedelya, a majestic sight of your 2 days itinerary in Sofia.

Why: The Cathedral of Saint Nedelya is one of the largest and oldest orthodox churches in Sofia.

You’ll find it by heading uphill at the end of Vitosha Blvd.

Sofia is filled with orthodox churches, many of which are truly historical monuments.

The Cathedral of Saint Nedelya is definitely one of them, with a history dating back to the 10th century.

It has been the cathedral church of Sofia since the 18th century but has been rebuilt and renovated several times after suffering damage.

If you haven’t visited another Orthodox church before, it’s definitely worth a visit.

Map


4. Saint George Rotunda Church

The exterior of the Rotunda church, a key monument in Sofia's heart, ideal for a 2 days itinerary.

Why: A historic 4th-century church and perhaps the oldest best-preserved building in Sofia.

Close to the Cathedral of Saint Nedelya, this is a real monument of cultural heritage.

Lost amidst tall buildings, the Rotunda Church of Saint George is a small orthodox church with a cylindrical shape.

You can enter and admire the frescoes and its beautiful dome.

The magnificent dome of the Rotunda of St. George church.

During the Ottoman occupation, the church was converted into a mosque.

Around it, you can find ruins of the ancient Roman road that crossed Serdica, as the city was known then.

Map


5. Ulitsa Graf Ignatiev

A tram navigating through the streets of Sofia's city center.

Why: Ulitsa Graf Ignatiev is another commercial pedestrian street in the center of Sofia, crossed by trams.

Here too, you’ll find many shops, bakeries, and cafes.

The uniqueness of ulitsa Graf Ignatiev, compared to Vitosha pedestrian street, is that it’s crossed by the city’s old trams, an attraction in themselves.

It’s a beautiful walk that hides nice shops and alleyways around it, so don’t hesitate to zigzag through them.

Passengers boarding a vintage green tram in the center of Sofia.

At the intersection of ul. Graf Ignatiev and ul. Knyaz Alexandar I, you’ll find a very small shop called Sofiyska Banitsa.

Banitsa is the Bulgarian version of cheese pie with a unique, thin, buttery pastry.

It’s worth trying, and here you’ll eat it in its best version.

Walking down ul. Graf Ignatiev, on your left hand, you’ll also encounter the Orthodox temple of The Seven Saints, another beautiful Orthodox church from 1900.

If you want to stop for coffee, right across from it is Lime Café & Cocktails.

A very nice café-bar with lovely interior decoration.

You can return here in the evening too.

Turning left from ul. Graf Ignatiev onto ul. Tsar Shisman (right at the temple of the Seven Saints) will lead you to another beautiful street in the historical center.

Here, too, there are shops with souvenirs, books, clothes, and home goods, as well as cafes.

Map


6. Monument to the Tsar Liberator

The Tsar Liberator monument in the center of Sofia, Bulgaria.

Why: The imposing statue of Tsar Alexander II is another landmark of Sofia.

Tsar Alexander II is considered the liberator of the city from the Ottomans, as he led the Russo-Turkish War in 1878.

His statue on horseback is located in the absolute center of the city, opposite the Bulgarian parliament.

You’ll encounter it on the walk I recommend along ul. Tsar Shisman.

Very close to the Monument to the Tsar Liberator, you will also find the city’s most significant attraction (read below).

Map


7. Patriarchal Cathedral of St. Alexander Nevsky

Panoramic interior view of Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Why: The most famous church in Sofia and one of the largest orthodox cathedrals in the world.

The best spot in your Sofia in 2 days itinerary.

Incredibly impressive both externally and internally.

It covers an area of over 3,000 square meters and can accommodate more than 10,000 people.

Although not very old (construction began in 1878 and was completed in 1912), its architecture is truly striking, reminiscent of the imposing orthodox churches in Moscow and Saint Petersburg.

It was built in honor of Russia, which contributed to the liberation of Bulgaria from the Ottomans.

Inside Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia, showcasing the impressive wall frescoes.

Inside, you’ll be amazed by the frescoes, some of which resemble colossal Renaissance paintings.

A large park/square unfolds in front of the church, worth walking through.

Map


8. The Basilica of Saint Sofia

Outside view of the Saint Sofia Basilica, an iconic church.

Why: The Basilica of Saint Sofia is another historic church in the Basilica style with a hidden secret.

The history of Saint Sofia Basilica dates back to the depths of time, with the first references around the 4th century.

However, it took its current form between the 12th and 14th centuries, subsequently giving its name to the city, which was formerly known as Serdica.

Beautiful on the outside, it appears quite conventional inside, but it makes a difference with what it hides in its crypts.

The crypt beneath Sofia Basilica church, revealing ancient catacombs and historic layers.

It’s worth descending the side stairs and heading into the crypt for a small fee.

In the foundations of The Basilica of Saint Sofia lie the ruins of an ancient necropolis.

Wander through ancient and Roman tombs, some of which have impressively well-preserved mosaics.

It’s a sight worth seeing, when you visit Sofia in 2 days.

Don’t miss it!

Map


9. Mamma Mia

A delectable pasta dish from Mamma Mia Italian restaurant, garnished with dill, chili flakes, and grated cheese.

Why: After so many attractions and a lot of walking, it’s time for a hearty meal.

There are plenty of food options in Sofia.

To be honest, though, Bulgarian cuisine might not be something extraordinary.

So, personally, I suggest staying away from the touristy “traditional” restaurants and trying more international cuisines.

I personally chose a nice Italian trattoria.

At Mamma Mia, you’ll enjoy delicious pizza, tempting pasta, tasty starters and salads, as well as house wine at very reasonable prices.

On the other hand, if you’re vegetarian, a great choice is the Vegetarian restaurant and bakery “Sun Moon”, which besides great food, offers fantastic desserts.

Map Mamma Mia and Sun Moon


Sofia in 2 Days: Day 2

The recommended route for your second day


10. Borisova Gradina Park

Visitors strolling through Borisova Gradina Park in central Sofia, a highlight for any 2 days itinerary.

Why: Is there a better way to start the second of your 2 days in Sofia itinerary than with a walk in a fantastic park?

Borisova Gradina Park is a huge park in the heart of Sofia.

Trees, paths, lakes, cafes, playgrounds, monuments, everything fits into this wonderful park.

Depending on the season, the park changes its appearance, with spring and summer being the nicest times to enjoy it.

Even in winter, when I visited, there was an ice rink!

It’s also impressive that walking in the park, the city’s sounds fade away, and you feel like you’re in a forest.

Map


11. Rainbow Factory

People enjoying their coffee at the 'Rainbow Factory' café-restaurant.

Why: Back to the city for a filling brunch at a small but wonderful cafe.

After the walk in Borisova Park, you’ll need brunch.

And Rainbow Factory is the best place to enjoy it, provided you can find a free table.

Sandwiches, salads, various egg dishes, cakes, and other sweets are just some of the items on the menu.

The coffee is also very good.

It’s no coincidence that travel guides recommend and sometimes award it.

Map


12. Regional History Museum of Sofia

The stunning facade of the Regional Museum of History in Sofia, Bulgaria, showcasing architectural beauty.

Why: Time to add a museum to your itinerary.

Sofia is not particularly famous for its museums, but the History Museum seems like a good choice.

It’s an impressive building, once the city’s public baths.

Today it includes exhibits from the Neolithic age to carriages, local costumes, musical instruments, and memorabilia from the communist period.

The exhibition is not huge, but the ticket is affordable.

Even if you decide not to enter, take a walk outside to enjoy its architecture.

It’s worth it.

Map


13. National Art Gallery – The Palace

Visitors appreciating the art in the National Gallery's collection.

Why: The National Art Gallery is an equally imposing and beautiful building in the center of Sofia.

A visit to the National Art Gallery of Bulgaria could definitely fit into your 2 days itinerary in Sofia.

Nevertheless, the most impressive aspect here might be the building itself, as seen from the outside.

The exhibition is not particularly large for a National Gallery and focuses on specific pieces of Bulgarian history.

However, there are also very nice artworks in its collection, as well as interesting temporary exhibitions.

Don’t expect to see the National Gallery of London or even the equivalent in Athens.

Also, realistically, you won’t have enough time for both the Gallery and the History Museum (or another museum), so it might be better to make a choice.

Map


14. National Theater “Ivan Vazov”

The stunning facade of the National Theater in Sofia, adorned with Ionic columns and a frieze.

Why: Next to the National Art Gallery, you can find the Ivan Vazov National Theatre, another architectural jewel in the heart of Sofia

It’s a wonderful neoclassical building with columns on its facade.

Even if you don’t speak Bulgarian and are unable to understand a performance, it is still worth visiting just to see the exterior.

In front of it is a lovely small park that comes alive in the summer.

Map


15. Women’s Market

Shoppers walking at the traditional Women's Market in Sofia.

Why: Local traditional products, fruits, and vegetables in the unique Bulgarian flea market in the city center.

It’s worth a visit, though it’s not something extraordinary.

With wooden kiosks lined up next to each other and street vendors selling their goods, this market has its own local color.

You’ll find everything from traditional cooking utensils to souvenirs and fresh fruits and vegetables.

It’s not large in size and doesn’t compare to similar flea markets in other European capitals.

But if I were you, I would give it a chance.

Map


16. Sofia Opera & Ballet House

The entrance to Sofia Opera and Ballet House, featuring Greek Ionic-style columns and banners in Bulgarian.

Why: An architecturally impressive neoclassical building dating back to 1908.

In the heart of Sofia, alongside other very significant attractions such as the Tsar Samuil Monument and the Saint Sofia Basilica, stands the Sofia Opera and Ballet House.

Its main entrance fascinates with its facade, but the interior decor is equally impressive.

If you love opera or ballet, a visit to the Sofia Opera and Ballet House to see a performance might prove to be a unique experience.

Consider it.

It might be the perfect way to round off your Sofia in 2 days itinerary!

Map


Modifying Your Sofia Itinerary

The above ‘2 days in Sofia’ itinerary should be more than enough for you to enjoy a unique experience in Bulgaria’s capital.

If you are looking for more travel ideas, make sure to check out my step-by-step Athens itineraries as well as the ‘Around The World’ section.

Finally, let me know in the comments if you need help modifying the itinerary or if you have any questions. I’ll be glad to help!

Make Your Trip Easier

Accommodation
I always book my accommodation with a reliable service like Booking.com. Besides their price guarantee, you can rest assured that you will have 24/7 support in the event of any problems with your hotel. Always make sure you read reviews from other guests before booking.

Airport Transfer
If you want to get to and from the airport with peace of mind, I recommend pre-booking your taxi with Welcome Pickups. Their flat rate is a few euros more expensive than random taxis, but they are totally worth it. They use local English-speaking drivers, wait for you at the arranged meeting point, even if your arrival is delayed, and introduce you to the city along the way.

Flight
Don’t forget to use Skyscanner before booking your flights, as it compares different airlines to provide the cheapest and fastest solutions. Moreover, you can save a lot of money if you are flexible with your dates.

Travel Insurance
Nobody wants to think about all the things that could go wrong on a trip. However, these things can happen, so do not miss taking out travel insurance: SafetyWing is the one I use as its plans are affordable and can save you a lot of trouble.

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