We had a overnight stopover in Sofia and decided to pop into town to check out the beautiful architecture of the centre by night. All of the main buildings and cathedrals are lit up and the centre has lovely large pavements and small parks, making for a very pleasant couple of hours stroll.
Taking the metro
Sofia airport is definitely very convenient in terms of being both close to the city and having great public transport options. As well as the usual line of taxis, there are buses and the metro into town. I always prefer to take the metro when in a new country – they’re generally more reliable, have information in English or some kind or easy to follow route map, and if you make a mistake it’s no problem to backtrack a few stops! The metro from Sofia Airport to Sofia University took about 25 minutes and only cost 1.60 leva (approx. £0.80) each.
Tsar Liberation Monument
It’s impossible to miss this impressive statue of the Tsar astride a magnificent horse. There is a small area around it where you could sit for a short rest, but being right on the main road I’d prefer to visit one of the many small parks dotted around!
Directly opposite the Tsar Liberation Monument, thus impressive building is the home of the Bulgarian parliament. This photo also gives a good example of the generously paved sidewalks in the centre of town – although it’s a little disconcerting where they start to merge into the similarly paved roads.
We came across several mini parks around the area, most consisting of some pretty trees, a bench or two and some kind of statue or sculpture. I love these skates in cities – they help to break up long walks and keep pedestrians slightly back from the main roads.
Alexandar Nevsky Cathedral
St. Sophia Basilica
Located right next door to Alexandar Nevsky Cathedral, this smaller basilica merges into the trees and could easily just be missed. Admittedly not nearly as impressive as its neighbour in terms of architectural glory, nonetheless it’s pretty in its own right.
Mysterious Excavation Site
This statue was interestingly coated next to a glass domed underground museum/ excavation site of some kind. Sadly we have no idea exactly what, but it looked like it was open to the public during the day so worth a quick look if you’re passing by.
Our short walking tour finishes at this beautiful Russian Orthodox Church. It certainly bought back memories from my visit to Russia last summer! I really love how just this short walk has revealed something about the diversity of Bulgaria, both in the present day and historically. If you’re keen (and not freezing to death like we were!) you can continue walking towards and around the Serdika metro station, where there are a couple more churches, a mosque and a synagogue, apparently also lit up in the evenings.
While our short overnight stopover only allowed a brief walk through the architectural sights of Sofia, it’s definitely sparked my interest in returning someday – particularly to visit some of the sights further out of the city centre and around the rest of the country. Apparently the ancient monasteries, beautiful scenery and hiking opportunities are major tourist attractions and I’d love to explore some more!