Sofia Things to Do Tips by hekate Top 5 Page for this destination
Sofia Things to Do: 533 reviews and 1,057 photos
National Gallery for Foreign Art
The National Gallery for Foreign Art is one of my favourite museums in Sofia.
I think that it is one of the worthiest things left from the old communist regime. What I like about this gallery is the diversity of the exhibitions. You can see almost everything form ancient to contemporary art from all over the world - Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin America. Most of the items in the gallery are donated.
When was a child I spend there many hours making scaches. My favourite hall was the Traditional Indian Art. There is another one for Christian Indian Art but I didn’t like it that much.
Here is a list of the other halls I liked:
- Buddhist Art
- Japanese Art – you can see many lithographies there, including the Wave.
- African Art
There is also a great collection of graphics and impressionist paintings.
Here is an extract from the web-site quoted below:
The National Gallery for Foreign Art was opened to the public on 5 November1985 as an Art Gallery to the first International Foundation in Bulgaria, called now “St. St. Cyril and Methodius”.
It’s establishment marks a decade of hard work on the organisation and the collection. To the art-works of this new Gallery were also added those from the Foreign Art Collection of the National Art Gallery, the generous donations of private collectors as well as the “1300 Years Bulgarian State Fund”.
The silhouette of the building was designed by the Austrian architect Shwanberger. It used to be the State Printing House. Partially destroyed during the Second World War, and restored with the project of the Bulgarian architect Nicola Nicolov.
The most valuable art-works are displayed on 4000 sq. m. exhibition area spreading over three floors and eighteen halls, and submerging the visitor into the artistic atmosphere of a variety of cultures, countries and ages.
11:00 - 18:00
Closed on Tuesday
If you truly admire art, one day probably will not be enough.
I will check up and upload the info later :)
Address: 1, Alexander Nevski Square, 19 February Street
Directions: If you are infront of the main entrance of the Alexander Nevski Cathedral, go left where the lace ladies sit, walk to the back of the Cathedral and you will see it.
Other Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone: +359 (2) 980 72 62
Not exactly a must see activity but it is an option if you have a time to kill :)
Sofia City Art Gallery (Sofiiska Gradska Hudojestvena Galeria) is showing works from its own fund and organising exhibitions of contemporary Bulgarian and international artists.
A little history :)
As of 1952 Sofia City Art Gallery is an independent institution. In 1973 the gallery was moved to its current building, which used to be the city casino and latter - an exhibition hall of the union of Bulgarian Artists, where the most important cultural events take place, especially in the 1960s of the last century.
about half on hour should be enough
Free of charge
Tuesday-Saturday: 10.00 h- 18.00 h
Sunday: 11.00 h - 17.00 h
Monday: day off
Address: 1, Gen. Gurko Str. (entrance from Batemberg Str.)
Other Contact: email@example.com
Phone: +359 (2) 987 21 81
Banya Bashi Dzhamiya (Banya Bashi Mosque)
It is a typical monument of Ottoman architecture which adds colour to the Sofia city centre which took its name from the neighbouring Tsentralnata Banya (Central Baths) – Banya Bashi means ‘a lot of baths’.
Once there were 70 mosques in Sofia but today the Banya Bashi Dzhamiya is the only one still functioning. It was designed in 1576, by the greatest of all Ottoman architects, Mimar Sinan, who also built the Sultan Selim Mosque in Edirne and the Blue Mosque in Istanbul.
The inside is decorated with fine calligraphy, citing texts from the Koran, as the portrayal of human figures is banned in Islamic art. What is notable for the mosque is the domed ceiling, which was restored to its original design, after the fall of Communism. There are loudspeakers installed on the minaret calling the Muslim minority to prayer five times a day.
Have in mind that the mosque is not officially open as a tourist attraction but visitors are welcome outside prayer times, including women, if modestly dressed.
Daily 05.00 - 20.00 h.
Free of charge.
As long as you like if it does not coinside with prayer times.
Address: Maria Louiza Boulevard at Triyaditsa Str.
Directions: Close to:
- TZUM department store
- Tsentralna Bania
Tsurkva Sveta Nedelya (St Nedelya Church)
Sveta Nedelya, with its huge dome, is a typical example of neo-Byzantine architecture.
There has been a church here since medieval times, although the present building dates from the mid-19th century.
In 1925, the church was almost destroyed when Communist rebels exploded a bomb during a funeral service, attended by Tsar Boris III and his cabinet ministers, killing 123 people.
You will find an icon shop inside. Prices are much better then in the Alexander Nevski Crypt Icon shop.
The church is a popular place for weddings.
Daily 07.00 - 18.00 h.
Free of charge
About half an hour
Address: Sveta Nedelya Square
Directions: When facing Sheration main entrance on the right hand side
Naroden Teatar Ivan Vazov
Ivan Vazov National Theatre ( Naroden Teatar Ivan Vazov) was built in 1906-07 (in either Neoclassical or Baroque style, depending on which publication you read). On the top of it you will see Greek mythological figures. The triangular white and gold frieze above the front stairs shows Apollo and the Muses, and twin towers on either side of the building depict the Goddess Nike in a chariot.
The interior was restored in 1929, after a fire had destroyed it six years earlier.
There are to scenes in the theatre, the main one and the other is on the top floor and you get there from the back entrance. There is a restaurant in the building but it is not open to the publuc.
The National Theatre Company performs Bulgarian, as well as international, plays.
The fountain area stretching out in front of the theatre is usually full of men playing chess if the weather is decent enough. The fountain and its reflecting pool were built in 1976, and have recently been restored to working order, but it only operates from spring to autumn.
Address: 5, Vasil Levski St.
Directions: Close to:
- the City Garden
- Grand Hotel Sofia
- Sofia City Art Gallery
- Alexander Batenberg Square
Phone: + 359 (2) 988 28 84
Sofiiska Nationalna Opera
Sofia National Opera, founded in 1890, is the oldest and most prestigious Bulgarian opera theatre.
There are many singers, conductors and directors who have contributed the the professional achievements of the Sofia National Opera. Some of the stars of world opera, such as Nicolai Ghiaurov, Ghena Dimitrova, Nicola Guselev, Anna Tomova-Sintova have made the first steps of their artistic careers on the Sofia stage.
If you are an opera fan you will like it here. As far as I remember the most expensive ticket was about 40 leva (EUR 20).
I did not take the picture but I have seen people taking pictures during the performances. I am not quite sure it is allowed but if you really want it you may try your luck.
Address: 30, Dondoukov blvd.
Directions: Close to:
- Alexander Nevski Cathedral
Other Contact: Fax: +359 (2) 987 79 98
Phone: +359 (2) 988 58 69
The museum shelters a huge collection of archaeological finds from all Bulgaria in four sections:
- Middle Ages, and
Housed in the 15th-century Buyuk Mosque (Big Mosque), the National Archaeological Museum is worth visiting just for the building itself.
The interior is airy and well lit and all exhibits are labelled in Bulgarian and English. Most of the pieces are of Thracian, Greek and Roman origin and there is a mosaic rescued from the floor of the St Sofia church.
The Vulchitrun Treasure – a 12.5kg (27lb) collection of 13 decorated and strangely shaped vessels of solid gold, probably used by a King-Priest during Thracian religious rituals – is upstairs in a guarded room of its own.
It is best for English tourists to visit with a Bulgarian speaker, as the guard knows a great deal about what is to be found here. This is helpful, as the captions in the museum are vague.
There are a few antiques and reproductions for sale in the museum foyer.
Some of the larger carved Roman marbles are displayed in the courtyard.
10.00 h - 18.00 h. everyday except Mondays.
Depends on you, might take 30 min or up to 4 hours.
5 leva for foreigners (about EUR 2.5)
Address: 2, Saborna str.
Directions: - right across the Presidency
- next to Bulgarian National Bank
Phone: +359 (2) 988 24 06
Boyana Church (Boyanskata tsarkva)
1 November - 31 March
From 9:00 to 17:30 h
Tickets are sold until 16.45 h
1 April- 31 October
From 9:30 to 18:00 h
Tickets are sold until 17.30 h
You can walk around the church yard as much as you like but you can stay inside of the church for about 10 min. After that the next group has to come in. I guess if there are not so many visitors they can let you stay longer.
Address: 1-3, Boyansko Ezero Str.
Directions: From the main square go up the street overpass the museum and you will see the church.
Other Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone: +359 (2) 959 09 39
Levski's Monument (Pametnika Levski)
In addition to the excellent tip written by mar1956tin about the Vassil Levski monument I would like to provide some short comments from my side.
The monument looks a bit like an obelisk and it was inaugurated on the place Vasil Levski was hanged by the Turks back in 1873. At that time the place was located in the outskirts of the city but now it is in the heart of the city center.
Every year on 19 of February many Sofia citizens go to Vassil Levski monument and lay wreaths and flowers to mark the 132nd the national hero's death. This year was the 132nd anniversary since Vassil Levski was hanged.
I remember that when I was kid it was more obligatory than spontaneously. Not that people would not do it but during the time of communism it was a tradition to note such events in a very pompous way. The students from all Sofia schools had to go there in certain order and to lay their flowers in front of the monument. The same was valid for all big institutions and companies in the capital.
Nowadays, only people who really honor Bulgarian history and traditions go there which in my view is much better because thus we avoid the hypocrisy that was typical for the past. May be the crowds gathering there on that day are not that impressive with their size but at least the people who go there on that day do it from their heart.
Address: Vasil Levski Blvd.
Directions: Right next to Serdika Hotel and Tequila Bar.
SofiaLand is the first amusement park in Bulgaria and one of the biggest in South-East Europe. It is relatively new, it was opened to the public on 21 September 2002.
My modest opinion is that the place is OK. You might go and see it if you have some time to kill but it is definitely not a unique experience that you just can not miss.
Besides the attractions listed below you will find there 2 cinema halls, bowling, pool tables, darts, a couple of shops, coffee shops and restaurants.
Just a hint, if you go t see a film there, do not be surprised that the hall is almost empty. It happens quite often. The tickets are cheep and the halls are good. It is just that the competition of the other cinemas is very strong.
It is also a favourite place for celebrating kids birthdays. They have staff for organisation of the parties.
There are two major areas:
- Extreme zone (for grown-ups)
--- Wild Mine Company (Indy’s train)
--- Star fire
--- Giant tower
--- Scooter pavilion
(both for kids and grown ups, some of the attractions are for kids only)
--- Jumping boats
--- Pippi’s merry-go-round
--- Villa Villekula
--- Wacky worm
--- Crazy house
--- Jumping Jumbo
--- Remote controlled boats
--- Baby car
--- Musical express
--- Sun & moon wheel
--- Sky cycle
--- Banana tower
Attractions working hours:
Monday to Friday:
11:00 – 19:00
Saturday and Sunday:
10:00 - 19:00
Whole day pass is BGN 15 (EUR 7.5).
There are options to pay only for certain attractions but you can check it on the spot.
Address: Nikola Vaptsarov Blvd.
Directions: Close to the Zoo and to Borisovata gradina.
Other Contact: E-mail: email@example.com
Phone: +359 (2) 962 11 11
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