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Overview

It's hard to believe this youthful Eastern European capital, at 7000 years old, is the continent's second oldest city, because Sofia just seems so young. Indeed, the city's motto is “Sofia grows but does not age.” Skateboarders show off in the city parks, art students shoot 16mm films in the streets, and style-conscious girls and guys, sporting the latest global fashions and hip hairstyles, kick back in Vitosha Boulevard's cafés by day and drink and dance in its clubs by night — all night, because Sofia's nights start late. "Old" Sofia is just as fascinating as its youthful side, with plenty of historic sights to see, including the 9th ...

It's hard to believe this youthful Eastern European capital, at 7000 years old, is the continent's second oldest city, because Sofia just seems so young. Indeed, the city's motto is “Sofia grows but does not age.” Skateboarders show off in the city parks, art students shoot 16mm films in the streets, and style-conscious girls and guys, sporting the latest global fashions and hip hairstyles, kick back in Vitosha Boulevard's cafés by day and drink and dance in its clubs by night — all night, because Sofia's nights start late. "Old" Sofia is just as fascinating as its youthful side, with plenty of historic sights to see, including the 9th century Serdica ruins, the 12th century Boyana church, a long list of imposing Soviet-era edifices and monuments, and Sofia's number one attraction, the grand Alexander Nevski Cathedral, one of the world's largest Russian Orthodox churches. In the area around the church, Sofia's older folk sell their intriguing "antiques" and bric-a-brac, folk art and handicrafts, Soviet and Nazi war memorabilia, and exquisite hand-painted icons. When it comes to eating, you can choose between hearty home-style Bulgarian cooking served up in traditional wooden dining rooms, such as Pri Yafata, to contemporary fusion in sleek minimalist surroundings. And it's that ability to choose between old and new that makes Sofia so engaging.

Lara Dunston
About the Expert

Lara Dunston and Terry Carter have traveled to over 60 countries and written more than 40 guidebooks for Lonely Planet, DK, Rough Guides, Footprint, and others on destinations in the Middle East, Europe, and South America.

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Lara Dunston for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Sofia is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Bulgaria, located in western Bulgaria, at the foot of the mountain massif Vitosha.
  • Language: Bulgarian, English
  • Currency: Lev
  • Research: Sofia | Wikitravel
  • Weather: Rainfall

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Summer and spring when the sun shines most