With a population around 1.4 million, Sofia is both the capital and largest city in Bulgaria. Having thrown off the shackles of Communism, it has woken up and is now a young, dynamic, fast-moving Eastern European metropolis, with a unique blend of East-meets-West-meets-ex-Soviet architecture, as well as many beautiful orthodox churches. Often unfairly overlooked in favor of destinations like Budapest or Prague, Sofia is truly something special and worth a visit. After all, how many other world capitals can lay claim to having a developed ski resort—Vitosha Mountain—within sight of their downtown?
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Things You Can't Miss
Gain an overview of this Balkan gem via a Free Sofia Tour, led by an English-speaking guide. Sights include yellow-brick streets, a market, churches.
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Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, named for a Russian prince, honors soldiers who died in the 19th-century Russo-Turkish War. The dome is gold-plated.
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Theaters line Georgi Rakovski Street, lively center of the city's nightlife. Jazz and locally popular pop/rap music called chalga spill out of clubs.
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A museum under 6th-century ST. Sofia Church contains ancient tombs. See remains of Roman amphitheater in the Areana di Serdica Hotel.
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Try old-style Bulgarian dishes at popular Pod Lipite ("Under the Linden Trees") Order dry flat sausage, an onion pasty or nettles mixed with cheese.
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