With two days in Sofia, you have time to spread your wings a little. First, explore the historical and Communist sides of the city, and experience Bulgaria’s delicious food and wine scenes. Then journey farther afield, perhaps to the spectacular UNESCO World Heritage Site of Rila Monastery or the historic town of Plovdiv.
Day 1: City Center and Culinary Delights
Morning: Start the day orienting yourself in the compact city. A cultural walking tour takes you back to Roman times and beyond, all within a remarkably small area. Alternatively, a Communist-era tour, usually by private vehicle, reveals the city’s brutalist architecture and fascinating socialist art.
Afternoon: One of the great joys of Sofia its green spaces. Make a pilgrimage to Vitosha Mountain, which towers above the southern part of the city, and get out into nature as you hike its scenic trails. The must-see 10th-century Boyana Church, recognized by UNESCO for its stunning murals, is on the way.
Night: Bulgaria’s robust and hearty cuisine blends Turkish, western Mediterranean, and central European elements to great effect. Discover the nation’s great game, fresh produce, and vibrant baking traditions on a food tour—ideally one that takes in a mixture of contemporary and traditional eateries.
Day 2: Day Trip Back in Time
Morning: Head out of the city to explore the rich history beyond. UNESCO-listed Rila Monastery dates back to the 10th century, but its grand buildings are from the 19th century. Many tours couple it with a visit to the mountainous Rila Lakes or the pretty village of Melnik, with its unusual rock formations.
Afternoon: Alternatively, if you only only two days in Bulgaria as a whole, use your second day to discover the ancient town of Plovdiv, with Roman ruins including an amphitheater and glorious Bulgarian Revival houses. Wandering the cobbled streets and junk stores is the perfect restorative activity.
Night: Back in Sofia, it’s time to discover one of the great joys of Bulgaria: its delicious wines. The Thracians were making wine thousands of years ago, and varietals such as mavrud are unique to Bulgaria. Look for a tasting that allows you to shop for vintages to bring home.