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The 13 Best Day Trips From Sofia, Bulgaria


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Blinnie Files



Bulgaria, a country rich in history, culture, and natural beauty, offers a plethora of options for day trips from its capital city, Sofia. Whether you’re a nature lover, history enthusiast, or adventure seeker, there’s something for everyone to explore and enjoy.


From magnificent monasteries to charming old towns, here are the 13 best day trips from Sofia that will take you on a journey through Bulgaria’s diverse landscapes and fascinating heritage.


Located at the foot of the Vitosha Mountain, Sofia serves as an excellent base for exploring the surrounding regions. With its convenient transportation links and variety of attractions, you can easily venture out on day trips to discover the hidden gems just a short distance away.


Each of the following day trips promises a unique and unforgettable experience, showcasing Bulgaria’s rich history, stunning landscapes, and traditional culture. So pack your bags, grab your camera, and get ready to embark on an adventure that will leave you with memories to last a lifetime.


As you explore these destinations, keep in mind that Bulgaria is not just about sightseeing. It’s about immersing yourself in the local culture, interacting with friendly locals, indulging in traditional cuisine, and creating lasting memories.


Before diving into the individual day trip options, it’s worth noting that transportation to these destinations is relatively easy and affordable. You can choose to rent a car, take a guided tour, or utilize public transportation such as buses or trains. Whichever mode of transport you choose, prepare for a day full of discoveries and unforgettable moments.


Now, let’s explore the 13 best day trips from Sofia, Bulgaria, and get ready to fall in love with the country’s charm, hospitality, and natural wonders.


Rila Monastery

If you’re interested in exploring Bulgaria’s religious and architectural heritage, a day trip to the Rila Monastery is a must. Located in the stunning Rila Mountains, about 120 kilometers south of Sofia, this UNESCO World Heritage site is one of the country’s most iconic landmarks.


The monastery was founded in the 10th century and is renowned for its remarkable frescoes, intricate wood-carved iconostasis, and stunning mountain backdrop. As you enter the monastery complex, you’ll be greeted by a sense of serenity and tranquility, with the impressive Hrelyo Tower standing tall in the center.


Inside the monastery, you can explore the various small chapels, the historical museum, and the main church, which houses a collection of religious artifacts and exquisite artwork. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the monastery’s monastery’s main church, which boasts breathtaking frescoes depicting scenes from the Bible.


After exploring the architectural wonders of the monastery, take some time to absorb the natural beauty of the surrounding area. The Rila Mountains offer hiking trails of varying difficulty levels, allowing you to immerse yourself in the pristine wilderness and enjoy panoramic views of the majestic peaks.


To make the most of your visit, consider joining a guided tour from Sofia. This way, you’ll gain insight into the history and significance of the monastery from a knowledgeable guide who can provide cultural context throughout the journey.


Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a photography lover, or simply seeking a peaceful retreat, the Rila Monastery is a destination that will leave a lasting impression. It’s a perfect combination of religious awe and natural beauty, all within a day trip’s reach from Sofia.



Just a short drive east of Sofia, Plovdiv awaits as a charming and vibrant destination that is sure to captivate visitors. As one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Europe, Plovdiv is steeped in history and boasts a unique blend of Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman, and Bulgarian architecture.


Wandering through the cobblestone streets of Plovdiv’s Old Town, you’ll be transported back in time. The well-preserved Roman Amphitheatre is a major highlight, offering a glimpse into the city’s ancient past. Take a stroll along the charming Kapana district, known for its lively atmosphere and artistic spirit, where you can find quaint cafes, shops, and galleries.


Not to be missed is the iconic Nebet Tepe, a hilltop fortress that provides panoramic views of the city and the surrounding landscape. From here, you can admire the blend of old and new architecture, with the modern part of the city seamlessly intertwined with the historic buildings.


If you’re an art lover, Plovdiv won’t disappoint. The city has been named the European Capital of Culture in 2019, and its art scene continues to thrive. Visit the renowned Plovdiv City Art Gallery or explore the numerous galleries and exhibitions that showcase the work of local artists.


Food enthusiasts will also be delighted by the culinary delights Plovdiv has to offer. Explore the vibrant Kapana district to discover a wide array of restaurants and cafes serving traditional Bulgarian cuisine as well as international flavors.


With its rich history, vibrant culture, and welcoming atmosphere, Plovdiv is a destination that should not be missed on your Bulgarian adventure. Whether you’re interested in history, art, or simply experiencing the charm of a bustling city, Plovdiv offers a day trip filled with discovery and delight.


Boyana Church

Located on the outskirts of Sofia, the Boyana Church is an architectural gem that showcases the country’s rich cultural heritage. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site, this medieval Bulgarian Orthodox church is renowned for its remarkable frescoes dating back to the 13th century.


The church consists of three parts, each representing a different historical period. The oldest section, known as the Eastern Church, dates back to the 10th century and features stunning Byzantine-style frescoes that tell stories from the life of Jesus Christ.


The second part of the church, added in the 13th century, is known for its exceptional frescoes painted by an anonymous artist. These frescoes depict scenes from the lives of saints and biblical figures, showcasing a high level of artistic skill and detail.


The final part of the Boyana Church was constructed in the 19th century and includes a small chapel dedicated to St. Nicholas. This addition blends seamlessly with the earlier sections, creating a harmonious architectural ensemble.


A visit to the Boyana Church is like stepping into a living art gallery, where you can admire the vibrant colors, intricate details, and powerful religious symbolism of the frescoes. The church’s interior provides a serene and contemplative atmosphere that allows visitors to appreciate the artistry and devotion that went into its creation.


To preserve the delicate frescoes, access to the interior is limited to a small group of visitors at a time. It is advisable to book tickets in advance to secure your spot, especially during peak tourist seasons.


Combining history, culture, and stunning artwork, a trip to the Boyana Church is a journey back in time. Immerse yourself in the spiritual ambiance and marvel at the craftsmanship of the frescoes, gaining a deeper appreciation for Bulgaria’s rich artistic and religious heritage.


Seven Rila Lakes

If you’re a nature enthusiast or an avid hiker, a day trip to the Seven Rila Lakes will be an adventure that you won’t forget. Situated in the Rila Mountains, about 120 kilometers south of Sofia, this natural wonder offers breathtaking views and a hiking experience like no other.


The Seven Rila Lakes are a group of glacial lakes nestled in the picturesque Rila National Park. Each lake has its own unique shape, size, and charm, ranging from the highest (The Tear) to the largest (The Twins) and the deepest (The Eye).


The hiking trails surrounding the lakes cater to different skill levels, making it accessible to both beginners and experienced hikers. The most popular route is the “Sedemte Ezera” (Seven Lakes) trail, which takes you on a scenic journey through diverse landscapes, including forests, alpine meadows, and rocky slopes.


As you hike, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views of the lakes, surrounded by the majestic peaks of the Rila Mountains. In the warmer months, the lakes shimmer with different shades of blue and green, perfectly reflecting the sky and surrounding scenery.


Depending on the time of year and your physical fitness, you can choose to hike between a few of the lakes or attempt the full loop, which takes approximately 4-5 hours to complete. Regardless of the distance you cover, you’ll be captivated by the natural beauty and tranquility of this pristine mountain setting.


For a more immersive experience, consider bringing a picnic and enjoying a meal amidst this remarkable natural landscape. Take a moment to soak in the peaceful ambiance and connect with the serenity of nature.


Before embarking on your journey, it’s essential to prepare for the hike by wearing appropriate footwear, bringing enough water and snacks, and checking the weather conditions. It’s also recommended to have a map or guidebook to ensure you stay on the designated trails.


Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just seeking a peaceful retreat in nature, the Seven Rila Lakes are a true gem of Bulgaria. Allow yourself to be mesmerized by the stunning beauty of these natural wonders and immerse yourself in the tranquility of the Rila Mountains.


Belogradchik Rocks

Prepare to be amazed by the unique and captivating natural formations of the Belogradchik Rocks. Situated in the northwestern part of Bulgaria, near the town of Belogradchik, these stunning rock formations have been sculpted by nature over millions of years.


The Belogradchik Rocks are a collection of towering sandstone and limestone cliffs, creating a surreal landscape that resembles a rocky fortress. The rocks come in various shapes and sizes, with some reaching heights of over 200 meters.


Exploring the area, you’ll be immersed in a world of natural wonders. The rocks are adorned with intriguing shapes and formations, resembling animals, human figures, and mythical creatures. Some of the most famous formations include the Madonna, the Horseman, and the Schoolgirl.


Visitors can explore the rocks on foot by taking one of the several hiking trails that wind through the area. For a more panoramic view, a guided tour around the rocks offers a unique perspective on their grandeur.


One of the highlights of a visit to the Belogradchik Rocks is the ancient fortress nestled within the rock formations. The Belogradchik Fortress, dating back to the Roman period, provides a fascinating glimpse into Bulgaria’s history and offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape.


While exploring the rocks and the fortress, be sure to also appreciate the natural beauty of the surrounding area. The Belogradchik region is known for its diverse flora and fauna, making it a haven for nature lovers and photographers.


Visiting the Belogradchik Rocks is like stepping into a fairytale world, where nature’s artistic creations are on full display. The combination of the powerful rock formations, the rich history, and the serene natural surroundings make it a truly unforgettable day trip from Sofia.


Whether you’re a geology enthusiast, a history buff, or simply looking to be astounded by nature’s wonders, the Belogradchik Rocks will leave you in awe of their breathtaking beauty.


Vitosha Mountain

Rising majestically on the outskirts of Sofia, Vitosha Mountain offers a breath of fresh air and a chance to connect with nature just a stone’s throw away from the city. This picturesque mountain is a popular destination for both locals and visitors alike, offering a range of activities throughout the year.


During the winter months, Vitosha Mountain transforms into a winter wonderland, becoming a favorite spot for skiing, snowboarding, and other snow-related activities. The mountain is home to several ski resorts, offering slopes of varying difficulty levels suitable for both beginners and experienced skiers.


If you’re not a fan of winter sports, don’t worry. Vitosha Mountain has plenty to offer year-round. In spring and summer, the mountain is a paradise for hikers and nature enthusiasts, with numerous trails that wind through lush forests and reveal breathtaking views.


One of the most popular hiking routes is the ascent to Cherni Vrah, the highest peak in Vitosha Mountain. From the summit, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic vistas of Sofia and the surrounding landscapes, making it a favorite spot for photographers.


For a more leisurely experience, you can take a cable car ride to the top of the mountain. The cable car offers stunning views on the way up and allows you to enjoy the scenery without the physical exertion of hiking.


Aside from outdoor activities, Vitosha Mountain is also home to the Golden Bridges, a unique rock formation that captivates visitors with its surreal appearance. These natural stone formations are an excellent spot for rock climbing and provide an opportunity for adventure seekers to test their skills.


Don’t forget to bring a picnic and enjoy a meal surrounded by the tranquility of nature. There are several designated areas with tables and benches where you can relax, unwind, and savor the beauty of Vitosha Mountain.


Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or simply a break from the city’s hustle and bustle, Vitosha Mountain has something for everyone. It’s a perfect day trip destination that allows you to rejuvenate your mind, body, and soul in the embrace of nature.


Veliko Tarnovo

Step back in time and immerse yourself in the rich history and medieval charm of Veliko Tarnovo, one of Bulgaria’s most enchanting cities. Located around 220 kilometers east of Sofia, Veliko Tarnovo is a must-visit day trip destination for history enthusiasts and architecture lovers.


Once the capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire, Veliko Tarnovo showcases its glorious past through its impressive fortress, magnificent churches, and picturesque old town. As you wander through the narrow cobblestone streets, you’ll be transported to a different era, where time seems to stand still.


The main highlight of Veliko Tarnovo is the Tsarevets Fortress, perched on a hill overlooking the city. This medieval stronghold not only offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscape but also houses a fascinating history museum that tells the story of the city’s past.


Exploring the old town, you’ll come across architectural gems such as the Church of Saints Peter and Paul, adorned with beautiful frescoes, and the Samovodska Charshia, a vibrant street lined with craft shops and traditional Bulgarian houses.


Another must-see attraction is the Sound and Light show, held at Tsarevets Fortress. This spectacular audiovisual experience takes visitors on a journey through time, reviving the history and legends of Veliko Tarnovo through sound, light, and projections.


For a taste of Bulgarian cuisine, indulge in local delicacies at one of the many traditional restaurants scattered throughout the city. Sample dishes such as banitsa (a savory pastry), tarator (a refreshing cold soup), and the beloved Shopska salad.


Whether you’re a history buff, an architecture admirer, or simply seeking to immerse yourself in the medieval atmosphere, Veliko Tarnovo offers a day trip filled with intrigue and nostalgia. Its rich cultural heritage and unique charm make it a destination that will capture your heart and imagination.



Nestled in the Sredna Gora Mountains, Koprivshtitsa is a small town that embodies the spirit of Bulgaria’s National Revival period. Known for its well-preserved architecture and colorful houses, this charming town offers a glimpse into Bulgaria’s cultural heritage.


Koprivshtitsa is steeped in history, and a stroll through its cobblestone streets feels like a journey back in time. The town played a significant role in Bulgaria’s struggle for independence, and many of its buildings and museums are dedicated to preserving this legacy.


As you explore Koprivshtitsa, you’ll be captivated by the traditional Bulgarian houses, adorned with vibrant facades and wooden balconies. These houses, often turned into museums and galleries, offer insights into the life and culture of the 19th-century Bulgarians.


One of the notable museums in Koprivshtitsa is the Oslekov House, which showcases a remarkable collection of ethnographic artifacts and provides a glimpse into the daily lives of the town’s residents during the National Revival period.


Another must-visit museum is the Museum of Todor Kableskov, a hero of the April Uprising against the Ottoman rule. Here, you’ll learn about the town’s role in the struggle for Bulgarian independence and the courage of its inhabitants.


In addition to its historical significance, Koprivshtitsa is also known for its lively folklore traditions. If you visit during the annual Koprivshtitsa Folklore Festival, you’ll be treated to a vibrant celebration of Bulgarian music, dance, and customs.


Don’t forget to savor the local cuisine while in Koprivshtitsa. Taste traditional dishes such as mekitsi (fried dough), kebapcheta (grilled meat skewers), and Koprivshtitsa’s famous pink lamb’s lettuce soup.


With its well-preserved architecture, rich history, and traditional atmosphere, Koprivshtitsa offers a unique and immersive day trip experience. It’s a place where you can truly feel the heartbeat of Bulgaria’s National Revival period and gain a deeper understanding of the country’s cultural heritage.


Bachkovo Monastery

Located about 30 kilometers south of Plovdiv, the Bachkovo Monastery is one of the oldest and most significant Eastern Orthodox monasteries in Bulgaria. Founded in the 11th century, this peaceful retreat is a prominent spiritual and cultural destination, known for its beautiful architecture and religious treasures.


As you approach the monastery, you’ll be greeted by its striking exterior, adorned with colorful frescoes and decorative elements. The main church, dating back to the 17th century, is a masterpiece of Byzantine and Bulgarian architectural styles, featuring intricate wood carvings and exquisite iconography.


Inside the monastery, you’ll find a wealth of religious artifacts, including a valuable collection of icons, manuscripts, and religious relics. Don’t miss the chance to visit the monastery’s main iconostasis, carved in wood and adorned with vibrant paintings.


One of the highlights of a visit to Bachkovo Monastery is the Holy Mother of God “Eleusa” icon, believed to possess miraculous powers. It is considered one of the most revered icons in Bulgaria and attracts pilgrims from far and wide.


Another significant feature of the monastery is the Assumption of the Virgin Mary Church, located just a short walk away. This smaller church, built in the 13th century, is known for its breathtaking frescoes that depict scenes from the life of Jesus Christ.


Surrounded by picturesque nature, the Bachkovo Monastery is an ideal place to find tranquility and reflect on spiritual matters. The gardens and courtyards offer serene spaces for quiet contemplation, and you can even attend a prayer service to experience the monastery’s spiritual atmosphere.


After exploring the monastery, take a leisurely stroll through the nearby village of Bachkovo, which offers a glimpse into Bulgarian rural life. You can sample local culinary delights or shop for traditional handicrafts made by local artisans.


A day trip to the Bachkovo Monastery is a journey of spiritual enrichment and cultural discovery. It’s an opportunity to witness the centuries-old traditions of Eastern Orthodox Christianity and appreciate the artistic and architectural treasures that lie within this sacred place.


Sofia Ring Mall & IKEA

If you’re in the mood for some shopping or simply want to indulge in a bit of retail therapy, a visit to the Sofia Ring Mall and IKEA is a perfect day trip option. Located on the outskirts of Sofia, these two destinations offer a wide range of shopping and dining experiences.


Sofia Ring Mall is one of the largest shopping centers in Bulgaria, boasting over 200 stores, including international brands, fashion retailers, electronics shops, and a variety of restaurants and cafes. Whether you’re looking for the latest fashion trends, household essentials, or entertainment options, you’re sure to find it here.


Explore the mall’s spacious and modern interiors, where you can browse through a diverse selection of shops. From fashion and accessories to home decor and electronics, Sofia Ring Mall has options for everyone’s taste and budget.


If you’re in need of a break, you can recharge at one of the mall’s numerous restaurants or grab a coffee at a cozy café. There are also entertainment options like a cinema and a bowling alley, ensuring there’s never a dull moment during your visit.


Adjacent to the Sofia Ring Mall, you’ll find the popular IKEA store, known for its stylish furniture and affordable home decor items. Embark on a shopping spree through the sprawling aisles and showcase rooms, where you can find everything from kitchenware and textiles to furniture and storage solutions.


IKEA also features a restaurant that serves Swedish-inspired dishes, providing a perfect opportunity to refuel before continuing your shopping adventure. Don’t forget to indulge in the famous Swedish meatballs!


Conveniently located near the mall and IKEA is the Sofia Business Park, which houses office buildings and a variety of amenities. This complex offers a mix of shopping, dining, and recreational options, making it a versatile destination for a day trip.


Whether you’re a shopping enthusiast, an interior design lover, or simply looking to indulge in some retail therapy, a visit to the Sofia Ring Mall and IKEA provides a fulfilling day trip experience. Enjoy the variety of options available and take advantage of the convenience and modern amenities provided by these two shopping destinations.


Pamporovo Ski Resort

Nestled in the Rhodope Mountains, Pamporovo Ski Resort is a paradise for winter sports enthusiasts and a perfect destination for a day trip from Sofia. Known for its gentle slopes and sunny weather, this family-friendly resort offers a great skiing and snowboarding experience for all levels.


With its well-groomed slopes and modern infrastructure, Pamporovo attracts visitors from near and far. Beginners can take advantage of the resort’s ski and snowboard schools, where experienced instructors provide lessons to help you gain confidence and improve your skills.


For more experienced skiers and snowboarders, Pamporovo offers a variety of challenging trails, including black runs, steep slopes, and a snow park with jumps and rails.


Pamporovo’s excellent snow conditions combined with its mild climate make it an ideal destination for winter sports. The resort typically receives abundant snowfall from December to April, ensuring a long winter sports season.


Aside from skiing and snowboarding, there are plenty of other activities to enjoy at Pamporovo. You can try your hand at snowshoeing, tobogganing, or even join a snowmobile tour to explore the beautiful surrounding area.


Pamporovo Ski Resort caters to the needs of both families and solo travelers, with a range of accommodations, restaurants, and entertainment options available. After a day on the slopes, you can relax and unwind at one of the resort’s cozy bars or restaurants, or even indulge in a soothing spa treatment.


For those who prefer a more peaceful and scenic experience, Pamporovo offers breathtaking views of the Rhodope Mountains. Take a moment to soak in the natural beauty of the surrounding landscape, dotted with pine forests and sparkling snow.


Getting to Pamporovo from Sofia is relatively easy, with various transportation options available, including organized shuttles and private transfers. The journey takes around three and a half hours, making it a feasible day trip option.


Whether you’re a seasoned skier or just starting out, Pamporovo Ski Resort is a destination that guarantees fun and excitement on the slopes. Immerse yourself in the winter wonderland and create lasting memories in this beautiful Bulgarian mountain resort.


Devetashka Cave

For a unique and awe-inspiring adventure, a day trip to Devetashka Cave is a must. Located in the village of Devetaki, about 180 kilometers northeast of Sofia, this remarkable cave is an underground wonderland waiting to be explored.


Devetashka Cave is renowned for its vast and impressive size, with its main chamber stretching over 2,400 square meters. As you enter the cave, you’ll be greeted by a breathtaking sight – massive limestone formations, stalactites, and stalagmites that have been shaped by nature over millions of years.


One of the highlights of Devetashka Cave is the natural opening in the ceiling, aptly named the “Windows of God.” This opening allows sunlight to pour in, creating a mystical ambiance and illuminating the cave’s unique features.


Aside from its natural beauty, Devetashka Cave also holds historical and cultural significance. It has been a site of human activity for thousands of years, with evidence of ancient settlements and even prehistoric cave paintings.


Over the years, the cave has been utilized for various purposes, including as a shelter, a military storage site, and a filming location for movies due to its impressive acoustics and dramatic surroundings.


To make the most of your visit, it’s recommended to join a guided tour. Experienced guides will lead you through the cave, sharing fascinating insights into its geological formations, history, and the flora and fauna that call it home.


Devetashka Cave is also located near the stunning Osam River, providing an opportunity to enjoy the scenic beauty of the surrounding nature. Take a leisurely walk along the riverbank or have a picnic amidst the peaceful atmosphere.


Remember to wear comfortable shoes and bring a jacket, as the temperature inside the cave can be cooler than the outside climate. Additionally, photography enthusiasts will want to bring their cameras to capture the mesmerizing beauty of the cave.


A visit to Devetashka Cave is an unforgettable experience that combines natural wonders and cultural heritage. Marvel at the intricate rock formations, feel the mystical atmosphere, and discover the hidden secrets of this captivating underground world.


Iskar Gorge

Prepare to be amazed by the breathtaking beauty of the Iskar Gorge, a natural wonder located just a short drive from Sofia. Carved by the Iskar River, this stunning gorge stretches for over 60 kilometers and offers dramatic cliffs, lush vegetation, and picturesque landscapes.


As you venture into the Iskar Gorge, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of towering cliffs and rugged terrain. The sheer scale and grandeur of the gorge will leave you in awe of nature’s power and beauty.


One of the best ways to experience the Iskar Gorge is by taking a scenic train ride along the Iskar River. Sit back, relax, and soak in the breathtaking vistas as the train winds its way through the gorge, passing by charming villages and picturesque countryside.


For those who enjoy outdoor activities, the Iskar Gorge offers opportunities for hiking, rock climbing, and even zip-lining. Explore the numerous trails that lead to hidden waterfalls and viewpoints, allowing you to immerse yourself in the untouched wilderness.


In addition to its natural beauty, the Iskar Gorge is also home to cultural and historical landmarks. Visit the medieval fortress of Tsari Mali Grad, perched on a hilltop overlooking the gorge, and explore its ancient ruins while enjoying panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.


Another highlight of the Iskar Gorge is the impressive Lakatnik Rock, a towering rock formation that attracts rock climbers from around the world. Admire the daring climbers scaling the sheer cliffs or challenge yourself to try this exhilarating sport.


As you explore the Iskar Gorge, you’ll also have the chance to encounter the rich biodiversity of the region. Keep an eye out for rare bird species, colorful wildflowers, and even glimpses of wild animals that call this area home.


Whether you’re seeking adventure, tranquility, or simply a break from the city, the Iskar Gorge has something to offer. Its magnificent landscapes, intriguing history, and outdoor activities make it a perfect day trip destination for nature enthusiasts and explorers.


Remember to bring your camera to capture the stunning vistas, and pack a picnic to enjoy a meal surrounded by the beauty of the Iskar Gorge. Immerse yourself in the tranquility of this natural paradise and create memories that will last a lifetime.