1 Perfect One Day in Sofia Itinerary 2024 1
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1 Perfect One Day in Sofia Itinerary 2024

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Greetings, Internet Stranger! I’m Stella Jane, author of the travel guide Get Lost, and welcome to a one day in Sofia itinerary! Sofia, Bulgaria isn’t always the first city mentioned when people are discussing The Great Walking Cities of Europe. Yet I spent this one day in Sofia itinerary racking up a truly bold 30,000 steps on my step counter and loved every second of it. Now I want to teach you how to do the same thing.

Come with me for an amazing day of defunct Socialist art and Bulgarian commercials, a lion hunt in a park, and the finest snacks Bulgaria has to offer. We won’t even hear one person say that Plovdiv is better than Sofia. How is that for a good time?

Stella’s Top 3 Picks: One Day in Sofia Itinerary

#1 TOP PICK

1 Perfect One Day in Sofia Itinerary 2024 2

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
RILA MONASTERY DAY TRIP
✔️ Expert local guide
✔️Experience stunning architecture

#2 PICK

1 Perfect One Day in Sofia Itinerary 2024 3

PRIVATE WALKING TOUR
✔️ Five star reviews
✔️ Get off the beaten track

#3 PICK

1 Perfect One Day in Sofia Itinerary 2024 4

ALL OTHER SOFIA TOURS
✔️ Find your favorite!
✔️ Get the best deals

one day in sofia itinerary

Morning: Museum of the Art from the Socialist Period

Bulgaria, like many countries in Eastern Europe, was a Communist country following World War II. It is no longer Communist, but there are many traces of its socialist past. And one of the best places to examine these traces is the Museum of the Art from the Socialist Period.

That’s where we’ll start our one day in Sofia itinerary. Here you can see statues, paintings, and films from Communist Bulgaria and other Communist countries, even as far away from Bulgaria as China.

24 Hour Tip

I recommend booking a guided tour of Communist Sofia, which will teach you the most about this museum and this part of history.

Check rates and availability by going here.

PS. Some people wonder about the difference between communism and socialism! This seems like a very controversial topic that is beyond the scope of this blog! But based on all my research, from what I can tell, communism is meaner.

Also, neither system allows private ownership of the means of production. In any case, Bulgaria was run by the Communist Party for decades, so I feel safe in calling it a Communist country. And now that the controversy is out of the way, let’s move on to…

Three (Fun?) Facts About Socialist Art

one day in sofia itinerary
1) What is Socialist Propaganda Like?

When you arrive at the Museum of Socialist Art, you’ll be able to watch a video of Bulgarian Communist propaganda. It’s in Bulgarian with English subtitles, so no worries if, like yours truly, you are not fluent in the Bulgarian arts. I still managed to understand enough to find the video interesting.

My favorite part was a video of children performing some sort of dance and the narrator was droning about how these children were noble loyal Bulgarian patriots and this one little boy wouldn’t stop sticking his tongue out. Children: they are very bad at propaganda.

Obviously I could not take a photo of the video, so here’s a socialist sculpture of Bulgarian women dancing instead. Enjoy!

one day in sofia itinerary
2) What is Socialist Painting Like?

A lot of socialist painting seems to emphasize the community over the individual. So you get pieces like the one above where all the people look kind of generic and strong and are holding “useful” things like tools and weapons instead of books or pens. Some of the men also seemed to have strong, working-class facial hair.

If you just look at one or two paintings it’s pretty interesting, but seeing a whole bunch together just makes me think of the episode of Fraggle Rock in which Wembley uncorks a mean Genie who hypnotizes the Fraggles and makes them march and speak in unison.

And if you think about it, aren’t dictators ultimately the meanest genies of them all?

one day in sofia itinerary

Also, not all of the Socialist Art comes from Bulgaria. I was quite impressed with the large collect of art from Communist China. I don’t read Chinese, but I hope this poster above says, “Chairman Mao is sneaking up behind your children! Watch out!” People need to be warned about that sort of thing.

one day in sofia itinerary
3) What are Socialist Sculptures Like?

Well, some of the sculptures were giant, loving representations of important communist officials. You’ve got a whole bunch of Lenin of course, but there are Bulgarian politicians too, like Georgi Dimitrov, the first Bulgarian communist leader.

Dimitrov was not a popular guy with any of the Bulgarians that I spoke to during my one day in Sofia itinerary. In fact, I met quite a few Bulgarians who were angry about having communist memorials and statues around the city because of human rights violations committed by the communist government.

Some memorials, like Dimitrov’s mausoleum, were destroyed, but others were moved here to this museum. Hmm. This reminds me a little of debates about something happening in the US right now, but I can’t think of what.

one day in sofia itinerary

Afternoon: Sofia Food Tour

As far as I am concerned, a food tour is the best way to see any city. And given that I knew next to nothing about Bulgarian food, I suggest booking an afternoon walking tour.

You’ll get a yummy lunch, lots of knowledge about the city, a fun local guide, and tons of great photos. Just keep in mind that this will be a late lunch, so have a giant breakfast at your hotel and you should be good to go.

Check rates and availability of this great tour right here.

I can’t guarantee that you’ll eat exactly what I ate, but I’m sure you’ll have a super delicious time. And now that the preliminaries are out of the way, let’s go straight to:

Approximately Top 5: Sofia Food and Culture

one day in sofia itinerary
1) Sausage Time!

We’re in the Balkans, so I hope you like meat! These were some fresh and yummy skinless sausages with a slightly picante pepper sauce. The sausages reminded me of the skinless sausages called mici I had eaten in Bucharest, and the pepper sauce was similar to the ajvar I had tried in North Macedonia. In Bulgaria, this sauce is called lutenitsa.

Perhaps there are other important differences between lutenitsa and ayvar, but I didn’t want to ask my guide. He was very nice, but sometimes you can offend people in the Balkans by comparing their country to other, nearby countries so I didn’t want to risk it.

one day in sofia itinerary
2) Bulgarian Beignets

OK, I’m kidding but only because my family is from New Orleans and I think all fried dough is beignets. These, if my notes do not deceive me, are called mektsi and they are often served with jam. Mine were topped with a lovely, sweet-but-not-too-sweet jam.

On my one day in Sofia itinerary, we ate these in a hole in the wall filled with locals that I never would have been able to find on my own. This is the point of doing a food tour my friends! It saves both time and money.

one day in sofia itinerary
3) Church of Saint George

This tiny place is one of the coolest buildings in all the Balkans. This church is probably the oldest building in Sofia, as it dates back to the 4th century. Back then Sofia was called Serdica.

It was founded by the local Celts, not the Romans, but the Romans took it over as they pretty much did with everything. (Bet you thought Celts were just in Ireland, not Bulgaria. Well, don’t say this blog never taught you nothing!)

Constantine, the first Roman Emperor who became Christian, was a big fan of Serdica. In fact, he used to say that Serdica was his Rome.

Maybe if history had gone slightly differently, we’d all be using expressions like, “All roads lead to Serdica” or “When in Serdica, do as the Serdicans do”. You can see the Roman connection when you look at this building carefully because it is shaped like the Pantheon.

Yes, this was such an early church that the Romans didn’t really know what a church was supposed to look like, so they made it look like a pagan house of worship. I mean, they could have done worse

one day in sofia itinerary
4) Subway Ruins

Now when I say subway ruins in my hometown of NYC, I’m usually referring to the parts of our subway that are completely falling apart. But in Sofia, subway ruins mean actual ancient ruins that were excavated while the subway was being built. Of course you can’t just demolish them. So they try to preserve them and put them on display as much as they can.

My guide told me that they are always finding ruins every time they dig out a new subway station. Once again I am most impressed. In NYC all we find are the skeletal remains of a rat clutching a fossilized piece of pizza.

one day in sofia itinerary
5) Sveta Sofia Statue

Let’s get back to this question of taking down statues and replacing monuments by looking at this lovely lady clad in black here. She is a fairly recent statue who was put up to replace a giant statue of Vladimir Lenin, the former head of the Soviet Union.

After the fall of communism, statues of Lenin weren’t so popular anymore, especially in countries like Bulgaria that were tired of Russian influence. (You can still find statues of Lenin in Russia.)

Saint Sophia (Sveta Sofia in Bulgarian) is a symbol of the city, so she made a perfect choice to replace Lenin. I think they should have doubled down on Bulgarian symbols by having Saint Sophia riding a lion, but literally no one asked me.

one day in sofia itinerary
6) Meat Plate

If there’s one way I like to finish off a food tour, it’s with a giant plate of meat. This looks like an antipasti platter, but you’ll find no salami or prosciutto here. It’s all fine Bulgarian cured meat. I’m not an expert in cured meat, but I could tell that the viands were a bit more spicy than your typical salami.

All of this was washed down with a glass of Bulgarian house wine. You can choose red or white. One great thing about traveling in Eastern Europe and the Balkans is that you get to try super affordable local wines that are generally not available in the United States. So drink up! You’re supporting the local economy.

24 Hour Tip

That’s all the secrets I can share with you for this one day in Sofia itinerary. You’ll have to go ahead and book the tour for yourself if you want to experience all this yummy Bulgarian food for your ownsome!

Check rates and availability of this great tour right here.

Stella’s Top 3 Picks: One Day in Sofia Itinerary

#1 TOP PICK

1 Perfect One Day in Sofia Itinerary 2024 2

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
RILA MONASTERY DAY TRIP
✔️ Expert local guide
✔️Experience stunning architecture

#2 PICK

1 Perfect One Day in Sofia Itinerary 2024 3

PRIVATE WALKING TOUR
✔️ Five star reviews
✔️ Get off the beaten track

#3 PICK

1 Perfect One Day in Sofia Itinerary 2024 4

ALL OTHER SOFIA TOURS
✔️ Find your favorite!
✔️ Get the best deals

one day in sofia itinerary

Evening: Borisova Park

After spending the morning of our one day in Sofia itinerary getting serious in a museum, and our afternoon diving into Sofia’s culture, it’s time to frolic and gambol in a park!

If you’re here in the summertime, the sun will be out quite late so you’ll be able to enjoy the park for several hours. (I don’t recommend hanging out in any park at night unless there’s some sort of event going on like a concert or a cult initiation.)

And what better choice than Borisova Park, which is the most famous park in all Sofia. It’s named after a Bulgarian tsar, so you know it’s good. I don’t want to limit your exploring here too much, but I will point you in the right direction with…

Three Fun Facts: Borisova Park

one day in sofia itinerary
1) What About Dinner?

Why not bring a picnic dinner with you? You might not be hungry, but just because you had a food tour for your lunch is no reason that you can’t still have dinner. If you are staying at or near the Rosslyn Thracia, you’ll be very close to Meat: Gourmet Sandwiches and Burgers. Just pick up a sandwich after the food tour ends and VOILA! The perfect picnic dinner.

My sandwich was a tender pork with tons of spicy mustard piled on some seriously scrumptious housemade bread. I got fries with that and then laughed when they brought out a bottle of ketchup for me “because I am American”.

I wish I could say that I don’t like ketchup with my fries, but I’d just be lying. You can take the girl out of the USA, but you can’t take the USA out of the girl!

one day in sofia itinerary
2) What are some fun things to do in the park?

No one day in Sofia itinerary is complete without a lion hunt. I don’t mean a literal lion hunt. That would be evil and disturbing. But the lion is a symbol of Bulgaria, and Sofia is the capital of Bulgaria, so there are lion images all over the city!

Go on a scavenger hunt for lions in the park! I found this graffito of a lion in a diaper, who may or may not be a symbol of a local soccer team. (He might also be Oscar the Grouch’s communist cousin, Oscar the Red, and not a lion at all.)

After I found this lion, I ended up in a dead-end and crawled through a hole in a fence to get out, which may or may not have been illegal, so possibly I am now wanted for trespass in Bulgaria. Don’t be like me, Internet Stranger. Never crawl through a hole in a Bulgarian fence, as my grandmother used to say.

one day in sofia itinerary
3) WHAT ABOUT STATUES??? I NEED STATUES!!!

Didn’t get enough statues at the Museum of Socialist Art? Well, have I got a statue for you. This gentleman above is Vasil Levsky. He fought for Bulgarian independence back when Bulgaria was ruled by the Ottoman Empire.

He was not entirely successful because the Ottomans caught him and hanged him by the neck until he was dead. That’s what tends to happen when you fight for independence against an empire and they catch you.

But Bulgaria did get its independence just a few short years after his death, and his statue is all over Bulgaria, so perhaps we can say that he had the last laugh. And just look at those flowers! Very impressive for someone who died about 150 years ago.

Also his name “Levski” is actually a nickname that means “lion-like”, not his real last name. So I think this counts as yet another lion for our Bulgarian lion scavenger hunt!

one day in sofia itinerary

Where to Stay?

Sofia is a charming and very walkable city, so you’re going to want a location right in the center of town for your one day in Sofia itinerary. I strongly recommend the Rosslyn Thracia Hotel. The staff is super friendly, the room is comfy, there’s a yummy breakfast spread every morning, and it’s within walking distance of lots of cute coffee places and shops.

If you’d like a great deal on this hotel, just click here.

And if you’d rather explore tons of other excellent hotels in Sofia, click here! This search engine will help you find the perfect place to stay for your one day in Sofia itinerary. With hundreds of options to choose from, I’m sure you’ll find something for your schedule and budget.

one day in sofia itinerary

That’s a Perfect One Day in Sofia Itinerary!

What would you do on a one day in Sofia itinerary? Are you ready to start booking your hotel in Sofia right now? Are you a cured meat expert? And is that lion truly wearing a diaper? Please email me at stellajane@aroundtheworldin24hours.com and let me know!

Stella’s Top 3 Picks: One Day in Sofia Itinerary

#1 TOP PICK

1 Perfect One Day in Sofia Itinerary 2024 2

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
RILA MONASTERY DAY TRIP
✔️ Expert local guide
✔️Experience stunning architecture

#2 PICK

1 Perfect One Day in Sofia Itinerary 2024 3

PRIVATE WALKING TOUR
✔️ Five star reviews
✔️ Get off the beaten track

#3 PICK

1 Perfect One Day in Sofia Itinerary 2024 4

ALL OTHER SOFIA TOURS
✔️ Find your favorite!
✔️ Get the best deals

Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that while each article is about how to spend 24 hours in a place, that doesn’t mean you should ONLY try a one day in Sofia itinerary.

Experience 24 hours in Sofia Bulgaria. Explore the best Sofia Bulgaria tours. Head out on the best Rila Monastery in Bulgaria day trip. Find the best Sofia Bulgaria accommodations.

1 Perfect One Day in Sofia Itinerary 2024 11

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