Sofia is an exciting city with a lot to offer for travellers. From its vibrant scenery, colorful history and stunning architecture, to its wide range of restaurants, cafes and bars, it has something for everyone. But it’s not all about the usual tourist attractions – Sofia also has plenty of fun and unusual things to do. Whether you’re looking for something cultural, educational or just plain quirky, you’re sure to find something to keep you entertained in the Bulgarian capital. Here are some of the best fun and unusual things to do in Sofia.

Visit the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

The largest Orthodox cathedral in Bulgaria, the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, is a stunning sight to behold in Sofia’s city center. Built in honour of Russian Tsar Alexander II and opened in 1912, it is one of Sofia’s main attractions. The interior of the cathedral is just as impressive as its exterior, with frescoes, mosaics, icons and ornate chandeliers to admire. There are also several relics on show which were brought from Jerusalem and gifted to the Cathedral by Russian Tsar Alexander III.

Explore Communist Sites

Sofia is a city steeped in history, and there is no better way to get a glimpse into its past than by visiting communist sites. From the Monument to the Unknown Partisan, which commemorates Bulgaria’s fight against the Ottomans in 1877, to the Bulgarian National Bank and Central Mineral Baths, these sites offer a fascinating glimpse into Sofia’s communist past. Even the former headquarters of the Bulgarian Communist Party makes for an interesting visit.

Take a Tour of the city

No visit to Sofia would be complete without taking a tour of the city. From guided tours of the main sights to themed tours such as historic and military, there is something to suit every interest. One of the most popular tours is the `Hidden Gems of Sofia Tour’, which takes visitors off the beaten track and into some of the city’s lesser-known areas.

Sample the Local Cuisine

Food lovers will certainly not be disappointed in Sofia, as the city’s food scene is bursting with flavor. Delight your palate with traditional Bulgarian cuisine such as Shopska salad, banitsa and spicy lyutenitsa, or try something a little different such as gourmet burgers, sushi and scorched octopus. There are also many vegan and vegetarian options available, catering for everyone’s tastes.

Climb the Vitosha Mountains

For stunning mountain views and dramatic landscapes, take a hike up the Vitosha Mountains. Located just outside of Sofia, the pick of the trails is the Dragalevtsi Ecopath, a 5-mile loop through fragrant pine and oak forests. When you reach the summit, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views down over Sofia and the Vitosha Nature Park.

Visit the National Art Gallery

For those looking for a bit of culture, the National Art Gallery is the place to go. Located in the city center, the gallery houses an impressive collection of works from local and international artists. From paintings, sculptures and photographs to installations and video art, there is something for everyone to admire.

Shop at Sofia’s Markets

Sofia’s markets are one of the most popular and vibrant places in the city. Visit the open-air market Zhenski Pereulok and browse for furs, fabrics and traditional crafts, or the Rila Market for fresh produce, spices, herbs and cheese. There is also the Jumbo shopping center, which is located close to the city center and offers a great selection of clothing, accessories and souvenirs.

Hit the Nightlife

No visit to Sofia would be complete without experiencing its vibrant nightlife. From cocktail bars and clubs to live music venues and karaoke bars, there is something for everybody. For something a bit different, book a table at one of the city’s speakeasies or hidden bars, such as C3 or Captain’s Cabin.

Take a Trip to Mount Musala

For some winter fun, take a trip to Mount Musala, Bulgaria’s highest peak. Located southeast of Sofia, the mountain offers fantastic ski and snowboard opportunities in the winter months. There are plenty of ski and snowboard schools for all levels, and the area is also popular for winter trekking and snowshoeing.

Mingle with the Locals

Sofia is full of friendly locals and there are plenty of opportunities to get to know them better. Attend one of the city’s regular festivals, such as the Sofia International Film Festival or the World Music Festival, or join in one of the many outdoor activities, such as yoga classes, bike tours and hikes. It’s an excellent way to mix with the locals and soak up the city’s energy and atmosphere.

Explore the Local Architecture

Sofia’s architecture is as fascinating as its history, with examples of Gothic, Baroque, Ottoman, Neoclassical and Brutalist designs on show. Many of the city’s buildings were destroyed during World War Two, but many of the historic sites, such as St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Palace of Justice and Sveti Sedmochislenitsi Church, are still standing and well worth a visit.

Whatever you choose to do in Sofia, it’s sure to be an unforgettable experience. From its picturesque scenery to its historical sites and vibrant nightlife, there’s something for everyone in Bulgaria’s capital. So grab your passport and get ready to have some fun – you won’t be disappointed.