Sofia is a city worth visiting all year round. The Bulgarian capital has a lot to offer during the cold winter months. The food scene, the museums and galleries, the nightlife and shopping possibilities are all worth it, but for some people that is just not enough. We know that and we have selected for you the 6 most epic winter day trips from Sofia. So, if you are looking for ideas on how to challenge or treat yourself while you are in Sofia, don’t think too much. The adventure is just behind the corner!
1. Take a Ski or Snowboard Day Trip
Bulgarians love to ski. With so many mountains in close proximity, it is quite easy to drive to the closest ski slope or cable car to do it. The best places to do so are the Borovets ski resort, Vitosha Mountain and the ski resort Bansko.
Borovets is a lovely place located in the Rila Mountains southeast of Sofia. There are 25 ski trails with different levels of difficulty, as well as 12 lifts throughout the resort. It is a popular place during the winter with the locals who live in Sofia, as well as with the guests of the capital. A ski and snowboard day trip from Sofia to Borovets is something you can do even if you didn’t plan to ski in Bulgaria. A very convenient getaway, as the largest ski resort in Bulgaria, is just an hour drive from the capital. The resort offers night skiing as well.
The Vitosha Mountains tower above Sofia. With its close proximity people of Sofia and visitors love to go up the mountain for hiking, skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing or paragliding. There are one main ski slope and a chair lift, both called Vitoshko Lale (Vitosha Tulip). The slope is also equipped with electrical lights, making it available for night skiing.
The town of Bansko is a famous ski resort located in the skirts of the Pirin mountains. There are many ski slopes with different levels of difficulty. There is a cable car that brings the riders high in the mountains. The town of Bansko is around 2:30h drive away from Sofia so it is best suited for going there for at least 1 overnight.
2. Go Snowshoeing
As you know Bulgaria is a mountainous country. With its 39 mountains in total you can tell that the mountaineering opportunities are endless. Because of the heavy snowfall in the mountains the conditions for snowshoeing are almost always perfect. So just pick a mountain, grab those snowshoes and poles and head to the closest mountain near you and feel the freedom of walking pretty much everywhere on the mountain ridges and valleys. If you don’t feel safe or have no experience doing this you can always find a great local guide that will gladly lead you to any chosen destination safely. Let us know if that’s the case.
3. Love Wine? Go for a Wine Tasting Day Tour
The area of Sofia itself isn’t that great for vine growing, but in close proximity of about an hour drive we can get to the closest vine fields where we can find some of the best local wineries. Bulgaria has great conditions for vine growing with its climate and relief. There are a few main regions for wine growing each specializing in the variety that grows best in its location. Going for a tasting like this you can always combine with a visit to some of the best sites in Bulgaria like for example – the Rila monastery or the amazing city of Plovdiv. Opportunities are endless as long as you have the time to let the connoisseur in you on a wild adventure.
Here is our suggestion for a wine tasting day trip to Plovdiv and the Thracian Valley – the largest wine region of Bulgaria. Taking this trip, you will get a taste of the uniqueness of the Plovdiv wine tasting possibilities, enjoy the local wines food scene and most importantly, have an unforgettable day!
4. Take a Walking Tour in the Center of Sofia
Staying in a capital city always means one thing – you must explore it, or at least the historic part of that city (if there is one). Well, here you see that the city center is covered with layers of history from different periods of time. Sofia is situated on a strategic location with great importance during all ages – the road between the Middle East and Europe. The city was founded by Thracian tribes that settled here because of the hot springs in the city center and gave the first name of the city – Serdika aka Srednopolis.
Definitely some of the “must-see” in the city center is the Cathedral Alexander Nevski, the St. George Rotunda (the oldest building in Sofia), the St. Nedelya Church, the National Theatre, the Russian Church, the National Assembly, the Banya Bashi Mosque and others. You can always walk around alone, but if you want a more in-depth knowledge of the city we always suggest hiring a local guide, which will tell you about the city’s past, how it’s developed during the ages and what’s become of the city in the modern age.
We are also proud with out “Street Art and Food Tour of Sofia” so don’t hesitate to contact us if you’re a street art enthusiast or a foodie.
5. Dive in Mineral Hot Springs
Bulgaria isn’t famous for its hot springs, but we have them all over the country. Many towns were built in a location solely because there are hot springs. You most likely already know that even the city of Sofia had its first inhabitants right next to the hot springs in the city center. Close to Sofia and probably the most famous places for dipping yourself in some hot mineral water are the towns of Velingrad and Sapareva Banya, but this barely covers where you can go. The mineralization of the water and its temperature varies at each place in Bulgaria and each has different healing properties. Grab a towel and get your swimsuit ready and visit one of our many hot mineral water pools, where you can swim and enjoy the amazing snowy mountain views.
6. Visit the Rila Monastery
The Rila Monastery – the largest monastery in the Balkans and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Words can’t describe the beauty and mystery that lies hidden in the skirts of the Rila Mountains. The monastery was built in about the 10th century and was a spiritual, religious and cultural center for the Bulgarians for the last millennia. The Church of the monastery is covered with unique frescoes inside and out.
Tip: definitely go for the local specialty – the Mekitsi (behind the monastery).
Please feel free to ask us in case you require any further info or want us to bring you to those places! Have a great time exploring Sofia and Bulgaria!