If this is your first visit to Sofia, walk along the cobbled boulevard to iconic Alexander Nevski Memorial Church and the fourth-century Rotunda of St George church, believed to be Sofia's oldest building. But there's plenty more to do, from admiring the UNESCO-protected Boyana Church to spending evenings bar-hopping in the lively Studentskigrad district.
Sofia was founded 3000 years ago, and today is a modern European capital that is still proud of its heritage. Surrounded by the dramatic Balkan and Vitosha mountains, central Sofia is dominated by poker-straight tree-lined boulevards, with gold-domed Alexander Nevski Memorial Church at one end and centuries-old Church of St George at the other. Between them, you'll find clusters of Byzantine and Russian orthodox churches, with museums, open-air cafes and smart boutiques close by. Join the locals south of the centre at verdant Vitosha National Park for hiking in summer and skiing in winter.
When you visit the iconic multi-domed Alexander Nevski Memorial Church, Sofia's visual landmark, go inside to see the Icon Gallery's collection of medieval Bulgarian icons. Look down at the floor of the Church of St Sofia and see the remains of the Roman mosaics, then haggle for communist memorabilia and replicas at the open-air Antiques Market opposite. For earthier shopping, join locals shopping for dried fruit, cheeses and homemade halva, a flavoured sweet based on either semolina or sesame paste, at the chaotic Zhenski Pazar. Still feeling peckish? Feast on cavarma pork casserole while listening to live Bulgarian folk music in traditional mehanas taverns.
Browse the Archaeological Museum, housed in a restored 15th-century mosque and home to Thracian and Bulgarian medieval exhibits. Travel to UNESCO-protected Boyana Church, a medieval gem housing 13th-century frescoes depicting biblical scenes. If you fancy some fresh air, go hiking or join locals on wintry ski slopes at Mount Vitosha and drink in the views of the city. For a cultural night, watch a performance at the National Opera and Ballet.