10 Cool Things to Do in Sofia This Winter

Sofia is a city worth visiting during the cold winter months, too. To prove you that, I’ve prepared a list of 10 things to do in Bulgaria’s capital this winter.

I promise that you won’t get bored with these places and activities because you’ll find not so typical experiences to have in Sofia as well as must-does while you are in the city. But they are all perfect for winter visitors and will let you have an interesting holiday turn in the capital. 

So if you’re ready to have some fun and to experience the city the best way possible, here’re 10 cool things to do in Sofia this winter:

1. Visit the German Christmas market in Sofia

German Christmas market in SofiaPhoto: Facebook/Weihnachtsmarkt Sofia

Although it’s German and I can’t pronounce its name (or spell it… or understand it), this cute little Christmas market brings a smile on every Sofia’s residence face. I’m sure it will make you happy, too. You can find many sweets, German wursts and tasty drinks there, as well as many Christmas decorations and accessoires. The market will be there until December 20th so make sure to check it out if you are in Sofia during this time of the year.

Where: In Sofia’s City Garden next to the National Theatre and the National Art Gallery

When: from November 18th 2017  until ~ 20th Dec; every day from 11 am to 9 pm

Price: Free entrance

 

2. Go ice skating in the biggest open air ice rink on the Balkans

Ice-skating-in-sofiaPhoto: Facebook/Ariana Ice Skate Rink

Every year the Ariana lake in the Borisova Garden in Sofia becomes the biggest open air ice rink on the Balkans. It’s bold to say “open air” because it’s wrapped in fabric on all sides, however the idea is still pretty interesting. It is located in a central and very accessible place in Sofia so it’s the perfect spot for a fun hour or two with friends. The ice rink opens sometime during December until March/April. In the summer the ice is gone and the Ariana lake is filled with water again where you can still enjoy it by renting a pedalo or a boat. 

Where: On the entrance of the Borisova Garden near Orlov bridge

When: Still not open as of 3rd Dec 2015 [Wait for updates]

Price: Entrance – 5 BGN (2,50 EUR), Ice skates rent – 4 BGN (2 EUR)

 

3. Spend hours playing board games in a bar

Board Games Bar in Sofia

It’s cozy, it’s fun and it’s perfect for the winter. This board games bar in Sofia has more than 150 games and you won’t notice how the time flies when you’re there. You can gather some friends from your hostel and organize a fun night out. I promise you won’t get bored for a second. The bar offers variety of craft beer and you can bring your own food there. It’s also super cheap. You can read more about the Three Trolls board games bar here

Where: 24 Chataldzha street, Sofia

When: Mon-Sun 4 pm – 10 pm

Price: 5 BGN entrance fee (2,5 EUR)

 

4. Don’t skip the museums

During the winter months it will be cold outside so why don’t you warm yourself by visiting some of the museums in Sofia and get to know the history, culture and traditions of Bulgaria in a warmer atmosphere. I’m not a museum person myself, but if that’s your thing, you can head to one of the following most interesting museums in Sofia:

  • Sofia History Museum – newly reopened (17 September 2015) museum which takes place in the former building of the Central Mineral Baths. It showcases many aspects of Sofia’s life from 6th century BC to nowadays including traditional costumes, vehicles, aspects of the cultural and entertainment life in Sofia during the centuries. Ticket price: 6 BGN (3 EUR). Open: Tue-Sun, 10 am – 6 pm. Website: www.sofiahistorymuseum.bg.

Sofia History MuseumPhoto: sofiahistorymuseum.bg

  • Muzeiko – interactive museum for kids, perfect for a family visit. It is full with more than 130 interactive games which aim to inspire kids to learn and discover new things from different fields of science and life. Ticket price: from 6 to 10 BGN (3-5 EUR). Open: Tue-Sun, 10 am – 6 pm. Website: www.muzeiko.com.

Muzeiko interactive museum SofiaPhoto: muzeiko.com

  • National Ethnographic Institute with Museum – if you are interested in traditional folk costumes, embroideries, fretworks and other traditional items, this should be your stop in Sofia. The museum is located on 1, Alexander Battenberg Sq. (the former royal residence in Sofia). Open: Tue-Sun, 10 am – 5:30 pm. Ticket price: 3 BGN (1,50 EUR). Additional info: www.bulgariatravel.org/en/object/286/Etnografski_institut_BAN

National Etnographic Institute with Museum sofiaPhoto: BulgariaTravel.org

Other museums in Sofia are: 

  • National Museum of Military History (www.bulgariatravel.org/en/object/292/Voenno_istoricheski_muzej_Sofia)
  • National Archaeology Museum (www.naim.bg/en/home)
  • Museum of Socialist Art (www.freesofiatour.com/blog/museum-of-communism)
  • National History Museum (www.historymuseum.org/en/)
  • National Museum of Natural History (www.nmnhs.com/)
  • Earth and Man National Museum (www.earthandman.org)

5. Try to escape a room for one hour

Escape-way-escape-room-sofia1Photo: EscapeWay

If you are a geeky traveler who loves riddles and puzzles, then head to one of the 50+ escape rooms in Sofia. First, it’s warmer inside than outside, and second, it’s really fun. If you haven’t been to an escape room before, you will really love it. The adrenaline rush is unbelievable. I recommend the following 3 escape rooms in Sofia and you can read more about each one of them by clicking on the link:

  • Game Castle – The Collector – the best escape room we visited so far, in combination with board and social games after the room challenge.
  • The Cube – You have one hour to find and defuse a Nazi bomb. 
  • Dextrophobia – One hour filled with unexpected riddles and puzzles, hiding in every corner of the room.
  • EscapeWay – Boutique escape room offering unique experience in the center of Sofia.

6. Visit the unique and exquisite Art House “Kuklite” (The Dolls)

art house dolls sofiaPhoto: Victorian era dolls/Art house Kuklite

Hundred of dolls live in the Art House “Kuklite” in the heart of Sofia. It’s a unique tourist attraction where you can see literally hundreds of dolls from different times and cultures. Most of them are shown as museum exhibits. You can also make your own doll. Just ask for it. 

Where: Tsar Samuil 34, Sofia

When: Tue – Sat, 1 pm – 7 pm

 

7. Go ski in Vitosha mountain next to Sofia

skis-584600_1280Photo: Pixabay.com

One of the best advantages of Sofia for the ski enthusiasts is that the city is surrounded by mountains and therefore by opportunities for spending a day skiing or snowboarding. Vitosha mountain, which is just half an hour away from Sofia, offers reasonable conditions for skiing. That way you can combine sightseeing and skiing without spending hours to get to the nearest mountain. The ski resort is still closed, but check regularly for the latest news and updates.

 

8. Day trips from Sofia in winter

 

Rila Monastery

Sofia offers many day trip options for its visitors. You can find some ideas in my previous post “10 single day trips from Sofia”. For the winter, however, I suggest you the following ones:

  • Day trip to Rila Monastery (+Shuttle
  • Day trip to Plovdiv – the Capital of Culture for 2019
  • Day trip to Koprivshtitsa and the region
  • Day trip to Veliko Turnovo and Arbanasi

How to visit these places? Check out my friend Adriana’s website for private guided tours in Bulgaria.

 

9. Join the free tours in Sofia

free sofia tourPhoto: Free Sofia Tour/Facebook

One of the most affordable and yet most interesting way to discover Sofia is by joining the local guides from Free Sofia Tour. They will tell you the most important and interesting facts in just a few hours walk around the capital. Another great way to experience a destination is by its food. So you should definitely join the free food tour ‘Balkan Bites’, too. For the most curious ones, there is also a free communist tour with trabant car. Check them out: 

Free Sofia Tour

Start: Palace of Justice
Every day, twice a day

Mon-Sun: 11 AM & 6 PM
Website: http://freesofiatour.com/

Balkan Bites – Sofia’s free food tour

Start: Park Crystal
2 pm – Every day
(excluding national holidays – NO Tours on December (24, 25, 26, 31) and January (01, 02, 03, 04)
Website: http://www.balkanbites.bg/

Sofia Communist Tour with Trabant

Start: Starbucks near NDK
10 AM every Saturday and Sunday
Website: http://sofiacommunisttour.com/

Check out the list of all “FREE tours in Bulgaria“! 

10. Go hiking

Rila-bulgaria-hiking

Bulgaria has spectacular mountains and you can go hiking or trekking in every season. Just make sure you are well prepared and even hire a guide if you have no experience. My last hike was in the magnificent Rila mountain and I recommend you to go for it. 

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Are you ready to explore Sofia in winter? 

Travelling Buzz is on Facebook too! 

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Written by

Travel blogger from Bulgaria chasing adventures all over Europe!

Latest comments
  • Nice article! 🙂 As a person, who lives in Sofia, I think your activity ideas are great.

  • “The Three Trolls” and “Dextrophobia” escape room are great places to have fun with friends. In fact, “Dextrophobia” has a brand new second room I`ve visited 10 days ago. But I`m not sure if the story is translated in English so it`s a good idea to ask before making a reservation.
    Great ideas! 🙂

  • Fabulous list and great ideas! Fingers crossed I will make it to Sofia before the end of March and squeeze a visit to at least some of these.
    Best wishes,

    Rossi

  • The board game bar is such a cute idea. Love it!

  • If you need a private mountain guide – write me, I’m certified one 🙂

  • Can you tell me how Bulgarian culture is regarding small children? I’m traveling with a 2 year old and Greece has been fantastic when it comes to having a child around, but Bulgaria I can’t seem to find any information!

  • This is a great post about Sofia Bulgaria. Found really useful information and more importantly, it wasn’t the same copy/paste from TripAdvisor like most of the bloggers do. Utterly enjoyed the article. Thanks.

    By the way, Free Sofia Tour was amazing. I would strongly recommend it to everyone visiting Sofia for the first time. It’s completely in English, so no need to speak Bulgarian.

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