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 are 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 visitors 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 20th November until 20th Dec 2018; every day from 11 am to 10 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 2018. 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: opens in December 2018 (no set date), check for updates on their Facebook page
Price: Entrance – 5 BGN (2,50 EUR), Ice skates rent – 4 BGN (2 EUR)

 

3. Visit a Board Games Bar

Board Games Bar in Sofia

It’s cozy, it’s fun and it’s perfect for the winter. The “Three Trolls” 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. The bar offers variety of craft beer A great thing is that you can bring your own food in there, even to order pizza.  

Where: 24 Chataldzha street, Sofia
When: Mon-Sun 4 pm – 10 pm
Price: 5 BGN entrance fee (2,5 EUR)

 

4. Go to the Sofia Opera and Ballet

Sofia Opera and Ballet house is located in the central parts of the city. This makes it easily reachable and very well accessible by public transportation. There are regular performances and events happening as part of the Sofia Opera and Ballet with many foreign collaborations, too.

Where: 30 Vrabcha street, Sofia, Bulgaria
Tickets price: from 10 Euro
Program: Calendar for Season 2017/2018

5. 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)

6. Try the Escape rooms in Sofia

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 of all, it’s warmer than outside, and second of all –  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 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.

7. 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

 

8. 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. Also, my friend Sany posted a detailed ski and showboarding guide for Bulgaria

 

9. 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:

Discount for private tours: with code TravellingBuzz you get 10% discount for tours by Private Guide Bulgaria

10. Join one of the 7 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. Or check out the list of all 7 free tours in Sofia

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Written by

Travel blogger and tourism graduate from Bulgaria, working in the field of Digital Marketing and PR for travel brands.

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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