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The Best Sights to See Near Sofia: Plovdiv, Asen’s Fortress and Bachkovo Monastery

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The Best Sights to See Near Sofia: Plovdiv, Asen’s Fortress and Bachkovo Monastery

When it comes to planning a holiday to Bulgaria’s capital, Sofia, a wealth of opportunities awaits. After all, the city is home to world-famous attractions and plenty of culture, shopping and nightlife. Whether you’re looking for some fun in the sun or outdoor activities, you’ll find plenty in Sofia, but there’s more to discovery outside the city’s confines too.

If you’ve got some free time on your hands and are wondering what there is to see outside the city limits of Sofia, you’ll be pleased to hear that there’s plenty of sights that are just a few hours away from the city. From stunning mountain landscapes and stunning sunsets to old ruins and historical sites, here’s our guide for the top sights to see near Sofia.


One of Bulgaria’s oldest cities, Plovdiv is located just two hours south of Sofia, so you don’t need to allot too much time if you plan on taking a road trip there. It’s worthwhile to spend at least a day or two in this picturesque city that dates back 7000 years, as it is home to ancient Roman ruins and a host of attractions.

In terms of plcae to visit, some of the main highlights include the Ancient Roman theater, a large open space with impressive seating carved into a hillside where you can take a leisurely stroll on cobblestone streets past traditional Bulgarian shops and restaurants. Make sure you spend some time in the Old Town exploring quaint wine clubs and hidden gems such as its Roman baths. Art and culture fans will love exploring some of its world-class art galleries that frame interesting art pieces from both local and international artists.

Asen’s Fortress

The fortress at Asen lies on a cliff overlooking the Varbishka River, just 3 hours south of Sofia by car. The perfect place for an outdoor adventure, Asen’s Fortress is home to two monasteries that are surrounded by the Rhodope mountains, making the views second to none.

At the top of this historic site lies the Church of St George from the 11th century, which is perched on a 48-meter-high cliff with stunning views over the Rhodope Mountains. There is also an impressive view of the nearby villages from the peak of the fort, as well as various caves that could be explored when you pay this attraction a visit.

Bachkovo Monastery

Bachkovo Monastery located near Plovdiv is one of the largest monasteries in Bulgaria. Built in the 11th century by Georgian military commander Grigorii Bakuriani, it was well-known by local people as an important spiritual center and still remains an important pilgrimage spot in Bulgaria. It’s worth visiting Bachkovo monastery for its jaw-dropping architecture, unique fresco paintings and lovely interior decor that offers something special for every visitor. There’s also a famous swinging bridge across the river Cherni Lom which adds to the overall charm of the place.

Bachkovo Monastery was refurbished several times over its 1000-year-old history and boasts intricately carved stone walls and wooden sculptures, as well as paintings depicting useful tips for pilgrims on their journey. You can also see an interesting iconostasis located in one of its churches, and it is believed that this was one of the first iconostases ever built in Bulgaria. Philosophers and seekers will be delighted to explore this spiritual site, with some theorists claiming that it has a mysterious energy field that can help with reflection and contemplation.

If you’d like to experience some history and culture outside the capital, Plovdiv, Asens Fortress and Bachkovo Monastery offer beauty and intrigue near Sofia, making them perfect spots for exploring and enjoying nature or trying something adventurous or spiritual. Explore these incredible spots – you won’t regret your decision!
You can also experience these beautiful spots through organized excursions! Visit GetYourGuide for more information.

An Insider’s Guide to Sofia, Bulgaria

Are you planning a trip to Sofia, Bulgaria? As a local, I know that there’s more to this city than just the typical tourist attractions. Here’s my insider’s guide to help you discover the hidden gems and unique experiences that Sofia has to offer.

Local Attractions: Discovering Hidden Gems

While popular landmarks like the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral or Vitosha Mountain are must-sees, don’t neglect Sofia’s lesser-known treasures. If you’re interested in street art, check out the Kapana district, where you’ll find murals and graffiti by local artists. Another hidden gem is the Red Flat – a museum in a typical communist-era apartment, giving you an authentic glimpse into life during that period.

If you’re a lover of parks, take a stroll through the Borisova Gradina, which is a favourite spot for locals to spend a sunny afternoon. And don’t miss the Ivan Vazov National Theatre, whose grandiose architecture is a perfect spot for impressive classic plays.

Dining Spots: A Culinary Journey Through Sofia

Bulgarian cuisine is hearty, savoury, and unpretentious. A must-try is the banitsa, a traditional pastry filled with cheese and eggs. Many argue about the best banitsa in Sofia, but I think hipping into one of the local bakeries, like Domashni Kyutii, is the perfect way to go.

If you’re interested in exploring the foodie scene, head to “The Little Things,” a street food market near Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. They offer various cuisines and drinks like authentic Balkan sausages, craft beer and even Bulgarian wines.

For local dining, you can’t miss heading down to Hadjidraganov’s Houses Restaurant which serves authentic Bulgarian cuisine with live music and dances.

Cultural Experiences: Revealing Sofia’s Traditions

Sofia is a city steeped in culture, so there’s always something to do or see. Bassed on the time of your visit, make sure to check out some of the traditional festivals, like the Wine Festival in November or the Sofia Music Weeks festival in June.

If you’re interested in religious or architectural culture, discover the ancient Boyana Church, a UNESCO World Heritage Site or head over to Rila and visit the impressive Rila Monastery.

Lastly, wandering around the colourful and bohemian neighbourhood of Raketa Rakia is considered a hipster history walk, where you will find shops and cafes dedicated to Bulgarian history, music and culture.

Local History: Explore the City’s Fascinating Past

Sofia has a rich and tumultuous past, and there are so many fascinating stories to discover. For example, did you know that the lions outside of the Bulgarian National Assembly building were actually made by a contractor for the British Parliament, who mistakenly made them facing the wrong way?

Another notable landmark is the ‘Monument of the Soviet Army,’ a controversial monument that has been standing in front of Vassil Levski stadium since 1954. Once referred to as ‘the Disgrace’ by many Bulgarian citizens, it is a heated discussion topic even 30 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The city’s most popular and iconic buildings also have a history – the Aleksander Nevski Cathedral is known for taking 30 years to complete, and its construction involved both Bulgarian and Russian workers.

Off-the-Beaten-Path Suggestions: Secrets of Sofia

When it comes to Sofia, there are also several over-the-top and historical secrets within and around the city. For example, most people are not aware of the ancient city of Serdica, which lies underground, right in the heart of the city.

Visit the Sofia Central Baths for an impressive relic from Roman times, where you can see the complex system of the ancient bath infrastructure. Or, to relive the mystery of the spy era, visit Sofia’s abandoned Buzludzha, a brutalist monument to communism and a unique masterpiece on the top of a mountain.

A tram ride through Boulevard Vitosha is another offbeat way to explore Sofia, with views of the city’s scenic beauty and architecture landmarks.


Sofia is a vibrant city, full of unique experiences and hidden gems that many tourists often miss. From the local attractions to unique off-the-beaten-path suggestions, Sofia has something to offer for everyone. Use this insider’s guide, and you’ll find yourself falling deeply in love with this incredible city.

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The Best Sights to See Near Sofia: Plovdiv, Asen’s Fortress and Bachkovo Monastery

Experience Adventure Like Never Before: Book Your Tour Today!