Sofia, Bulgaria. A less popular European capital among tourists, but after spending an excellent long weekend here, there is no good reason why. Cheap travel, food and admissions, 24 degrees in late October and beautiful scenery, what is not to like! We started out with a full day in the city, the stunning Alexander Nevsky Cathedral sits right in the centre and is a sight to behold, it felt like my camera’s shutter never stopped and every different time of day brought a new perspective and atmosphere.
There is a fair amount of architecture to see, it’s good to stay on foot and explore and you can pretty much get around the majority of the POI’s in a day, we finished it off with a Matrix escape game which was a nice addition and a very reasonable price compared to other cities (£15 each). Highly recommended for Matrix film fans, although having seen the film isn’t essential. Once back at the hotel and the start of the next day’s planning session, and by planning session I mean Chris organising everything, we soon realised there wasn’t much else to see/do so we last minute booked a hire car (£50 for 2 days) and come morning, off we went!
First stop on the spontaneous Bulgarian road trip, Plovdiv, a small city about an hour and a half south of Sofia. It’s a great place to walk around for a few hours, the old town in particular with it’s narrow cobbled streets, quirky medieval buildings and thanks to a discovery from a landslide in the 1970’s, home to an ancient Roman amphitheatre which in itself makes the trip worthwhile.
The next day we got back into the car and drove a similar distance to Rila to see the Rila Monastery. Wow! Spectacular views on the drive to get there and an incredibly picturesque destination. Go at this time of year for an amazing show of autumnal colours.
So if you are looking for a cheap weekend break, consider taking the 3 hour flight to Sofia. Get a car and add in a day trip to Plovdiv and Rila which you won’t regret (You can do both in the same day but requires an early start and a bit of rushing about as even though they are both South of Sofia, there is no direct route connecting them because of pesky mount Vitosha in the way. This means you have to go via the city for both destinations, Sofia -> Plovdiv 1 hour 30. Sofia -> Rila Monastery 1 hour 50).
Check out all the photos from our trip below.