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4 Actually Doable Day Trips from Sofia (and how to get there)

Looking to make the most of your time in Sofia without breaking the bank or spending hours on the road? Whether you’re a budget-conscious traveler, or a perpetually broke student eager to explore Southeast Europe’s hidden gems, finding the perfect day trip from Sofia can feel like a daunting task. Forget scouring the internet for hours, because I’ve narrowed down four actually doable day trips that tick all the boxes for adventure, accessibility, and affordability. That means no taxis or tour groups, less time on buses and more time actually exploring.

Forget about pricey tours or complicated logistics. I’m not here to sell you anything – I’m here to empower you to embark on your own adventures. So, grab your backpack, lace up your walking shoes, because the best day trips from Sofia are waiting just around the corner.

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Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Lets kick off our list of the best day trips from Sofia with the enchanting city of Plovdiv! Hop on a bus and in just 2 hours and 20 minutes, you’ll find yourself in the heart of Bulgaria’s cultural capital. Wander through its cobblestone streets, marvel at ancient ruins, and soak up the artsy bohemian vibe of this historic city. Don’t forget to visit the iconic Roman Amphitheater and explore the charming Old Town. I’ve already lovingly written another post full of quirky things to do in Plovdiv, click it, I dare you.

How to get from Sofia to Plovdiv:

It’s pretty straightforward, you can take either a bus or a train directly from Sofia to Plovdiv. There are a plethora of buses (yes it is safe to click here) at varying price points that will bring you to Plovdiv. Personally, I prefer to take the train fromSofiato Plovdiv. Many of the trains go directly to Plovdiv, while others require a changeover. Check out the Bulgarian Railways website for more information on train timetables.

  • By Bus from Sofia Central Bus Station → Plovdiv Central Train Station Bus Stop
  • By Train from Sofia → Plovdiv Central Train Station
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Bankso, Bulgaria

For a taste of mountain charm and winter wonderland fun, why not head to Bansko? Just a 3-hour bus ride from Sofia, Bansko offers world-class skiing and snowboarding opportunities. Don’t worry if you can’t make it here in the winter, the town is fabulous year round, featuring quaint cobblestone streets lined with traditional taverns and cozy guesthouses. It’s the perfect small-town day trip from Sofia.

How to get from Sofia to Bansko:

You really is only one way to get there, you can simply take a direct bus.

  • Sofia Central Bus Station → Bansko Bus Station

If you love travelling by train, there is an option to take one. However, it is not direct, it is with a changeover, and takes over 6 hours so I wouldn’t recommend it.

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Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria

Step back in time with a visit to Veliko Tarnovo, the “City of the Tsars”. As the former capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire, this historic gem is steeped in rich history and architectural wonders. Spend your daytrip wandering through the picturesque streets and soaking up the medieval charm of this enchanting city. Velika Tarnovo is only 3 hours from Sofia, and buses run almost every hour so you’ll have plenty up time to explore!

A must do while in Veliko Tarnovo is to walk up to the 12th century Tsaravets Fortress for 360 degree views of the town. If you still have energy and time left, hike to the top of the hill until you reach The Patriarchal Cathedral of the Holy Ascension of God to see some funky frescoes.

How to get from Sofia to Velika Tarnovo

There are also several different bus companies that go there directly from Sofia to Velika Tarnovo, but all of them start and end in the same place.

  • Sofia Central Bus Station → Bus Station South, Velika Tarnovo.
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Vitosha Mountain, Bulgaria

Last but not least, this list would not be complete without mentioning a journey to the majestic Vitosha Mountain. Just a short ride from Sofia, this natural paradise offers breathtaking views, cozy huts, serene hiking trails, and the opportunity to hit the slopes during the winter months. Whether you’re a nature lover or an adrenaline junkie, Vitosha Mountain has something for everyone. It takes approximately an hour to get there, depending on which option you choose.

Funnily enough, while Vitosha mountain is definitely a day trip you can take from Sofia, Vitosha mountain itself is technically in Sofia.

How to get from Sofia to Vitosha Mountain:

Excluding taxis there are 3 ways to get from Sofia city center to the walking trails of Vitosha Mountain.

1. Metro → Bus 66 → Short walk

You can take a metro to Vitosha metro station. Then wait by the bus stop at the entrance to the metro station (on the east side of the Paradise Mall) from there you can take bus line 66 until you reach the Hotel Moreni bus stop. All of Vitoshas trails are a short walk away, and many of them actually bring you in a loop, so you don’t have to worry about extra walking to find you bus at the end of a long day.

2. Boyana bus → Short walk

The Boyana Bus is a really popular option. Both Bus lines 107 and 64 will take you quite close to Boyana church (and Boyana Waterfall) From there, you can start the trail on Pop Evstati Vitoshki street, which is only a short walk away from the bus stop.

3. Tram line 4 or 5 → Short walk → Bus line 63 → Short walk

At Plaza Makedoniya take Tram line 4 or 5 → Bul. Akad. IV Geshov stop → take a short walk to the other side of the intersection to get to the ZH. K. Krasno Selo Bus Stop → From here take Bus Line 63 → Get off at Zlatnite Mostove (Golden Bridges) This option is slightly more complicated, but it brings you to the uber-popular Golden Bridges area of Vitosha mountain, a perfect spot for picnics. You can also easily access several trails from here.