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Things to do in Sofia

Get thrashed at chess in Gradska Gradina

The bustling Gradska Gradina is the best place in the city to people watch. For a unique experience, get a drink from Spetama Caffe and take on the local chess wizard who resides next to the benches. What he lacks in teeth, he makes up for in imperious chess ability.

Haggle for historical memorabilia at the Antique Market

Just outside the Aleksander Nevski Cathedral, two rows of stalls facing each other sell memorabilia diverse enough to delight war enthusiasts and fashionistas alike. Military garb is to the fore, and while some may question the authenticity it gives hagglers a great reason to bat down the already low prices.

Shop with the locals at the Zhenski Pazar (Woman’s Market)

For years Zhenski Pazar was Sofia's busiest market. It still sells a fantastic range of fruit and vegetables, cheese, cured meats, delicious homemade halva (a local sweet desert) and other Turkish-inspired goodies. Construction work is modernising the market, so squeeze in a visit before it's dragged into the 21st century.

Take in the churches, waterfalls and peaks of Vitosha Mountain

The sprawling Vitosha Mountain outside Sofia, where endless trails and walks await, is only 30 minutes away by car. Sofia Green Tour (tel: +359 8855 23630; organise trips to the hills that take in the Boyana Church, Boyana Waterfall and the imposing Kamen Del peak. Their 15km (9 miles) route takes around seven hours.

Watch a Levski Sofia football match

Bulgaria's best-known football club, Levski Sofia (, may be short of success recently but they remain the team to watch. The Georgi Asparuhov stadium is ten minutes away from the Aleksander Nevski Cathedral, so join supporters for drinks in the city centre before taking a slow wander to the ground.

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City Highlight: Sofia

A city as beautiful as its name, Sofia boasts onion-domed churches and Soviet-era monuments interspaced with manicured gardens and wide cobblestone avenues plied by rattling trolley buses.