Bulgaria's pleasingly laid-back capital is often overlooked by visitors heading to the coast or the ski resorts, but they're missing something special. Sofia is no grand metropolis, but it's a modern, youthful city, with a scattering of onion-domed churches, Ottoman mosques, and stubborn Red Army monuments that lend an eclectic, exotic feel.
Excavation work carried out during the construction of the metro unveiled a treasure trove of Roman ruins from nearly 2000 years ago when the city was called 'Serdica'. Away from the buildings and boulevards, vast parks and manicured gardens offer a welcome respite, and the ski slopes and hiking trails of mighty Mt Vitosha are just a short bus ride from the center. Home to many of Bulgaria's finest museums, galleries, restaurants, and clubs, Sofia may persuade you to stick around and explore further.