Sofia is the capital city of the Balkan state of Bulgaria and is situated in the west of the country. It is a city steeped in history which is represented through the city’s landmarks. With a population of over one million people, Sofia is Bulgaria’s largest city. It has also been recognised as Europe’s most affordable capital city to visit making it an excellent destination for a low budget European holiday. Interestingly, it is also listed in the top ten places in the world for start-up businesses.
If you are visiting the Bulgarian capital this year, make sure you take a valid passport and up to date European Health Insurance Card. The European Health Insurance Card, the replacement for the old E111, can be used as a form of health cover to access state provided healthcare facilities, in Sofia, at a reduced cost or even for free.
When visiting Sofia, you may want to visit some of these wonderful Bulgarian landmarks:
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
A cathedral church of neo-byzantine design, the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is easily one of Sofia’s most recognisable landmarks. It is one of the largest Eastern Orthodox cathedrals in the world and is a major tourist attraction of the city. The cathedral was originally built in the early twentieth century in memory of all of the soldiers who died in the Russo-Turkish War. It consists of a gold plated dome and a bell tower. The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral can hold ten thousand people.
Vitosha is a mountain which stands on the outskirts of Sofia. The mountain is a symbol of Sofia and is a popular tourist destination for hiking and skiing. Vitosha is easily accessible due to its convenient transport links. It is also home to Vitosha Nature Park which contains abundant marshland vegetation, Bulgaria’s longest cave – Duhlata and a number of different bird, fish and reptile species. Duhlata is home to six different species of bats. The nature park is the oldest in all of the Balkans. Vitosha mountain is also known for its mineral springs.
Vrana Park and Palace
Vrana Palace was once a royal palace and is now the official residence of Tsar Simeon II of Bulgaria. Access to the Vrana Palace was once restricted, due to it being property of the former Bulgarian royal family, until 2013 when the restrictions were lifted to access the Vrana Park. Although the palace itself is still inaccessible, due to internal construction, it can still be viewed up close from the Vrana park.
As explained previously, it is very important to make sure you take a valid and up to date European Health Insurance Card when visiting Sofia in case you fall ill or suffer from an accident. If you have not got an EHIC Card, you can apply for one online. Each online application can include a partner and four dependent children. Once you have made your application (and received notification of your application being processed) you can expect your EHIC to arrive, by post, in three to ten working days.