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While in Sofia

Bulgaria's pleasingly laid-back capital is often overlooked by visitors heading to the coast, 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, Roman ruins and stubborn Red Army monuments that lend an eclectic, exotic feel.

Away from the buildings and boulevards, vast parks and manicured gardens offer a welcome respite, and hiking trails of mighty Mt Vitosha are just a short bus ride from the centre.

Home to many of Bulgaria's finest museums, galleries, restaurants and clubs, Sofia may persuade you to stick around and explore further.