Sofia, the bulgarian capital is a fascinating city. A lot of people imagine Sofia as a typical eastern european city with socialistic architecture. But Sofia got over that a long time ago. It’s a modern multicultural city, fast growing and just waiting to be explored. When traveling to Sofia you will be surprised by the hospitality of the people, the standard and the lively spirit of the city. You can enjoy long walks, visit historical places and museums and learn a lot about the country’s and city’s history. The modern city is also a great place with lot of cafés, bars and clubs where you can party all night long. Sofia is a great place to have a weeknd trip or a short vacation (traveling from Europe).
A convenient hostel will cost you between 20 and 30 BGN. For single or two bed rooms you will pay between 30 and 50 BGN. A nice hotel can be booked starting from 50 BGN. The prices are slightly higher than those at the province, but still lower compared to other european countries.
Tickets for public transport are 1,60 BGN since June 2016. Public transport works well in Sofia, you have the choice between bus, tram, trolleybus and metro. A 24 hrs ticket will cost you 4 BGN. Taking a taxi is “more expensive”, you will pay around 10 BGN for 10 km.
Check out the different companies in Sofia.
Prices for food are low in the whole country. You can have a slice of pizza or other traditional food for 2 BGN. Food is everywhere and you can get a whole menu for 20 BGN. If you go to places away from tourist attractions, you will spend even less. I highly recommend the traditional “kratshma” or “mehana” where you can get the real stuff that only bulgarians know how to prepare.
If you want to save money
Do you know the saying: When in Rome, do as the romans do? It means you should do it the way they do it. Eat your breakfast the bulgarian way. A real bulgarian breakfast consists of “Banitsa” (puff paste with cheese) and “Ayran” (Yogurt drink) or “Boza” (brown fermentated wheat drink). You can have this breakfast for already 2,50 BGN and you will find it almost around every corner. According to the season you can find Banitsa with almost everything: apple, pumpkin, leek, spinach and of course: white cheese. All of them taste delicious and you can’t get enough of them. The only disadvantage: Puff paste and cheese are calory bombs and not the best food if you are on diet. But who cares about diet while traveling? And you will burn it easily when your are walking around Sofia all day long.
Stay at convenient hotels. You can save money at the hostel Mostel (you can find them in Sofia, Plovdiv and Veliko Tarnovo). Here you can have breakfast and dinner for good money. I recommend to eat outside though, because Bulgaria offers a lot of tasty food, which you can get at local restaurants without spending a fortune.
Visit the Sofia free tour
The free tour will give you a great insight in the capital and its history. You will get to see all the great sights you have to see. The tour in english language is for free and held by young and dynamic guides. If you liked the tour, feel free to give them tips. The tour starts daily at 11.00 and 18.00 and lasts for two hours. Reservations are not neccessary.
Travel during the low season
A lot of tourists travel the country during the summer and therefore prices are higher than usually. When you travel during the low season, you can save money when buying tickets and booking hotels. Mind also the christmas period, as prices will be higher as well.
Your to do list for Sofia
Visit the Alexander Nevski Cathedral
When visiting Sofia you should see it. This cathedral in Neobyzantine style has been built during the 20th century and is the biggest orthodox cathedral on the Balkans. Have a look at the wonderful interior with the beautiful icons. You will be impressed.
The Russian church
This church is lokated around 100 m away from the Alexander Nevski cathedral. The golden cupola and the typical russian architecture is also one of the emblematic sights in Sofia.
Visit the NDK
The place in front of the NDK (national palace of culture) is probably the most famous meeting point in the city. The building, which has been constructed for the socialistic convention in 1981 consists of 15 halls, where events are held during the year. Due to the great acustic, many famous singer and bands give concerts exactly here. Enjoy also the area around the NDK and walk through the park with its fountains.
Visit the old Serdika
The old name for Sofia was Serdika and was an important city back then. In the center at the metro station Serdika you can find the restored walls of the old Serdika. Walk through the ruins and experience this exciting journey to the past.
Visit the national historical museum in Boyana
The huge museum, which has been the summer residence of the socialist president is one of the most important museum of bulgarian history and culture. You can see treasures of the ancient thracians and Romans und discover interesting facts abouts the country’s history.
A walk through the parks of the city
Sofia is well known and popular for its numerous parks and is considered as one of the greenest capitals in Europe. Especially after work you can see many people in the parks, having a beer or just enjoying the evening. The most popular parks are the South Park, the Borisova ark and the park at the NDK
Walk the Vitosha Boulevards
The pedestrian area is a very lively street with shops, bars and restaurants. Evenings are very nice here and you can meet a lot of people.
In this museum you can see artifacts from all the regions and ages in Bulgaria. Even if you are not a historian you will be amazed by the treasures of the museum.
The political center is very interesting regarding its architecture. The buildings are constructed in the socialistic classicism and worth to see. Watch the guards change every hours in front of the presidential palace.
National theater Ivan Vazov
The national theater is located in the center next to the city garden. Many events are held here during the year. The park in front of the theater is also a very popular meeting point for the local people.
Nightlife and bars
Bulgarians love to party and foreigners love to party in Bulgaria. Many clubs and bars for every taste are just waiting to be visited. You can differ basically between regular clubs with house music, ecc. and clubs with the so called “popfolk”, which is widespread on the balkans. Bars are international and offer a great variety of drinks and cocktails.