Bulgaria is a European country, very beautiful, but only in recent years, people started to visit and appreciate its beauty. I have been in Sofia twice and both trips have been wonderful. If you have not traveled yet to this amazing Balcan country I strongly advise you to plan your trip as fast as you can.
SOFIA – A QUICK GLIMPSE
In every article I write this little part, explaining why to go to that destination and what you should expect. It’s my way to help you avoid any potentially disastrous trips: how many times happened to go somewhere and have the worst time ever just because your expectations were completely different?
So this is what you should know about Sofia before you go:
- Sofia is quite a clean city. I love Athens, but many people believe that is so dirty. Bulgarians are very proud of their capital, they are keeping it clean and you will have a hard time finding overflowing bins and dirty sidewalks.
- It’s so cheap. Bulgaria is not in the eurozone and the national currency is the Bulgarian leva. Prices are very low, so it’s definitely a budget-friendly destination.
- Is Sofia safe to visit? Yes, the city is extremely safe, indeed I felt safer than Rome. I stayed at a central hotel so I can not know exactly what is going on in the suburbs, but the historic center is safe to explore even at night.
- People are not rude: maybe is just…a cultural thing. I noticed that Bulgarian are very straight to the point and they do not smile easily. So be prepared! People were very helpful all the times that I asked for information.
- If you are wondering how many days to spend in Sofia, Bulgaria, I suggest a weekend or 3 days. These are the best things to see and do in the Bulgarian city.
10 THINGS TO SEE IN SOFIA, BULGARIA
#1. Saint Alexandar Nevski Cathedral
Saint Alexandar Nevski Cathedral should be the first attraction to see in Sofia. This Cathedral is the city’s highlight and it is not difficult to find it. If you don’t know it already, Bulgarians are orthodox, and Alexander Nevski’s church is similar to the Greek churches.
It’s free to enter and what impressed me is that there were no crowds around. And everything, of course, was so clean.
I would have liked to have visited other churches too, but there are not so close to the city center and you need to do at least a one day trip. The best way is to do it organized, so if you have more days in Sofia, I suggest to see the Rila and Boyana monasteries.
#2. The national theatre Ivan Vazov
This neoclassic building is so beautiful and you can chill in the park in front of the theatre. I liked very much also the fountain!
#3. The Largo in Sofia, Bulgaria
Largo is a complex of buildings (if you love architecture do not skip this!) reminding Sofia’s recent communist past.
#4. TZUM Sofia’s shopping mall
Please, skip Sofia’s shopping mall. Don’t visit. At all. I was so excited to do some shopping but Tzum was so disappointing. Half of the stores were closed, it felt like it was abandoned, I don’t know exactly how to describe it but it just felt..sad.
#5. Mineral springs in Sofia
I read about it and I had to go. You can refill your bottles for free with this mineral water, that is famous for its health benefits. The mineral springs are just in front of Sofia’s history museum. I didn’t had the chance to visit the museum but the water so so refreshing!
#6. Vitosha street
Every capital has to have a main street with all the famous brands, where you can go take your coffee and stroll around, wasting your time. And why not waste your time? If you are not doing some shopping during your free time then WHEN?!
Vitosha street has so many shops, bars and restaurants. People come and go, most of them just are just window-shopping and enjoying this amazing view.
#7. Borisova gradina park
To be honest with you, I didn’t get crazy about Borisova Gradina, Sofia’s best park. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I am not a nature lover? Who knows! Don’t get it wrong, I spent a lovely evening, the park was clean and neat but something was missing in order to impress me. If you have only 1 day in Sofia, please take my advice and skip this!
#8. Central Market Hall (Tsentralni Hali)
In this old building, you will find many restaurants where you can have cheap bites, fresh fruits, and vegetables. It is not a so-touristy thing to do in Sofia, and many locals spend their lunchtime there. If you love make-up remember that on the first floor there is a shop that has all the famous brands but in better prices.
I almost forgot: Bulgarians are crazy about coca-cola. Please notice. Everybody is walking around with a coca-cola on hand and in every caffè, there are so many different versions of the famous drink. Coca-cola with lemon, coca-cola with pear, coca-cola with mango. Why is this? If you know more about it please let me know I am so curious!
#9. Sofia’s street art
Sofia has so many graffiti, take your camera and explore them. I don’t know much about graffiti but the city has to offer so many beautiful graffitis. If you love this form of art you can also take a graffiti tour.
#10. The basement shops
No, I am not kidding. There are these kinds of underground-basement-shops in Sofia that sell cigarettes and you have to bend or better, knee to buy what you need. It is so strange!
RESTAURANTS AND FOOD IN SOFIA, BULGARIA
In Sofia I ate good. Full stop. Bulgarian food reminds me a lot greek food. The taste the same, they use meet, onion and they love slow-cooking too.
A nice restaurant in Sofia is Mehana Isbata, it offers delicious Bulgarian food at a good price.
At Vitosha Street you will find also a restaurant/cafe called Raffy Bar&Gelato, I liked their salad, their ice-cream, their drinks and I believe it’s one of the best spots to have a coffee in Sofia.
Speaking of drinks…don’t miss The Cocktail Bar, they do speak English, their cocktails are amazing and their prices too! It’s a very modern bar, full of young people and I really loved it.
On the other hand, if you are looking for a cheap bite, again I highly recommend Tsentralni Hali. Delicious food that looked like your grandmother cooked it and cost only 3 euros!
STAYING IN SOFIA, BULGARIA
If you are a My Pretty Travels Blog reader you know that I don’t like hostels and I usually don’t stay in expensive hotels. I prefer Airbnb’s, B&B’s etc. that are clean, have all the amenities and are close to the center.
This time I made an execpetion.
I stayed at BW Premier Collection City Hotel a 4-star hotel in the center of Sofia. If you haven’t been yet in a4 star hotel, this is your opportunity! Enjoy the luxury, exchange your euros or you dollars to Bulgarian levas taking advantage of the low exchange rates (you can book the hotel here) and you will not regret it.
Below you can find some other good offers.
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