Bulgaria
Sofia – Capital of Bulgaria – My Trip

Sofia – Capital of Bulgaria – My Trip

Bulgaria – Sofia – 18th to 22nd January 2024

Sofia is the capital and largest city of Bulgaria, located in the western part of the country. It is situated at the foot of Mount Vitosha and is the economic, cultural, and administrative centre of Bulgaria. Sofia has a rich history that dates back to ancient times, with various influences from Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman, and Soviet periods.

Accommodation

After researching different accommodation in Sofia for days I decided to stay in the Hyatt Regency Sofia Hotel. I picked this one because it had a spa and fitness centre although I ended up not using it as I was busy doing other things. I wish I had tried it out as it looked really good.

It was one of the more expensive hotels in Sofia and I wish I had gone for something a bit cheaper and more in the centre of Sofia nearer the bars and restaurants.

The room was spotless and the very modern. The TV was huge, I think it was 64 inches. It had Chromecast so I could stream Netflix from my iphone. The bathroom was lovely. Room service was nice but a bit expensive.

The nearest metro station is about a 5 minutes walk. You can walk to most places and there are bus stops and trams nearby. It is worth researching travelling in Sofia before going. I purchased a 72 hour travel ticket which was 15BGN (approx. £6.55) which is great value for money.

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Bars/Restaurants

Sofia has a vibrant and diverse culinary scene, offering a wide range of bars and restaurants that cater to various tastes and preferences. Here are some recommendations for bars and restaurants in Sofia:

Restaurants:

  • Mamma Mia: I loved this place. They serve a variety of dishes, not just pizza. The portion sizes are big. The pizza and fries were lovely.
  • Made in Home: This restaurant focuses on serving homemade Bulgarian food with a modern twist. The cozy atmosphere and diverse menu make it a favorite among locals and visitors.
  • Shtastlivetza: Located in the heart of Sofia, Shtastlivetza is famous for its traditional Bulgarian dishes prepared with high-quality ingredients. The restaurant has a warm and welcoming ambiance.
  • The Little Things: A vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurant with a focus on healthy and delicious meals. The menu includes a variety of salads, soups, and main courses, along with smoothies and freshly squeezed juices.

Bars and Cafes:

  • Bar “Bar”: Located at Crystal Garden. A social place with a variety of drinks including draft Guinness and local bottles of beer. You can sit facing the park with some lovely views.
  • Raketa Rakia Bar: A trendy bar that specializes in rakia, Bulgaria’s traditional fruit brandy. They offer a wide selection of rakia flavors along with a cozy atmosphere.
  • The Little Things Bar: Connected to The Little Things restaurant, this bar serves a variety of cocktails, wines, and craft beers. The laid-back atmosphere makes it a great spot for a relaxing evening.
  • Hambara Wine Bar: A stylish wine bar offering a selection of Bulgarian and international wines. The knowledgeable staff can help you choose the perfect wine to complement your evening.
  • Raffy Bar & Gelato: If you have a sweet tooth, Raffy is known for its delicious gelato and a variety of desserts. It’s a great place to relax with a dessert and a cup of coffee.
  • Sputnik: This is a popular cocktail bar with a retro Soviet-themed décor. They serve creative cocktails in a unique and entertaining setting.

These are just a few options, and Sofia’s culinary scene is constantly evolving, so you may discover new and exciting places to eat and drink as you explore the city.

Things to do

Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, offers a mix of rich history, vibrant culture, and modern amenities. Here are some things to do in Sofia:

  • Take a visit to the malls: There are a few different malls in Sofia with hundreds of shops. My favourite was ‘The Mall’ (115з, 1784 Sofia, Bulgaria – photo above) just off the main road. There is a bus that stops just down the road from here.
  • Alexander Nevsky Cathedral: Visit this iconic cathedral, one of the largest Orthodox churches in the world. Admire its stunning architecture and explore the interior adorned with beautiful frescoes and icons.
  • Vitosha Mountain: Take a break from the city and enjoy outdoor activities on Vitosha Mountain. You can hike, ski (in winter), or simply enjoy the panoramic views of Sofia from the mountain.
  • National Palace of Culture (NDK): This cultural and congress center hosts various events, exhibitions, and performances. Check the schedule for concerts, art exhibitions, or theater productions during your visit.
  • Sofia’s Central Market Hall (Tsentralni Hali): Experience local culture by exploring the bustling Central Market Hall. You’ll find fresh produce, traditional Bulgarian snacks, and handmade crafts.
  • Bulgarian National Museum of History: Dive into Bulgaria’s rich history by visiting this museum, which features artifacts from prehistoric times to the present day.
  • National Art Gallery and National Palace of Culture (NDK): Explore Bulgarian art at the National Art Gallery, housed in the former royal palace. The adjacent NDK often hosts cultural events and exhibitions.
  • St. George Rotunda: This ancient church is one of the oldest buildings in Sofia, dating back to the 4th century. It’s located in the courtyard of the Presidential Palace.
  • Ivan Vazov National Theater: Attend a performance at this historic theater, named after Bulgaria’s national poet. The building itself is an architectural masterpiece.
  • Banya Bashi Mosque: Discover the multicultural heritage of Sofia by visiting this mosque, which dates back to the 16th century and is still an active place of worship.
  • Sofia Street Art Tour: Wander through the city’s streets to discover its vibrant street art scene. Many neighborhoods feature colorful murals and graffiti, providing a unique perspective on contemporary Bulgarian art.
  • Sofia City Garden: Relax in this central park, a green oasis in the heart of the city. It’s a perfect spot for a leisurely stroll or a picnic.
  • Rila Monastery Day Trip: Take a day trip to the Rila Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage site located a couple of hours from Sofia. The monastery is a masterpiece of Bulgarian medieval architecture, surrounded by stunning natural scenery.

These suggestions offer a mix of historical, cultural, and outdoor experiences, showcasing the diverse offerings of Sofia, Bulgaria.

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I had a wonderful time in Sofia. You can walk almost anywhere or if you don’t fancy walking there are several public transport options. The snow while I was there made the view more beautiful. There are many historic sites to visit.

One tip to remember. When you arrive at the airport there will be people asking if you would like a taxi. Please do not go with these. If you go outside the terminal there are plenty of yellow taxis that are safer and registered. It only cost me 20BGN (approx. £8.75) to the centre each way. You can download the yellow taxi app and pre-book a taxi back to the airport. The airport is roughly 15-20 minutes from the centre.

If you have visited Sofia and would like to tell me about your experience, please feel free to leave a comment below.

Take a look at My Travel Plans to see where I am going next.

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