Sofia Travel Guide

Photo of Sofia

Sofia Overview

The city that grows but never ages, Sofia is Bulgarias fast paced and action packed capital city flanked by the Balkan Mountains to the north and the Vitosha Mountains to the south. Still largely undiscovered by tourism it is a prime example of the how old standards of the east are casually merging with contemporary western influences. Following many years hiding in the shadow of its European neighbors Sofia is now on the move with a fresh and energetic outlook. Yes there are still obvious traces of Communist rule and open street begging, nevertheless this is a city to put prejudices behind and explore Roman ruins, Byzantine churches and fascinating museums by day and party amongst Sofias beautiful people at night. The following day, when last nights activities are taking their toll, kickback in the vast open public parks or head to the cooler climbs of nearby Mount Vitosha.

 
Sofia is by no means a sprawling city, which makes enjoying its treasures a whole lot easier. The condensed centre is ideal to explore on foot and moving away from the busy avenues to the time-honored cobble stone alleys is where the true charm of the city radiates By all means set aside a day sightseeing however just as rewarding is a day spent wandering aimlessly through the back streets, pausing at an open-air café or to watch the locals engaged in a game of chess. Sofia was for long nothing more than a brief stopover and gateway to Bulgarias stunning countryside and ski resorts, but times are changing and it is becoming a cosmopolitan capital to rival any other in Eastern Europe. Enhanced by superb transport links into neighboring Serbia and Macedonia as well as to Copenhagen, London and Paris, amongst others, there has never been a better time to visit.

Things to do in Sofia

Sofia Museums - Museums and galleries are plentiful in Sofia and give a fine insight into the history and culture of both the city and Bulgaria. If planning a day of museum visits be sure to check out the following. National Archaeological Museum for artifacts from Thracian, Roman and medieval Bulgarian times, the National Museum of National History for exhibitions on the living and non-living nature of Bulgaria, the National Gallery of Foreign Art and National Polytechnic Museum.

 
Sofia Historical Buildings - Sofia is a city of magnificent architecture and hours can be spent marveling at the incredible structures peppered around the city centre. Of particular interest are the RoyalPalace, originally the head office of the Ottoman police, then Bulgarias royal family and finally home to the NationalArtGallery and EthnographicalMuseum. Stop by the Presidency for the hourly changing of the guard ceremony. There are also several monuments scattered around the city including the 1300 Years Monument, celebrating the First Bulgarian Empire, and the Monument to Vasil Levski, commemorating the national hero and revolutionist.
 
Sofia Churches & Temples - Within Sofias compact centre are a fascinating array of churches, synagogues and mosques, all within a stones thrown from each other. Wandering this area youll come across the Church of Sveta Nedelya, Chapel of Sveta Petka Paraskeva and the dominant AleksanderNevskiMemorialChurch rubbing shoulders with Banya Bashi Mosque and Sofia Synagogue.
 
Sofia Parks - When youve had enough of sightseeing there are an abundance of open green spaces to take a rest and enjoy the natural surroundings. SofiaCityGarden provides the perfect opportunity to take time out in a café and watch groups of old men deep in chess matches. South of the city YuzhenPark is an unspoilt park resembling the rugged countryside and with great views of MountVitosha. Borisova Gardina is the citys largest park playing host to the football stadiums of Vasil Levski and CSKA, Maria Luisa Pool and a series of bike and walking trails passing a myriad of statues, sculptures and flowerbeds.
           
Sofia Markets - Sofia is a great place to shop with traditional markets complimenting the standard souvenir stores and many new modern shopping malls. The true heart and spirit however lies within the markets and in particular Zhenski Pazar (Womens Market). Everything is on offer here from imitation sportswear to fresh fruit and vegetables to the kitchen sink. Stepping inside is like taking a step back in time as peasants from the countryside can be seen setting up their stalls in the hope of selling their goods.
 
Mount Vitosha - Rising up at 1,800m and watching over the city, MountVitosha is a popular weekend escape for Sofias residents, revered for its skiing opportunities in winter and trekking activities in summer, allowing locals to breathe the fresh mountain air. The mountainous region is also famed for many impressive and dramatic rock formations and the stone rivers of Zlatni Mostove.
 
Sofia Nightlife - Sofians know how to party and enjoy themselves, whether it is a casual encounter sat in a street side café or dancing the night away at one of the many clubs. The main action is centred on the Vitosha Boulevard and the easygoing neighborhood of Neofit Rilski.
 
Sofia Bars
JJ Murphys - Ever busy Irish Bar with good food and regular sports screenings.
Motto - Fancy restaurant cum cocktail bar drawing in the beautiful people.
Social Jazz Club - The best jazz bar in town pulling in some big name acts.
 
Sofia Clubs
Club Cabaret - Music ranging from techno to jazz and Latin beats to Turkish pop under the roof of an art-nouveau building.
Club Chervilo - House club attracting Sofias trend setters. Outdoor terrace makes for great summer nights.
Yalta Club - An icon of Sofia with pumping dance beats and some rather attractive locals.

Hotels in Sofia

Budget Hotels Sofia

Canape Connection - Charming hostel with an ultra laidback ambience and where sleeping is easy. Tel (359) 2 441 6373.
Gulliver Hostel - Small, centrally located hostel with good facilities. Tel (359) 298 75210.
Hostel Mostel - The pick of the bunch of backpacker orientated hostels boasting ensuite rooms and a great buffet breakfast. Tel (359) 889 223296.
Nightingale Hostel - Great value hostel catering for backpackers, families and large groups. Tel (359) 888 214888.
 
Midrange Hotels Sofia
Hotel Niky - Top value hotel with well-furnished rooms and nice garden restaurant. Tel (359) 2 952 3058.
Red Bed & Breakfast - Comfortable artsy rooms housed in the Red House Culture Centre. Tel (359) 2 988 8188.
Sofia Guesthouse - A step up from a hostel before getting into the hotel bracket. Tel (359) 2 403 0100.
 
Luxury Hotels Sofia
Grand Hotel Sofia - 5-star hotel at CityGarden with plenty of luxury facilities. Tel (359) 2 811 0811.
Les Fleurs - Superb boutique hotel in the heart of town where each room has its own quirky feature. Tel (359) 2 810 0800.

Sofia Weather

Sofia Travel Resources

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