Sofia, a green city in Europe, full of beautiful monuments and green spaces!
All I can say is that Sofia, a beautiful green city in Europe,is full of parks and historical buildings. Yes, actually Sofia has been aims to become the Green Capital city in Europe, and it has its reason to be. In every single corner you can easily find a beautiful park. You can notice how the city is working on becoming every time greener and greener by the policies it applies such as public transport that only uses gas and no fuel at all. Or buses that transport themselves by using electricity. The city itself has also been closed in most of the centric parts to the traffic. Which it means a lot of areas are just for pedestrians. One can also notice that the city is implementing the use of electric transport such scooters, even it’s much less than in Tel Aviv.
Some other interesting facts about Sofia is that is has a mountain behind it, called Vitosha. Actually is not a mountain but a non-active volcano.The nature surroundings of the city are beautiful as its multiple historical buildings from different historical backgrounds and cultures that have been in the territory. You can find in the same city Synagogues, Mosques, Russian Churches, Christian Churches..and other beautiful religious buildings.
I can not forget mentioning that Sofia, as Bulgaria in general, it is very very cheap. Like 2,5 times cheaper than Spain and 6 times cheaper than Tel Aviv.
When to visit Sofia?
I will definitely recommend you to visit Sofia during the summer. Why? because during that period the weather is pleasantly warm, and sunny. There’s nice breeze on the afternoon, and can be cold compared to the Middle East. However, the overall temperature is good for visiting, walk around and see the city in its sunny period. Bear in mind that just a few months later it gets REALLY COLD. Avoid visiting on winter as one local told us during the winter 2019 Sofia get into -20ºC. So I definitely recommend you going during the summer, or spring.
Where to stay?
I stayed in Hostel 123, and I recommend you that place very much. You might wonder why, and it’s because of the vibe that small house has. I met so many people in just a few days. We headed around the city, visited monuments, did food tours, went for a lunch, for a dinner, went to bars and explored the nightlife. So even if I was traveling alone I didn’t feel alone at all.
Also the price it’s cheap- 18leva (9€/night) for a 4 female dorm which looks clean and it includes a nice and breakfast. It has a beautiful yard where people tend to socialize (so there’s no individualist hanging vibe around). People play the guitar, drink some beers, cook together..and it’s definitely nice. Even if the hostel is not in the center itself, it’s placed only 20 away to the most famous monuments.
What to visit in Sofia?
Sofia is not a big city, as it only has 1M of inhabitants. That means is easy to get around by walk, as almost everything is reachable in maximum 30 minutes by walk.
10 things to visit and do:
1) Alexander Nevsky Cathedral: that is one of the most iconic cathedral’s in Sofia, and also one of the first buildings you will find.
2) The King’s Palace: only 5 minutes walk from Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, you will find in your right a remarkable palace that it used to be the King’s Palace. Inside you’ll find a National Gallery and some other interesting exhibitions. The entrance is around 4 leva/1€.
3)Russian Church: under my point of view, one of the most beautiful and surprising buildings I saw in Sofia. This Church, only 5 minutes walk from King’s Palace ,it is placed in a super beautiful corner with a green garden filled with colorful flowers. For me, one of the best spots I saw all around the city.
4) National Theatre: that is also a very beautiful old building, placed in a beautiful square with a fountain and lots of restaurants.
5) National Library: unfortunately, I couldn’t enter there because it was closed until the beginning of September, and I was leaving end of August. But I’m sure that if you are there in another period of time and it’s open, that will be a worthy visit as the building looked very beautiful from outside.
6) Banya Bashi Mosque: placed behind the VItosha Boulevard you can find that beautiful Mosque, that is also near a park.
7) The Communist Parliament: it is a big building placed in the main avenue of the center, and you will pass in front of it when walking towards Vitosha Boulevard.
8) Vitosha Boulevard: the main Boulevard of the city, full with bars and restaurants and people walking around.
9)Borisova Gradina Park: one of the main and biggest parks of the city, very nice.. it even has a forest inside so I really recommend you to go there for a nice and calm walk.
10) Rent a bike and go for a ride around the city.
Where to go out?
Bulgarians drink a lot, so if you go to Sofia some day, I’m sure you’ll end up having beers all day and night long. Not to say, Rakia (the typical alcohol from Bulgaria), or half a liter bottles of Vodka in the street before entering to the club. That is actually the bulgarian ritual when going out at night.
Even if you will drink more than the usual and also paying very affordable prices (you’ll find 1L beer bottle for only 1€ in the supermarket) don’t expect the best parties. Why? Because bulgarian people have a very particular way of partying. Clubs are full of tables in which local people sit or hang around with their friends. That means, there’s no space for dancing and that also everyone stays all night long next to his/her friends. Given to this context, the chances of meeting new people in a club are almost inexistent. Clubs have the same function bars have, but instead of being seated people are standing. That’s the only difference.
In spite of it, I recommend you to try the following clubs and bars:
-PM CLUB: placed in the center, the right place to smoke shesha while dancing all kind of music styles.
-PROVOCATEUR CLUB: full with local people, tables, and nice scenario. The music there is mainly bulgarian so you might end up bored and people there doesn’t like to mix up.
-CHECK THE GARDENS AT NIGHT: during the summer a lot of young people meet up at the gardens, they bring they own alcohol and sometimes their own music and so they make themselves a party worth to be experienced.
-RAKETA RAKIA BAR :where I recommend you to have the “Rakia Sour cocktail”.
-KUBA: a bar also placed in the center, newly open, with a nice design and a chillin’ vibe.
-THE CORNER -PIANO BAR & DINNER: That was a recommendation from a bulgarian friend. It is a bar in the hill of a mountain with nice views to Sofia and great cocktails that are very affordable. Like 8leva in average, which is 4€.
Where to eat?
One friend once told me, “when you’re in Sofia, don’t go to supermarkets, do directly to the restaurants, it’s cheaper” and indeed he was right.
The most crowded street to check restaurants in Sofia is the Boulevard Vitosha. Even though, the restaurants there are not the best ones or the most authentic. There’s one that is price-and quality very much worth it:
Called · Happy- every month they offer food from some concrete country, when I was there it was the “Greek” month. Then you have multiple bulgarian options, as the cheese bread which is delicious, and you can also have japanese and italian food. So they have all in one. If you are hungry and want to eat tasty food for not so much money go there. Maximum 15 leva per person, which is only 7€.
Then I recommend you to try DNBAKA which is a Bulgarian food restaurant parallel to Vitosha Boulevard and they make an incredible Katino Meze served inside of a bread and accompaigned with fries. The place is nice, prices are very very low. We also had the typical Shopska Salad which is typical from Bulgaria aswell, but that was not as interesting as the Katino Meze.
To sum up, Sofia a beautiful green city in Europe, is full of calm spaces. Perfect to have a chilled and an affordable holiday, in which you”ll be able to eat tasty food for 5-7€ in the restaurants. And in which you’ll drink a lot of beer and eventually Rakia ,even if you won’t be able to dance in the clubs! Very recommendable destination with lot of interesting spots to see and activities to offer! 😉
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