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Overview: Sofia, Bulgaria

Welcome to Sofia, city of contradiction: ancient yet modern, mysterious yet accessible, but above all timeless, cosmopolitan, elegant, and vibrant. There’s no better place to visit if you’re looking for cultural riches or diverse activities (not to mention friendly locals) and we’re here to point you in the right direction! Sofia is Europe’s second oldest capital city and 7000 years of existence have gifted it a unique atmosphere all of its very own. Stylish restaurants, chic bars, and buzzing nightclubs mean that night time need never be boring, whilst the many and varied theatres, concert halls, and cinemas ensure there’s always a more relaxed alternative. During the day you can take advantage of countless snug cafes, interesting galleries, and famous museums.

Whether you’re scoping out potential holiday destinations or already in the city, we’re here to help: the more you know about Sofia the better you will enjoy it and we want to make sure your time here is nothing short of brilliant. We keep the information up to the minute and want our site to be the number one guide to Sofia, so if you think we’re missing anything then let us know!

While you’re in this part of the world, why not pay a visit to our Polish friends in Cracow, Wroclaw, Warsaw, Gdansk, or Zakopane? Don’t take too long though, as there’s more than enough for you to see and do right here in Sofia, Bulgaria!

Where to stay

Our Suggestions
• Festa Sofia Hotel
• Kolikovski Hotel
• Les Fleurs Hotel
• Silver House Hotel
Where to eat

Our Suggestions
• Etno, Alabin 35
• Halbite, Neofit Rilski 72
• Pod Lipite, Elin Pelin 1
• Tchergata, Shipka 34
What to do

Our Suggestions
• Nevski Memorial Church
• National Museum of History
• Church of the Holy Seven
• Sofia City Art Gallery
Articles
Guidelines to Bulgarian lifestyle, bars, clubs and discos »
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1. Try not to stare at women that are accompanied by their boyfriends, no matter how beautiful they are, it might be taken as an insult.
2. Try to avoid conflict if you notice Bulgarian people stare at your wife/girlfriend, or at yourself, usually they will be just curious. Don’t forget some 19 years ago the majority of people didn’t even meet foreigners from beyond the iron curtain, so you are still new and exciting. Bravo!
3. Don’t try to act overly macho, particularly in more provincial towns or cities. Unless of course you are Mike Tyson.
4. When in a bar do not shout or insult the waiters or other staff members, it may be taken very deeply.
5. If you feel that someone is in some way being threatening or intimidating to you, it is often best to befriend them. In many cases locals feel threatened by foreigners and try to show themselves as tough but when you act as equals and friends they will often almost immediately drop this façade.
6. If however a conflict situation rises, leave immediately. Do not stay around and add on to the fire. Bulgarians are very social and family driven and under a common goal a big group of people is summoned very fast.
7. Good icebreakers are compliments on the country: The food, the football, the women, the inventions created by Bulgarians such as the Cyrillic alphabet and so on. As additional benefit you might get an interesting story or two. Make them talk, they love it.
8. Strong drinks (vodka, whisky etc.) come in quantities of 50ml for a small and 100ml for a large. In some places, unless you specifically ask for small you will be handed a large by default.
9. Rakia must only be drunk with shopska salad. Don’t ask us why, it just should. If you order one without salad you may well be looked at as if you are from Mars.
10. The Bulgarian for “cheers” is nazdrave, which literally means “to your health”. If someone proposes a toast (and this could happen innumerable times during the course of the evening) you have to clink your glass with absolutely everyone, no matter how many are sitting round the table, making sure to look in the eye at the point of clinking. If you fail to make eye contact, they will think you are disrespectful (or just an uninformed foreigner). The custom comes from ancient times. In days gone by kings, khans and other important figures would look deep into the eyes of the person they cheer to guess his intentions. Then they would bang their glasses so hard, so that a drop of each drink gets into the other (mixing the drinks would guarantee they are not poisoned).
11. Be prepared to mix your own drinks. Whilst in England a “vodka and coke” means a nice mixed drink from the bar, in BG it means 1 vodka (most likely large) and 1 coke. Mix it yourself to your own perfect proportions. Cheers.
12. Bring a gas mask. Many Bulgarians are heavy smokers although this becomes less with new generations. Some bars can be closed in and stuffy places. Combine this with a crowd of 40 a day hardcore smokers and you get quite a fog.
13. Take advantage of the hospitality of the Bulgarian soul. You might be invited to dinners, parties, cocktail parties, promotions, etc. Generally Bulgarians love foreigners.
14. In bars you can not bring drugs, guns or other forbidden substances. Pretty much like most places you have been in your life.
15. Big fat silver chains that you could anchor a boat with are an absolute must. That is if you want to appear young, cool, like a gangster or simply need to anchor a boat.
16. If you are going out on a Friday night to a bar and want to blend in like a local, it is essential that you haven’t shaved for at least 3 days. Dressing entirely in black is a bonus.
17. Girls, for you to catch the attention of Bulgarian men, just act natural and dress sexy.
Zagorka Beer – the leading Bulgarian beer »
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Just 230 km. away from Sofia, in the heart of the historic region of Trace, there lays the city of Stara Zagora. Besides its rich historical inheritance, the city of straight streets, linden trees and poets, as it is known in Bulgaria, is famous for being among the birthplaces of one of the most popular Bulgarian beers - Zagorka.

History
It all started in 1902 with the opening of the “Biraria” / the Beer House/. This is how people in Stara Zagora called the new brewing factory of local entrepreneur doctor Kozhuharov. After he had tasted delicious Czech beer, he decided to build a brewery when he came back to his home town.
It was after World War II when a new period in Zagorka history began. This was a period of reconstruction, modernization, and growth. A lot of investments were made. New automated heavy duty equipment was installed, which was at a level comparable with the highest world standards. At the same time, the special attention and care for the quality brought good results.

Zagorka was the pioneer in beer marketing as well. For the first time attention was paid to packaging and design. The portfolio of different tastes and flavors of beer was expanded. Zagorka – the Bulgarian beer - stepped on new markets – Turkey, Greece, Egypt, Libya, and others. Today, more than a century after its foundation, Zagorka is a leading Bulgarian beer brand. More than any other brand it symbolizes long standing tradition, experience and rich history of excellent and constant quality. Zagorka stands in high esteem and respect of Bulgarian beer connoisseurs. And even more – it is …The best beer of Bulgaria. Zagorka has always been, and always will be, committed to providing Bulgarian beer lovers with a drinking experience of the highest possible standards. With its amber color, full taste, and rich aroma Zagorka represents the original taste of the best Bulgarian beer. Throughout its history Zagorka has won a number of Bulgarian and international medals and awards, including the highest in the world quality selection - Monde selection.

Zagorka is not only the highest quality lager, but also a leader and an innovator on the Bulgarian market. It was the first beer brand to launch cans and the first to be exported. As the general sponsor of the National football team, Zagorka confirms its image as the leading Bulgarian beer. In its support for the ‘Bulgarian Lions’, Zagorka has committed itself to providing Bulgarian football fans with unforgettable emotions. During the Bulgaria: Ireland football match on June 06, with the help of Zagorka nearly 40,000 fans took part in the making of the biggest national flag in the history of Bulgarian football .

In the last 14 years Zagorka has been participating actively in the development of Bulgarian men’s tennis as well by sponsoring the most prestigious local men’s tennis tournament – Zagorka Tennis Cup. In 2009 the tournament grew to ATP Challengers tournament with a record prize fund of 85,000 EUR that attracted a number of TOP 100 players in Sofia. This is why, more than any other beer brand, Zagorka is the symbol of long-lasting brewing traditions, an example of high quality beer and the undisputable leader on the Bulgarian beer market.
Bansko during summer? »
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Bansko during summer? Yes! Bansko has much more to offer than ski and snow boarding during the winter months. If you already know the winter destination Bansko you may already know that Bansko is situated amidst endless natural beauty. Still this is a hidden part in what Bansko offers his guests. Bansko’s natural surrounding is part of the Pirin National Park. A park of such high importance that it is listed as World Heritage national park encompassing the larger part of the Pirin Mountain range. In this area of 274 km² are 2 nature reserves Bayuvi Dupki and Yulen. The altitude varies between the 1008 and 2914 meters. Much of the area is forested, with the best conifer woods in Bulgaria, holding important populations of the Balkan endemic species Macedonian Pine, Bosnian Pine and Bulgarian Fir. Animals include the Deer, the Capricorn, the Wolf and the Brown Bear. The park has an amazing variety of plant, animal and fish species on its territory, making it one of the most botanically, zoologically and ontologically interesting areas on the Balkan Peninsula. Whoever thought that Edelweiss only grows in the Swiss Alps definitely should pay a visit.

Not less than 1300 plant species can be observed within the park. Besides this, about 300 moss species and a large amount of algae have been determined. About 2090 fauna species and subspecies are to be seen in the park, among them 300 rare species, 214 common and 175 relicts, as well as 15 that were included in international endangered species lists. If fish has more your interest it is worth knowing that the park hosts 6 fish species constituting 6% of the whole freshwater fish species of Bulgaria. For the amphibian lovers we report 8 species and 11 species of reptiles to be present within the protected area. Animal life is not complete without also mentioning the birds, from the tiny sparrow to the mighty eagle which can be spotted in this unique area. Bansko area has also a lot to show as for history, from simple 1-2 room house museums to culturally unique monasteries like the world famous Rila monastery part of the Unesco World Heritage list.

If mountaineering, mountain-biking, horse riding, Nordic walking, or even hunting are amongst the activities you are in to, the region around Bansko is all you need. The local Bansko tourist agency will be happy to assist you in finding the right guides for you. Horse riding for sure will be a high light of your holiday were you will have the chance to see breathtaking scenery in the Kresna gorge on a horseback. What about romantic picnics to make you feel close to nature, amidst the trees and wild mountain rivers. Up-route to the ski tracks Bansko even has its own official picnic area, with tables and barbeque facilities. The Dancing Bears Rehabilitation Belitsa Park supported by the Foundation Brigitte Bardot and the “Four Paws” Foundation is one of the ‘must’ visits. Bears in Bulgaria do not dance any more in captivity. Here in their own park they have their own territory similar to their natural habitat. A charity well worth your support. The last dancing bear has been brought to the park in 2007. Physical and mental relaxation that is what Bansko is about during the summer months. Various hotels offer Spa treatments, and each has its own speciality.

Give yourself the gift of being treated to your hearts delights. Bansko has grown into an international community, for this reason you for sure will find a kitchen to your taste, from traditional Bulgarian to haute cuisine Greek style. Bansko during summer is a guaranteed destination that will provide you with an unforgettable experience.
Arriving in Sofia »
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Relax. There seem to be more signs, written in the English language on major roads, and there are more and more Bulgarians, who feel confident to speak “English”. After all, they have been watching American subbed movies for years, and even some gas-pumping people have university degrees. The more you get stuck in traffic jams and the harder it is to park, then you must be in the city centre.

By plane
Sofia International Airport (Letishte Sofia), 10km east of the city centre, is divided into two terminals - the aging Terminal 1 and the modern Terminal 2, opened in 2006. The arrivals halls at both terminals boast cafés, car-hire and taxi counters, information desk, ATMs and exchange bureaux (although beware that rates here are not particularly generous, so it’s best to only change enough cash for immediate survival). Getting to town: avoid the taxi touts, thronging the arrivals halls and head instead for the official ranks of yellow taxis parked outside (OK Supertrans and Taxi S Express), or visit their counters. The fare into town shouldn’t cost more than 16Lv (€8). Alternatively, you can catch the bus - No 84 from Terminal 1 or No 284 from Terminal 2. Both run to Orlov Most (C-5) on the eastern fringes of the city centre, departing roughly every 10-15 minutes between 05:00 and 23:00. Tickets cost 1Lv from the kiosks beside the bus stop, or from the driver. You also have to buy a separate ticket for each bulky piece of luggage; otherwise, you run the risk of being fined by ticket inspectors.

By train
Sofia’s Central Station (Tsentralna gara), open 05:00 - 24:00, is an unwelcoming concrete hangar 20-minute walk north of the city centre. Facilities include left-luggage, money exchange kiosks, ATMs, bars and fast-food outlets. Beware of pickpockets who hang around the station and the adjoining underpass. There are coin-operated left-luggage lockers in the basement (2Lv for 24hrs), and a left-luggage office (garderob) just off the eastern side of the main ticket hall (open 06:00 - 23:00; 2Lv per item). Cheapest way of getting to town is to hop on tram No 1 or 7 (buy ticket from kiosks or from the driver - 1 Lv) from opposite the station forecourt - head for the subterranean underpass to find the platform. Either of these will take you to pl. Sveta Nedelya, well placed for central Sofia’s amenities - get off when you see the Sheraton Hotel looming up on your left. The taxi drivers hovering outside the station are an unpredictable bunch; check that their meters are switched on or agree a flat fare before setting off; otherwise walk 200 metres east to the bus station (see below) where the taxi firms are more reputable.

By bus
Most international and domestic buses arrive at the spanking new Central Bus Station (Tsentralna Avtogara), 200m east of the Central Railway Station. Compared to other points of arrival the bus station is comfortingly civilized, with clean toilets, plenty of shops and cafés, a pharmacy, and an ATM. There is a 24-hour left-luggage office (2-3Lv depending on size of bag) in the main ticket hall. To get into the centre of town from here, stroll either south down bul. Maria Luiza (15-20 min), or walk 200m west to pick up tram No 1 or 7 outside the train station (see above). There is a taxi booking office just beside the main exit. Some international buses arrive at the Trafik-Market terminal mid-way between the main train and bus stations. As this is nothing more than a parking lot bordered by ticket offices and café kiosks, you’ll have to walk to the main stations on either side to find any facilities.

By car
Regardless of your point of entry, you deserve plaudits for being so brave. The first thing you need to do is reduce your speed to avoid the many police checks on incoming roads. Follow the lead of other cars (not the ones who overtake and temporarily drive on the wrong side of the road) and get patiently in line should you encounter a traffic jam, which are unfortunately becoming more and more frequent, especially during rush hour. Parking can be difficult to find in the city, and you should be aware that the blue zones cost 1Lv per hour. Failure to pay can lead to clamping and your car being towed away after 2 hours. Parking vouchers are sold on the spot by parking attendants or you can just send SMS to 1302 with your registration number (for Bulgarian and transit license plate numbers), and you will be notified when the time is up, giving you the chance to pay for the next hour.
» We have 22 hotels matching your search
To see a hotel description click on the button ''Details''
Apollon Plus Holiday Apartments - Nessebar
Hotel
 
Aris hotel - Sofija
Hotel
Hotel Aris has 16 luxurious standard rooms and two suites furnished with all the modern amenities to make guests feel comfortable.
Rating from: 2 guest reviews
Atlantic Hotel - Sofia
Hotel
The hotel has 10 rooms and 7 suites, with a total capacity of 40 beds, which makes the hotel suitable not only for individual visits but also for tourist groups.
Rating from: 2 guest reviews
Bulgarska Armia Hotel
Hotel
 
California Hotel
Hotel
 
Rating from: 4 guest reviews
Casa Boyana Boutique Hotel
Hotel
Nestled in a pretty residential district, this charming 4-star Hotel Casa Boyana boasts a privileged peaceful spot in proximity to the hustle and bustle. Appreciate the warm and intimate ambiance of this boutique hotel and be enchanted by the grandeur of the decoration.
Dunav Apartment House
Hotel
We are pleased to introduce to you the newly constructed “Dunav” Apartment House. Situated in the heart of the city “Dunav” Apartment House has one of the best locations in Sofia.
Rating from: 1 guest reviews
Festa Sofia Hotel
Hotel
Festa Sofia Hotel is the symbol of the Festa Hotels Group, one of the most prominent hotel groups in Bulgaria. Festa Hotels is developing and managing exclusive hotel properties in some of the most exciting resorts and cities in Bulgaria. The hotel’s perfect location offers quick access to both the city downtown and some of the most famous landmarks in Sofia.
Gorubliansko Hanche Hotel
Hotel
Hotel features 101 comfortably furnished double rooms and a hotel restaurant with a sunny summer garden offering a variety of delicious dishes from both the Bulgarian and the European cuisines. The Sofia Business Center and International Expo Center are also nearby. Rooms are equipped with: Telephone, Shower, TV, Satellite TV, Bathroom, Toilet, Heating, Hair dryer, witting desk. Other facilities: Restaurant, 24-Hour Front Desk, Elevator, Heating, Laundry, Dry Cleaning, Safe, Telephone, Tourist Information, Wake up calls.
Harmony Hotel - Sofia
Hotel
The Harmony Hotel Sofia is a great opportunity for your business trips as well as for recreation and sports. The rooms are cosy and offer a pleasant, relaxing atmosphere.
Rating from: 1 guest reviews
Hemus hotel
Hotel
The three- stars Hemus Hotel is located next to the National Palace of Culture, near the administrative and cultural center of the capital. The hotel offers 125 double and 45 single rooms, as well as 8 small suites with direct dial phones and satellite TV.
Kempinski Hotel Zografski - Sofia
Hotel
Kempinski Hotel Zografski Sofia is part of the portfolio of Kempinski Hoteliers and is one of the leading 5-star hotels in Sofia combining local flair and ambience with the international standards of service and luxury that Kempinski guests have come to expect.
Kolikovski Hotel
Hotel
Hotel Kolikovski is a new modern building located in the very heart of Sofia – between the two main central boulevards – “Vitosha” and “Patriarch Evtimii”. It elegantly mingles with the surrounding old buildings built by Austrian architects during the last century and it adds to the refined, classical and aristocratic spirit of old Sofia.
Rating from: 4 guest reviews
Legends Hotel
Hotel
The three-star Hotel Legends started in the month of April 2006 is one of the newest hotels in the centre of the city of Sofia.
Les Fleurs Hotel
Hotel
Hotel Les Fleurs Sofia is completely Smoke-Free in all guestrooms. Situated in the heart of Sofia’s main shopping, business and historical attractions, Hotel Les Fleurs is only 20 minutes away from Sofia's airport by car. The hotel features exquisite decor, intuitive service and an extraordinary blend of luxury and convenience in style with its floral surroundings. Hotel Les Fleurs offers a floral setting of unmistakable grandeur, ideal for business or leisure.
Rating from: 5 guest reviews
Lozenetz hotel
Hotel
Just steps off few minutes away from the heart of Sofia. You will be within walking distance to the finest shopping, dinner & entertainment that Sofia has to offer. At the “Lozenetz Hotel” you will be in the middle of everything and yet away from it all.
Rating from: 1 guest reviews
Metropolitan Hotel Sofia
Hotel
All Metropolitan Hotel guestrooms and suites offer the advantages of an international high-class hotel, adopting the best of the local traditions. A discreet personal welcome from the country and the city makes you feel instantly at home.
Rating from: 1 guest reviews
Sheraton Hotel - Sofia
Hotel
Archways of ceiling-high columns, distinctly constructed doors and moldings, and imported Italian marble floors outline the lobby of the Sheraton Sofia Hotel Balkan. Located in the heart of Sofia, Sheraton Sofia Hotel Balkan is ideally situated just a stroll from the business and commercial district. Recognized as one of the city’s grandest hotels and architectural landmarks, the Sheraton Sofia offers guests an exceptional experience of Bulgaria’s finest culture and service. Discover the historical beauty of Sofia.
Rating from: 3 guest reviews
Silver House Hotel
Hotel
Hotel Silver House has delicate brilliance and business atmosphere, unbeatable business style, exquisite ambience, professional attitude and attention to detail and a restaurant to meet every culinary whim.
Rating from: 2 guest reviews
Sky Way Hotel
Hotel
Sky Way hotel features elegantly appointed and spacious guest rooms equipped with high-quality amenities including free Wireless Internet Access (Wi- Fi), individually controlled air-conditioning, high quality LCD and satellite TV, non smoking rooms and a choice of twin or king-size beds.
Triada Hotel
Hotel
Hotel Triada, one of the newest and most popular hotels in Sofia, offers excellent accommodation for a business or leisure stay in Sofia.
Vitosha Park Hotel
Hotel
A tower of elegance and luxury Park Hotel Vitosha presents a new standard of excellence in Bulgarian Hospitality.
Rating from: 2 guest reviews