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!
Guidelines to Bulgarian lifestyle, bars, clubs and discos »
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 »
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.
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
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
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? »
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
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
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.
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 »
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.