Hey fellow vacationers! Alexx right here from Discovering Alexx. I'm on a year-long solo journey in a brand new nation each week for a yr, with my route primarily based fully on the most cost effective flight each Tuesday. Sure, it's as hectic because it sounds! This loopy journey took me to Sofia, an attractive hidden gem within the Balkans and within the Bulgarian capital. Right here's all the pieces that you must know when contemplating a visit to Sofia, what to do, the place to sleep, methods to get round, and extra.
The place to remain in Sofia
Let's begin with excellent news … Sofia is the perfect place if you’re on a price range! There are lots of low-cost hostels in Sofia with dorm beds for lower than $ 13 an evening, or you may get a price range resort room from round $ 32 an evening.
I’m normally an enormous supporter of lodging with full kitchens so it can save you cash on groceries, however consuming in Sofia is so low-cost (and good!) That frankly there is no such thing as a must prepare dinner your personal meals.
Some nice choices for in a single day lodging in Sofia are the Generaator Hostel, the Peter Pan Hostel, the 5 Classic Visitor Home and the aptly named Lodge Low-cost.
How one can get round in Sofia
In case you stay within the metropolis middle and don't thoughts taking your steps up, you possibly can in all probability see town pretty simply on foot. Lots of the main sights are inside strolling distance, and as I wandered aimlessly by means of town, I discovered lots of my prime suggestions for consuming!
In case you desire to be quicker (and perhaps drier) there are trams, buses and the subway. A single journey prices BGN 1.60 (approx. 90 cents) or a day ticket with limitless journey prices BGN four (approx. USD 2).
There's no Uber in Sofia, however there’s a nice native taxi app known as TaxiMe that does the identical. You’ll be able to sign up along with your UK quantity, add your bank card and welcome a journey by means of the app like anyplace else.
To get to and from the airport simply and comparatively cheaply, I’d advocate taking a taxi from the airport taxi rank. Just one firm is permitted to supply taxi companies on the airport and there are commonplace tariffs. So comply with the indicators to the official taxi space and you’ll be taken care of. To get downtown, it is best to pay round BGN 15-20 ($ Eight-12).
On a good price range? You’ll be able to take the subway from Terminal 2 on the airport to Serdika prepare station for BGN 1.60 (money solely, so that you want an ATM on the airport) after which change to a bus, tram, or different subway to get nearer to get to your resort.
How a lot price range for Sofia
Yay for reasonable locations! Just like my week in Warsaw, Sofia was an actual deal with for my pockets.
In case you're in search of a problem, Sofia can truly solely expertise $ 15-20 a day. This could cowl low-cost hostel lodging ($ 9 to $ 13) and grocery store or bakery meals (as much as $ 7). You’ll be able to see lots of the stunning buildings free of charge, and with a bit googling, you are able to do a metropolis tour your self to study extra concerning the metropolis's communist historical past.
So as to add native meal ($ 6 to $ 10), a drink ($ three), and a free tour ($ 6) donation, I’d advocate a price range of round $ 40 a day .
You may get freshly baked treats from native bakeries for lower than BGN 1 (about 65 cents), respectable sandwiches or salads for lunch from BGN four to BGN Eight ($ 1.95 to USD four.50), or a bit fancier dinner from BGN 12 to 20 ($ 6.50 to $ 12) obtained. . A neighborhood beer prices between BGN 2 and BGN 6, relying on the place you might be ($ 1.30 to USD four).
The most effective issues to do in Sofia
Whereas not as effectively referred to as different Jap European hotspots like Prague and Budapest, town has rather a lot to supply and Sofia has lots to do it doesn’t matter what you become involved with.
Acquire an perception into Bulgaria's rocky previous, purchase used treats at flea markets, eat your coronary heart on all my journeys to a few of my favourite cafes, or escape the city jungle and discover one other close by metropolis. Listed below are 5 of the most effective issues to do in your Sofia journey.
1. Study communist historical past
Bulgaria's political previous continues to be interwoven all through town, with enormous headquarters, structure, museums and statues that signify the communist period from 1946 to 1989.
Whether or not you're an absolute newcomer to communist historical past otherwise you all understand how Bulgaria impacts you, there are some locations and excursions you could add to your Sofia communism class.
After I got here from New Zealand, the place communism was by no means touched close to our little nook of the world, and the place I selected math and science courses about historical past, geography, and politics (nerd, I do know), my information was concerning the communist Regime of Jap Europe restricted.
Step one is the free Sofia hike, which takes place three or 4 occasions a day (relying on the season) and relies on ideas. Your native information will take you to round 20 must-see sights in Sofia, and get overview of town's historical past and politics, in addition to ideas from an area on actions, eating places, and sights.
Free Sofia additionally presents a every day communism tour for simply $ 11, which supplies you a three-hour stroll by means of town's communist landmarks, in addition to an perception into the lifetime of Sofia in these 43 years.
Need extra? Go to the Nationwide Historic Museum or the Museum of Socialist Artwork, which homes the enormous purple star that was positioned on the headquarters of the Communist Celebration earlier than it was overthrown within the late 1980s.
2. See probably the most stunning spiritual buildings within the metropolis
Whereas the predominant faith in Bulgaria is the Bulgarian Orthodox (round 60%), there are some merely gorgeous church buildings, mosques, cathedrals and monasteries within the capital.
Begin with town's most epic constructing and one of many coolest buildings I've ever seen, Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. This spectacular Orthodox church was based in 1882, however was solely accomplished 30 years later. It is among the most well-known landmarks of the Bulgarian capital. It has a 45 m excessive gold-plated dome and an inside made from onyx, marble and different uncommon parts supplies.
Different Orthodox church buildings value visiting embrace St. Nicholas Church (a Russian Orthodox Church), Sveti Sedmochislenitsi Church, and Sveta Nedelya Church, which has a dramatic historical past, together with a Communist Celebration bombing in 1925, through which over 500 Bulgarian elites lived, politicians had been injured and 150 killed.
Islam is the second most typical faith after the Jap Orthodox. As much as 15% of the inhabitants establish as Muslims. Bulgaria was below Ottoman rule for nearly 500 years, from the late 13th century till the Ottoman Empire was taken over by the Russian Empire in 1878. After the liberation by the victory of Russia and the declaration of independence in 1908, many buildings from that point had been transformed or destroyed. The 16th century Banya Bashi Mosque is the one functioning mosque in Sofia and as such a busy middle for town's Muslim neighborhood.
Followers of historic historical past ought to cease at Sveti Georgi, a 4th-century Christian church constructed by the Romans within the historic metropolis of Serdica. It’s the oldest constructing within the metropolis and homes some breathtaking 10th century frescoes.
three. Devour all a budget meals
I'm an enormous proponent of cooking your personal meals whereas touring to satisfy a good price range, and I normally enable myself to spend a bit of cash on a meal or two each week. Buttttt in Sofia, I’ve eaten each single meal all through the week. Sure, I stated each single meal!
The native meals scene just isn’t solely low-cost but in addition very spectacular. From bakeries the place you may get 4 baked items or pastries for the equal of € 1, to instagramable brunch spots with next-level dishes, to conventional eating places that serve home made dishes, I’d actually return in a second only for the meals.
There may be positively a restaurant in Sofia that’s good for any type of meals, however listed here are a few of my favorites.
Bistro Pesto was my primary and I'm not ashamed to say that I had lunch there 4 days in a row! They’re an excellent cute nook restaurant close to the primary buying boulevard and serve Italian meals day and evening. The Panini menu is unbelievable; genuine Italian elements and a Bulgarian value. Win win!
In case you're in search of a cool meals picture (no judgment right here), try the brunch menu in Rainbow Manufacturing facility or Boho. I didn't make it to the rainbow manufacturing unit, however my roommates rave about it and I can personally vouch for the Oreo pancake stack in Boho. Mmmmhmmmm.
For an affordable however scrumptious dinner, you should definitely go to the legends at Shtastlivetsa, a sequence restaurant with a HUGE number of home made dishes. The costs are understandably a bit increased than on the native road distributors, however the service is incredible, the meals are enormous and there are many hearty Bulgarian dishes to select from.
four. Go to the mountains
Sofia's panorama is uncommon in relation to European capitals, as a mountain vary is so near town middle. The underside of Vitosha Mountain is just about 10 km from town and simple to achieve by taxi, public transport or on foot if you wish to spend a day.
In summer season, Vitosha is a well-liked mountaineering vacation spot, the place metropolis dwellers flee on the weekend to get some recent air. The very best peak is 2290 m excessive, however there are additionally hikes across the decrease half of the mountain to numerous rivers and waterfalls.
In winter, the mountain is a ski space, good for all snow hares on a price range. Though it’s considerably much less developed than different European ski areas corresponding to Switzerland and France, your day move and rental are less expensive and your cash goes a lot additional.
Vitosha just isn’t solely a hotspot for adrenaline actions, it is usually residence to a different should in Sofia and a UNESCO World Heritage Website, the Boyana Church. Boyana is an 11th century Orthodox church and well-known for its many frescoes, particularly a group from 1259.
5. Take a day journey
There are some fairly unbelievable locations to see and do exterior of Sofia itself. So when you’ve got the time, I’d advocate taking a day or two out!
My first selection for a day journey from Sofia is Plovdiv, one other Bulgarian metropolis and one of many two European Capitals of Tradition in 2019. Plovdiv is just a few hours by bus from Sofia and tickets price round £ 6 every means. As soon as within the metropolis, I’d advocate becoming a member of a free strolling tour that’s run by the identical group that did the Sofia tour. You’ve got a every day metropolis tour all yr spherical and a free graffiti tour from October to April. And if you wish to discover your self, don't miss the distinctive coloured homes that line the streets of the outdated city. They’re totally different from every other European outdated city I've seen!
Would you like a exercise? There isn’t a higher place to get round in Bulgaria than within the area of the seven Rila Lakes. As you guessed, seven Rila Lakes are residence to seven glacial lakes within the Rila Mountains. All are between 2100 m and 2500 m excessive. It’s attainable, however it’s tough to get there by public transport. It’s best to lease a automotive and drive (1.5 to 2 hours) or guide an organized day tour or a shuttle bus. Bonus tip: don't miss the Rila Monastery, a 10th century Jap Orthodox monastery and the most important within the nation. Value a go to!
And there you will have it, a whole journey information for Sofia and past in your Bulgarian journey! E book your flight to Sofia now with STA Journey. If you wish to comply with extra of my adventures, you will discover me on Instagram.