SofiaSofia could be likened to a Sleeping Beauty rousing from her slumbers, reawakening to share her charm with the rest of the world. With relics from Roman times to the Soviet era, a vibrant cultural and entertainment scene, and breathtaking views of the Vitosha mountain massif, Sofia is ready to reclaim her rightful place as one of the leading lights on the European sky.
The CityDowntown is where you will find Sofia's major historical sites, ranging from Roman, Byzantine and 20th century architecture to Neoclassical Stalinist constructions. This is also where the city’s business and commercial heart is located, with major shopping avenues and entertainment areas. Near the Alexander Nevski Church is the Oborishte district, a charming residential and commercial area, with a fine array of small, boutique-style shops, galleries and restaurants. Studentski Grad, as the name suggests, is home to the majority of Sofia’s 16 universities, hence a heavily populated student area. The arts and social scene is particularly bohemian and vibrant. If you want to escape the bright lights of the city for something more serene, you can head out to the Boyana district. This district is located at the foot of Vitosha Mountain (perfect for wandering amongst the forested lower slopes) and breathe the fresh mountain air.
Do & See
The central downtown district is where you will find the major sights of Sofia’s long history, with traces of Roman, Byzantine, and Soviet presence (neoclassical Stalinist architecture is still to be seen). This is also the city's business and commercial heart, where the major shopping avenues and entertainment areas are located.
Due to its geographical location and its history of settlement, Bulgarian cooking is a mixture of several cuisines. Look out for Shopska Salad or the Turkish-influenced Kebapcheta and Kyufteta (spiced minced meat, molded and grilled). Do not miss out on a hearty bowl of Kavarma and if there is room left, be sure to try the renowned Bulgarian yoghurt.
Cafes are aplenty in the Bulgarian capital, many doubling as bars in the after-hours. To people-watch, head straight to Vitosha Boulevard and savor a coffee in one of its many establishments with terraces and outdoor seating. Another area teeming with cafes is the central Oborishte. Organic and vegan trends are on the rise, and many cafes that popped up in Sofia in recent years serve as solid testament.
Bars & Nightlife
From chic designer bars where you can seriously strut your stuff to bohemian hideaways reminiscent of the 50’s beat scene in San Francisco, Sofia will undoubtedly have a watering hole to fit any preference. For the nocturnal animals amongst you, or those suffering from a severe bout of insomnia, Sofia’s nightclubs will not disappoint. Be it hard house, rock or Bulgarian folk, there is a always a place to suit all tastes and styles.
Since the end of communist rule, Sofia has blossomed into a shopper’s paradise. If you are looking for high-end designer boutiques or simple pleasures at the local market, Sofia is guaranteed to satisfy your shopping needs. Vitosha Boulevard and Graf Ignatiev are Sofia’s main shopping areas where you will find the familiar line up of international high street fashion chains. For one-off originals, Shipka, Oborishte and San Stefano Street, near the Alexander Nevski Cathedral are thronging with small boutiques. The covered market on Ekzarh Yosif Street is the place to pick up excellent Bulgarian food.