If someone goes to Bulgaria, he or she usually head straight to the coast or, sometimes, to the mountains. Most of the visitors skip the capital of Bulgaria, assuming it is not worth visiting. So that is a shame because Bulgaria is incredibly beautiful and there’s so much awe-inspiring nature to see, but Sofia is a great city, and it is a pity to miss a chance of visiting it. To convince you, here’s a list of 6 reasons Sofia deserves a place on a traveler’s bucket list.
Green parks perfect for strolls and picnics
The capital of Bulgaria is full of greenness, which is quite surprising for a capital city. There are several large parks, including Borisova Gradina and Yuzhen Park (which, by the way, translates to South Park – an additional reason to visit for the famous cartoon’s fans). Not only the trees, ponds, and colors are enchanting in Sofia’s parks, but also relaxed locals who love meeting up there, especially when the weather’s nice. They stroll around, make picnics, sit down on the grass and have a couple of beers while chatting with friends. There are families with children, lots of young people practicing sports or merely hanging out. In the evenings the parks of Sofia start reminding large open-air bars.
It is a fascinating historic town
The history of Sofia is rich and long. In its first form, the city was created about 2500 years ago. It was given a different name then and a few more throughout its history. Not only the names were changing, but the role Sofia was playing on the map of Europe as well. It was the capital of Roman Empire for a while, then got influenced by the Ottoman Empire and later on by Soviets – you can imagine how turbulent was the city’s life and how diverse it is now, culturally and architecturally. If you are a history enthusiast, you should visit the National Ethnographic Museum and the National Museum of History.
Sofia is one of the cheapest capitals in Europe
It is a perfect destination for budget travelers. Bulgaria has one of Europe’s lowest prices and so does its capital. In fact, Sofia might even be cheaper than other, more touristy parts of Bulgaria, such as the coast. There are lots of free activities, including excellent guided tours. Well, they are not exactly free. You can leave a donation, which is highly appreciated, but it is up to you how high it will be).
Bars, cafés, and restaurants are affordable. You can have a quick meal for the equivalent of 1-2 Euros and an excellent dinner for 5. Prices of drinks in bars vary a lot, but even fancy clubs are not nearly as expensive as those you can find in western European cities.
You can easily get a bed in a hostel for about 10 Euros, a room in a mid-range hotel for 30 Euros and a luxurious one for 70. Besides, what matters maybe even more than prices themselves, is the quality you get for your money. It is not hard to find excellent restaurants or cozy hotels in the capital of Bulgaria, even amongst the most affordable ones.
Vibrant and diverse nightlife
Bulgarians know how to party. They like to go out and tend to spend much time in bars and pubs – if you do too, you will be more than welcome to join them. There are quite a lot of options to choose from in the Capital of Bulgaria. There are crazy clubs with Balkan pop music (only for the brave and wild party animals), mellow jazz clubs, wine bars and atmospheric pubs. Many discos are on the campus, but you can also find some in the city center – those tend to be slightly more expensive, but even less insane and thus safer. Vitosha Street has many cool bars and pubs as well.
Proximity to the Vitosha Nature Park
Not only Sofia itself is lovely, but also its surroundings. You do not have to go far to escape the hustle and bustle of the city life. Just outside of the capital, there’s the Vitosha Mountain, beloved by both locals and visitors. It is a perfect destination for a little day-trip. You can get there fast, trek around and come back to Sofia for the night, although there’s also a possibility for overnight stays in the park. In the summer you can hike and walk, in the winter you can ski – there’re lots to do no matter the season.
Bulgarians are charming. They are open and social, as in most Balkan countries. If you get lost and ask someone for directions, they will most likely bring you straight to your destination, no matter how far it would be, or at least explain you very vividly and with details how to get there. In case they do not know – they will start stopping other people and asking. They love to spend time outside, so you can often see parks, streets, and cafés full of people. It is mostly the energy and kindness of the locals that make such a welcoming city out of Sofia. Their spirit just can’t go unnoticed.
Do you have your favorite capitals in Europe? Let us know! Also, don’t forget to share this article with your friends, let’s spread the info about Sofia’s charm!