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What to do in Sofia, Bulgaria?

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  • Skywalker

    Evening, we’re off to Sofia Bulgaria in the not too distant future – could only get the really cheap flights over five days and four nights, so we will be there for a short break, staying in a very cheap sleep, centre of town.

    There seem to be a lot of churches, but what else is there to do there? Also, are there any restaurant recommendations? I read a google review of a restaurant where the proprietor shouts at customers when they try to pay by card – I might just go there for the experience 😀

    Thanks 🙂

    JDB

    You don’t sound very enthusiastic about your trip, nor indicate the sort of thing that might be of interest, but there is a huge amount to do. There are lots of churches, but some are quite modern. The St Sophia church is an old church (close to the main cathedral) with the oldest and most interesting parts underground. Also the St George Rotunda church which is near the quite small but very good archaeological museum that also currently has a remarkable exhibition of Thracian warriors/tombs. Just outside the museum are some steps down to Roman Sofia (Serdica) – lots to see around there. The single most interesting church is Boyana, on the edge of the city by the Vitosha mountain where there is great hiking and views over the city and valley. The church is tiny and only ten visitors are allowed at a time for max ten minutes, but it has some totally remarkable frescoes, more impressive than any I have seen in Italy.There’s the National History Museum and lots of others, but also just walking around the city is impressive.

    A day trip to Plovdiv is very worthwhile with an incredible mixture of buildings and well preserved remains from the Romans, Ottomans and local groups. A side trip to the Rila monastery and the beautiful surrounding countryside also very interesting.

    In terms of restaurants/bars – there are lots of parks that have nice proper bars, great ice cream stand in the city park (close to Starbucks!). I really liked Egur Egur, an Armenian restaurant not far from the cathedral, nice indoors and outdoors for lunch or dinner, really friendly, efficient staff and above all really good food with generous portions. I went twice and three courses, two big glasses of wine, a bottle of water and double espresso £22 and £30. More upscale/expensive, Kosmos, great cocktails, excellent modern food. Blowout = Chef Petrov for an unbeatable culinary experience, 22 courses, expensive for Bulgaria, but a total bargain in UK/US terms.

    Skywalker

    Hi JDB thanks for taking the time to reply – I am, honestly 😀 it was meant to be a plain old TP run and it’s turned into something more, which is why I am asking for more to do 🙂

    You have made it all sound interesting so we will put these things on our TTD list and report back and thanks for the food recommendations too!

    I appreciate the UK/US terms comparison – I was in the US when the pound slumped: not fun.

    Flyingred

    We did a TP run to Sofia prior to the pandemic. A weekend was too short. I’d suggest you do a free walking tour on your first morning to get background on the city’s history and pick up some good tips from your guide on where to visit/eat. We found it a fascinating place to walk, explore and people-watch.

    Skywalker

    Hi Flyingred this is also good advice – thank you for your contribution also

    meta

    I thought two full days were sufficient if you don’t want to venture out of the city. I echo @JDB’a comments of things to do.

    Near Boyana, there is a restaurant called The School and it’s a great place to try out Bulgarian food. It’s inexpensive and has an extensive menu. The views over Sofia are also very nice.

    Skywalker

    @meta – thank you 🙂

    Erico1875

    We did a TP run to Sofia prior to the pandemic. A weekend was too short. I’d suggest you do a free walking tour on your first morning to get background on the city’s history and pick up some good tips from your guide on where to visit/eat. We found it a fascinating place to walk, explore and people-watch.

    We are going near the end of November for 2 days/nights.
    RE the Free Walking Tour. Do you tio at the end, and if so, how much?

    freckles

    The whole concept of free walking tours are that they survive on tips. There’s usually no set amount, and there’s usually a bag/hat/receptacle that you drop the tip into.
    Depending on the length of the walk and how much I enjoyed it I tend to tip equivalent of £5-10.

    Skywalker

    We had a great time in Sofia – a few days was indeed too short!


    @JDB
    – we travelled by train to Plovdiv – it was exactly as you described, so picturesque – some of the buildings looked like houses from fairy tales/story books.

    Highly recommend this part of the world

    People are very warm/friendly and prices were extremely reasonable, public transport very easy to navigate and super service from Sofia Airport, no need to pay for expensive transfers.

    On public transport – Curve card and Revolut worked perfectly on the metro and trams (with Revolut of course being able to hold Lev) – no need to buy any day passes, contactless works just fine

    Thank you to all once again

    😀

    Frankie

    We had a great time in Sofia – a few days was indeed too short!



    @JDB
    – we travelled by train to Plovdiv – it was exactly as you described, so picturesque – some of the buildings looked like houses from fairy tales/story books.

    Highly recommend this part of the world

    Hi skywalker. What would you recommend as things to do? If you did a walking tour which one did you do? Thanks in advance

    Gavin454

    I’m staying in Sofia for 5 nights at the Intercontinental in a couple of weeks, also renting a car for the duration for the double tier points. However, I don’t think I’ll actually need the car. Would the best option be to just leave the car in the airport paid carpark for 5 nights? Seems to cost around £40. Looks like parking in central Sofia is not easy.

    Have considered just not picking up the car, but don’t really want to risk it in case the extra tier points are later removed.

    JDB

    Yes, parking in the city centre is quite limited in quantity/time allowed and they seem to do a lot of towing. You might want the car to go to Boyana Church (the smallest but probably most interesting) and/or Vitosha mountain on the edge of the city. Also maybe trips to Plovdiv or the Riga monastery. The metro to the airport is right by the IC so it may be a cheapish and easy place to park for occasional use.

    yonasl

    e city centre is quite limited in quantity/time allowed and they seem to do a lot of towing. You might want the car to go to Boyana Church (the smallest but probably most interesting) and/or Vitosha mountain on the edge of the city.

    Could one pick up the car and immediately return it? Avis will not refund the money and consider the contract finished. I do not see them rushing to tell BA you did that.

    meta

    You don’t need to even pick up the car.

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