When I first mentioned to my friends, I would be going to Sofia, I started getting tips almost immediately. I never knew the capital of Bulgaria is such a popular destination. Now, I normally don’t buy guidebooks to get to know my destination before I go. But I love getting tips and advice from people who have been already, especially when you can’t find those in magazines and guidebooks. Those typical city secrets.
Why go to Sofia?
My bucket list of destinations is basically every place you can think of. I have never been to Bulgaria, so obviously that’s on the list. One night I couldn’t sleep because a mosquito was bothering me and keeping me from sleeping. So I started to check the internet for flights, randomly and with no particular date or destination. I sometimes do that when I get bored too.
Also, as a travel consultant, I search for flights all day and put together trips for others. I know, I have an addiction. But I found myself 40 euro flights for a roundtrip from the Netherlands to Sofia. 40 euros!
Fancy hotel or budget hostel?
After buying the tickets, I decided to wait with the accommodation. I was still second-guessing if I wanted a fancy hotel to spoil myself a bit. After all, I was going alone and Sofia is supercheap comparing to Amsterdam. Or would I go to a cheap hostel? And would I stay in a dorm room or in a private room? So I could meet other people more easily.
Then my friends gave me an awesome tip on a place they saw on Airbnb. They actually tried to rent it themselves when they were there in Winter, but there was no availability. It is an apartment in the city centre with a panoramic rooftop terrace and jacuzzi for around 60 euros a night (depending on the season).
Unfortunately, there was no availability on my first night. I booked the apartment anyway and booked a hostel for the first night. Nice hostels with high ratings are Hostel Mostel and Peter Pan Hostel, which you can book through Booking. Hostels in Bulgaria are really a bit Balkan style, but the staff is nice and you get to meet other backpackers.
Don’t know if you want to stay in a hostel, in my other blog I’ve listed 5 reasons why it’s fun to stay in a hostel!
Best kept secrets of Bulgaria’s Sofia
- Go to Шоколадова къща “Chicolatti” for a delicious breakfast or lunch, or try one of the beautiful sweets. Also, the daughter of the owner is a DJ at Sofia’s clubs. She can point you to the best parties in the city. Bul. “Makedonia” 10, 1606 Sofia Center, Sofia, Bulgaria +359 88 831 2050 (closed on Sundays)
- Another nice place for breakfast is the Rainbow Factory. They serve pretty sandwiches and great coffee made by their barista. ул. Веслец 10, 1000 Sofia, Bulgaria (open every day)
- At restaurant Niko’las 0/360, you’ll enjoy a 7-course dinner of signature dishes for only 30 euros. I got this restaurant tipped because of the great chef and amazing local wines. Pl. “Rayko Daskalov” 3, 1000 Sofia Center, Sofia, Bulgaria +359 87 688 8471 (Closed on Sundays)
- Balkan Bites is the first-ever European food tour which is absolutely free. The tour shows nice family-owned restaurants and wants to give travellers a taste of the Bulgarian cuisine. The tour is every day at 14:00 and takes about 2 hours.
- Sofia Green Tours offer several hiking and bike tours for free. You can rent a bike from Sofia Bike Rental for 6 euros. All tours are given every day and it’s certainly a nice way to discover more of the city and its surroundings.
- Since so many places are closed on Sundays, visiting Vitosha Mountain might be a good idea. Sofia Green Tours give a free hiking tour here, showing the Boyana church and Boyana waterfall. Vitosha Mountain is only 20 km away from the city centre. If you go in Winter, you can even go skiing here!
- Probably one of the well-hidden places in Sofia is Hambara. This bar is only to be found through locals or luck. The front door you’re looking for is made from wood, in an alley, with no number or signs. But once you’re in, you’ll find a bar full of candles. It doesn’t get any cosier than that. Ul. “6-ti septemvri” 22, 1142 Sofia Center, Sofia, Bulgaria (closed on Sundays)
Spendings for a 4-day city break to Sofia
- Round trip Eindhoven – Sofia €40
- One night hostel 8-bed dorm €8
- Two nights fancy Central 360 Suite on Airbnb including cleaning fee €140
- Domestic beer €1,50
- Fancy 7-course dinner €30
- Normal dinner €5
- Bike/Hike/Food tour €0
- Bike hire €6
Want to see more of my trip to Sofia? Check out my stories here! Including a sneak peek of the Central 360 Suite.
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Let’s keep in touch? I’d like to know more about your adventures!