Visiting the capital city Sofia

The history of the capital

After Pliska, Plovdiv and Veliko Tarnovo, since 1879 Sofia is the 4th capitol of the country. The city grew in a relatively short period to a million+ inhabitants metropolis and true activity hub in the Balkan. Serdika is the name of the city and area during the Roman period. The very center still reminds of this name. This pearl of the Balkan is situated in the western part of the country in the valley between different mountain ranges. The topographical location is excellent connecting the Black Sea, Greece, Macedonia, Serbia and Romania within hours driving. Furthermore the city is the administrative and economic capital housing the various state departments that centralize the government over the rest of the country.

Visit Sofia

Because of its short status as capital, the city has had little time to develop compared to other capitals in Europe. With the exception of the medieval Boyana church all the places of interest are in the center. The center is small enough to walk around. A city visit will take you a good day. If you would like to get to know the city, we can definitely recommend the Free Walking Tour or for night life join a Pub Crawl. The city has some surprising places and boast a sort of humor. Restaurants, bars and lunch rooms are plentiful, as is the offer for a cultural agenda. Hotels and guest houses can accommodate you for fair prices and depending the place offer decent to good services. Getting around by public transport is elaborate with buses, trolleys, trams and metro. You can find more information on the public transport here.

The culture in Sofia

There are many museums of various subjects of which most notable are the National History Museum, the National Museum of Military History, the National Polytechnical Museum and the National Archaeological Museum. Movie theaters are in most malls and a show in the opera costs as little as BGN 10 for a seat. There are also many theater shows, but most are in Bulgarian, which is difficult for most foreigners. Over the year there are various festivals, concerts and markets.

Enjoying the outdoor in Sofia

Boris Garden is the largest park in the city, right next to the city center. Other than Boris Park you can visit Geo Milev park, Druzhba park, South park or Vitosha Mountain. During the summer people gather in parks to enjoy the weather, company, a bite to eat, play music or sports. In each neighborhood there are little parks with sport facilities and places to drink a coffee. Close to South park you find the Zoo. In the winter many people head up to Vitosha mountain to ski.

Shopping in Sofia

The city has many malls and little shops everywhere. Even though larger retail chains are present, you will still find many little privately owned shops with arts and crafts, clothes, food and more. Prices are fairly good and negotiations are not necessary. Consumer products such as electronics and brand clothes cost similar to other countries. In general shops accept all major payment cards, while change is sometimes more of a problem.

Expats in Sofia

Around 123.000 expats (Eurostat 2015 survey) live in Bulgaria of which most live in Sofia, while in the area of Veliko Tarnovo many British expats live. Expats find Bulgaria interesting for low taxes, cheap living and easy regulations. Recent years show a slight increase of expats coming to the country. Added to that many foreign companies start a branch in Bulgaria and these companies attract a foreign work force as well.

Check out the Living in Bulgaria guide for more information on living in Sofia and Bulgaria.