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Map Sightseeing Culture Restaurants Cafs Nightlife Shopping Hotels

December 2016- January 2017






Arriving & Getting Around

Get orientated

City Basics

What you should know


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Places your friends would recommend

Cafes 14
Essential refreshment stops



Partying all night long


Dont go home without having seen some of these places



Malls, markets and the best streets



From top luxury to basic hostels



City Centre



Sofia may not be as breathtakingly beautiful as many other
Central and Eastern European capitals but it still has plenty
going for it: a compact and manageable city centre with
some rather pretty Neo-Classical and Secession buildings,
antique gold treasures in the museums and Roman ruins
dotted around the place. So prolific are the Doric columns
that they are simply left lying around the public parks and
recent excavation work has uncovered all manner of traces
of the Roman city of Serdika, including an amphitheatre,
and an old Roman road that has been restored as a tourist
attraction. Without a doubt, the gold domes of the Alexander Nevsky cathedral against the backdrop of a perhaps still
snow-covered Vitosha Mountain on a crystal clear day is a
view that has to be seen!
Since April 2013, we have been publishing the Sofia In
Your Pocket mini guide print edition every two months,
covering the most essential information the short term
visitor to Sofia needs. We have now decided to add this
new downloadable A5 format guide to our collection to
help you get a quick overview of what Sofia has to offer,
before you even get here!

Inside & out Ltd.
Office: 9 Frityof Nansen St., 5th floor, Sofia
Christine Milner, (+359) 884 864 820
Paromita Sanatani, (+359) 888 408 647
Published in printed mini guide format 6 times per year.
Print run 7,000 copies
Editors Christine Milner, Paromita Sanatani
Texts Christine Milner, Paromita Sanatani
Design, layout and maps Flo Grafix Ltd.
Photography Inside & out Ltd. unless otherwise stated
Cover Inside & out Ltd.
Milena Stefanova, (+359) 888 151 256

At the crossroads where once
Lenins statue stood, Sophia extends her arms in welcome to
all. Encircled by a synagogue,
mosque, orthodox and catholic
church we are reminded that her
daughters are Faith, Hope and
Love. The day of Sofia is celebrated
on 17th September.

Copyright notice
Text, maps and photos copyright Inside & out Ltd. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any
form, except brief extracts for the purpose of review, without
written permission from the publisher and copyright owner.
The brand name In Your Pocket is used under license from UAB
In Your Pocket (Bernardinu 9-4, Vilnius, Lithuania tel. (+370-5)
212 29 76).















4 Sofia In Your Pocket

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Arriving & Getting Around

sleepers to the Black Sea Coast. Bulgaria is expecting to have
high speed trains to Plovdiv and other destinations in the
near future.QA-3, bul. Maria Luiza 102, MCentral railway
staion, www.bdz.bg/en/. Open 05:00 00:00.


Situated on the outskirts of Sofia in the direction of
Plovdiv, Sofia airport has two separate terminals. Terminal
1 (the old terminal) serves low-cost airlines Wizz Air and
Easy Jet while all other flight leave and arrive at Terminal 2.
The journey into town takes not more than 30 minutes.
The road to the new terminal is clearly marked, turning
right off Brussels Blvd. before reaching the older airport
buildings. The new terminal is modern, bright and clean
although rather bland. You could be anywhere in the
world! The cafe in the departure lounge charges outrageous prices for drinks, though there are now vending
machines with items at more reasonable prices.
Sofia airports new terminal has a multi-storey car park
with over 800 spaces and it is even quite reasonable to
leave your car parked there for several days.
Getting to town: Up until recently, there were constant
reports of people being ripped off by the taxis hanging
around the airport. Book a taxi at the official taxi booth inside the terminal rather than going off with one of the taxi
drivers offering their services as you come out of Arrivals.
If you can, get someone to meet you at the airport. Most
hotels operate a pick up service on request.
For those on a budget there are several public transport
options that cost 1,60 leva for a one-way ticket.
There is a metro (underground) stop at Terminal 2 that will
take you to the city centre in about 20 minutes. From there
you can change to another line depending on where you
need to get to. Bus No. 84 stops at both terminals and travels
down bul. Tsarigradsko Shosse via the University to ul. Gurko
in Sofia city centre and vice versa.Qwww.sofia-airport.bg.

The modernisation and renovation of the central railway
station has finally been completed, making it a far more
pleasant experience. There are still a few areas that need
completion such as the food court, but for now everything
is bright and clean and bustle free. The direct access with
the underground is also ideal and it is fairly straightforward
to find your way around with signs in Bulgarian and English. Train travel, although inexpensive, is also very slow and
unglamorous and the only time that using the train (as opposed to bus) is of preference would be on the overnight


Sofias international bus station (http://tis.centralnaavtogara.bg) is adjacent to the main railways station. Most buses
arriving from or going to the countryside or abroad come
here. The new, clean facilities, which include a food court,
certainly make the idea of bus journey more attractive.

Arriving in Sofia by car requires extreme caution as the police seem to like making little speed traps at all entrances
to Sofia. If you see that all the other cars have slowed down
to a crawl for no apparent reason then stick behind them,
do not overtake!
Once in Sofia, you will find that many drivers appear to
have forgotten some of the basic rules of the road and you
should therefore take nothing for granted.
Although driving in Sofia may seem to be void of any rules,
speed cameras are operational on some of the main entrances to the city, such as Tsarigradsko Shosse Boulevard
coming from the airport and Plovdiv direction. There are
also cameras at some road junctions to catch anyone skipping traffic lights on red.

The very heart of the city centre is Blue Zone, which means
you have to pay 2 leva per hour for parking between 08.00
and 19.00 on working days and 08:00 and 14:00 on Saturdays. A maximum stay of 2 hours is allowed. The relatively
high price means that parking spaces can usually be found.
A Green Zone has been created (you can tell whether you
are in Blue or Green Zone by the street signs) which costs 1
lev per hour for a maximum of 4 hours.
here are also guarded car parks dotted around the city
centre, charging between 2 and 3 leva per hour.
Vouchers (talon za parking in Bulgarian) are available from
nearby attendants. You can also pay by SMS if you have an
account with a local GSM operator: send your registration
number to the number 1302 for Blue Zone or 1303 for
Green Zone.


Arriving & Getting Around

Sofias public transport is getting better and new trams,
trolley buses and buses are already running on some of the
routes. It is fairly reliable except in the harshest winters and
the lack of A/C or even any form of ventilation can be highly
unpleasant in the summer months.Trams, trolley buses and
buses cover the whole of the city, including the outskirts.
Sofia has two underground lines which intersect in the city
centre at the Serdika stop. The red line 1 runs from Business
Park Sofia( south east) to Slivnitsa (north-west), via the city
centre while the blue line 2 runs in a loop from the airport
T2 (north east) to Vitosha (south) via Obelya (north-west).
Work has just begun on the 3rd line linking districts from
the north east to suburbs in the south west of the city.
The underground is clean and efficient, though it does
get crowded at peak times. Tickets cost 1.60 lev and can
be bought from the ticket machines at the entrance to
the stations.
Bus, trolley bus and tram tickets can be bought for 1.60 leva
(new price) from the machine just behind the drivers cabin. The ticket is only valid for the journey on that particular
tram/bus. Many trams and trolley buses now have ticket
machines at the front, where you can buy a ticket that does
not need punching. Daily, weekly and monthly travel cards
can be bought from kiosks as can packs of 10 tickets, which
need to be punched in the machine inside. Fines for not
having a ticket are payable on the spot.

Taxi fares in Sofia have finally been regulated (May 2011) and
a maximum fare imposed. This is currently 1.30 leva daytime
and 1.60 leva nighttime. Fares are displayed clearly on the
back window of the cab as well as on the dashboard. All taxis
are yellow (except for Green Taxi) and are generally fairly new,
well-kept vehicles, though you may occasionally get the odd
unkempt one. Smoking is prohibited but despite this you will
find that some Sofia taxi drivers smoke while waiting for a
customer; if it bothers you then ask them to put out their cigarette. All taxis in Bulgaria should have the name and contact
number of the company clearly displayed on the dashboard
as well as the ID number of the driver, enabling you to make
a complaint should you wish to.
The companies listed here are all reputable, and we recommend you stick to them however there are still a few
rogue drivers out there who try to impersonate established
companies and lurk there where tourists wait for cabs.
Taxi service using hybrid cars. All the cars weve used have
been clean and new.Qgreentaxi.bg.
OK Taxi is the official taxi operator for Sofia Airport, with
offices in Arrivals at both terminals. Book your taxi from the
office. You can pay by card if you request it upon ordering.
Request an English-speaking dispatcher when you call.
QTel. (+359) 2 973 2121, www.oktaxi.net.
QTel. (+359) 2 91 119, yellow333.com.
6 Sofia In Your Pocket

The municipality now has three tourist information
centres, in key locations where it hands out free maps
and brochures depending on availability. They can also
recommend and arrange trips or tour guides for you, alternatively join the Free Sofia Tour to get your bearings.
Glass kiosk in the centre of the City Garden.QC-3, City
Garden, MSofiyski Universitet, tel. (+359) 885 921
620. Open 10:00 20:00. Closed on public holidays.
The tourist info centre is in the underpass at the entrance to the Sofia University metro station. Free
maps and brochures are handed out depending on
availability. Several privately owned English-language
publications can also be found there free of charge,
though they may be out of date.QC-5, Underpass
Sofia University, at the crossroads of bul. Vassil
Levski and bul. Tsar Osvoboditel, tel. (+359) 2 491
8344, (+359) 2 491 8345, www.visitsofia.bg, www.
info-sofia.bg. Open 09:30 18:30. Closed Sat, Sun.
Directly next to the entrance to the underground line 2,
in the heart of the city.QC-3, Serdika 2 Metro Station,
MSerdika, tel. (+359) 2 494 9315. Open 09:30
18:00. Closed Sat, Sun, and on public holidays.

Free Sofia Tour, the best attraction in Sofia according
to TripAdvisor users, sets off twice a day Mon-Sun:
11:00 & 18:00. Starting point is the Palace of Justice,
corner of Alabin St. Look out for the young enthusiastic
tour guides. No reservation or tickets are required and
there is no fee, though if you are satisfied with your
guide you are invited to leave a gratuity to this nonprofit organisation.Qwww.freesofiatour.com. 11:0013:00 and 18:00-20:00.

Sofia Basics
In general Sofia is a relatively safe city, the most frequent
crimes are pick-pocketing, mugging and car theft. If you
keep your wits about you, as you should in any foreign
city and avoid dark poorly lit areas at night, you should be
relatively safe within the central parts of the city. Again the
obvious precautions apply!
Should you be unfortunate enough to have been a victim
of local crime, you should file a report at the nearest police station. You will need a Bulgarian speaker for this, and
honestly speaking if the crime was relatively petty, it often
is not worth the hassle.Then again if you wish to claim on
your insurance you will have to go through the process.
Visitors to Sofia often fall prey of scams, be it rip-off taxi
drivers or being overcharged at restaurants (e.g. they will
serve you foreign mineral water over double the price of
local, or talk you into the specials which are usually far more
expensive than standard main course dishes)

There is very little consideration for people with disabilities
in Bulgaria.
Sofia is almost totally inaccessible for wheel-chair users.
Since the European Year for the Disabled, gradual improvements have been made, such as wheelchair ramps to the
entrances of state and municipal buildings, Alexander
Nevsky cathedral and a few more important sights.
One visitor commented on the excellent service at the airport, but from that initial welcome things deteriorated. A
particular problem is the state of the pavements, which are
not only cracked and full of un-covered manholes, but also
often blocked by cars, forcing the pedestrian to walk on the
street. Underpasses are also a problem some have lifts
but most have only ramps which are so steep they would
be impossible to use for a wheelchair.
Most office buildings do not have wheelchair access,
though new business centres should do.

Tap water is safe to drink all over the country but not always
pleasant in taste or appearance. Bulgarias vast supplies of
mineral water are widely available in 0.5 litre and 1.5 litre
bottles. They are very tasty and not expensive.


Bulgarian is a Slavic language with close similarities to
By far the biggest obstacle to reading Bulgarian is the Cyrillic alphabet which was developed originally by the missionary brothers Cyril and Methodius. It has 30 letters and
pronunciation is entirely phonetic.
In the city centre many street names and directions have
Latin transliterations but it is still a good idea to familiarise
yourself with the alphabet.


Unfortunately there is no longer an English-language
newspaper in Bulgaria, though there are a couple of online
English-language news sites: The Sofia Globe and Sofia
Morning News
An excellent annual English-language guide to Sofia. Sofia
the Insiders guide is on sale from March/April onwards
each year and provides information about sightseeing, restaurants and bars, as well as a wealth of expat advice to
newcomers planning on living or working in the city. They
also have a blog.

The currency in Bulgaria is lev (leva plural). One lev is 100
Coins are 2 leva, 1 lev, 50, 20, 10, 5, 2,1 stotinki
Notes: 100, 50, 20, 10, 5 leva and still 2 leva (being phased out)
The Euro is fixed at 1.95 leva
You can get leva from banks and ATMs these days with
small fluctuations on the fixed rate. We no longer recommend Exchange Bureaus as not all are reputable. NEVER be
tempted to exchange money with anyone on the street
you will be cheated!

The country code for Bulgaria is +359. If you are using your
mobile phone all local numbers must be prefixed with this
number, dropping the first zero (0) from the local number.
Dialling out the international access code is 00 or +
followed by the country code.

1st January New Years Day
3rd March National Day
1st May Labour Day
6th May St. Georges Day
24th May Day of Slavonic Literature & Culture
6th September Day of Reunification
22nd September Independence Day
24th, 25th, 26th December Christmas

Sofia Basics

The new


puts you in

Public toilets can be found in the main underpass area
near Serdika underground station and near the NDK underground station, as well as in other locations around town.
there is usually a charge and the attendant will give you
your ration of toilet paper. Most of these are old and not
very pleasant. Newer toilets, free of charge are found in all
the shopping centres, and of course most restaurants and
cafes will not turn you away if you are desperate. Try to
avoid the chemical toilets at all costs!

Bulgarian adopted Christianity in 865 AD. Over 75% of the
population subscribe to the main religion; Eastern Orthodox, but on the whole they are very tolerant of other religions.
Sofia prides itself in having an Orthodox church, a Catholic
church, a mosque and a synagogue all within 1 square km.

Bulgarians on the whole are heavy smokers with little
consideration for the non-smoker. Since 2012 smoking indoors is banned in all public places,including restaurants.
However you will find some very loose interpretations of
the law as far as restaurants and other places of work are
concerned. In some locations you will find phone numbers
to report infringements. Fines are high.

No shortage of free WIFI in Sofia. Nearly every bar and restaurant offers free WIFI and there is even WIFI available on
public buses as well as inter city coaches. Zaimov Park, off
Madrid Blvd. near the city centre prides itself with free WIFI



On any device.

8 Sofia In Your Pocket

In the Tourist Information Centre,

National Art Gallery, Archeological
Museum, Museum of Socialist Art,
the stands of OK taxi at the airport,
in all the best hotels in town (Hilton,
Radisson, Grand Hotel Sofia, Balkan,
Marinela, Park Inn) as well as restaurants and bars around the city (Talents, Spaghetti Kitchen, By the Way,
Kanaal, Hadjidraganovite Izbi, and
many more).

Bulgarian cuisine means lots of salads, grilled meats and
the local tipple rakiya. There are of course many cooked
dishes, such as Moussaka, or stews, but most expats will
opt for the grilled meat or if available lamb cooked on
a spit. Some of the restaurants mentioned go all out to reconstruct the traditional village tavern, while others serve
Bulgarian cuisine in a modern setting.


Sofias city centre is packed with restaurants, bistros, cafes

and eating establishments of all kinds and for all pockets. In
a bid to beat the financial crisis, most restaurants now offer
daily lunch specials at very competitive rates, so if you are
on a budget but still enjoy eating out now is your chance
to try some of the better restaurants.
Worth bearing in mind:
- tips should be roughly 10% of the bill. Do check to make
sure a service charge hasnt already been added.
- check your bill carefully! There are still many cases of unwitting foreigners being overcharged.
- there is some confusion as to what order to serve meals
in: some restaurants serve food as it becomes ready, others
stick strictly to the rules so that the person who is only eating a main course has to wait until everyone has finished
with their salad and starters before it arrives. Make it clear
when you order when you would like to receive your food.
- check whether your meal comes with garnitura (side
dish) or whether you need to order it separately.
- food tends to be served warm, rather than piping hot.
- many restaurants have taken the law into their own hands
by allowing patrons to smoke after 22:00, with no consideration for their non-smoking clientele.

P Air conditioning

G Non-smoking

T Child-friendly

L Guarded parking

J Central location

B Outside seating

A Credit cards accepted

6 Pet-friendly

U Facilities for the disabled

X Smoking

V Deliveries

S Take-away

I Fireplace

W Wifi

E Live music


Situated out in the Students Town (Studentski Grad) district, this is a large restaurant done out in traditional Bulgarian style. An extensive menu presents all that is good
about Bulgarian cuisine, at very reasonable prices: large
platters of fresh salad, grilled or barbecued meats, sheeps
cheese and homemade bread rolls.
The service is genuinely friendly and attentive. Can get
very busy on weekends.Qul. Akademik Boris Stefanov 6,
Studentski Grad, tel. (+359) 888 222 124, www.
borimechkata.com. Open 11:00 02:00. PAE
Traditional Bulgarian restaurant in a complex of restored
19th century houses close to the central station. There are
four themed houses named after the typical architectural
styles in the beautiful towns of Bansko, Melnik, Zheravna
and Koprishtitsa. Traditional Bulgarian cuisine, open fireplace, courtyard and live music.QB-3, ul. Kozlodui 75,
MLavov Most, tel. (+359) 899 917 837, www.kashtite.
com/en. Open 11:30- 01:00. PJAUIEG
Bulgarian restaurant with traditional village decor right in
the city centre. Large menu of national dishes: if youre in a
group try the platters to share. Live music makes for a lively atmosphere.QC-3, ul. Hristo Belchev 18, MSerdika/
NDK, tel. (+359) 898 775 936, www.izbite.com/en. Open
11:30 01:00. PTJA6UIEGBW
MOMA describes itself as traditional Bulgarian food and
wine, but it is done with such style and imagination that
puts it right in there with the contemporary trendy restaurants. The menu also makes some allowances for more
innovative dishes, such as quinoa tabbouleh which however still tie in well with other more traditional dishes. All
our dishes were fresh and tasty, seasoned just right. The
service was friendly and attentive, the courtyard providing enough shade on a sunny hot day. Definitely the place
to go for Bulgarian cuisine, without all the usual overdone
decor of red tablecloths and brown terracotta crockery!
By the way the Bulgarian word Moma means young
maiden!QC-3, ul.Solunska 28, MNDK, tel. (+359) 885
622 020, www.moma-restaurant.com. Open 11:00
22:00. PJA

Laid-back, no frills restaurant/bar with two locations in
the city centre. Primarily serves grilled meats and salads,
all from local producers, with daily lunchtime specials
featuring Bulgarian home cooking. Extensive wine menu
with wine shop in the ul. Benkovski venue. The Zaimov
Park location has a large outdoor area which is packed on
sunny weekends.QC-4, ul. Georgi Benkovski 12; Zaimov
Park, MSerdika, tel. (+359) 2 483 44 31, www.skarabar.
com. Open 12:00 24:00. JBX

Sofias longest running French restaurant is in the up
and coming area just off bul. Maria Luiza. The chalkboard
menu includes all that is traditional about French cuisine,
with chef Oliviers special touch. Food and service are always excellent.QB-3, ul. Tsar Simeon 78, MSerdika, tel.
(+359) 2 983 1417, (+359) 88 752 3376. Open Mon-Fri
12:00 15:00, 18:00 22:00, Sat 18:00 22:00. Closed
Sun. PTJA6
In an elegant but unpretentious and bright setting with
outdoor pavement dining. Linstant is ideal for lunch or
dinner, private or business.The menu offers what is best
about French cuisine; fish, scallops, rabbit, duck and steaks
deliciously prepared with that certain je ne sais quoi and
beautifully presented. There are special lunchtime promotional deals.QC-5, ul. Prof. Assen Zlatarov 24, tel. (+359)
2 843 0364, www.linstant.bg. Open 12:00 23:00.
Closed Sun. GB

The quirkiness and charm of this restaurant, just slightly
off the beaten track and yet not far from the city centre
is a real hit among locals who like to eat healthy for a reasonable price. Although not a vegetarian restaurant, there
is an excellent choice of vegetarian and vegan dishes,and
even the meat dishes look wonderfully healthy! Everything we tried was very tasty.QB-4, ul. Exarh Josif 44, tel.
(+359) 876 116 601. Open 10:00 24:00. . J
If you thought vegan was bland and boring think again!
Soul Kitchen will inspire you to indulge in tasty well presented dishes made from the freshest ingredients available without any animal products. The menu is inspired
by dishes from around the world. Set in a charming old
house, the trendy interior is broken down into several
smaller dining areas and the outdoor yard features a safe
childrens play area, making it a good choice for young
families.QD-4, ul. Kokiche 13, tel. (+359)876 440 003/
(+359)2 865 8080, www.soulkitchen.bg. Open 10:00
24:00. . TNGB
10 Sofia In Your Pocket

Restaurant, cafe and shop specialised in home-made vegetarian healthfood. The emphasis is on local, organic fruits
and vegetables as well as breads and pastries made from
spelt, oats and other cereals.QC-3, ul. U. Gladston 18b
(corner of Kniaz Boris), MSerdika, tel. (+359) 895 64
84 77, www.sunmoon.bg/en/. Open 8:00 22:00, Sun
12:00 21:00. JGBS
Excellent menu of fresh, imaginative and most importantly
healthy dishes at this small restaurant. Meat, fish, seafood
and vegetarian dishes are on offer but what unites them all
is no frying, no artificial flavourings and only the best quality
ingredients. The colourful, modern interior provides a variety of seating options bar stools, sofa and wooden chairs.
Outdoor seating is also available on the pavement.QC-3, ul.
Angel Kunchev 11, MSerdika, tel. (+359) 88 875 0020.
Open 09:00 23:00. PJA6UVGBW

The menu features excellent traditional Nepali and Indian
cuisine and without a doubt this is one of the best restaurants in this category. Anyone who has been to Nepal
will be happy to find Momos on the menu here! An open
fire place and ethnic decor makes for a dining ambience
that transports you to the magical Himalayas, with friendly
service and delicious food.QF-2, ul. Tsvetna Gradina 56,
MEvropeyski Soyuz, tel. (+359) 2 865 02 16/(+359) 88
493 9100, www.gurkhabg.com. Open 12:00 24:00.
Closed Mon. PAIVBS
This restaurant is tucked away in Studentski Grad (students
town) behind Fantastiko supermarket and is worth checking out. The owner and chef is Indian and serves good
quality Indian food in a pleasant ambience at reasonable
prices. A new menu of fusion cuisine is being introduced.
Qul. Francois Mitterand, Studentski Grad, tel. (+359)
896 179986, (+359) 890 917 203, www.saffron-bg.com.
Open 12:00 23:00, Mon 17:00 23:00. PXS
Good Indian food, refreshingly friendly and co-operative
service. You really need to look for this place, although
in the city centre there is not much else on this part of
the street. British run.QD-2, ul. Han Asparuh 3, MSerdika/NDK, tel. (+359) 87 614 5372, www.spicehouse.
bg. Open 12:00 22:30. Closed July-August. Deliveries
from: 2.50 leva. PTJAGBSW

The interior is light and homely, the service friendly and
the menu is best described as innovative European. Everysofia.inyourpocket.com

thing we ordered was very fresh and tasty, both the lunchtime specials and a la carte menu items.QC-5, ul. Prof.
Asen Zlatarov 14, MSofiyski Universitet, tel. (+359) 879
375233, www.33gastronauts.com. Open 11:00 24:00.
The light and airy ambience invites you to relax here and
enjoy the high quality of predominantly Balkan cuisine
with friendly service, accompanied by good music and
all at very reasonable prices. There is an enclosed heated
pavement dining area which is popular with smokers.
QD-3, ul. Angel Kanchev 32, MNDK, tel. (+359) 87 962
9419, www.agartarestaurant.com. Open 10:00 - 24:00.
Centrally located restaurant specialising in fresh fish and
steaks on coal. Most dishes are cooked on embers (Ascua
in Spanish) giving a unique taste to your meal. Choose
from a variety of fresh fish (mostly Greek) such as red sea
beam, sinegrida and the speciality milokopi or go for one
of the 48 day dry-aged steaks such as Black Angus or Tbone. A family run restaurant with personal touch and
friendly service.QD-3, ul. Racho Dimchev 1, MSerdika,
tel. (+359) 882 880 901, www.ascua.bg. Open 11:00
23:30. PJBXS
Live jazz on Friday evenings adds to the attraction of this
popular restaurant with its stylish modern interior and
delightful shady garden. Off ering contemporary versions of traditional Bulgarian dishes, there is also a daily
lunchtime menu.QC-4, ul. Ivan Vazov 12, MSofiiski
Universitet, tel. (+359) 2 988 0370/(+359) 886 577 342,
www.checkpointcharlybg.com/en/. Open 11:30 23:30
This well-known restaurant, started by some of the countrys top chefs has finally moved from its original location
outside the city limits (en route to Samokov) to a more
central spot in Lozenets. The menu has some Asian influences, but also traditional dishes and a few standard favourites. Chefs also offers a good spectrum of Bulgarian
wines and some imported ones as well. The service is very
attentive and friendly.QF-3, ul. Lyubata 13, tel. (+359)
896 723 222, www.chefs-bg.com. Open 11:30 23:30.
A welcome addition in the centre of town, just opposite
the Russian church. The ground floor offers a new take on
the food court fast dining concept with a warm and cosy
environment, natural materials and muted colours. You
can select from various counters fresh salads and sandwiches, ready cooked warm dish and soup of the day and
pastries. On the upper level there is an a la carte restaufacebook.com/SofiaInYourPocket

rant.QC-4, bul. Tsar Osvoboditel 10, MSerdika/Sofiyski

Universitet, tel. (+359) 888 83 82 28, www.corso.bg.
Open 08:00 22:30. PJAVBSW
Its all about the beef here and it really is top quality beef,
with an excellent choice of dry aged from Australia, USA
and Argentina, as well as some more regional options. everything we had here, beef tartare, fillet steak and even
horse meatballs were all done to perfection. Very tasty
and the prices very reasonable for the quality. The setting is also very trendy with the blackboard walls telling
you all you need to know about steaks.QC-4, ul. Aksakov 14, M Sofiyski Universitet, tel (+359) 885 11 11 80,
www.steak.bg. Open 10:00 23:00. PJA
Large trendy Bulgarian eatery in the city centre that is always busy. Excellent cuisine and excellent value for money
with fast service. You arent going to get anything out of
the ordinary here but you will get good portions of good
food so if this is what you are looking for you will leave
contented. Open all night (not that weve ever checked
it out!)QC-3, ul. Hristo Belchev 16. Open 00:00 24:00.
You wont come across Lazy accidentally as it is tucked
away in an apartment block,by the cable car lift behind
the huge IKEA and Sofia Ring Mall complex. Extremely
popular with the expat and local business community,
this restaurant is usually packed at peak times. As you
would expect from one of the countrys best chefs, the
food is exceptionally high quality, without being too
pretentious. Beef steak, lamb chops, quail and fresh fish
are on the menu to tempt and deliver, albeit at a price!
The menu is just long enough to give you choice without
overwhelming and includes some very tasty pizza options
for those looking for the something more basic. Be sure to
leave room for dessert! Food and service is topnotch, but
a word of advice dont let the waiter steer your choices,
they will be pricey!Qul. 197, Vitosha Park Compound 25,
Simeonovo cabin lift, tel. (+359) 882 30 50 60, www.
lazy.bg. Open 10:00 23:00. PAB
Enjoy the laid-back trendy atmosphere of one of Sofias
perennial favorites with a coffee, cocktail or a bite to eat.
Inside, the eclectic retro furnishing complements the industrial pipes and bare brick walls, while the enormous
leafy garden outside is a rare find in central Sofia. Thematic lunch menus are on offer, changing from Mexican
one week to pasta the next. After 9 p.m. the music becomes loud as the DJ takes over. We love to come here
on a Sunday and read the papers over a coffee and cake.
QC-4, ul. Aksakov 18, MSofiyski Universitet, tel. (+359)
2 9872723, www.motto-bg.com. Open 10:00 01:00.


Upmarket restaurant in the 5 star Hilton hotel. Serving
modern Bulgarian influenced cuisine combined with
the best from around the world, Seasons can boast one
of Bulgarias best known celebrity chefs, Andre Tokev,
who loves giving Bulgarian dishes a contemporary
twist. The menu is compact and offers delicacies such
as steamed pheasant or Argentinean steak (seasonally
adapted) with an emphasis on the delicious local fresh
produce. The restaurant has a seating capacity of 120,
but through the tone on tone muted earth colour decor,
it does not lose its intimacy. Ideal for special occasions
and events, in the warmer summer months there is also
a delightful terrace overlooking the adjacent South
Park. Dress code: smart casual.QE-3, Hilton Hotel,
bul. Bulgaria 1, MEvropeyski Soyuz, tel. (+359) 2 933
5062, www.hilton.com. Open 06:30 10:30, 12:00
14:00, 18:00 23:30. Sunday brunch 12:00-15:30. P
This teaching restaurant is the first of its kind in Sofia
and offers the diner the opportunity to taste the finest of international cuisine whilst providing the final
year students at the academy with valuable work experience. Two floors of restaurant with different decor
provide a choice of ambience. Service and food are
both excellent. A short menu offers gourmet cuisine
with to-die-for desserts. The weekday lunch specials
( 4 courses for 10 leva) are excellent value for money
and throughout the month they have special culinary
experience evenings including dining in the dark.QD3, ul. Peter Beron 9, tel. (+359) 2 421 9068, www.
restauranttalents.bg. Open 11:00 22:30. Closed
Sun. 8.50-32.00 leva. PJ A I G
The decor reminds of a cosy English Pub with several
smaller dining areas and a bar, but the menu is far more
extensive (and fancier) than you would find in a pub in
the UK. Our favourite is definitely the full cooked English
breakfast, served throughout the day. Draught Guinness
or Kilkenny or some English Tea served in a teapot (yay)
are all great accompaniments. A special seasonal lunch
menu offers an adventurous mix of international cuisine
at reasonable prices, and as befitting a pub the most
important football matches from major European leagues
are broadcast live.QD-3, ul. Angel Kunchev 34, MNDK,
tel. (+359) 2 980 7427, (+359) 876 331 419. Open 10:30
24:00. PJAGW
Dining area is split on several levels of a house with a sheltered courtyard in the city centre. Cosy atmosphere and
friendly service, the emphasis is on fresh genuine Italian
cuisine at sensible prices.QD-3, ul. Rakovski 174, MNDK,
tel. (+359) 89 337 97 67, www.trattoria.bg/. Open 12:0023:00. PTJAIGBW
12 Sofia In Your Pocket

Another relatively inexpensive and friendly restaurant
with several locations in downtown Sofia. Ugo has been
around for 15 years serving pizza, salads, pasta and long
long menu of anything else you can think of. Astoundingly it all comes very quickly and is tasty, though nothing
gourmet. If youre out and about sightseeing you could do
worse than sit down at one of the Ugos.QD-3, bul. Vitosha 45, tel. +359 29881892, www.ugo.bg. Open 00:00
24:00. 4.99-10.39 leva. PJA

This is the most popular group of foreign cuisines on offer
and no wonder Bulgaria has the perfect vegetables for
recreating those Mediterranean flavours.
In the suburbs not far from the Film studios this stylish
Italian is very popular on weekends when everyone heads
out of town. You cant fault the cuisine, this place is always
busy!Qul.Kumata 75G, tel. (+359) 885 760160.
Small smart restaurant in the Doctors Garden area with
an emphasis on Mediterranean cuisine and seafood. Prices
are surprisingly reasonable considering the area and the
quality of the food. Excellent service and desserts. Their
restaurant in Sozopol at the Black Sea is hugely popular
during the summer months.QC-5, ul. Oborishte 23, tel.
(+359) 888 982265.
Great lively atmosphere and interior at this genuine Italian joint serving pizza, pasta and salads. The pizzas feature
ultra-thin dough. Be sure to book as its very popular.QC-5,
ul. Oborishte 36A, MSofiyski Universitet, tel. (+359)
887 778 464, www.forno.bg. Open 12:00 23:00.
Quite a few of these quirkily designed restaurants have
opened up around town in the past couple of years and are
buzzing. The lunch menu features some delicious cooked
dishes but we have had mixed success with the a la carte.
Excellent wines and service and great atmosphere.QD-3,
ul. Gladston 58, tel. (+359) 88 996 2266, labottega.bg.
Open 09:00 23:00, Sat, Sun 10:00 23:00.
Above the trendy One More Bar (entrance at the rear of
the building), Lavanda delights with its shabby chic charm
more reminiscent of something you might find it Vienna
or Paris. The brief hand-written menu appears somewhat
adventurous in its combination of flavours. We tried grilled
octopus leg and were delighted by both presentation and
flavour, and overall it promises a refreshing dining expesofia.inyourpocket.com

rience.QC-4, ul. Shishman 12, tel. (+359) 88 224 9740.
Open 12:30 23:00. Closed Sun. PJA
Quirkily designed restaurant on one of the backstreets of
the city centre. Outdoor seating on the pavement. Wideranging menu of imaginative dishes, mostly with a healthy
theme but there are plenty of meat dishes as well. Vegetarians will find some novel options here.QD-3, ul. Angel
Kanchev 30, tel. (+359) 87 688 4014. Open 11:00 22:30.
Charming and intimate restaurant done out in a refreshing
pale green and decorated with delightful knick-knacks.
The pasta is some of the best in Sofia.QC-3, ul. Tsar Assen
16, MSerdika, tel. (+359) 2 981 4482, www.pastorant.
eu. Open 12:00 22:30. JB
A welcome fine dining addition to the Paradise Center,
originally from Malta. The wonderfully fresh home-baked
dark bread with olives is sinfully delicious (although not
complimentary) served with olive paste, oil and garlic.
Porto Maltese specialises in fresh fish from the Med as well
as steaks, beautifully presented. We opted for the Cajun
steak which was incredibly tasty and tender. Service and
view also get the thumbs up.QParadise Center Level
3, bul. Cherni Vrah 100, tel. (+359) 88 330 8020. Open
12:00 01:00. PAB
Warm, earthy tones, raw natural materials and a variety
of seating options on several levels all arranged around a
very visible kitchen hub. If pasta is not your thing, there are
also fish, steaks, salads and more. Lunchtime specials and
brunch on Sunday from 11:30-16:00.QC-4, ul. 6th Septemvri 9, MSofiiski Universitet, tel. (+359) 89 056 6666,
www.spaghetti-kitchen.com. Open 10:00 01:00.
Following on the successful recipe of Spaghetti Kitchen,
the new Spaghetti Kitchen & Bar does not fail to deliver.
Prime central location and plenty of outdoor seating,
the interior also offers a variety of seating opportunities,
whether you are in a larger group or even on your own. Enjoy the open view to the kitchen or chill in the prosciutto
bar area, where you can order platters of prosciutto (various types) or Italian cheeses to accompany your drinks.
The menu offers just enough choice within each category;
pizza, pasta, ethnic, local, grill. The salads are beautifully
presented and the dessert vitrine catches your attention
already as you enter. Definitely worth stopping here at any
time of day.QC-3, pl. Sveta Nedelya 3, MSerdika, tel.
(+359) 89 304 6666. Open 08:00- 03:00. PTJA


This beautifully restored hunting lodge with large outdoor
dining area is set in the Loven Park in the city. In addition to the usual endless menu of tasty pizzas, salads and
other main dishes, this restaurant also offers game (when
in season), fresh fish and meats which you select from a
trolley prior to cooking. Service is very attentive, our waiter
spoke good English. Booking during peak times evenings
and weekends is recommended.Qbul. Simeonovsko
Shosse 1, in the park, tel. (+359) 88 980 0099, www.villa.
victoria.bg. Open 11:00 23:00. . PAIGB

Genuine Moroccan, based on original recipes by the
owners mother, in a stylish oriental interior which features cushion-covered benches and a lot of candles.
Salad and mezze are presented on a tray from which you
can make your selection. Main course is either a tagine
or grilled meat, while for dessert you can go for a Moroccan sweet, tea and a narghile. In the summer months
the enchanting adjacent courtyard is a welcome oasis in
the city centre.QD-3, ul. Angel Kanchev 27, tel. (+359)
2 980 4098, www.annette.bg. Open 10:00 23:00.

Peruvian restaurant with an extremely welcoming atmosphere. A round hole in the wall reveals a glimpse into the
kitchen. The menu is simple and relatively brief. The appetizers are very tasty, especially the salad with tomatoes
and chorizo sausage.QC-5, ul. Sheinovo 4, tel. (+359) 2
944 6577. Open 12:00 15:00; 17:00 23:00.

Sushi is pretty big in Sofia, with many restaurants in the
city centre offering a sushi menu alongside their regular
dishes. These tend to lean heavily on Philadelphia cheese
stuffed sushi, whereas the dedicated sushi places go for the
traditional fillings.
Plenty of restaurants offering sushi these days, but not
many offering Teppanyaki where you can sit around the
hot iron griddle and watch your food being prepared. Edo
Sushi offers an excellent variety of dishes from Japanese
cuisine, making it much more than a place for sushi. The
ambience is calm and relaxing with excellent service, and
the location in the Sofia Ring Mall offers a great view onto
the foothills of Vitosha Mountain.QC-4, ul. G.S. Rakovski
96, MSerdika/Sofiyski Universitet, tel. (+359) 878 920
100, www.edosushi.bg. Open 10:00 22:30. PJA



10, MSerdika, tel. (+359) 2 444 0556. Open 08:00
22:00. PJGSW
Bulgarias answer to the international coffee chains, Green
Deli Cafe offers warm and cold food as well as tea, coffee
and fresh juices. Try their fresh salads using healthy, natural
ingredients in unusual combinations, freshly made soups
and delicious sandwiches (we love the roasted vegetable
and hummus sandwich and the salad with millet, pumpkin and edamame).QD-3, ul. Rakovski 165, tel. (+359)
879 256 565, greendelicafe.com. Open 07:00 20:00,
Sat-Sun 09:00 19:00. PJA
Like so many other places, Sofia has its fair share of
Starbucks and Costa Coffees, but there are still plenty
of interesting little local places to try out. In the past
couple of years cafes offering home-baked cakes, cupcakes, bread and more have sprung up all around Sofias
city centre. Our favourites offer healthy (well, okay, cakes
cant really be healthy) alternatives to the fake cream
toppings offered in the old-school Bulgarian cake shops
as well as freshly squeezed juices or home made syrups,
coffee and tea.

Charming little bakery cum coffee shop, slightly off the
beaten track but well worth a detour. Using primarily locally sourced ingredients you will find here a variety of
freshly baked bread products including spelt and wholegrain, cakes and pastries. There are a few seats where
you can sit and enjoy with a cup of tea or coffee.QB-4,
ul. Iskar 36, tel. (+359) 882 800622, cakeybakey.bg. J
Great to pop in at any time day of the day, whether it
is morning coffee and fresh croissants, or a quick lunch
choosing from their large selection of panini sandwiches
and salads through to evening drinks with friends sharing a bottle of good Italian wine accompanied by platters of fresh cuts Italian sausages and cured meats and
cheeses. Freshly baked bread rolls and Italian delicatessen are also on sale. There are two more locations in
Sofia: ul. Hristo Belchev 6 and Business Park Sofia.QD-4,
ul. Gen. Yosif V. Gurko 9, MSofiyski Universitet, tel.
(+359) 882 501 599, www.ciccione.bg. Open Mon, Tue,
Wed, Thu, Fri 08:00 23:30, Sat, Sun 10:00 23:30.
Trendy cafe big windows, light wood interior with the
classic French metal bar stools offering a selection of
home-made soups, sandwiches, salads and desserts
either to go or to eat in house. The location is one block
down from the Sheraton hotel and TsuM.QC-3, ul. Veslets
14 Sofia In Your Pocket

Tiny vegan cafe and take away next to the opera house,
serving vegan and mostly raw food. Choose from freshly
made salads, smoothies or raw soups, or go for the panini
with vegan cheese, quiche or pie.QC-4, ul. Rakovski 113,
MSerdika, www.lovinghut.bg. JS
Fresh homemade bread, muffins, cookies, cakes and sandwiches and all pretty healthy at that! Most of what is on
offer here uses rye or wholegrain flour and the brown
bread used for the sandwiches is so authentic and chewy
that it can even be a little difficult to manipulate. Besides
snacks to eat in or take out there is also good coffee, lattes,
etc and homemade soft drinks. Both locations have only
a few tables, plus seating at the bar, with large windows
that open in warm weather to bring the outdoors inside.
QD-3, ul. Rakovski 163; D-3, bul. Skobelev 7. Open
07:00 20:00. J
Always packed whatever the time of day, Mementos cafebars attract a trendy young coffee and cocktail-drinking
crowd. Having said that, their coffee is delicious and they
also do a wicked selection of loose teas. In the evenings
themusic gets loud with guest DJ sets. Outdoor seating.
Sandwiches and cakes. There is also a Memento cafe to
the right of the entrance the National Palace of Culture
(ideal before or after a show) and one on the corner of
ul. Rakovski/Gurko as well as in the Sofia Ring Mall.QD-3,
bul. Vitosha 32, MNDK. Open 08:00 02:00, Sat 09:00
03:00, Sun 10:00 02:00. PJA6BW
Relatively new arrival on Sofias main pedestrianised
street of cafes. We love the concept, decor, food and view.
The dishes are a fresh innovative mix of regional and Italian, with an open kitchen concept where you can watch
your meal being prepared. Laid out either side of a central
bar area, the ambience is lively and dynamic. The Social
Cafe is a great place to stop for coffee, a bite to eat- sweet
or savoury, a drink with friends and a bit of people watching.QD-4, bul. Vitosha 16, MNDK, www.socialcafe.bg.
Open 08:00 02:00.

Theres a bar on every corner in the centre of Sofia and
in certain residential areas, such as Studentski Grad (Students Town), where nightlife enjoys a somewhat higher
profile than sitting in the library (if there are any!). Weve
chosen the bars that have something a little different to
offer style, good music and that certain something.
Massively popular bar for people who wear suits by day
and surf and snowboard all summer. Centrally located, By
the Way is equally good for morning coffee and a croissant, a quiet lunch of good salads and sandwiches or to
meet up with friends in the evening over cocktails.QD-3,
ul. Georgi Rakovski 166, MNDK, tel. (+359) 02 980
3836, www.bytheway.bg. Open 09:00 01:00, Sat, Sun
10:00- 01:00. PJAB
Latino music, good selection of cigars and rum, leatherand-wood interior and many pictures of hot Havana
nights. Warm and cosy place in the Lozenets district of
Sofia, where you can feel the spirit of the hot southern
romance over a good cocktail and pleasant conversation.
QE-3, ul. Tsvetna Gradina 1 (Helsinki Square), MEvropeiski Soyuz, tel. +359 2 963 2297/+359 885 455 633,
www.casadecuba.bg. Open 08:00 01:30, Sun 10:00
01:30. PAEB
Small arty cafe/bar that hosts regular cultural events and
there are always examples of contemporary art for sale on
the walls.QC-4, ul. Georgi Benkovski 10, MSerdika, /
(+359) 876 062455, www.blog.dadaculturalbar.eu/.
Open 10:0024:00, Sat, Sun 11:00 02:00. PJA

bul. Yanko Sakazov 15-17, tel. (+359) 2 4446 111, www.

raketabar.com. Open 11:00 24:00.
Right in the centre of Sofia, this rooftop bar has one of
the best views of Sofias most emblematic sights Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Parliament and more.QC-4,
bul. Tsar Osvoboditel 16, tel. (+359) 88 454 4108, www.
sensehotel.com. Open 10:00 02:00. PJAG
Fantastic setting for this bar in an old-fashioned glass and
cast iron pavilion in the little park between Angel Kanchev
and Solunska Streets. You could almost be forgiven for
thinking you were in Paris. Classic and innovative cocktails
are on offer as well as the usual range of drinks.QC-3, ul.
Angel Kanchev 9A, MSerdika, tel. (+359) 87 715 1152.
Open 09:00 02:00. PJBW

The Karnigradska location is the oldest Irish pub in Sofia
and is still a very popular expat hangout. As Irish pubs go
its more the upmarket type than spit and sawdust, and
has a great beer garden for the summer months. All major sporting events can be seen on the large screen and
beware anyone who wants to talk through them! A new
location has recently opened in the Doctors Garden area.
Draught beers, average pub grub and generally a party
atmosphere.QC-3, ul. Karnigradska 6; C-5, ul. Shipka 48,
MSerdika, tel. (+359) 2 980 28 70, www.jjmurphys.net.
Open 12:30 01:00. JBSW


Wine bar with a large spacious feel to it, thanks to the high
ceilings and large windows.QC-5, ul. Sheinovo 2, MSofiiski Universitet, tel. (+359) 89 557 3058, www.mwah.
bg. Open 10:00 22:00. PJAGW
This is no doubt one of the hippest places to go, no matter
what time of day. Go for a coffee, a drink, lavish Sunday
brunch, a tasty sandwich or a healthy salad. You wont be
disappointed. One of the most famous bartenders in the
world recently said that he had the best Bloody Mary of his
life there. The interior of this restored old house is decidedly shabby chic. Quiet and shady garden in the summer
months.QC-4, ul. Shishman 12, MSofiyski Universitet/
Serdika, tel. (+359) 88 253 95 92. Open 08:0002:00.
Here you will find the best selection of rakia (the local
brandy) in a retro environment. Food also served.QC-5,



Live music club and bar.QC3, ul. Angel Kanchev 1,
In the basement of Sofias Opera House, this nightclub is a
popular choice for the citys clubbers. With three different
rooms, each with its own style and atmosphere. The VIP
lounge speaks for itself, as does the chillout lounge.QC-4,
ul. G. S. Rakovski 113, MSofiiski Universitet/Serdika, tel.
(+359) 886272272, www.mascaraclub.com/. Open 23.00
05:00. Closed Mon, Tue, Sun. Entrance Fee: 8 leva.
A hot spot on the party circuit of Sofia with various music events featuring both Bulgarian and foreign artists in
all styles and genres. The two halls are spacious and with
good acoustics and the bar staff are young and friendly.
QE-3, pl. Bulgaria 1, NDK, Galleria Underpass, MNDK,
tel. (+359) 886 83 71 82, www.mixtape5.com.


Unpretentious Irish pub catering for beer and whisky lovers. No food to be had here, no big-screen football (no
football at all, in fact), just booze and rock/pop music.
Guinness is on tap. Customers are a friendly community.
Entertainment includes karaoke nights, live music and Irish
lessons.QC-3, ul. Alabin 29A, MSerdika, tel. (+359) 89
995 3243. Open 12:30 01:00. JX
The decor reminds of a cosy English Pub with several
smaller dining areas and a bar, but the menu is far more
extensive (and fancier) than you would find in a pub in
the UK. Our favourite is definitely the full cooked English
breakfast, served throughout the day. Draught Guinness
or Kilkenny or some English Tea served in a teapot (yay)
are all great accompaniments. A special seasonal lunch
menu offers an adventurous mix of international cuisine
at reasonable prices, and as befitting a pub the most
important football matches from major European leagues
are broadcast live.QD-3, ul. Angel Kanchev 34, MNDK,
tel. (+359 ) 2 9807427, (+359) 876 331 419. Open 10:30
24:00. PJAGW

One of the most colourful and popular clubs in Sofia at the
moment.QC-4, ul. Rakovski 108, tel. (+359) 877 078080,
carruselclub.com. Open 22:00-04:00. Closed Mon, Tue, Sun.
16 Sofia In Your Pocket


One of the most happening places in Sofia, with a different band on every night, playing mostly jazz, blues, soul
and salsa. Many of the bands come from abroad. The
interior though brand new is somewhat outdated
with its studded black leather banquettes but then who
are we to judge? Great music is this places selling point.
QD-3, pl. Bulgaria 1, NDK, MSerdika, tel. (+359) 88 833
11 93, www.sofialiveclub.com/. Open Tue, Wed, Thu,
Sun 20:00 07:00, Fri, Sat 21:00 07:00. Closed Mon.
Small, cosy club, where jazz, swing, soul and world music
are at home. Theatre, stand-up comedy, dancing, cooking
and all kinds of cultural events keep them company. No
limits- just art, good vibes and guaranteed high quality.
QD-3, pl. Bulgaria 1, NDK, MNDK, tel. (+359) 887 934
335, www.clubstudio5.com. Open 11:00 02:00. J
An after club club! For those for whom the night just isnt
long enough ( or those that like to get up early?), Wake
Up promises some of the best international and local DJs
every Saturday and Sunday morning from 3 am. Great atmosphere and good sound.QD-3, bul. Bulgaria 1, NDK
underpass, MNational Palace of Culture, tel. (+359)897
770 955. Open Sat, Sun 03:00 12:00. PJEG
The most happening club in Sofias electronic music scene
in recent years with resident and guest DJs from around
the world every week. Lovely patio furniture means
this is also a great place for a drink at any time of day in
the warmer months.QC-4, bul. Tsar Osvoboditel 20,
MSofiyski Universitet, tel. (+359) 897 870 230, www.
yaltaclub.com. JA

scenes from Bulgarias history of liberation.QC-4, bul. Tsar
Osvoboditel, in front of the Radisson SAS hotel.

Towering above the intersection of Maria Louisa Blvd
and Todor Alexandrov Blvd. in the commercial heart
of the city, Sophia was erected in 2001 not without
some controversy replacing Lenins monument,
which was removed from the same spot at the time of
the democratic changes.
Sophia was considered too erotic and pagan to be referred to as St. Sophia. Eight metres in height, the copper and bronze statue by the sculptor Georgi Chapkanov, stands on a 16 metre high pedestal. Adorned
with the symbols of power (crown), fame (wreath) and
wisdom (owl), the crown is also a reference to the Goddess of Fate Tjuhe, inspired by the old emblem of
Sofia dating back to 1900.QC-3, Intersection of bul.
Todor Alexandrov and bul. Maria Luisa, MSerdika.

From time to time talk turns to the fate of this tall monument, crowned with an 8-metre high sculpture and
bronze figurative compositions around the base dedicated to the Soviet troops who entered Bulgaria at the end of
WWII. Usually someone calling themselves a defender of
democracy calls for it to be pulled down or proposes a referendum on its fate and then it is all forgotten as the Russian Embassy responds that Bulgaria is not at liberty to do
so. For a while it was covered in graffiti but it seems that it
has found its niche in the city landscape and will stay overlooking the skateboard and cycling area in the park.QD-5,
bul. Tsarigradsko Shosse, in the Borissova Gradina Park.
This fine bronze statue portrays the Russian Tsar Alexander
II on horseback and is a gesture of gratitude to the Russian
Tsar and his troops who finally liberated Bulgaria in 1878
from Ottoman rule. The 14-metre high statue is by the Italian sculptor Arnaldo Zucci, who won the commission in
a highly coveted competition. The monument itself was
unveiled in August 1907, and the bas reliefs depict various

On the southern side of Sveta Sofia church watched over
by a majestic bronze lion, there is a granite tomb, containing the bones of soldiers who died for their fatherland. The
tombstone behind the eternal flame is said to have been
brought from the Shipka Peak and bears an inscription
from Ivan Vazovs famous poem: It was for you Bulgaria
they perished, For you alone this sacrifice they made, To
you their motherland they were a credit.QC-4, Alexander Nevsky Square.


The cool and silent crypt below the cathedral provides an
imposing home for the Old Bulgarian Art Collection of the
National Gallery, depicting Orthodox Church Art from its
origins in the 4th century through to the 19th century National Revival period. The focus is predominantly on icon
painting with some 300 permanent exhibits, including an
altar cross and a pair of altar doors from the Rila monastery.
QC-4, pl. Alexander Nevsky, MSofiyski Universitet.
Open 10:00 17:30. Closed Mon. 3 6 leva. J
The oldest museum in Bulgaria, the museum of the archaeological institute has been in its present location the
Bujuk (Big) Mosque since 1899. The mosque itself dates
back to the end of the 15th century. It recently underwent
major restoration, reopening in 2000 and is without a
doubt one of the most charming and interesting museums in Sofia. The setting in the white, airy 9-domed former mosque is ideal for displaying the countrys ancient
treasures. Its collection includes treasures, coins and prehistorical monuments from Bulgarian soil through Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Well-displayed with Bulgarian
and English captions. The highlights include the Valchitran
gold treasure from the 14th century BC and the original
floor mosaic from St. Sofia Church.QC-3, ul. Saborna 2,
MSerdika/Sofiyski Universitet, www.naim.bg. Open
10:00 18:00. Closed Mon. 2 10 leva. J
The museum, housed in the eastern wing of the former
palace, gives an insight to Bulgarian folklore and traditions
including Easter eggs and breads as well as costumes from
various regions. Although started in 1878, many valuable
exhibits were lost during the bombing in 1944 and probably the most interesting exhibit is the beautifully carved
wooden ceiling. Unfortunately as in most Bulgarian museums, there are very few, if any, English transcriptions of the



Museum of Socialist Art

exhibits. Most museums do however offer English, German,

French or Russian speaking guides.QC-4, pl. Alexander
Battenberg 1, MSerdika/Sofiiski Universitet, tel. (+359)
2 988 19 74, Open 10:00 18:00. Closed Mon. J
New museum showcasing art from the Socialist period
(1944-1989). A large outdoor sculpture park has everything from the giant statue of Lenin that once stood in
the centre of the city to the red star that topped the Socialist party headquarters. Smaller pieces reveal a gentler
side to the Socialist ideals. The gallery inside has some
excellent examples of 20th century modern art as well
as the Socialist Realism genre we know from the period.
A souvenir shop has good quality T-shirts, mugs and a
few books for the time being. At present a catalogue is
not available. Somewhat off the beaten track, visitors will
have to get the metro to Joliot Curie or G.M.Dimitrov stations and walk 300 or 400 metres down the hill.QG-6, ul.
Lachezar Stanev 7, MJoliot Curie/G.M.Dimitrov. Open
10:00 17:30. Closed Mon. Admission 6 leva; children,
students, pensioners 3 leva; disabled, press and art students free of charge.
The latest addition to Sofias list of museums is the exciting, super-modern Muzeiko. A childrens science museum
and discovery world, it offers over 130 interactive games
and activities for young and old to discover and explore.
Everything is brightly coloured, tactile, hands-on and
great fun in stark contrast to the rest of the citys museums. Allow several hours for a visit. There are several
showings per day at the planetarium (extra admission). A
large and airy cafe and a gift shop with imaginative gifts
and books add to the attraction. Parking is available or
take the tube its literally just behind the G.M.Dimitrov
metro station.Qul. Prof. Boyan Kamenov 3,
MG.M.Dimitrov, tel. (+359) 2 902 0000, www.
muzeiko.bg. Open 10:00 18:00. Closed Mon. Weekdays: Age 4-18: 6 leva; Over 18: 10 leva; Family ticket:
27 leva. Weekends: Age 4-18: 8 leva; Over 18: 15 leva;
Family ticket: 40 leva.
18 Sofia In Your Pocket


The newest museum building in Bulgaria the National
Gallery opened on May 25, 2015 in the building of the
former State Printing House on Alexander Nevsky Square.
Almost 2,000 artworks from the gallerys rich fund of over
42,000 pieces by Bulgarian and foreign artists, are exhibited in 28 halls on four levels. The Bulgarian collection
dates back to the 1890s, while the greater part of the foreign collection was formed in the 1980s. As an institution,
the National Gallery unites the former National Museum of
Bulgarian Fine Arts and the National Gallery of Foreign Art.
The idea of housing a national gallery in the complex of
buildings that includes the National Gallery of Foreign Art
and the vacated wings of the Technical University with its
entrance across from the Vasil Levski monument, began
to be developed in 1999. The public tender for the design
of a modern museum centre was won by the architect
Yanko Apostolov in 2010. The Bulgarian Ministry of Culture signed a contract for EU funding under the Regional
Development Operational Programme. The representative
exposition (conceived by famous Bulgarian contemporary
artist Svetlin Rusev) features works tracing the path of Bulgarian art from the mid-nineteenth century to the present
day, Western European art from 15th.-19th. centuries, and
art exhibits from Europe, Asia, Africa and America.QC-3,
ul. 19 Fevruari 1, MSofiyski Universitet, tel. (+359) 2
980 0093, www.nationalartgallerybg.org. Open 10:00
18:00. Closed Mon, Last admission 17:30. Adults: 10 leva;
children, students and pensioners: 5 leva. Entrance is
free every second Thursday of the month. J
22,000 exhibits show the development of social, cultural
and political life on Bulgarian soil. From the first prehistoric
settlements through to the National Revival period and
the Bulgarian State 1878 1945; covering the Greeks, Romans, First Bulgarian Kingdom in the Middle Ages and the
Byzantines. Among the most spectacular exhibits are the
unique gold treasures from Panagyurishte and the Thracian silver from Rogozen as well as silver and bronze jewellery from the Bronze Age. In the splendid main hall on the
first floor, with its full height glass windows opening onto
Vitosha mountain, visitors can see the development of the
Bulgarian alphabet and early Bulgarian Christian art. A recent addition to the costume collection includes the wedding dress worn by Princess Kalina, daughter of Simeon
Saxe Coburg Gotha. Located in the outskirts of Sofia in the
upmarket Boyana district, the museum cannot be reached
on foot. Take the number 63 or 111 buses, the number 2
trolley bus or a taxi.Qul. Vitoshko Lale 16,Okolovrustno
Shosse, Boyana District, tel. (+359) 2 955 42 80/(+359)
2 955 76 04, fax (+359) 2 955 76 02, nim1973@abv.bg,
www.historymuseum.org. Open 9:30 18:00. The Box
Office closes at 17:15. Adult 10 leva; School and University student 1 lev; Adult accompanied by children
3 leva and for a child of 7 and over 1 lev.

This museum was opened in 2003 and is slightly off the
beaten track. No doubt of interest to military buffs and
children, as the courtyard features a large selection of
military machines. Recently decommissioned weapons
are also on display as well as older memorabilia including uniforms, and a lock of Vassil Levskis hair.QD-6, ul.
Cherkovna 92, tel. (+359) 2 946 1805, m.museum@bol.
bg, www.militarymuseum.bg. Open 10:00 18:00.
Closed Mon, Tue.

tumes and a golden carriage clock presented to Prince

Ferdinand by Queen Victoria. In addition to the permanent exhibits there will also be temporary exhibitions and
there is a special room for children to get their hands on
Sofias history.QC-3, pl. Banski 1, Old Baths, MSerdika,
tel. +(359) 2 9854455, www.sofiahistorymuseum.bg/
en/. Open 10:00 18:00. Closed Mon. Adults: 6 leva.
Children: 2 leva. Family Ticket: 10 leva. Free admission
every second Thursday of the month. J


Centrally located next to the Russian church, this museum
is a good wet weather choice for families with children,
as the collection of stuffed, pickled or preserved animals
never fails to impress. On the staircase of this old building there is a permanent exhibition of live reptiles and
amphibians and on the ground floor there is also a collection of rocks and minerals from the moon. In the foyer is
a small shop selling semi precious stones and some rather
attractive contemporary jewellery. The National Museum
of Natural History in Sofia is the richest museum of natural history on the Balkans.QC-4, bul. Tsar Osvoboditel 1,
MSerdika/Sofiysku Universitet, tel. (+359) 2 987 41 95,
fax (+359) 2 988 28 94, www.nmnhs.com. Open 10:00
18:00, The museum is open every day except 1 January,
3 March and 25 December. Last admission is at 17:00.
Adults: 4.00 leva; Children under 6: 1.00 lev; Pupils and
students: 2.00 leva; People with disabilities: 1.00 lev;
Retirees: 2.00 leva. JU


During the construction of the second phase of the
underground, remains of the ancient Roman city Serdika were uncovered. Laboriously uncovered, partially
restored (not always without criticism) the complex
consists of eight streets, an early Christian basilica, six
large buildings, mineral springs, a medieval church all
located at underground level and covering approximately 9000 square metres. Dating back to a period
from 1st till 6th century AD, the visitor to this newly
opened complex can admire early examples of a water and sewage system, as well as ornately tiled floors.
QC3, pl.Nezavimost, MSerdika. J


This modernist concrete block, originally a casino till
1944, became the home of the City Gallery in the 1970s,
although the gallery itself was founded in1928 and was
first known as The City Museum. The permanent collection consists of predominantly 20th century paintings and
sculptures by Bulgarian artists, many of which have been
donated to the gallery, but there are frequent visiting exhibitions. The gallery often hosts musical recitals and avantgarde events. A small area at the entrance sells postcards,
posters and books about Bulgarian art.QC-3, ul. Gurko 1,
MSerdika, tel. (+359) 2 987 2181, www.sghg.bg. Open
10:00 19:00, Sun 11:00 18:00. Closed Mon. Free admission. J
This museum dedicated to the History of Sofia is housed
in the magnificent former baths building behind the
mosque. It finally opened to the public on 17th September 2015, after years of restoration and planning. Eight
halls with over 1000 exhibits from 6000 BC to present day;
among the many items on display, there is a reconstructed
neolithic house, an old news stand, printed materials, cosfacebook.com/SofiaInYourPocket



Until August 1990 this was the seat of the Central Committee of the Communist Party. In the summer of 1990 it was
set on fire by crowds protesting against communist rule.
Based on the designs of P. Zlatev, it was built by a co-op of
architects which included Tsolov and the Soviet architect
Blochin. Completed in 1953, it marks the top end of an area
known as the Largo, a major showpiece of postwar socialist Sofia. Look up and you will notice something distinctly
missing. The red star! This was removed after the collapse
of the communist party. Now it is exhibited at the recently
opened Museum of Socialist Art. Today the building is
mainly used as Government offices and the splendid Sofia Hall is occasionally used for charity concerts.Q C-3, pl.
Alexander Battenberg 1, MSerdika. J

Archaeological Complex Serdika



Built in 1891, across the Perlovska River, according to a
project by Kolar & Proshek, the stone bridge flanked by
four bronze eagles atop four granite columns was seen to
mark the entrance to the city and the start of a new era.
The chosen site marked the place where Sofianites welcomed back the revolutionaries in 1878, and the eagles
were seen as a symbol of freedom. Nowadays, Eagles
Bridge marks the entrance to Borissova Gradina park and
is one of the points at which one can enter the Sofia University metro station.QD5, bul. Tsarigradsko Shoss/
Evlogi Georgiev, MSofiyski Universitet. J
Well worth a visit to see how a once delapidated building can once again become a thriving centre of trade. The
former food market, built in 1909, was one of the earliest of
this type in the country. Fully renovated in the late 1990s,
the main focus of the shops inside is once again food, with
stalls selling fresh fish and special dietary foods, as well
as a variety of other shops and cafes.The ornate facade
which incorporates Byzantine and medieval Bulgarian architectural elements has alternating layers of stone and
brick, large window niches and a high central arch above
that is the city coat of arms topped by a small clock tower.
Long before the Hali was built, archaeological excavations
show that the site served as a gathering and market place
dating back thousands of years. In the basement are archaeological remains, including Roman baths and parts
of Serdicas fortress wall. Architect Nahum Tarbov.QB3,
bul. Maria Luisa 25, MSerdika. Open 07:00 00:00. J

Although you are unlikely to want to see a play unless your

Bulgarian is excellent, you can still sit out front at one of
the many cafes and soak up the atmosphere.QC3, ul.
Dyakon Ignatii 5, MSofiyski Universitet.
In its hey day, prior to 9th September 1944, the Military
Club was the venue for many a splendid ball, attended by
royalty and Sofias elite. Built in 1895 based on designs by
the architect Antonin Kolar, the architect Nikola Lazarov
also participated in the construction, The facade of this
attractive Renaissance-style building was restored a few
years ago as part of a UNDP-funded Beautiful Bulgaria
project, and the Military Club is once again proving a popular venue for social events.QC4, bul. Tsar Osvoboditel 1,
MSofiyski Universitet.


The Holy Synod is a ruling body of the Bulgarian Orthodox
Church. The beautiful ornate building of the Holy Synod
was built in 1908 by Petko Momchilov and J Milanov. Red
and gold Majolica tiled friezes wrap the building, the central mosaic portrait depicts three members of the Holy
Synod. Sadly much of original sculptural elements were
destroyed during the Second World War. This building is
the residence of the Bulgarian Patriarch and is not open
to the public.QC4, ul. Oborishte 4, MSofiyski Universitet, tel. (+359) 2 987 56 11. J


The slogan on the facade above the entrance Obedinenieto Pravi Silata, loosely translated means United we
are strong, which seems wishful for any parliament. This
is the scene of regular public protests and back in 1997
the building was actually stormed and damaged, leading
to the eventual downfall of the ruling (Socialist) party.Built
in three stages between 1884 1928, it was built by Bulgarian Architect, Konstantin Ivanovich who had been living and working in Vienna.QC4, pl. Narodno Sabranie,
MSofia University.


Built in 1907 by the Austrian architects Helmer & Felner, the
National Theatre is one of the most ornate buildings in Sofia.
The 40 metre high faade, is fronted by a large pediment,
supported on six white marble columns, depicting Apollo
and the muses. The twin towers that rise up behind are
crowned with sculptures of the goddess Nike.The interior
was destroyed by fire in 1923, and restored again six years
later increasing the theatres seating capacity to over 1000.
The ornate main hall has an 850 audience capacity. The
stage curtain, with its mythical firebird motive from Stravinskys ballet, was woven by women from Panagyurishte.

The Presidency was built in the mid 1950s as part of the
Largo complex according to designs by architect Tsolov.
Today the Bulgarian president has his official chambers
here facing the archaeological museum and his rather
smart guard of honour has been photographed by many
a tourist. The guards change every hour on the hour but if
you want the full pomp and ceremony be here on the first
Wednesday of the month at 12:00 when you can see the official changing of the guards complete with music, shouting and weapon brandishing.QC3, bul. Dondukov 2,
MSerdika, www.president.bg.

20 Sofia In Your Pocket


Built in 1873, it was the residence of the ruling governor
during the Ottoman occupation, with administrative offices and police headquarters on the lower floors. It was
in fact here that Vassil Levski was tried and sentenced to
death. After liberation it became the seat of the Bulgarias
first post liberation monarch, Knyaz Alexander Battenberg
and it was the first building to be refurbished in contemporary Viennese style, with Austrian architects Rumpelmaier and Gruenanger each adding new wings. It is now
home to the National Art Gallery and the Ethnographic
Museum and this is the only way the palace can be visited.
The exterior has recently been restored to its former glory.
QC4, pl. Alexander Battenberg 1, MSerdika/Sofiyski
The University was founded in 1888 and was originally
named after the brothers Evlogi and Hristo Georgiev who
donated the land and funds for the construction of a university building. Their statues are seated outside the main
entrance. The international design competition was originally won by Henri Breansson in 1907, his designs were
however later modified by Yordan Milanov. The foundation stone having been laid in 1920, construction didnt
start till 1941 and new wings designed by L.Konstantinov
were completed as late as 1985. Nowadays only part of
the actual university campus is based here, with many
faculties located around the city. There is a very pleasant
courtyard with a couple of outdoor cafes where you can
soak up the academic atmosphere.QC4, bul. Tsar Osvoboditel 15, MSofiyski Universitet.
Officially opened at the end of 1953, construction on this
neoclassical building had started as early as 1939, but
was then put on hold because of the Second World War.
The Library was designed to hold 1.5 million books with
a reading room for 450 people. Architects: Ivan Vasiliov &
Dimitar Tzolov. In the garden area directly in front there is
a statue of the two brothers St. Cyril and St. Methodius,
added in 1975.QC4, bul. Vassil Levski 88, MSofiyski
Universitet, tel. (+ 359) 2 988 28 11, fax (+ 359) 2 843
54 95, www.nationallibrary.bg. Open 8:30 18:00, Sat
9:00 15:00. Closed Sun. The National Library is closed
for readers every year from the 1st to the 31st August
and also every last Tuesday of the month. J

Named after St. Alexander Nevski, a Russian Tsar who saved
Russia from invading Swedish troops in 1240 and the patron

saint of Tsar Alexander II, who was also referred to as Bulgarias Tsar Osvoboditel (Liberator), since it was his troops that
finally brought about Bulgarias liberation from Ottoman
rule. The foundation stone of Sofias biggest church was laid
in 1882. Built between 1904-1912 in the Neo Byzantine style,
typical for Russian churches in the 19th century, the cathedral is 76 metres long and 53 metres wide and is said to hold
up to 7000 people. It covers an area of 2600 square metres.
The belfry is 52 metres high and houses 12 bells. Some of
Russia and Bulgarias best artists of the time worked on the
interior with its five aisles and three altars. Sienna and Carrera
marble in the entrance area, stained glass windows, Venetian
mosaics and dramatic murals such as The Lord God Sabbath
in the main cupola, and The Day of Judgement above the
exit, onyx and alabaster columns on the thrones all add to
the richness of the interior without making it in any way
gaudy. The spectacular external golden domes were covered in gold leaf, donated by Russia in 1960 and have recently
been regilded.The Russian architect A.N.Pomerantsev is also
the architect of the famous GUM (State Department Store)
in Moscow. Find time to visit the crypt under the cathedral
with its fascinating collection of icons.QC4, pl. Alexander
Nevsky, MSofiyski Universitet. J
Ideally located in the centre of Sofia close to the old (and
still partially dilapidated) mineral baths, this brick building
was built in 1576 and named after the mineral baths.The
dome has a diameter of 15 metres, and the building is the
only remaining example in Bulgaria of a domed roof on a
cubic base. The architect Mimar Sinan was chief architect
to the Sultan and his works also include the Selim mosque
in Edrine and the Blue mosque in Istanbul Turkey. It is the
only working mosque in Sofia and the muezzin calls the
worshippers to prayer every day with a loudspeaker on
the minaret (a decision has recently been taken to reduce
the volume as it disturbs those who live in the vicinity!).
Around 700 worshippers can fit into the mosque, the
whole area around which is particulary lively on Fridays
when the service inside the mosque is broadcast on the
loudspeaker for those who cannot fit inside. Prayer times:
13.30; 15.30; 20.45. Visitors are welcome outside of prayer
times.QC3, bul. Maria Luiza, MSerdika. J



Sofia may have no river to speak of, but how lucky it is to
be at the foot of the majestic Vitosha mountain. Standing
at a proud 2290 metres high, the mountain provides hiking and skiing opportunities for the citys residents and
can be a welcome break from the summer heat.
Spring and autumn are both wonderful seasons for a leisurely or not so leisurely walk up the magnificent mountain that is only 15 km away from the centre of town. In the
autumn you will even find blueberries (borovinki), though
the wild strawberries and raspberries are long gone.
There are many starting points, depending on where
you are coming from in the city. Closest to town are Knyazhevo, Boyana, Dragalevtsi and Simeonovo. The Simeonovo gondola lift is down on the ring road and takes
you up to Aleko, which in winter months is the centre of
the ski resort.
From there you can walk along the plateau or take any
one of many marked paths, including one right up to
Cherni Vruh (Black Peak) the top of the mountain (approx.
2 and a half hours walk each way). You can take the chair
lift up or down to Black Peak to shorten the walk.
The Dragalevtsi open chair lift (up the road from Dragalevtsi village square) ends up somewhere in the middle
of the plateau. Another fairly flat walk is what is known
as the Panoramic Path (panoramna puteka) which winds
its way around the mountain above the villages. The nicest part to walk along is between the villages of Bistritsa
and Zheleznitsa where some kind soul has decorated the
whole path with wooden signs sporting words of wisdom
and there are plenty of wooden stools and benches for a
brief rest.
To find the path from Bistritsa take a right at the square
and keep going straight up for around 2km until you
come across the parked cars. The walk to Zheleznitsa and
back is 8km.
If you want to walk uphill rather than on the flat plateau,
you need to start further down the mountain. To start
from Simeonovo you need to turn right after the square
and follow the people entering the woods about 200m
22 Sofia In Your Pocket

further up. The path is flat to begin with and then branches off either right towards Dragalevtsi or left towards Bistritsa on the Panoramic Path. Carry straight on following
the signs to Aleko and Cherni Vruh. Its not a steep uphill
but will certainly get your heart beating. Aleko is about
2 to 3 hours away and you will meet plenty of other
hikers if you go on a weekend.
Another popular route starts above Boyana Church and
passes by the Boyana Waterfall on its way up to Zlatnite
Mostove where the stone river (Morenite) can be seen
in its full glory.
Take a picnic if youre planning on doing the full walk up
and down, and its always wise to have something warm
to put on as the temperature can change very quickly in
the mountain, especially if you have worked up a sweat
and then stop to rest.
Buses also drive up to the ski centre Aleko all year round.


At 2290 m, this is the highest point of Vitosha mountain.
The name translates as Black Peak, though to be up
here in the summer or autumn and to enjoy the fabulous view over to the Rila mountain range it is hard to
imagine why it has been given such a bleak name.
The mountain hut works at least in the summer months
and sells simple cooked dishes and drinks, though on
sunny days you may be better advised to bring a picnic
as the queue for bean soup can be long and wearing!
The moraines, or stone river, is to be found in the Zlatni
Mostove (Golden Bridges) area of the mountain, above
Boyana residential district. Access is by car or bus and
there are several mountain huts that serve basic food.


One of Bulgarias most significant historical treasures,
listed on the Unesco World Cultural Heritage list. Set
amongst tall old pine trees in the exclusive suburb of
Boyana on Vitosha mountain, this quaint church dates
back to the 11th century and was built in three stages
(11th, 13th and 19th century). The frescoes, dating back to
1259, are considered a remarkable example of realistic art
from that era, a century earlier than the birth of the Italian
Renaissance. 240 realistic figures, bearing the features of
Bulgarian life at that time, are depicted on the walls and
include portraits of Tsar Konstantin Assen and his wife
Tsaritsa Irina as well as Tsar Kaloyan and his wife Dessislava. The name of the artist (or artists) is unknown and
he is generally just referred to as the Boyana Master.At the
nearby museum, visitors can get a more detailed insight
into the remarkable history of this church. Access to the
church is restricted and only with a guide.Qul. Boyansko
Ezero 1-3, Boyana, Sofia, tel. (+359) 2 959 0939, www.
boyanachurch.org. Open 09:30 17:30.
This small decorative church with its golden onion domes was
built between 1912 and 1914, (by many of the same workers
from the nearby Nevski Cathedral) to appease a Russian diplomat afraid to worship in Bulgarian churches. The church is
named after St. Nikolai the miracle maker. To this day wishes
are written on slips of paper and placed in the wooden box
by the white marble sarcophagus of Bishop Serafim (1881
1950), who is buried in the crypt. Although never canonized,
he is revered by many Bulgarians as a saint. Services are carried
out according to the Julian calendar, so Christmas is celebrated
on January 7th.QC4, ul. Tsar Osvoboditel 3, MSerdika/Sofiyski Universitet, tel. (+359) 2 986 2715. J
This charming round red brick church dates back to the
4th century, although it did not become a church till the
6th century. It is Sofias oldest preserved building. Having
undergone major restoration work, it was reopened to the
public in 1998 for the first time in 70 years. Three layers of
frescoes can still be seen, the oldest dating back to the
10th century illustrating the development of monumental
painting through to the 14th century. Nowadays it often
hosts small art exhibitions. Services are held daily at 8:00;
17:00 and 21:00. The excellent website has a section called
chants where you can listen to recordings of Old Church
Slavonic chants.QC3, bul. Dondukov 2, MSerdika, tel.
(+359) 2 980 9216, www.svgeorgi-rotonda.com. J
This quaint church was built in the 14th century during Ottoman rule, which explains why it is below ground level
and very simple in its exterior. Apart from a small skylight,

which is now blocked, there is no natural daylight inside.

As you enter the church, be sure to make your way upstairs to see the remains of the murals, dating from the
beginning of the 15th century, although the subject matter of the murals dates back to an era prior to Ottoman
occupation. The national hero, Vassil Levski, is said to have
been buried here after been hanged by the Ottoman rulers and a bronze plaque on the wall commemorates that,
though there is no proof that his remains lie here. St.Petka
functions as a normal church with regular services. A small
admission donation is requested to cover the expenses
involved in keeping the church open.The nickname Samardzhiiska comes from the Bulgarian word for the leather craftsmen who supported the church and had their
market nearby.QC3, bul. Maria Luisa 2, MSerdika. J
The oldest Eastern Orthodox Church in Sofia reopened
to the public in 1999 after major restoration and renovation works, and once again plays an important role in
the day to day rituals of Sofianites. It is in fact this church,
built at the highest point in Sofia, that gave its name to
the present-day capital back in the 14th century. The
simple red brick church dates back to the 6th/7th century when it was the site of Serdicas necropolis. Beneath
it lie several earlier churches dating back to the early 4th
century. You can now visit some of the remains of the
ancient buildings and tombs that lie under the church
as part of a brand new fascinating museum opened
to the public in May 2013. During the Ottoman yoke it
was turned into a mosque, but after an earthquake in
1818 toppled the minaret and another some 40 years
later killed the Imams two sons, it was abandoned and
restored as a church after the Liberation. This is a very
popular church for weddings and christenings.QC4,
ul. Parizh 2, MSofiyski Universitet. Open 09:00
17:00, Necropolis Museum. Admission to Necropolis
Museum: 6 leva for adults, 2 leva for concessions. J
The largest Synagogue in the Balkans and third largest in Europe was built between 1905 and 1909 by Austrian architect
Gruenanger in Spanish-Mauritanian and Byzantine style. The
building is a smaller replica of the Sephardic synagogue in
Vienna, which was destroyed during the Second World War.
With seating for over 1000 people, it is open to visitors and
worshippers. A museum tracing the history of Jews in Bulgaria is to be found inside the synagogue building. Of particular interest is the permanent exhibition dedicated to the
saving of the Bulgarian Jews during WWII.QB3, ul. Ekzarh
Josif 16, tel. (+359) 2 983 5085, www.sofiasynagogue.
com. Open 09:00 13:00; 14:00 16:30. J



Sofia these days offers everything that any place has to offer in shopping terms. With countless shopping malls, each
subsequent one larger than the last, an outlet centre, central shopping streets and plenty of supermarkets primarily German one no longer needs to leave the country for
a shopping fix.

Farmers market every Saturday at the Rimska Stena market
in the Lozenets district. Local producers offer pesticidefree and often certified organic fruit and veg, honey, cosmetics, drinks, dairy products and more.QE4, Rimska
Stena, ul. Hristo Smirnenski. Open Sat 11:00 15:00.


The row of fruit and vegetable stalls on ul. Graf Ignatiev in
the centre of the city adds plenty of character to this tramonly thoroughfare. Fresh fruit and veg, impressive displays
of nuts and dried fruit as well as honey and honey-based
products. In season you can also buy boiled corn on the
cob, roasted pumpkin and chestnuts. The stalls usually
pack up around 9 p.m.QD4, ul. Graf Ignatiev.

Traditional souvenirs from Bulgaria range from the ubiquitous vials of (foul smelling) rose oil, via hand-painted icons
and local pottery, to silver filigree jewellery. All of this and
much more can be found at souvenir shops close to the
tourist attractions: Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and in the
underpass between the Presidency and Council of Ministers.
If you want something a little more individual there are
now many craft shops selling charming toys from felt or
unique items by local artists that are no more expensive
than the mass-produced souvenirs.
Outdoor antiques/flea market on the same square as Alexander Nevsky cathedral and Sveta Sofia church. All kinds of
bric a brac is to be found, from badges and metal signs from
the Soviet period to amateurish works of art, fake Montblanc pens and more. All tourists trail through here. There
is also a separate area where old ladies sell lace and knitted
socks. You are expected to haggle if you want to buy anything.QC4, pl. Alexander Nevsky. Open 10:00 22:00.

Curious but interesting selection of shops on the ground
floor of the building, mainly related to art and picture
framing.QC5, ul.Shipka 6, MSofiyski Universitet.

Use the markets for fresh produce if you are self-catering
but also as an insight into the nations habits. Each market has its own traditions and character, some being quite
upmarket and selling exotic fruits and veg, others almost
oriental in character.

Situated behind Halite and close to the Synagogue and
Banya Bashi Mosque, Zhenski Pazar (Ladies Market) is probably the biggest market in Sofia and until recently a delight
for bargain hunters or those seeking the exotic! It has recently received a major makeover and with it probably lost
some of its initial appeal, although it is still the cheapest for
fruit and vegetables. Among the surrounding shops you can
find authentic Arabic and Chinese products, including Halal
meat. Take a walk down here as part of your tour of this part
of town but do keep your bag tightly shut and beware of
pickpockets.QB3, bul. Stefan Stambolov, MLavov Most.

The only thing to make this mall stand out from the rest
is that it is home to Debenhams. Then again, that doesnt
mean much to anyone unfamiliar with the British High
Street.Qbul. Bulgaria 69, www.bulgariamall.bg.
The first mall to be built in Sofia is now the smallest and is currently being re-vamped. Located fairly centrally, at the edge of
South (Yuzhen) Park behind the Hilton hotel, it is a manageable size and has a good cinema complex, a couple of restaurants and a food hall offering fast food, in an area of the city
where there is not much else in terms of competition.QE3,
bul. Arsenalski 2, MEvropeyski Soyuz, www.ccs-mall.com.
Fairly centrally located shopping mall with a large cinema
complex. As one of the first malls to be built, it is smaller than
its predecessors but its proximity to the city centre and the
nearby metro station ensure it is well frequented.QC2, bul.
Alexander Stamboliiski 101, MOpalchenska, tel. (+359) 2
929 3377, www.mallofsofia.bg. Open 10:00 22:00.
Large mall with amusement rides on the roof. Unfortunately it is on one of the most congested main roads out of
town.Qbul. Cherni Vrah 100, MJames Bouchier, www.

24 Sofia In Your Pocket


Kanchev, but at least the pavement issue is currently being
addressed.QD3, ul. Angel Kanchev, MNDK.
Krakra street is just one of several smaller streets in the
popular residential city centre area around the Doctors
Garden. Here you can still see some of Sofias grander
mansions, including the beautiful Turkish embassy residence, Many of the shops here are small and art orientated, either in terms of supplying artist materials, or
selling arty, locally produced gifts and souvenirs. Other
streets worth exploring in the area are Sheinovo and San
Stefano.QC5, ul. Krakra, MSofiyski Universitet.

Large shopping mall, opened in 2010 offers and excellent
retail mix with convenient location which is easily accessible from the city centre by car and public transport.
German management ensures a fair portion of German
retail chains, such as Deichmann, Humanic (shoes), Peek
& Cloppenburg (fashion brands) and dm drugstores have
shops here,but there is no shortage of other chain stores.
QC/D6, bul. Sitnyakovo 48, tel. (+359) 2 495 21 21,
Large Mall on the main Ring Road, ideally located for all
who live in the suburbs, but probably less attractive for
tourists, even though the restaurants here offer great
views on to the mountain.Qul. Okolovrusten Pat 214,
Opened in 2010. Difficult to get to without a car.Qbul.
Tsarigradsko Shosse 115, tel. (+359) 2 87 87 813, www.
themall.bg. PF

With so many malls trying to take shoppers away from the
city centre, Sofias central streets are filling up with small,
craft shops, local designers, cafes and bars. Some of our
favourites are listed here.
Angel Kanchev runs parallel to bul. Vitosha, from bul. Patriarch Evtimiy down to pl. Garibaldi, and offers a more eclectic mix of shops, cafes and restaurants. You can find small
bakeries offering freshly baked bread and other snacks,
restaurants and cafes as well as a variety of small shops run
by Bulgarian artists and designers, offering their creations.
Till now the broken pavements and fully parked street has
slightly detracted from taking a leisurely stroll down Angel

This little street that starts behind the Radisson Blu hotel
has in recent years been turned into the centre of alternative art and culture in Sofia. Although narrow and usually
parked with cars, several initiatives by local media have
turned it into a weekend pedestrian area with outdoor
theatre, concerts and crafts. On a normal day, ul. Shishman
has several artsy clothes and jewellery shops, an Indian
crafts shop, health food shops and plenty of small clothing
boutiques to keep you busy. There are also some very nice
imaginative cafes and restaurants, such as Supastar with
fresh soup and One More Bar with a large garden.QC/D4,
ul. Shishman.
Sofias central shopping street is now fully pedestrianised
between bul.Patriarch Evtimiy and ul.Alabin and has just
experienced its second spring! This is the place to stroll
along with family or friends on a sunny afternoon, enjoy a
coffee, ice cream or drink, watch buskers and street artists
and generally watch the world go by. Once upon a time
this was the only place to shop in Sofia, with the Central
Department Store (TsUM) at one end and any shop worth
its salt being located here. With the arrival of the shopping
malls Vitoshka went into decline, a lot of people thinking
its not worth trying to park in the city centre in order to do
their window shopping. As the new pavements and planters came so did the cafes, and with that the crowds especially on a warm evening. And once the people returned
so too did the shops, and now in fact many shops that first
opted only for the malls on the outskirts are also opening
on bul. Vitosha.QC/D3, bul. Vitosha, MNDK/Serdika.

bul. Vitosha



P Air conditioning

L Guarded parking

O Casino

G Non-smoking rooms

J Central location

B Outside seating

T Child-friendly

6 Pet-friendly

H Conference facilities

K Restaurant

A Credit cards accepted D Sauna

U Facilities for the disabled C Swimming pool
F Fitness centre

W Wifi


Luxury 5-star hotel with a fascinating history. During
construction works it was discovered that the Roman
amphitheatre of Serdica, as Sofia was known in Roman
times, lay underneath. Rather than filling it in with concrete, the owners cleverly incorporated the remains into
the basement floor of the hotel and now the whole reception area is a monument to the citys history. The
amphitheatre is particularly attractive at night when lit
up. The hotel itself can boast a central location, wellness
area, restaurant and top class rooms.Qul. Budapesta 2-4,
MSerdica, tel. (+359) 2 810 77 77, fax (+359) 2 810 77
70, hotel@arenadiserdica.com, www.arenadiserdica.
com. 63 rooms. PJHAUFLGKDW
This 5 star hotels USP is the size of its rooms. Originally constructed as an office centre, each room is the size of an office.
Stylishly furnished, they also offer large modern bathrooms
with walk-in shower. Located in the city centre in the small
park next the National Theatre, the hotel is within walking distance of all the sites. Qul. Gurko 1, MSerdika, tel.
(+359) 2 811 0811, fax (+359) 2 811 0953, reservations@
grandhotelsofia.bg, www.grandhotelsofia.bg. 122
rooms. PJHAFLGBKDW hhhhh
Top class, modern 8-storey hotel close to the National Palace of Culture and at the edge of the South Park. Light and
airy rooms are decorated in cool, calm tones and soundproof windows ensure that no sound comes in from the
busy road outside. The hotel has an excellent gourmet
restaurant with changing themed menu and stylish outdoor barbeque terrace.Qbul. Bulgaria 1, tel. (+359) 2 933
5000, fax (+359) 2 933 5111, sofia.reservations@hilton.
com, www.placeshilton.com/sofia. 245rooms. PZ
26 Sofia In Your Pocket


Wonderfully impressive hotel that is part of the architectural ensemble known as the largo. On the right is the
Sheraton hotel, on the left its identical twin TsUM (Central Department Store) and set back in the middle the
former Communist Party Headquarters. Right at this very
moment in time the whole ensemble is difficult to see as
metal hoardings spoil the view with work on Roman ruins
taking place right in front of the hotel. Rooms have all the
mod cons and are done out in a grand style that befits the
monumental architecture.Qpl. Sveta Nedelya 5, MSerdika, tel. (+359) 2 981 6541, fax (+359) 2 980 6464, www.
sofiahotelbalkan.com. 184 rooms. PZOJHA

Modern hotel on one of Sofias main boulevards out to
the West. Close to an underground station, the city centre is just a couple of stops away. Large spacious rooms
with lovely wood flooring throughout. Guests at the hotel
can enjoy free Wifi, free car parking and free use of the
pool and gym at the spa centre.Qbul. Todor Alexandrov
14, MOpalchenska, tel. (+359) 2 9119 900, fax (+359)
2 9119 906, hotelanel@hotelanel.com, www.hotelanel.
com. 56 rooms. POJHAUFLKDW
Prime city centre location on Vitosha Boulevard close
to the National Palace of Culture.Qbul. Vitosha 106,
MNDK, tel. (+359) 2 805 8888, (+359) 2 805 8181, fax
(+359) 2 805 8787, reservations@centralparkhotel.bg,
www.centralparkhotel.bg. 77rooms. PJHAU
KW hhhh
Run by ACCOR, NOVOTEL Sofia has 178 rooms and suites
with all modern conveniences, 6 meeting rooms with latest technology equipment, a restaurant, bar and a gym.
The hotel benefits from its strategic location in one of the
fastest developing new business areas of Sofia, on the citys
main arterial road Tsarigradsko Shosse Blvd. at 6 km from
the city centre and only 5 km from Sofia International Airport.Qbul. Tsarigradsko Shosse 115 N, tel. (+359) 2 904
3000, H8468-RE@accor.com, www.novotel.com/8468.
178rooms. PHAUFLGKDW hhhh
Modern hotel in a lovely setting in the south part of town,
close to the Tokuda private hospital and large complex of
tennis courts. Although close to a main road with quick
access to the city centre, the hotel and its ground enjoy
the quiet afforded by the surrounding woodland. Great
view of Vitosha mountain. The hotel has two additional
buildings with apartments for long and short-term rental,
a large pool and wellness area.Qul. Atanas Dukov 36,

tel. (+359) 2 8615700, fax (+359) 2 8615710, info.sofia@
rezidorparkinn.com, www.parkinn.com/hotel-sofia.
113 rooms. PTHA6UFLGBKDC
W hhhh

Qul. Aldomirovska 108, tel. (+359) 2 920 1654,

enquiries@sofia.easyhotel.com, www.easyhotel-sofia.bg.
Check in 2.00 p.m.; Check out 11.00 a.m. 57rooms.

Its hard to be more centrally located than this hotel, right opposite the National Assembly (Parliament)
and Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. Any point in the city
centre is easily accessible from here.Qpl. Narodno Sabranie 4, MSofiiski universitet, tel. (+359) 2 9334
334, fax (+359) 2 9334 335, info.sofia@radissonblu.
com, www.radissonblu.com/hotel-sofia. 134 rooms.
P Z O J H A 6 U F L G B K D W

What could be better than staying in a house with a courtyard in the city centre? This backpacker hostel has 18 beds
(2 x 4 beds, one twin room and 8 spaces in the attic), 3
separate showers and WC, a lounge area, kitchen facilities and a small sheltered courtyard just off Vitosha Blvd.
Qul. William Gladstone 12A, MSerdica, tel. (+359)
2 441 63 73, hostel@canapeconnection.net, www.
canapeconnection.net. PJAGBW

Recently renovated hotel close to the ring road in the direction of Plovdiv, with very reasonable room rates. Lavishly furnished restaurant and meeting rooms. One of the
few hotels in Sofia to boast an outdoor pool and large
childrens play centre, both indoor and out. All of this can
be enjoyed while dining in the large landscaped garden
under shady gazebos.Qbul. Tsarigradsko Shosse 357,
tel. (+359) 2 973 6246/(+359) 88 8004820, fax (+359)
2 979 1746, reservations@hotelmontecito.bg, www.
hotelmontecito.bg. 100rooms. PTHAKCW
This popular small family run hotel in the centre of town
not far from Vitosha Blvd. gets the thumbs up from everyone that has stayed there.Qul. Neofit Rilski 16, MNDK,
tel. (+359) 2 953 0110, (+359) 2 952 30 58, fax (+359) 2 951
6091, office@hotel-niky.com, www.hotel-niky.com.
25 rooms. PZJA6UGKW hhh
New modern building in the centre of Students Town.
Great location if your business is in the area or nearby business park or if you are travelling by road out of Sofia.Qul.
Yordan Yossifov 1A, tel. (+359) 2 440 80 80, (+359) 2 440
80 90, fax (+359) 2 445 8005, sales@suitehotelsofia.bg,
www.suitehotelsofia.bg. 122rooms. PZTHA

easyHotel Sofia is part of the British hotel chain easyHotel.
com, which is unique for offering modern facilities and
impeccable service at unusually low rates. All 57 rooms
are small and yet each is equipped with private bathroom, double bed, TV and Wi-Fi access. easyHotel Sofia
offers simple comfort at a great value and the earlier you
book, the less you pay. Book at www.easyhotel.com.

There are now quite a few apartment hotels in Sofia
with rooms available for long-term and short-term
rental, especially suitable for those who want maintenance, security, etc to be guaranteed.
A great alternative for all those who want to feel at
home and yet independent when travelling. Vitosha
Downtown apartments are conveniently located just
off the pedestrianised central shopping boulevard
with plenty of restaurants, shops and cafes in easy
walking distance, as well as metro stations Serdika or
NDK. New, modern, clean and well equipped apartments in a residential building with 24 hour security.
Check their website for more detailed information and
also apartments in other locations.Qul. Tsar Assen
15, MSerdika, tel. (+359) 888 79 29 53, saratours@
gmail.com, www.sofiaapartments.net. For a one
bedroom apartment sleeps 2 rates are in the
region of 60 per night, depending on size of apartment and length of stay. PJA6UW