I just love the name Sofia, It brings forth a feeling of beauty and elegance. In Arabic it means beautiful, in other historical and mythology it brings forth a view of a Goddess of wisdom. It is quite apt then there a huge statue of Sophia which replaced one of Lenin in Bulgaria’s capital. Having had the chance to stay more centrally in Sofia I got the opportunity to check out the city and here’s my guide on how to spend some time here. It’s a lovely city to visit and tick off the travelling list.
Sights of Beauty
As always the best way to explore a city is to walk and with Sofia being quite a small city, it is not too strenuous to walk around to view some beautiful sights. Starting with the iconic Aleksander Nevski Cathedral with it’s gold laden domes. It’s namesake was in honour of a 13th century Russian warrior prince and the church itself dedicated to the memory of the soldier who died in the war for Bulgaria’s independence during the Russo-Turkish war.
Being a great starting point to continue walking past, you soon see numerous other churches which seemingly look similar to Mosques, after being told many were converted into Churches after independence. None the less beautiful.
Soon reaching Serdica Metro station is where you see something that is lovely to see, the preservation and remains of the old city. Interspersed within the metro station, and a great top down view from ground level with a viewing glass dome to see the remains. A nice touch. Walking past some buildings with giant arches you are greeted with the history museum which was originally Turkish Baths and its nice to see the original décor still in place. Directly opposite with a nice park in the middle is a simplistic Mosque which I believe is still active.
Having had enough history, it was time to check out modern Sofia. One street that oozes the vintage, hipster vibe is Tsar Ivan Shishman. Street art, trendy burger joints, speciality coffee shops, exposed brick work restaurants and bars adorn this street. Lovely to walk down and experience all that is has to offer. Slightly north west of city centre was what appeared to be the city’s modern art district. Streets were adorned with uber modern art galleries, cute small breakfast and coffee bars, boutique clothes shops, all with open glass fronts where you cant help but just peek in and stare.
Eating and Drinking
The food in Sofia is delicious, their salads are known to be the freshest of the fresh and in the city you have numerous cuisines to sample from traditional to modern to comfort food. The Architects Club is a modern upscale place inside what appears to be a garden. The décor is like sitting on a terrace greenhouse that is kitted out with tables and chairs. The food was a mixture of local specialities and French cuisine. Lovely place for a bit of romance or work dinner. Skaptoburger is the very essence of a hipster burger joint. Their french fries with ranch made me stroke my tummy. However for me, Made In Blue was the star place. Basically an old house converted as is into a unique multi-floored restaurant, each dining area was just amazing. From the casual sofas and coffee table living room, to the traditional dining table kitchen arrangement, all the way up to the cute little tables in the loft, which is where I dined. The décor was the highlight and just beautiful to look at and to spot all the little things placed around the place. Paintings, weird paintings, books everywhere, street art style graphics adorning the walls, vintage radiograms, just wow! Food wise it was pretty much a mix of salads and starter type affairs which suited me fine as I could sample more than one thing. After dinner One More is a cool place to hang out when you’re not quite ready for bed, a funky trendy bar, with disco house music playing and great coffee.
If you have time before you leave Sofia in the morning, you cannot do wrong by checking out Rainbow Factory for coffee and breakfast (or brunch). There are two in the city, I checked out number 2. It was the perfect little experience before leaving for the airport. Delicious food served quickly as self service and all types of speciality coffee, whilst within some seriously cool décor. Personal highlight for me.
As with many Eastern European cities, hotels are of a mix bag. You have the expensive and low end, nothing much in the middle. Sofia is no different. Where you stay will largely depend on what you want to do, personally the best place to stay is right in the centre. The Intercontinental Sofia is probably the best place to get the magnificent view of the cathedral. It may be slightly expensive but when everything else is so cheap who cares and especially with a view like that to wake up to. And that’s what Sofia is all about in my opinion, a perfect little romantic getaway. Peace & Love.