#Innsider’s guide to Sofia
Sofia is often given credit as Europe’s most affordable capital, but it’s also one of the most underrated. This city sure knows how to party, and laid-back licensing laws allow for an electrifying, non-stop bar and club scene. But this little-known Balkan city offers plenty more reasons to visit. Culture-rich, it’s one of Europe’s oldest cities and is home to impressive architecture, antique gold treasures, Red Army monuments and traces of Roman ruins.
Read on for our top picks to experience this city the #innsider’s way.
Get the Party Started
Along with its great history and culture, there’s one thing you need to know about this city; Sofians sure love to party, and the best bars and clubs in the whole of Bulgaria are found within its capital. Its liberal view on licensing laws make drinking possible at almost any hour, meaning there’s always something going on throughout the city. Vitosha Boulevard is known for a top-notch selection of bars, but for those willing to stroll further into the surrounding streets there’s a few hidden gems to discover. On the #innsider’s list is the cozy Park Bar (Shipka Street 26), a great spot to enjoy a cup of coffee and take a break away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Drop in to By the Way (Ulitsa Rakovski 166) to sip from the above-average cocktail menu along to some chilled-out house music. For some beer garden action, slightly further afield is the Dutch-inspired Kanaal (Bulevard Madrid 2), unsurprisingly located right on Sofia’s canal.
Another of Sofia’s perks? Its accessibility to some truly gorgeous regions. The city itself has enough parkland to keep you busy, but it’s also surrounded by mountains, including the 7,500-foot Mount Vitosha, which is a popular venue for hiking and skiing. For those wanting to experience more of what’s on offer, Bansko, Malyovitsa and the Rila Mountains are particular highlights, and all are around one or two hours away from Sofia. When buses to get you there are as cheap and reliable as they are here, what’s not to love?
Bang for your Buck
If you’re the sort of traveller who likes to get the most out of your travel budget, Sofia is the place for you. Drinks really are dirt cheap, it’s one of the few places where you can still get a beer, glass of wine or spirit mixer for around US$1.50. Sofia is also one of the most compact and walkable capital cities and if you dig around, you’ll find a cool attitude in its streets. #Innsiders take a stroll on Tsar Ivan Shishman Street to get a good feel for the funky cafes and even funkier shops. For the guided option, there’s a free walking tour that starts in the city centre and winds all through the city’s incredible past. www.freesofiatour.com Another thing you’ll notice is that there’s free Wi-Fi everywhere. Can’t wait to get back to base to upload your #instatravel and #parkinnselfies snaps? No worries, the city has such reliable internet for free over thousands of connections. Even the taxis have their own wireless feed, seriously.
A place to stay
Our Park Inn by Radisson Sofia Hotel is ideally situated within the city centre, tucked into the quiet Lozenetz area. Click here to book and find out more. What are your favourite tips on seeing the best of Sofia? Share your #innsider tips on Twitter @parkinn to help others when planning a visit!