So, first up is Sofia, the lovely capital city of Bulgaria:
Why did I choose to go to Sofia?
- It’s cheap
- It has a lot of history
- I want to explore as much of the world as possible before I end up in the ground, forever remaining stationary until the earth is enveloped by the expanding sun.
The cheapness of the country cannot be understated. The travel to the country only set me back £65, with the AirBnb flat costing £40 for 3 nights, and that isn’t even getting started on how cheap the food and expenses are when you actually arrive in the city!
So, having enjoyed a lot of what Sofia had to offer, here’s some tips and advice for visiting Sofia:
Ensure you have lots of sun cream!
When it’s sunny, there’s no clouds and next to no shade around the city, so you don’t wanna get sunburnt when you’re spending most of your days walking around.
We managed to buy some sun cream in one of the first shops we visited for 13 lev — a bit pricey for sure, but definitely essential should you not want to be uncomfortable whilst exploring.
Never ask for extras when ordering anything
Should you order anything, from a hotdog, to a burger at restaurant, never ask for anything or say yes to what the waiter asks. One day I wanted a hot dog in the park, so saw a stand saying they were selling some for 2.50 lev. I pointed to the hot dog, so the man started making it. He then asked if I wanted cheese, or fries in it, to which I said yeah sure. Two seconds later when he’s already finished making it he asks for 7.00 lev! Not having any idea what had happened, I paid, and just thought I was a fool.
That night, we got a burger at a restaurant, and proceeded to ask for fries to share with the burger. The menu said that extra’s with the burgers would cost 1.90 lev, so imagine our surprise when we were charged 6.00 lev for the very same thing!
Both times we deviated ever so slightly from the exact quote, and were charged 3 times as much for doing so!
So be warned: you will be ripped off if you’re not careful!
Visit a local Billa and grab some pretzel sticks
I’m not even shitting you, for 30p you can get some of the best snacks in the world. It’s genuinely mental how good these small snacks are!
You can easily distinguish them from the red packaging and a panda on the front. You will not regret getting them.
Buy a litre of Beer, because well, you can
I unfortunately didn’t manage to take a pic of this, but man oh man, do the Bulgarians love their beer! Every shop visited had a selection of beers all ranging from 1.09 lev (for a glass bottle beer), to 2 lev for a 1 litre plastic bottle beer!
We managed to spend 3.50 lev (around £1.75) on 2 litres of fairly good tasting beer, a fantastic bargain in my books!
Go on the Free Sofia Walking Tour, you won’t regret it
The Free Sofia Walking Tour (as the name implies) is a free tour which takes you around the best sights of Sofia, giving you a massive amount of facts and tidbits so you can impress friends and family with your knowledge of another land.
It only lasts a few hours, with the guides being extremely knowledgeable, so is definitely worth it should you decide to donate some money at the end.
If you’re into cake, visit the Grand Hotel
Harking back to what I said earlier, the cheapness of Bulgaria helps you live the life of luxury for relatively little cash.
No other location makes you truly feel rich better than The Grand Hotel. For the grand total of 20 lev (around £10), me and Lucy we able to enjoy gorgeous coffee, and fantastic cake.
It may be a bit more money than the cheapness I’ve previously mentioned , but for this level of quality you’d usually expect to pay £25-£50 in the UK.
Visiting massive old churches for free is cool, but your time could be better used elsewhere
I’m not a religious person, but have loved churches I’ve explored in the past. The Vatican City for example was genuinely amazing, with so much to see and do. The same could be said for Gloucester cathedral, right here in the UK.
Sofia’s churches are all free to enter and explore, the issue is, they’re boring as hell.
Massive empty rooms, with next-to-no art what-so-ever is not my ideal way to be entertained, especially when everyone in the locations look down on you as if you’re scum and you’re annoying them for even being there.
By all means pop in a couple, just don’t be surprised if you leave a few minutes later feeling bored and non-the wiser about the history of the building itself.
If you’re visiting for more than 3 days, plan to visit other towns
Whilst Sofia is lovely, it’s actually fairly small when it comes to tourist things to do. Most cities have palace’s to explore, or so many monuments you can never truly see them all — not so with Sofia.
We found that 2 whole days of exploring (with one of those days including the walking tour) was more than enough for Sofia, with us seeing the same streets over and over, so much so that we started to get bored and actively went out of our way to find new experiences.
Our third day was meant to entail getting a bus out to the mountains and seeing more of the country of Bulgaria. Unfortunately, the weather really got in the way of this, meaning pictures taken in the mountains would have been terrible, with us not exactly wanting to get back to the flat soaked through to our bone.
So yeah, plan ahead of time and ensure you see more of Bulgaria than just its capital, otherwise you may just get bored.
Museums are randomly closed on Mondays
Learn from our mistake: don’t make plans to explore each of the museums on a day they aren’t open. Why Monday is the day everywhere’s closed is beyond me, just heed our words.
So there you go! My first ever travel post! If you have any questions about anything I’ve said here, or want to know what you could do, please do reach out to me, I’m always happy to help!