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Located in the Sofia Valley, Sofia (София) is the capital of Bulgaria and the biggest city in the country with around 1.4 million citizens. As the centre of the country's political, cultural and business scenes, Sofia is a bustling and dynamic city, but it has a surprisingly relaxed feeling. Whether it is the beautiful scenery in close proximity, the recreational opportunities presented by the proximity to Mount Vitosha and Lyolin, the beautiful orthodox churches or the fascinating blend of architecture influenced by both Communist and Western European styles, the city seems much less busy than it's title of capital would have you think.
With roots tracing back over 7,000 years, Sofia is one of the oldest settlements in Europe and numerous cultural, historical and archaeological monuments have been preserved. The centre of Sofia contains over 300 bars, restaurants and cafes and the blend of both old and new gives the city a unique feeling.
Church of St. George might be the oldest building in the capital. Built in the 4th century AD by the Romans this church is primarily known for its famous 12th to 14th century frescoes covering the central dome. Although three layers of frescoes have been discovered, with the earliest dating back to the 10th century. These frescoes were only discovered in the 20th century because during the Ottoman period the frescoes were painted over when the building was being used as a mosque. Presently the church is a museum, is surround by the ruins of the ancient town of Serdica and situated behind the Sheraton Hotel.
Sofia has a continental climate with warm to hot summers and mostly cold winters. Average daytime temperatures in summer (June to September) are between 24 °C and 28 °C, but over 35 °C is possible. Winters last from December to March with mostly temperatures above zero during the day and frost at night, but occasionally dropping as low as -20 °C. Snow is possible during this time. Precipitation is faily even throughout the year, although summers have a bit more rain.
|Avg Max||2.2 °C||4.9 °C||9.8 °C||15.7 °C||20.3 °C||23.5 °C||25.9 °C||26 °C||22.6 °C||16.6 °C||9.6 °C||4.1 °C|
|Avg Min||-4.9 °C||-2.9 °C||0.3 °C||4.8 °C||9 °C||12.1 °C||13.8 °C||13.4 °C||10.4 °C||5.7 °C||1.2 °C||-2.7 °C|
|Rainfall||28 mm||31 mm||38 mm||51 mm||73 mm||75 mm||63 mm||51 mm||38 mm||35 mm||48 mm||40 mm|
Sofia Airport (SOF) is located about 5 kilometres from the centre of Sofia and has many flights. It is the hub of Hemus Air and Bulgaria Air (which is owned by Hemus Air). Sofia Airport services flights throughout Europe northern Africa and the Middle East, including Amsterdam, Athens, Barcelona, Beirut, Berlin, Brussels, Frankfurt, Larnaca, London, Madrid, Malaga, Moscow, Palma de Mallorca, Paphos, Paris, Rome, Tel Aviv, Tripoli, Varna, Vienna and Zürich. To add, they have charter services to Antalya, Aqaba, Belfast, Bodrum, Cairo, Chisinau, Copenhagen, Dubai, Dublin, Dubrovnik, Ivalo, Hurghada, Katowice, Kaunas, Kiev, Malta, Monastir, Sharm el-Sheikh, St Petersburg, Tallinn, Tenerife and Warsaw.
Low-cost Airline Wizzair has an increasing number of flights, including to/from Barcelona, Brussels, Dortmund, Eindhoven, Forli, Frankfurt, London, Madrid, Milan, Paris, Rome, Varna, Valencia and Venice.
To/from the airport
Two bus routes (#84 and #284) connect the airport to the Sofia University area of Sofia city centre, and there are additional small shuttle buses (#30) connecting the two terminals with the city centre as well. Taxis and car rental agencies are widely available. And although for know there is no rail services, the metro line will connect to the airport hopefully before 2015.
Bulgarian State Railways operates a network of railways to and from Sofia, connecting to cities like Plovdiv and towards the coastline as well.
Access to Bulgaria's Capital is via several entry points:
1. From the North & South via E79/A6
2. From the East - via Thrace Highway E80/A1-A3 or from the old road paralelling the E80 Highway - Zlatitza - Pirdop - Pazardzhik route.
3. From the West - via A1/E80 Liking the city and the Bulgarian-Serbian Border point of Kalotina.
Renting a car is possible, but not necessarily a good idea if your plans are restricted to visiting only Sofia and not travelling elsewhere in the country. Driving here can be strenuous for those with less experience behind the wheel - be prepared for traffic jams and disorganized traffic.
Sofia's Public Transport consists of a good system of buses, trolleybuses, trams and since 1998 a metro system, which is currently still growing. Be sure to ask for directions, because the transport network can be confusing for visitors who do not know it well. The public transport operates from 5:00am to about 11:00pm. Taxis are the only transport option in the night.
The price of a single ticket is 1.00 lev (~ €0.50, £0.43) only paid in the local currency. There are also 10-ticket carnets for one passenger (8.00lv), and daily travel cards (4lv). Tickets and daily cards can be bought at most newspaper stands especially ones adjacent to public transport stops. If you can't find any, you can also buy tickets from the driver if he has any available, though this is not guaranteed. Punch a ticket immediately after you enter the vehicle. The inspectors rarely understand English and you might have problems with them if you travel without a ticket or if you forget to punch it. Inspectors ambush and board buses and trams in groups (and their attitude is generally not friendly at all), sometimes accompanied by police, and make no exceptions. The fine is 40 lv (about €20).
If you are traveling by tram with a large suitcase or backpack, be sure to buy a separate ticket for your bag/case or you might be fined!
There are 15 tram lines, 9 trolley lines, 93 bus lines and 2 metro lines. Some of the buses cover the area outside the city center including neighboring villages. Useful routes are bus #84 from both terminals of the airport to the center; from the train/bus station to Orlov most - bus #213 or #214 or tram #1, #7 and #18 to Vitosha Street and Sv. Nedelya Square, #1, #6, #7 to the National Palace of Culture, #18 to Slaveykov square or #6 to Macedonia square.
The subway in Sofia is still under construction and more lines will be available in the next years. Currently there are two lines - one that crosses from the western edge of town (Lulin, Obelya) through the city center, the southeast (Mladost) and the airport, and a second one, that crosses from the northwestern neighborhoods (Obelya, Nadezhda), through the central train and bus stations and the city centre, to the southern part of the city (Khladilnika).
Streets have adequate tiled pavements, especially in the city centre. However, they are frequently uneven and potholed, and walking is further made difficult by parked cars, street vendors and cafes. Except for areas in the very centre, pavements rarely have slopes for wheelchair access or designated lanes for bicycle riders. Pedestrian crossings are numerous and are relatively respected by drivers. Use pedestrian underpasses to cross large intersections, though avoid ones in the suburbs as these are usually derelict.
Sofia is one of the greenest capitals in Europe, with the big park zones ideal for biking. Slow traffic in downtown is perfect for cycling. On a bike you will save time and will enjoy sport activity. Sofia also has the few bike paths around the downtown area and districts such as Mladost, Nadezhda, Hipodruma. Rent a bike Bike rental operates from 10:00am to about 8:00pm (April to November). Discover Sofia by bike map or joint to an experienced bike guide.
You can easily find take away food in Sofia. For less than 2 leva you can get a slice of pizza, a hot-dog or a sandwich. You can get more traditional Bulgarian food in bakeries, offering banitsa and other kinds of pastry. This food is often consumed with ayran or boza . Another possibility is to get a katma, which is a big pancake filled with cheese, ham, jelly or chocolate.
Pizzeria-type restaurants and snack bars can be found all over Sofia. Although many are very uninteresting for the traveler looking for a meal with a local flavor, some include excellent Bulgarian dishes.
|2 Stupid Dogs||8 Karnigradska str. Sofia||Apartment||-|
|Accommodation Repos||1 Klokotnitsa Str. 145 Maria Louiza Blv.||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Alexander Business Apartments Sofia||40 Pop Bogomil Str.||apartment||-|
|Allabin apartments||50A Allabin str.fl.3,||Apartment||-|
|Apart Hotel Area Radina Tower||Cherkovna 53 str.||hotel||-|
|Apartment Bucata||'Baba Nedelya' str. Nr.2, fl.1||Hostel||-|
|Apartment Hotel Venice||9 Sveti sedmochislenitsi str bl.3 ap. 6||Hotel||-|
|Apartment House Dunav||38 Dunav Street, 38 Dunav Street,||Hotel||-|
|Apartment Kom||Borovo, bl 217A.||apartment||-|
|Apartment Marina||kompleks Entrance 1, floor 1, apartment 1, bell||Apartment||-|
|Apartmenthouse Ognian 48 Group||38 Opalchenska Str.||apartment||-|
|Apartments Cherni vruh||kv. Dragalevci, ul. Kimochovec||apartment||-|
|Art Hostel-Usually We Spend Our Time In The Garden||21/A Angel Kanchev Street||Hostel||82|
|Atlantic Hotel - Sofia||19 Str. no 2 Simeonovo||Hotel||-|
|Be My Guest Hostel||13 Ivan Vazov Street||Hostel||80|
|Best Western Hotel Expo - Sofia||149 Tsarigradsko Shosse Blvd.||HOTEL||-|
|California Hotel Sofia||30, Bigla Street||Hotel||-|
|Casa Boyana Boutique Hotel||Ivanitza Danchev Str.23||Hotel||-|
|Central City||21 Patriarh Evtimii Blvd||Apartment||-|
|Central Hotel Forum||41 Tsar Boris III Blvd||hotel||-|
|Dimitrova Apartments||Skopie St. Block 212||Apartment||-|
|Dimitrova Hostel & Apartments||Skopie Street Block 212||HOSTEL||-|
|Elysia Hostel||8A Pop Bogomil str,||Hostel||80|
|Festa Sofia Hotel- Sofia||83 Bulgaria Blvd.||Hotel||-|
|Galiani Hostel||70, bul. Hristo Botev||Hostel||74|
|Gorubliansko Hanche Hotel||357 Tsarigradsko shose Blvd.||Hotel||-|
|Hostel Lavele||14, Lavele str.||Hostel||-|
|Gulliver||Dondukov blvd 48||Hostel||-|
|Hemus Hotel||31, Cherni Vrah Blvd.||Hotel||-|
|Holiday Inn Sofia||111 Alexander Malinov Blvd.||Hotel||-|
|Hostel Mostel||2A Makedonia Boulevard||Hostel||91|
|Hostel Andro||Simeonovo,10 bor str.||Hostel||-|
|Hotel Aris-Sofia||203 Knyaz Boris I Str. 203 Knyaz Boris I Str.||Hotel||-|
|Hotel Four Sezon||bul. G.M Dimitrov 32||hotel||-|
|Hotel Legends-Sofia||54-56, Cherni vrah Blvd.||Hotel||-|
|Hotel Les Fleurs-Sofia||21, Vitosha blvd, 21, Vitosha blvd,||HOTEL||-|
|Maxim Boutique Hotel||bul. Maria Luiza 62||HOTEL||-|
|Hotel Pop Bogomil||Pop Bogomil Str. 5||Hotel||78|
|Hotel Triada-Sofia||5, Venera St. 5, Venera St.||Hotel||-|
|Internet Hostel Sofia||50A Alabin Str., 2 Floor, 6 ap||Hostel||79|
|Kempinski Hotel Zografski - Sofia||100, James Bourchier Blvd||Hotel||-|
|Kervan Hostel||Rositza Str. No.3||Hostel||-|
|Garden Flat||60, Luben Karavelov str.||Hostel||-|
|Lozenetz Hotel||23 Saint Naum Street||Hotel||-|
|Meg Lozenetz||84 Krum Popov str||hotel||-|
|Metropolitan Hotel||64 Tsarigradsko chausse Blvd||HOTEL||-|
|New Design||75 Maria Luiza Bul||Guesthouse||-|
|Nightingale Hostel||2A, Petko R. Slaveykov Square||Hostel||-|
|Orient Express Hostel||8A , Hristo Belchev Street Floor 4, Ap.9||Hostel||-|
|Pozor Guesthouse||Damyan Gruev str.||Guesthouse||-|
|Quiet Apartment in Central Sofia||49 Parensov St.||Apartment||-|
|Red Bed and Breakfast||15, Ljuben Karavelov||Guesthouse||-|
|Red Star hostel||6 Angel Kanchev str., floor 3||Hostel||-|
|Silver House Hotel||6 Simeonovsko Shausse Blvd||Hotel||-|
|TemGer - M||Nikola Voinovski 59 Str Hadji Dimitar district||Hostel||-|
|The Rent Box Musala||September ul.6 No: 33 1st Floor||apartment||-|
|The Rooms||Pop Bogomil Street 10 1202 Sofia||Hostel||-|
|Tzar Asen||68 Tzar Asen str.||Hotel||-|
|Veny Rooms||Samuil 107 Sofia||Guesthouse||-|
|VIP Apart Sofia||29, Fr.Nansen blvd.||Apartment||-|
|Vitosha Hostel||23 Solunska str., floor 3, app||Hostel||-|
|Apartment Bendi||'Hristo Belchev' str. ? 15||Apartment||-|
|Canape Connection||12 A William Gladstone Street||Hostel||89|
|Central Perk||23 Fritiof Nansen Str, 3-th floor, Sofia 23 Fritiof Nansen Str, 4-th floor, Sofia||Apartment||-|
|Avel||40 Letostrui Str.||GUESTHOUSE||82|
|Smokin' Pig Hostel||33 Bratya Miladinovi||Hostel||-|
|Nightingale Hostel and Guesthouse||3A, Yanko Zabunov Str.||HOSTEL||-|
|Hostel Shura - Sofia||Sofia, 116 Hristo Botev Blvd||Hostel||-|
|Scottys Boutique Hotel-Sofia||11, Ekzarh Jossif Str.||HOTEL||-|
|Ajax Hotel||Angel karaliychev 10||Hotel||-|
|Bulgari Boutique Hotel-Sofia||50, Pirotska street||Hotel||-|
|Budapest Hotel-Sofia||92A Budapeshta Str.||Hotel||-|
|Orlando Hotel||6 Embore str., Orlandovtsi||HOTEL||-|
|apartment Sofia||29, Moskovska str.||Apartment||-|
|The Danish Hostel in Sofia||yl. Bratja Miladinovi 33, 3fl.||HOSTEL||-|
|Alegra Hostel||Sofroniy Vrachanski - 145||HOSTEL||-|
|Marrinella apartments||53 B Patriarh Evtimii blvd.||Apartment||-|
|Hello Sofia||12 Stefan Stambolov Str Sofia||Guesthouse||79|
|Baldjieva Hotel||Tsar Assen 23||Hotel||-|
|The Economy Guest House||Ул. Vesletz Nr. 68||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|YHA Levitt Hostel||Vitosha Blvd. 55||HOSTEL||-|
|Sofia Peace Hostel||65B, Knyaz Boris I Str.||Hostel||-|
|ATM - Sofia||Carigradsko shose 131||Hotel||-|
|Bon Voyage Hotel Alexander Sofia||88 Slivnitsa Blvd.||HOTEL||-|
|Hotel City Avenue - Sofia||49 Osogovo Str||HOTEL||-|
|Hotel Sheraton-Sofia||5, Sveta Nedelya Square, 5, Sveta Nedelya Square,||HOTEL||-|
|Berlin Park Vitosha - Sofia||Georgi Rilski Str Boyana district||HOTEL||-|
|Best Western Premier Thracia - Sofia||Solunska Street 30||HOTEL||-|
|Orange||2, Udovo str ap. 6||Apartment||-|
|Crosspoint Sofia Hostel||6 Parensov St.||HOSTEL||77|
|Guest Rooms Kom||145 Kn. M. Luiza Blvd.||APARTMENT||-|
|KMC Apartments||56 Solun Street, Borovo||APARTMENT||-|
|St. George Hotel||64 Knqz Boris Str.||HOTEL||-|
|Trakia Guesthouse||30, Nikolay Gogol Str.||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Hostel Lulin||35B, Kn. Maria Luiza Blvd.||HOSTEL||-|
|Ivani B&B||70 Hristo Botev blvd.||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Sky Rooms||str. Osogovo 52||Hostel||-|
|Venice - 2||9 Sveti sedmochislenitzi str. bl. 3 ap. 6||Hotel||-|
|BW Plus Bristol Hotel - Sofia||69, Bul. Hristo Botev||HOTEL||-|
|Ogosta House||Ogosta 5||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Chataldzha Apartment||Chataldja str||Hostel||-|
|Venice-3||9 Sveti Sedmochislenitzi Str Bl 3||Apartment||-|
|Ivani Apartments||16 Trojanski Prohod Street||APARTMENT||-|
|Studio for rent city Sofia Bulgaria||Street Solunska 43||APARTMENT||-|
|Apartament House Mladost Block 531||str. Anna Ahmatova||APARTMENT||-|
Internet access is widely available in Bulgaria, although about 60% of the population has regular access. Broadband internet is available through cable, ADSL, fiber optics, WiMax and LAN connections. You can also access internet with your mobile phone, via GPRS or 3G. Speeds are pretty fast in the capital. Outside Sofia, speeds are significantly lower. Internet cafes are available in most towns and cities, and in some villages. Computers are usually not available in libraries, or in public places such as train stations, but free wireless access is often available in such public places and in gas stations. Many pubs and hotels will also have WiFi that is free of charge to use. In recent years, wireless access has been growing, especially in biggest cities, but is still rather limited. Paid wireless access is also available. Speeds in Bulgaria are surprisingly good! In fact Bulgaria is in top 10 of the countries with fastest wireless Internet speeds worldwide.
See also: International Telephone Calls
The country calling code to Bulgaria is: 359. To make an international call from Bulgaria, the code is: 00
There are three mobile operators in Bulgaria: Globul, MobilTel & Vivacom. You can buy phone cards from post offices, kiosks and other street vendors.
The pan-European standard number 112 for all emergency calls is working everywhere in Bulgaria since September 2008. If, for some reason, you can not connect to 112, dial 166 for police, 150 for ambulance and 160 for the fire department.
Bulgarian Posts is the national postal service of Bulgaria. Services are fairly reliable and have been getting better and faster of the years. Still, it takes anywhere from days (domestic) to weeks (intercontinental) to send postcards, letters and/or parcels. They also have a very handy price calculator for all items, both priority as well as non-priority. Bulgarian post offices generally are open from 8:00am to 6:00pm, though some are also open on Saturday (mornings) or keep longer evening hours (mostly the central post offices in big cities or in tourist areas along the coastline). You can buy stamps and postcards at the post offices or at newspaper kiosks. Single stamps for domestic services start at 0.45 leva, for international destinations prices vary by region. For sending packages, you can also use more expensive but faster courier services offered by for example UPS or DHL. TNT and local ones like City Express or Econt are also options.
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