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Sofia

Photo © AC Frieden

Travel Guide Europe Bulgaria Sofia

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Introduction

Church of St. George

Church of St. George

© All Rights Reserved ilyushin

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.

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Sights and Activities

Church of St. George

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.

  • Alexander Nevsky Cathedral - one of the largest Eastern Orthodox Cathedrals in the World. Construction was completed in 1912 and this Neo-Byzantine church is a must see.
  • Banya Bashi Mosque - Originally built in 1576, by the famous Ottoman architect Sinan, is the only functioning mosque from the Ottoman period in Sofia today.

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Weather

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.

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max2.2 °C4.9 °C9.8 °C15.7 °C20.3 °C23.5 °C25.9 °C26 °C22.6 °C16.6 °C9.6 °C4.1 °C
Avg Min-4.9 °C-2.9 °C0.3 °C4.8 °C9 °C12.1 °C13.8 °C13.4 °C10.4 °C5.7 °C1.2 °C-2.7 °C
Rainfall28 mm31 mm38 mm51 mm73 mm75 mm63 mm51 mm38 mm35 mm48 mm40 mm
Rain Days10101012141310877911

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Getting There

By Plane

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.

Bulgaria Air has a number of domestic flights between Sofia and the Black Sea cities of Varna and Burgas.

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.

By Train

Bulgarian State Railways operates a network of railways to and from Sofia, connecting to cities like Plovdiv and towards the coastline as well.

By Bus

ETAP and Biomet are one of the bigger bus companies offering tickets to numerous cities throughout the country, including Plovdiv and Burgas.

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Getting Around

By Public Transport

Sofia's Public Transport consists of a good system of buses, trolleybuses, trams and since 1998 a metro system, which is currently still growing.

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Sleep

Budget

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
2 Stupid Dogs8 Karnigradska str. SofiaApartment-
Accommodation Repos1 Klokotnitsa Str. 145 Maria Louiza Blv.GUESTHOUSE-
Alexander Business Apartments Sofia40 Pop Bogomil Str.apartment-
Allabin apartments50A Allabin str.fl.3,Apartment-
Apart Hotel Area Radina TowerCherkovna 53 str.hotel-
Apartment Bucata'Baba Nedelya' str. Nr.2, fl.1Hostel-
Apartment Hotel Venice9 Sveti sedmochislenitsi str bl.3 ap. 6Hotel87
Apartment House Dunav38 Dunav Street, 38 Dunav Street,Hotel-
Apartment KomBorovo, bl 217A.apartment-
Apartment Marinakompleks Entrance 1, floor 1, apartment 1, bellApartment-
Apartmenthouse Ognian 48 Group38 Opalchenska Str.apartment-
Apartments Cherni vruhkv. Dragalevci, ul. Kimochovecapartment-
Art Hostel-Usually We Spend Our Time In The Garden21/A Angel Kanchev StreetHostel86
Atlantic Hotel - Sofia19 Str. no 2 SimeonovoHotel-
Be My Guest Hostel13 Ivan Vazov StreetHostel81
Best Western Hotel Expo - Sofia149 Tsarigradsko Shosse Blvd.HOTEL-
California Hotel Sofia30, Bigla StreetHotel-
Casa Boyana Boutique HotelIvanitza Danchev Str.23Hotel-
Central City21 Patriarh Evtimii BlvdApartment-
Central Hotel Forum41 Tsar Boris III Blvdhotel-
Dimitrova ApartmentsSkopie St. Block 212Apartment-
Dimitrova Hostel & ApartmentsSkopie Street Block 212HOSTEL-
Elysia Hostel8A Pop Bogomil str,Hostel84
Festa Sofia Hotel- Sofia83 Bulgaria Blvd.Hotel-
Galiani Hostel70, bul. Hristo BotevHostel71
Gorubliansko Hanche Hotel357 Tsarigradsko shose Blvd.Hotel-
Hostel Lavele14, Lavele str.Hostel79
GulliverDondukov blvd 48Hostel80
Hemus Hotel31, Cherni Vrah Blvd.Hotel-
Holiday Inn Sofia111 Alexander Malinov Blvd.Hotel-
Hostel Mostel2A Makedonia BoulevardHostel92
Sofia Guesthouse27Guesthouse85
Hostel AndroSimeonovo,10 bor str.Hostel-
Hotel Aris-Sofia203 Knyaz Boris I Str. 203 Knyaz Boris I Str.Hotel-
Hotel Four Sezonbul. G.M Dimitrov 32hotel-
Hotel Legends-Sofia54-56, Cherni vrah Blvd.Hotel-
Hotel Les Fleurs-Sofia21, Vitosha blvd, 21, Vitosha blvd,HOTEL-
Maxim Boutique Hotelbul. Maria Luiza 62HOTEL-
Hotel Pop BogomilPop Bogomil Str. 5Hotel-
Hotel Triada-Sofia5, Venera St. 5, Venera St.Hotel-
Internet Hostel Sofia50A Alabin Str., 2 Floor, 6 apHostel76
Intersof Hostel37Hostel79
Kempinski Hotel Zografski - Sofia100, James Bourchier BlvdHotel-
Kervan HostelRositza Str. No.3Hostel78
Garden Flat60, Luben Karavelov str.Hostel-
Lozenetz Hotel23 Saint Naum StreetHotel-
Meg Lozenetz84 Krum Popov strhotel-
Metropolitan Hotel64 Tsarigradsko chausse BlvdHOTEL-
New Design75 Maria Luiza BulGuesthouse-
Nightingale Hostel2A, Petko R. Slaveykov SquareHostel73
Orient Express Hostel8A , Hristo Belchev Street Floor 4, Ap.9Hostel-
Pozor GuesthouseDamyan Gruev str.Guesthouse-
Quiet Apartment in Central Sofia49 Parensov St.Apartment-
Red Bed and Breakfast15, Ljuben KaravelovGuesthouse79
Red Star hostel6 Angel Kanchev str., floor 3Hostel79
Silver House Hotel6 Simeonovsko Shausse BlvdHotel-
TemGer - MNikola Voinovski 59 Str Hadji Dimitar districtHostel-
The Rent Box MusalaSeptember ul.6 No: 33 1st Floorapartment-
The RoomsPop Bogomil Street 10 1202 SofiaHostel77
Tzar Asen68 Tzar Asen str.Hotel-
Veny RoomsSamuil 107 SofiaGuesthouse-
VIP Apart Sofia29, Fr.Nansen blvd.Apartment-
Vitosha Hostel23 Solunska str., floor 3, appHostel-
Apartment Bendi'Hristo Belchev' str. ? 15Apartment-
Canape Connection12 A William Gladstone StreetHostel87
Central Perk23 Fritiof Nansen Str, 3-th floor, Sofia 23 Fritiof Nansen Str, 4-th floor, SofiaApartment-
Avel40 Letostrui Str.GUESTHOUSE81
Smokin' Pig Hostel33 Bratya MiladinoviHostel-
Nightingale Hostel and Guesthouse3A, Yanko Zabunov Str.HOSTEL-
Hostel Shura - SofiaSofia, 116 Hristo Botev BlvdHostel-
Scottys Boutique Hotel-Sofia11, Ekzarh Jossif Str.HOTEL-
Ajax HotelAngel karaliychev 10Hotel-
Bulgari Boutique Hotel-Sofia50, Pirotska streetHotel-
Budapest Hotel-Sofia92A Budapeshta Str.Hotel-
Orlando Hotel6 Embore str., OrlandovtsiHOTEL-
apartment Sofia29, Moskovska str.Apartment-
The Danish Hostel in Sofiayl. Bratja Miladinovi 33, 3fl.HOSTEL-
Alegra HostelSofroniy Vrachanski - 145HOSTEL-
Marrinella apartments53 B Patriarh Evtimii blvd.Apartment-
Hello Sofia12 Stefan Stambolov Str SofiaGuesthouse84
Baldjieva HotelTsar Assen 23Hotel-
The Economy Guest HouseУл. Vesletz Nr. 68GUESTHOUSE-
YHA Levitt HostelVitosha Blvd. 55HOSTEL82
Sofia Peace Hostel65B, Knyaz Boris I Str.Hostel-
ATM - SofiaCarigradsko shose 131Hotel-
Bon Voyage Hotel Alexander Sofia88 Slivnitsa Blvd.HOTEL-
Hotel City Avenue - Sofia49 Osogovo StrHOTEL-
Hotel Sheraton-Sofia5, Sveta Nedelya Square, 5, Sveta Nedelya Square,HOTEL-
Berlin Park Vitosha - SofiaGeorgi Rilski Str Boyana districtHOTEL-
Best Western Premier Thracia - SofiaSolunska Street 30HOTEL-
Orange2, Udovo str ap. 6Apartment-
Crosspoint Sofia Hostel6 Parensov St.HOSTEL80
Guest Rooms Kom145 Kn. M. Luiza Blvd.APARTMENT-
KMC Apartments56 Solun Street, BorovoAPARTMENT-
St. George Hotel64 Knqz Boris Str.HOTEL-
Trakia Guesthouse30, Nikolay Gogol Str.GUESTHOUSE-
Hostel Lulin35B, Kn. Maria Luiza Blvd.HOSTEL-
Ivani B&B70 Hristo Botev blvd.GUESTHOUSE-
Sky Roomsstr. Osogovo 52Hostel-
Venice - 29 Sveti sedmochislenitzi str. bl. 3 ap. 6Hotel-
BW Plus Bristol Hotel - Sofia69, Bul. Hristo BotevHOTEL-
Ogosta HouseOgosta 5GUESTHOUSE-
Chataldzha ApartmentChataldja strHostel-
Venice-39 Sveti Sedmochislenitzi Str Bl 3Apartment-
Ivani Apartments16 Trojanski Prohod StreetAPARTMENT-
Studio for rent city Sofia BulgariaStreet Solunska 43APARTMENT-
Apartament House Mladost Block 531str. Anna AhmatovaAPARTMENT-

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Keep Connected

Internet

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.

Phone

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.

Post

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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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 42.710543
  • Longitude: 23.323827

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This is version 25. Last edited at 12:48 on Jun 24, 13 by Utrecht. 38 articles link to this page.

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