FOLLOW US

World Travel Guide > Guides > Europe > Bulgaria > Sofia

Sofia Weather

19°C

Local time Sofia

Currency

лв

Sofia Travel Guide

About Sofia

Sofia is a city with a sparkling future; it’s the energetically resilient Bulgarian capital that still revels in its own idiosyncrasies as it forges towards a more cultured and urbane existence.

Dramatically ringed by the Balkan Mountains to the north and the Vitosha Mountains to the south, Sofia stands on an open plain 550m (1,804ft) above sea level in western Bulgaria. It is this duality between urban sprawl and natural wonder that makes it a fascinating place to visit, with more to arrest the attention than many other Eastern European capitals.

Development is rife and roads are mercifully being improved. It boasts boutique hotels galore and metro lines and stations enough to make Western visitors look on with jealousy.

Communist influence still pervades; the country’s short occupation from 1945 to 1989 is still visible in its neo-Stalinist architecture. Despite this, most of Sofia’s major tourist attractions pre-date this era. Buildings like the Aleksandar Nevski Cathedral, the Central Sofia Synagogue and the Banya Bashi Mosque are stark reminders of the country’s multicultural past, whilst the charming UNESCO-listed Boyana Church in the Vitosha Mountains is an absolute must-visit.

Locals strike the balance between Russian insouciance and Mediterranean flare and continue to be proud up-keepers of the country’s hospitable heritage. The Bulgarian language and Cyrillic alphabet still prosper, resisting tourism’s penchant for English internationalism, which is not widely spoken outside of restaurants, shops and hotels.

Visitors quickly realise that although the city sprawls with a population of over a million, most of the action happens within a 20-minute walk. So whether you’re shopping on Vitosha Boulevard or sipping rakia (fruit brandy) in a bar, Sofia’s best surprises are all accessible by foot, unless you’re venturing into the Vitosha Mountains.

Key facts

Population:
1,237,000 (2018)
Latitude:
42.707116
Longitude:
23.331652

Browse our Video Guides

Related Articles

City Highlight: Sofia

A city as beautiful as its name, Sofia boasts onion-domed churches and Soviet-era monuments interspaced with manicured gardens and wide cobblestone avenues plied by rattling trolley buses.

Featured Hotels

SEE MORE

Sense Hotel

Billed as Sofia’s first upscale design hotel, Sense, which opened in 2013, offers stylish design and a great location. The hotels 71 rooms and suites come with all mod cons, and feature large windows commanding impressive views out over the city. Together with the hotel’s rooftop bar, it makes for a great place to get a feel for the city below.

Hotel Maria Luisa

In a graceful, early 20th-century apartment building on Sofia's main road, the Hotel Maria Luisa offers simple and quiet rooms, with flatscreen TV and tea and coffee-making facilities. Apartments occupy the corner rooms, with good views over the busy shopping street - with double-glazing throughout ensuring a peaceful stay. With standard rooms on the small side, the suites are worth the extra.

Holiday Inn Sofia

This spectacular contemporary 5-star hotel nestles under Mount Vitosha and is adjacent to Business Park Sofia, Bulgaria's largest business park. With excellent meeting rooms and conference facilities it attracts business visitors, but its proximity to the mountain region and a luxury spa, treatment and fitness centre means plenty of leisure visitors also. The hotel's shuttle bus takes around 20 minutes to the city centre, 11km to the north.

Sheraton Sofia Hotel Balkan

In a prime location, the imposing Sheraton Sofia Hotel Balkan is a landmark in itself, and the city's leading 5-star hotel with Italian marble and ornate chandeliers. The 184 elegant rooms, including 18 suites, were recently refurbished, with classic furniture and tasteful colours plus a vast new ballroom. All rooms have free Wi-Fi internet access, and there is a small fitness centre and sauna.

Scotty's Boutique Hotel

In a central location, opposite the synagogue, Scotty's Boutique Hotel is built in a graceful four-storey renovated house (no elevator). Its rooms are spacious and modern, each one different in décor but all enjoying a quirky and contemporary look. Rooms are uncluttered and bright, with wooden floorboards, most with a private balcony.

Central Hotel Sofia

This modern hotel with a good central location has 70 well-furnished rooms, each with free Wi-Fi Internet access and most with a balcony. Facilities include spa, sauna, meeting rooms and conference halls, and a large restaurant with a terrace. The 'apartment' (more like a suite) has room for up to four people.