Sofia, Bulgaria is one of Europe’s most affordable capitals and prices are incredibly cheap for backpackers. Anyone planning in staying overnight in Sofia can expect to pay less than 9 euros per person. The Balkan city has a fascinating history that goes back 2,700 years and makes for a superb city break.
Visitors arriving in Sofia will discover a city shaped by a myriad of influences from the Romans, the Byzantine Empire, the Ottoman Turks and Soviet Communists. The Bulgarian capital is now aspiring to become the European City of Culture 2019.
Book your holiday here and visit Sofia while it’s still super cheap. You can stay in a budget hostel or low cost hotel for a fraction of what it would cost you in Western Europe. Get away from the mainstream and save a fortune on your travels.
What to see and do in Sofia
Most of Sofia’s major tourist attractions pre-date the communist era (1945-1989) and the UNESCO-listed Boyana Church (see above) is the Vitosha Mountians is a must-see attraction. Dating back to the 10th century, the church is one of the few perfectly preserved medieval monuments in Bulgaria.
Bulgaria is a diverse mash up of religious cultures and its capital Sofia has a glorious range of Orthodox, Islamic, Catholic and Jewish temples on display.
Buildings like the Aleksander Nevski Cathedral, the Central Sofia Synagogue and the Banya Bashi mosque (see above) are vivid reminders of the country’s multicultural past. Most of these sites are within twenty minutes walk of the city centre.
Free guided walking tours in Sofia
Come walk along the yellow brick roads of Sofia with two local students who offer visitors a two-hour free Sofia tour twice daily. Learn more about the main religious sites, early-20th-century Central Mineral Baths and the Serdica subway underpass.
Only recently discovered in 2005 and 2006, the excavated Amphitheatre of Serdica features a number of restored Roman buildings: two streets from the 4th-6th century AD and beautiful Roman floor mosaics. If you have free time to spend on holiday then exploring the city’s archeological monuments will give you a superb insight into the former antique Thracian and Roman city of Serdica.
The new Museum of Socialist Art exhibits 77 communist sculptures, 60 paintings and 25 smaller plastic art works created between 1945 and 1989 by the most renowned sculptors and painters of the period. Some of the Soviet inspired artefacts on display include busts of Lenin, Stalin and Bulgaria’s first communist leader Georgy Dimitrov and dictator Todor Zhivkov. Ironic backpackers can buy caps and T-shirts adorned with former Soviet imagery in the souvenir shop.
What to eat in Sofia
Sofia’s city centre is full packed of local restaurants and cheap eateries. Bulgarian cuisine is famous for its fresh vegetables and hearty meat dishes. Many of the staples of Bulgarian cuisine you will also find in Turkey, Greece and Serbia, but Sofia has locally prepared dishes you’ll find nowhere else.
A kebapche is a popular Bulgarian meat dish and goes down perfectly with a glass of Bulgarian beer. You can eat this dish for about one euro and eating out in Sofia is super cheap overall. If you do have a kepache for dinner then make sure to include some sides, such as French Fries and grated cheese.
Where to stay in Sofia
- Galiani Hostel is situated in the heartbeat of old Sofia. Perfect for first-time arrivals in Bulgaria, this cheap and friendly hostel is in the perfect location to explore the city’s historical attractions. Rooms are available from €6.00
- Nightingale Hostel And Guesthouse is a trendy clean hostel in Sofia city centre. Offering clean bunks and private rooms for cheap prices, this hostel is superb value for money. The hostel is in walking distance of all major attractions and Sofia nightspots. Rooms are available from €6.36
- Crosspoint Sofia Hostel is situated an old beautiful townhouse in Sofia city centre. The Wi-Fi friendly hostel is clean, friendly and perfect for backpackers just arriving in Bulgaria. Rooms are available from €8.00