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Basic information

  • Area: 492 km² (190 sq mi)
  • Calling Code: +359
  • Currency: Lev (BGN)
  • Population (EST): 1,405,591
  • Official language: Bulgarian
  • Time Zone: EET (UTC+2)

Sofia – Overview

The city of Sofia is located in the western part of Bulgaria, at the foot of Mount Vitosha. It is the capital city and the largest city in the country, being home to over 1.4 million people. Sofia’s rich history, stunning scenery and beautiful architecture attracts visitors all year round who come to experience true Bulgarian culture.

Historical monuments fill the streets of Sofia, such as the extravagant Alexander Nevsky Church which is situated in the heart of the city. There are plenty of museums and galleries that showcase works of art and artifacts of Bulgarian history. Shopaholics will adore the TSUM shopping centre, which is home to hundreds of high street and luxury brands, while several farmers and antique markets provide great places to purchase traditional gifts.

Accommodation options are varied, from self catering chalets and simple family run guesthouses, to extravagant and luxurious 5 star hotels. Visitors on a romantic break away will enjoy staying at the Hotel Les Fleurs, which offers beautiful boutique rooms in a central and convenient location. For something off the beaten path visitors can stay in the famous Rila Monastery in a monks cells for a night - although this option is not for the faint hearted! Several caravan parks and campsites are located on the outskirts of the city and allow visitors to get up close with nature.

Sofia has a number of dining options to suit all tastes and budgets. Bulgarian cuisine uses fresh seasonal vegetables, herbs, fruits and dairy products. Visitors wishing to sample some authentic Bulgarian food should try dishes such as Gyuvech (beef and vegetable stew), Kyopolou (eggplant and garlic), and Mish-Mash (vegetables, egg and white cheese). Bulgarians have a sweet tooth, with many unusual sweets and deserts on offer, including Halva (sugared Tahini), Garash Cake and the ever-popular Baklava (layers of pastry sweetened with honey). Wash it all down with some traditional Bulgarian drinks such as Rakia, Mastika, Menta, Dimyat or Pamid. There are also many restaurants that serve up international dishes including Indian, Italian, French, Turkish and American cuisine, while famous fast food chains can be found on Sofia high-street.

The city has an oceanic climate, with mild winters and warm summers. Summer generally lasts from May until September, when temperatures hover around the mid-twenties and visitors can enjoy long hours of sunlight. Rainfall is less common in the summer months, although it can occur all year round, so pack an umbrella just in case. Snowfall is rare, but can occur between December and February.

Sofia has all the modern facilities to make your trip more convenient, including numerous ATM machines dotted around the city centre, post-offices, bureau de change booths, car rental companies and a Tourist Information Centre where helpful staff give out free maps and guides. The currency used is the Bulgarian Lev.