I’m just returning from a 3-day girls trip in the Bulgarian capital Sofia.
(Fun fact: Bulgaria is known as the country of roses. It delivers 85% of the world’s production of rose oil.)
The city is small enough that the most important buildings are within easy walking distance in the city centre. The sidewalks can be crazy uneven though and you have to watch every step. We did a free walking tour that introduced us to the main sights, like the different churches, government buildings, theatre, and the old bathhouse. Sofia is built on hot springs, so 37-degree fresh mineral water comes bubbling out of faucets for free in the city.
Food and drinks:
Awesome! The local food comes close to greek food. It’s heavy on meat, especially pork and lamb. We’ve had great kebabs, sausages, and rich stews. Surprisingly, there are plenty of great vegetarian options, too. Most famous salad (and a great starter for a dinner) is the Shopska salad, made out of tomatoes, cucumber, red onions, peppers, and cheese. Different dips like hummus, ajvar, and different cheeses with freshly baked bread are a great starter or snack.
The traditional drink is the Rakia, which is a clear, strong schnaps that people drink as an aperitif. The cocktail culture seems to be booming in Sofia. We’ve had very special creations … for little money. 9 lev (around 4.5 Euro) for a quality cocktail is great value for money.
On top of that, I’ve had one of the best chocolates I’ve ever tasted at Kostas Bakery. Had to go back on the last day to get another piece …
Sofia is surrounded by mountains that are great for hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter. To our surprise, the lift that can take you up the mountain only operates on weekends. So it seems not too many people are interested in hiking. We took a taxi to the furthest point, Aleko hut, and attempted to hike to the Kamen Del peak to get a great view of the city. We didn’t quite make it to the top but far enough. Very pretty and peaceful up there.
I can definitely recommend Sofia for an affordable weekend trip. I didn’t find it touristy at all. It’s still almost undiscovered.