Sofia is a city that gets more interesting the longer you stay. The nightlife can be a lot of fun and there are a bunch of interesting museums and art galleries to check out. The food is tasty and cheap and the beer comes in 2L plastic bottles. Sofia is well connected with flights available from all over Europe.
Hostel Mostel should be your number one choice for a hostel in Sofia. It has probably the largest indoor common area of any hostel in the Balkans and during the evenings and in the mornings this area becomes a fantastic place to meet other travellers. They provide 2 free meals a day, breakfast and dinner, as well as beer to combine with your dinner. In the evenings they run a free pub crawl and organise tours out to the Rila Monastery. You should only look for another hostel if Hostel Mostel is full.
Sights and Highlights
The Rila Monastery attracts nearly a thousands of tourists a day from around the world. A beautiful monastery with over a thousand years of history, it is located within the Rila Mountains, a few hours south of Sofia. Tours that head out to the monastery will also take in some of the surrounding forests and mountains in the area and may also include a little bit of cave exploring.
There is a great free walking tour available in Sofia. The meeting point for the walking tour is on the southeast corner of the Sofia Courthouse near the big lion statue.
Located in the centre of town close to the starting point for the walking tour and a short walk from Hostel Mostel. Happy Bar and Grill looks a little bit like the kind of place a tourist would probably try to avoid but in this case that would be a mistake. The food they serve is a fantastic fusion of traditional Balkan style cooking and modern international cuisine. A great place to try a shopska salad, or choose another from their amazing list of salad options. They also serve fresh sushi!
The Halbite pub has a really good selection of European beer (Belgian, Dutch, German) and a lot of quality local Balkan dishes to try.
A very unique place that is quite popular with locals. It’s a sort of club inside an apartment on the second floor of 19th century mansion. It has a series of rooms in different styles. You can head to the kitchen to buy a drink. Sit in one of the lounge rooms and chat on a cough. There are computers in most of the rooms that let you choose the music that is playing. There is also a Cinema room, go in, pick a movie out of the list and start the projection. Lots of home made drinks and snacks are available.
Sofia has a detailed network of buses, trams and even a subway. The city is bigger than most in the Balkans and its likely that you will need to use the public transport at least once while here. In order to reach Hostel Mostel from the central bus and train station, take a tram number 1, 6 or 7 to Makedonia square (Ploshtad Makedonia in Bulgarian).
A good way way to plan a trip on Sofia’s public transport systems is to use the eway.bg/bg/cities/sofia.
Getting In and Out
Sofia is connected to surrounding countries by both bus and train. There are daily trains to Belgrade, Buccarest and Thessaloniki. At the moment there is no train that goes all the way to Istanbul, and so a bus will make more sense. Buses regularly to all the above destinations as well as to Skopje. For travel within Bulgaria, there are trains that go to Plovdiv. A good resource for planning a train journey to or from Sofia is bdz.bg/en/
The biggest bus company in Bulgaria is Matpu. Their website is entirely in Bulgarian but with a decent translate plugin in your web browser it is more than usable. It can be found at www.matpu.com