Bulgaria is a beautiful small country located in the Balkans between Greece, Romania, Macedonia, Serbia and the Black Sea.
Also called the “vestibule of the East”, Bulgaria lies between East and West. Thracians, Romans, Byzantines and Ottomans influenced this small country of 7 million inhabitants and brought to it a cultural richness, an architectural and archaeological heritage that goes along with its contrasting landscapes (numerous mountain massifs, dense and wild forests, magnificent black sea).
The people there are calm, friendly and the tourists few.
I have a very good memory of my stay in the capital of Bulgaria: Sofia. The prices are very affordable and the monuments are beautifully colored in bright colors. In the city center, the old buildings to visit are numerous and interesting.
My arrival in the city
My first impression arriving in the capital is impressive: the plane flies over the whole city in a raz motte. It is an impressive and beautiful experience with all the buildings and houses in miniatures below!
The second impression getting out of the plane is to see the city nearby and far away, the very famous snowy mountain Vitocha which is a reference to Sofia.
Possibilities of connections
Sofia can be visited easily in 2 or 3 days so do not hesitate to visit the surrounding capitals. It’s cheap on bus and fast. Whether by train or bus, Sofia is a “hub” between Romania and Greece, (Thessaloniki is two hours away by bus) and also with the seaside with touristic cities such as Varna and Bourgas.
My advice for your first visit
In order to join your Hotel I recommand you to take a taxi. They are very cheap at Sofia (twice less that in the rest of the country). It is important to take a taxi where it is written “super trans” on it ( in Cyrillic) because other can cheat.
You may also choose to join your Hôtel by bus but it will take longer and the price of a ticket will cost you 1,60 Leva ( 80 centimes of euros).
The most central and cheapest hotel I have found on the Internet is Rila hotel. It is quite dated but it is ok because it is still comfortable and most of all: it is central. I was at maximum 15 minutes by walk of all amenities and must-see places and shops.
Daily life in Sofia
After 10 days in the country and having living in city center as well as working- class neighborhoods, I can affirm that this is a very safe country if you do have common-sense precaution. Be aware of pickpockets they are plenty around the most touristic places and do not forget : people are very welcoming and warm !
If you have some notions of russian language, it will help. Bulgarian language is quite close to Russian. And some Russian reading skills will help a lot mostly in small cities where the people do not speak english. In city centers, most of the youngsters do speak english don’t worry !
Cost Of Living in Sofia
Bulgaria is one of the less expensive countries in Europe. Prices are in Leva and for 1 euro, you have 2 Leva. Even in Sofia, the cost of living is cheap. A good meal will cost you 3/4 Leva (1,5/2 euros). You won’t have to ruin yourself to please you !
Discover the city of Sofia
The architecture of the city is eclectic and still dominated by sovietic era. They are many big buildings and because of poverty, we often can see dilapidaded buildings amongs new ones. Sometimes you have to sneak through the alleys or inside buildings to find old stones.
I was surprised to see so many old constructions saved from “modernity”. For example, during the construction of the metro, many remains were discovered and restored. Among them, old chapels where the first Christians met in the 3rd and 4th century.
Getting around in Sofia
Taxi, metro, tram or bus, public transport in Sofia are cheap. A bus / tram / metro ticket will cost you the sum of 1.60 leva or 80 euro cents (remember to have change on the car tickets are not accepted).
Be careful, if you have a luggage because as in many eastern countries, an extra charge is required for luggage.