Sofia, Bulgaria deserves to be highlighted as an incredible place to live and visit. It is beautiful yet affordable, deliciously sweet yet savory, and has an all-around good vibe. It needs to have songs written about it and be on everyone’s bucket lists. But to make it kitschy which would take away from the very essence of Bulgaria’s capital, and I’m jealously guarding this place for myself. Stay away.
If you for some reason don’t take my advice, here’s what to do if you have two days in Sofia.
Find a bakery and eat banitsa. Egg, yogurt, cheese, and butter in between flaky layers of filo dough baked in the oven. Savory goodness and very traditional.
Wander the city. Sofia is extremely walkable and flat, so walk up to the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and go inside (donation-based entrance fee). Walk a little further south to the Stefan Stambolov monument (in a park), and ponder getting an axe to the head. Then walk south down to Vitosha Boulevard, the main commercial street in Sofia. A little touristy but worth seeing, and worth the view of the Vitosha mountain in the background.
Grab lunch – find a place where you can have a good shopska salad, which is similar to a Greek salad with less olives and using a different type of cheese.
Take the free walking tour of Sofia with a company called – you guessed it – Free Sofia Tour.
Eat dinner at Lavanda and don’t skip the dessert.
Walk a little further down to Hambara, which is technically an event venue in order to sneak around fire regulations, but is really a candlelit bar. Order a glass of rakia and a local beer.
Grab baklava for breakfast, order a sandwich to-go and take a cab to the Vitosha Mountain. Ride the gondola up to a hiking trail, explore the mountain, eat your sandwich at the summit, and then enjoy a hot coffee or cold beer at the lodge on the way down.
Take a nap. Naps are essential. Bonus points if you have a cat.
Dinner at Nikolas.
Find an outdoor table at The Cocktail Bar, order a goblet of strawberry rhubarb Gin and Tonic, soak in the Bulgarian night air, and extend your stay.