Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, is one of the most ancient cities in Europe, which has preserved many wonderful examples of church and historical architecture. Although Sofia has recently become the capital, it has been in this status for no more than a century and a half. This, however, does not prevent it from remaining an interesting cultural center, a confluence point of Eastern and European cultures, a city full of contrasts and beauty. Check liuxers for customs and traditions of Bulgaria.
In recent years, Sofia has literally transformed from a sleepy town to a stylish and vibrant metropolis. Large shopping and entertainment centers, fashionable hotels and clubs have appeared next to the ancient buildings. It is noteworthy that the pricing policy has not changed much – Sofia is still one of the cheapest European capitals. All this, coupled with the nearby ski resort and balneological clinics, annually attracts thousands of tourists.
Communication and Wi-Fi
Arriving in Sofia, it is better to immediately buy a local SIM card – tourist packages of Bulgarian operators are more profitable than roaming from Russian companies. It also has its own “big three” – M-Tel, VivaCom and Telenor. The most budget fare for travelers is Telenor Tourist.
SIM cards are sold in mobile phone stores and supermarkets. In the first case, you will need a passport. You can top up your balance by purchasing a voucher in a store (card for 5, 6, 10 or 20 BGN), or in cash at a Telenor branch.
Wireless access points are equipped with the main transport facilities – the airport, the Central Bus Station and all metro stations. In addition, Wi-Fi is available in any public catering and most hotels. From public places, you can access the Internet in the area of the Khali market, the Oborishche and Doctorsky parks, the Bridge of Lovers, the National Gymnasium of Mathematics and Natural Science, as well as some gas stations and shopping centers.
Treatment in Sofia
Sofia is the mineral capital of Europe. There are more than 40 springs from 8 deposits in the city center and its environs. Almost all types of mineral waters are found in this region, but they are used only by 20%.
In Sofia there are springs of low-mineralized water and deposits saturated with useful substances. The use of the latter must be approached with caution – it is worth using such water only for medical reasons.
The mineral springs of the Bulgarian capital are divided into warm, hot, cool and cold, the composition in different proportions includes sodium, fluorine, potassium, magnesium, sulfates, bicarbonates and other substances. Water is used to treat diseases of the skin, musculoskeletal system, endocrine system, heart disease and others.
There are many spa centers and thermal resorts in the surroundings of Sofia. The most popular is the town of Bankya, located 17 km from the capital. Local health resorts specialize in the treatment of cardiovascular and neurological diseases, as well as diseases of the musculoskeletal system. The cost of procedures is from 20 to 50 BGN. Some centers have special anti-stress and anti-cellulite programs (about 100 BGN per day). City bus number 42 runs to Banka, departs from the Slivnitsa metro station (Lyulin district). By taxi, the journey will take 20-30 minutes and will cost 17-30 BGN.
Sofia for children
It is easy and comfortable to have a rest with children in Sofia. Some restaurants have special menus and play areas, shopping centers have entire towns equipped, and hotels offer babysitting and babysitting services.
However, not every institution or hotel has all of the above; when planning a trip with a baby, it is better to clarify the nuances in advance.
The main children’s attraction of the city is the museum and scientific center “Museiko”. It opened not so long ago and immediately became a place of attraction for locals and tourists with children. The usual rules do not apply within these walls – all exhibits can be touched, turned on, turned off and studied in action. The main idea of the creators of the museum is to learn while playing. Every little visitor will be able to feel like a builder or an archaeologist and look at the world through the eyes of a frog.
There is also a zoo in the Bulgarian capital (off. site in Bulgarian). It is inhabited by lynxes, tigers, bears, elephants, rhinos, llamas and funny monkeys. To the right of the main entrance there is a Japanese garden, and next to the waterfowl area there is a children’s playground with slides and carousels.
In the Kokolandia adventure park, you can have an active and fun time with the whole family (off. site in Bulgarian). There are attractions even for the smallest ones – bungee trampolines and a bouncy castle. For those who are older, it will be interesting to conquer a climbing wall or ride a bungee. And most importantly – 5 rope trails of varying difficulty, which are designed for children from 6 to 14 years old.
Those wishing to see the performance of the famous Balkansky circus team should take into account that in the summer the artists often go on tour.
The main circus of the city bears the name of the famous Balkan circus dynasty (off. site in Bulgarian). In addition to acrobats, tightrope walkers and clowns, lions, tigers and hippos come out to the arena, and huge trained parrots flutter under the dome. The signature and most extreme number of the program is the Globe of Death. Seven motorcyclists ride inside a huge metal ball. All movements are calculated to the millimeter. Before the performance and during the intermission, the little ones ride on a train and a pony.
Events and traditions
The rich history of Bulgaria and its capital is embodied in folk life, customs and traditions. The well-known and celebrated holidays of the Bulgarians often have pagan roots in their basis. On the New Year, which is called here Surva Godina, young people put on masks and clothes depicting animals, jingling with survakars (folklore bells). All characters symbolize the blessings of the coming year – fertility, wealth, family happiness.
On March 1, Bulgarians celebrate the beginning of spring. On this day, it is customary to decorate oneself with martenitsa – woven into an original knot with red and white threads, symbolizing health and longevity.
On Sundays on Maslenitsa (here it is called Syrnitsa), the whole family, including distant relatives, meets at the same table. The main dish of the day is halva, evidence of the historical interweaving of Eastern and Slavic cultures. Prepared on the basis of seeds that give oil, it is a symbol of the wish for prosperity in the house.
Several public holidays remind the Bulgarians of the hard lot of their ancestors. The country has changed hands over the centuries and has always strived for independence. Day of People’s Awakeners (November 1) is dedicated to writers and cultural figures who contributed to this struggle by educating and developing literature. The Day of the Unification of Bulgaria (September 6) celebrates the reunification of the three regions, which were divided, and in 1885 again became one state. Independence Day in Bulgaria (September 22) has been celebrated since 1908, when the country signed the relevant declaration. These days Sofia hosts historical exhibitions, festivals, concerts and torchlight processions.
The climate of Sofia is temperate continental, due to the large number of rivers and lakes in the capital and its environs, the humidity is high, the largest amount of precipitation falls in the spring. The difference in temperatures during the year is large – the city is characterized by frosty winters and hot summers. During the cold months, warming is not uncommon.
The high season lasts from mid-May to the end of September. The largest influx of tourists occurs during the summer months. To avoid the crowds and noise, it is better to come in late spring or early autumn. The second peak of activity is the end of December-beginning of April. At this time, the Vitosha ski resort is open, where athletes from different countries come together. Even if the city is warming and the snow has melted, it is always there in the mountains.