Sofia

Key Facts

Currency: Bulgarian lev (BGN)
Official Language: Bulgarian
Dialling Code: +359
Emergency Number: 150 – Ambulance; 160 – fire and rescue; 166 – police.
Population: 7,041,536

The complex and dynamic city that is Sofia offers up a veritable world of contrasts and contradictions, making it a fascinating and eclectic place to visit for stag groups.
The city is clean, modern and efficient, while at the same time being old, crumbling and ramshackle. Culture and history lurks at every corner, with Churches, museums and ancient ruins to explore for those culturally inclined. And to balance out all the history, the city also has a warren of bars, pubs and clubs for groups who prefer to stay out late.

Top Things to Do

Day

  1. Visit the St. Alexander Nevski Cathedral: If you’ve done any online research for Sofia, you’ve probably already seen the St. Alexander Nevski Cathedral. The huge, onion domed structure was built between 1882 and 1912 and today is one of the most iconic symbols of the city and any stag do in Sofia would be incomplete without at least checking out the outside of the building.
  2. Check out the street art on Tsar Ivan Shishman Street: Street art is a cool way to get to grips with the more gritty and underground side of the city and the very best place to see what creative masterpieces the local artists come up with is on Tsar Ivan Shishman Street, where the walls, houses and even electricity boxes have been transformed into vibrant and colourful murals.
  3. People watch on Vitosha Boulevard: Named after the mountains that can be seen in the distance, Vitosha Boulevard is one of Sofia’s most popular areas for shopping, strolling, drinking and dining. Just choose a café or bar, order a nice cold pint and sit back and watch the world go by.
  4. Hang out in the park: Grab a sheet, a six pack of cold brewskies and some nibbles and go enjoy the sunshine at one of Sofia’s city parks. A popular local pursuit, the parks are always full of young people enjoying the weather, playing frisbee, football, sunbathing and hanging out.

Night

  1. Go on a Pub Crawl: There are way too many awesome bars and pubs in Sofia for any enthusiastic stag group to take in on one trip, so instead of trying to find the real gems by yourselves, head out on a bespoke pub crawl, with a local guide to show you the ropes. You’ll be drinking like a local in no time!
  2. Go for a traditional Bulgarian meal: The food in Bulgaria is lush and Sofia is the real gastronomic epicentre. For the meat lovers amongst you, this city is an absolute heaven with meaty, protein rich dishes that will make your mouth water. A traditional Bulgarian meal is not only a great way to sample real Bulgarian food and culture, but also ends up as a pretty raucous party!
  3. Visit a typical Rakia bar: The national drink of Bulgaria, Rakia, is extremely strong and potent. Do as the locals do and visit a typical Rakia bar like Raketa Rakia Bar for drinks after dinner. This retro little watering hole is the best place to drink Rakia in the capital, with bottles lining the walls and hundreds of options to choose from. Just be sure to line the stomach first – its 65% alcohol.
  4. Go clubbing until dawn: Sofia has an endless supply of awesome clubs for stag groups. Whether you like upmarket joints where the ladies get their bling on and the dress code bans trainers, or you like more grungy, underground spots where DJs make the walls vibrate and your shoes stick to the floor, you’ll find something to suit your taste and mood in this city that never sleeps.

Top Stag Activities in Sofia

  1. Zorbing: Fun doesn’t get much simpler than zorbing on your stag do in Sofia. The concept is easy. You climb into a giant inflatable, ball made of shock absorbent transparent rubber, then let yourself roll down a hill while trying to keep your lunch down. Great fun!
  2. Private Yacht Cruise: What better way to soak in the sights and the atmosphere of vibrant Sofia, than from the deck of your own private yacht, on a cruise where you and the boys are the real VIPs. You’ll cruise the lake for two hours before heading back to shore to continue the party on dry land.
  3. Offroad Safari: Stand aside boys, this activity is for the real men only. You need serious balls of steel to navigate the countryside outside Sofia in hardcore two tonne Land Rovers built like heavy duty tanks! Be prepared to get down and dirty with nature, with an expert guide to show you how to handle the beast like a dream!
  4. Indulge in a Strip Party Bus: If you’re going to do it, you might as well do it in style, so why not combine one of the top stag do staples, with a unique party experience in a private bus around the capital! The ride will last either one or two hours and will include, drinks, a personal waitress, two sexy strippers and a DJ, all there to ensure you have the most epic night of the trip!

What to Eat

Shopska salad made with chopped tomatoes and cucumber, covered in salty cheese and parsley; Tarator cold yogurt soup with cucumber, dill and garlic; kyufteta spicy meat balls and gyuvech vegetable stew.
DINE OUT @ Adi’s Cook and Book, for a hidden secret adored by locals and well-versed travellers in the know.

What to Drink

  • Local Beers: Kamenitza and Astika
  • Local Wines: Mavrud; Broad-Leaved Melnik; Dimyat and Pamid
  • Local Spirits: Rakia, made of distilled grapes or plums, or Mastika, an aniseed based spirit drink in the summer months
  • DRINK OUT @ Memento on Rakovski Street for people watching, dancing and drinking in the street, in the heart of Sofia

Exclusive Destination Events

  • Sofia International Film Festival: March
  • Sofia Music Weeks International Festival: March
  • Sofia Underground International Performance Art Festival: April
  • Sofia Music Weeks International Festival: May and June
  • Rtm+beer Festival: June
  • The Balkans International Wine Competition: June
  • Water Tower Art Festival: September
  • Sofia Christmas Market: Late November to December

Public Transport

Using public transport is one of the quickest, cheapest and most convenient ways of getting around Sofia. The city’s public transport system is made up of a network of buses, trams, underground trains and trolley buses. These vehicles have lines which will take you in and around the entire city and the regular timetable means you won’t need to wait around for ages to get to and from your destination. The trolleys, trams and buses are all currently being upgraded so some of the vehicles are still the older models without AC, but some are newer more modern vehicles that offer more comfort against the outside temperatures! The clean and efficient underground runs along two separate lines, one form East to West and one from North to South. Tickets for buses, trams, underground trains and trolley buses all cost 1.60 leva for a single journey and can be bought from ticket machines at the entrance of the stations.

Climate

Divided into four separate and well-defined seasons, the weather in Sofia – and indeed the whole of Bulgaria – is a mixture of Mediterranean and continental climates. Winter can be bitterly cold with icy winds, snow and frost. The colder winter period lasts from December until March and temperatures can often reach below freezing. Low temperatures aside, winter can bring bright sunny days and is generally regarded to be the driest period of the year. Spring arrives with the thawing of the frosts and the arrival of the blossoms. This time of the year is the greenest in the country and temperatures rise to around 15-25°C. This temperate and mild period runs from March until June. With the summer comes the heat from June to August with the hottest temperatures reaching around 35-40°C. The sun shines every day and there is very little wind or rain in this period. The beautiful crisp autumn is one of the nicest times to travel to Sofia as the temperatures between September-October drop down to 10-25°C, as the days get shorter and the air fresher.

Useful Costs

Cost of a lunchtime snack or sandwich: 3-5 lv (€1.50-€2.50)
Cost of a pint of beer: 1.2 lv (€0.60)
Cost of a dinner with wine for two people: 60 -120 lv (€30 – €60)
Cost of a banitsa cheese pie: 1 lv (€0.50)
Cost of entry into a nightclub: 5-10 lv (€2.50-€5)
Cost of a spirit mixer in a club: 5-10 lv (€2.50- €5)
Cost of a bottle of water: 0.6 lv (€0.30)
Cost of a coffee at a coffee shop: 1-2 lv. (€0.50-€1)
Cost of a public transport day pass: 4 lv (€2)
Cost of taxi ride in the city centre: 6 lv (€3)

Tip from a Local

“One More Bar is one of the coolest locations in Sofia, locals love hanging out there. This is one of those places where there is something for everybody. It doesn’t matter if you want to have tea in the morning, grab a bite for lunch, have a glass of wine while listening to great music or just enjoy a great cocktail in the evening.” Ge

Did You Know?

  • Sofia is one of the oldest capital cities in Europe and dates all the way back to the first millennium BCE.
  • The city was not always called Sofia, and prior to taking on its current Moniker in the 14th century, the city was named Serdica, Sredets and Tradiatsa.
  • Sofia is one of the highest capital cities in Europe at 550m above sea levels, and as such, many tourists come here on their way to the nearby ski slopes in the winter season.
  • Sofia has only been the capital of Bulgaria since 1879, before that the capital resided in Veliko Tarnovo.
  • Sofia was built on top of ancient Roman ruins and the city’s underground railway systems took over 30 years to build because the construction workers kept finding new historical ruins as they dug!