First Impressions of Sofia (Bulgaria)

My visit to Sofia last week was my first time in both city and country. I was therefore keen to get out and explore during my 3 days there before I hopped on to the next city in my current travels through the Balkans and Eastern Europe. These were my first impressions;

Hostel Mostel

Hostel Mostel Sofia Bulgaria

Address; 2A Makedonia Blvd, Sofia, Bulgaria.

Sometimes a good hostel can really make a big difference to your time in a city, and this was the way I felt while staying at Hostel Mostel. They just seem to have got so many things right. More so than any other hostel I’ve stayed at in Europe thus far. Highlights included the amazing breakfast which included waffles, fresh fruit & vegetable, and scrambled eggs amongst other things. They also supplied a free pasta dinner every night. The nightly pub crawl was free (I always detest hostels who charge for this so was super pleased to find out there was no charge other than that you pay for what you drink of course.) Their free individualised map had both a ‘by day’ side and ‘by night’ side, giving you recommendations for what to see/do by day, and where to eat and drink at night – which I found to be super helpful. The hostel’s location was also smack bang in the city centre making it easy to go pretty much anywhere and the staff were really nice. I could go on. Essentially what I’m saying is Hostel Mostel is a really great place to stay. I would definitely recommend that you stay there if you’re ever passing through Sofia.

Manastirska Magernitsa – Local Bulgarian Cuisine


One of the first restaurants I visited while in Sofia was Manastirska Magernitsa situated on Han Asparun street in Sofia’s city centre. It was actually a recommendation from one of the receptionists at my hostel (Hostel Mostel), and it turned out to be one of the cuisine highlights of my trip. The main reason being A) the amazing local Bulgarian cuisine that was served, and B) the bright and cosy little setting of the restaurant. They’ve basically taken what would have typically been someone’s house and transformed the building into a restaurant. What would be bedrooms now have tables set for private functions. The courtyard is decked out with colourful tables and chairs where most diners eat. For a meat dish you can expect to pay around 25 LEV (£10.97 / €12.78) and for one of the amazing Bulgarian salads (which I had) you’d pay around half that price. To me this is pretty normal compared to prices back home in the UK for eating out, but for Bulgaria is actually quite pricey. However you really can’t knock the quality of food here as well as the gorgeous setting for eating in.

Cheapest European capital for eating and drinking out?

You always expect a capital city to be expensive, but I kept wandering around Sofia the entire time feeling amazed at how cheap everything was! This was especially so whilst eating and drinking out! I remember thinking if it’s this cheap here in the capital, how cheap is it elsewhere in the country in the smaller towns and cities?? For example, a large beer usually cost me around 3 LEV (£1.32 / €1.53). I think I paid 4 LEV in a more expensive bar. On the 2nd bar that we frequented on our Hostel Mostel pub crawl I recall paying just 15 LEV for 6 tequila shots for myself and 5 Spanish students I’d been talking to during the night. That’s just £6.59 or €7.67 for 6 tequila shots! I’d usually pay at least 3 times that for a proper tequila shot back home! The value was really incredible if you wanted to party. Eating out was also generally very cheap, especially for fast food. Large pizza slices and kebabs seemed to be for sale just about everywhere in the city centre. A large pizza slice and a soft drink cost me 3 LEV total (£1.32 / €1.53). Usually you’d pay at least this for the coke alone back home in the UK. These prices also seemed to be typical throughout the city.

Free Sofia Tour

Saint Sofia Statue Bulgaria

If I was to be completely honest with you Sofia is a city that was never going to win any awards for beauty, but it does still have some pretty sights and buildings that are of particular historical importance to the country and are worth sight seeing for. I highly recommend taking the Free Sofia Tour which departs twice daily from the Palace of Justice at 11am and 6pm. Duration is 2 hours and it takes you to most of Sofia’s important historical buildings and places of interest such as the National Assembly and Saint Sofia Statue whilst giving you an introduction to the city’s history.


If you’re in Sofia or the Balkans in general then you may want to try some local Rakia. It’s an alcoholic beverage that is produced by distillation of fermented fruit, and is usually around 40% alcohol. Although its origins are unknown exactly, and it is drank throughout the Balkans, recent historical evidence indicates its presence in 14th Century Bulgaria, laying strength to the claims of it’s Bulgarian heritage.

3 Responses to “First Impressions of Sofia (Bulgaria)”

  1. Kara says:

    I was in Sofia recently and also could not believe how cheap it is! It’s not the most pretty city, but for budget travellers it is rather good for eating out and drinking out.

  2. Roni Faida says:

    I have never thought about going to Bulgaria. That’s why I love reading your blog, you give me things to think about, thanks!


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