Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, is one of the most dynamic and vibrant cities in the Balkan Peninsula. Home to 1,359,520 people, the city has the largest population in the country and is the most important economic, financial, educational, health, cultural, commercial and transportation center in Bulgaria. Sofia is one of the most multicultural cities in the region. Walking down the streets, you will meet people from all over the world. Most of them come here for business, education or just to get to know the local culture and features.
The city is a center of attraction for young people from all over the country. They come here attracted by the great opportunities for entertainment and personal development.
The mix of different types of architecture includes Neo-Classical, Neo-Renaissance and Neo-Baroque styles. Viewed from above, as a typical old European capital, Sofia is a star-shaped city.
Most city streets seem to be too narrow for such a great number of cars and pedestrians, and this is probably one of the biggest drawbacks, especially if you are planning to travel by car from one point to another.
The skyline of Sofia is devoid of skyscrapers and most of the modern office buildings are good-looking but not very high.
Many of the city’s neighborhoods are built up with stereotype apartment blocks. Dating back from the 70s and 80s, these residential areas invoke memories for the years of communism and the USSR.
Sofia is the capital of Bulgaria from April 3, 1879, but its history begins much earlier. As early as the seventh century BC, Thracian tribes called Serdi founded a settlement here.
They called the new town after themselves, ie Serdica. The city retains its name for a long period of time, after which bears the names Triaditsa and Sredets.
Since the 15th century the city bears the lovely name Sofia, which means wisdom. This is the last name of the Bulgarian capital.
Sofia is located in the southwest of Bulgaria, in a sheltered valley about 550 meters above sea level.
To the south is the beautiful Vitosha Mountain, and the southern districts of the city are located on the moderately steep mountain slopes themselves. What makes the location of Sofia very valuable is the great wealth of mineral springs.
The thermal waters of Sofia have different temperature, and the most famous are the springs in Bankia, Lozenec, Kazichene Knyazhevo, Gorna Banya and others.
Sofia has a temperate continental climate with hot summers and cold winters. The coldest month, January, brings cloudy weather, temperatures that often fall below 0°C and moderate snowfalls, rarely rains.
The average daytime winter temperatures in Sofia are often a few degrees lower in comparison with cities like Varna and Burgas on the Black Sea coast or Sandanski and Blagoevgrad in Southwestern Bulgaria.
The winter season with temperatures of below 10°C lasts from November to March. This is also the period during which it is possible to snow. Summers, conversely, are very hot and sunny.
Although the average daytime temperature is about 28°C in July, Sofia sometimes experiences temperatures to about 40°C on the shade.
Summers usually last from May to September, although at the beginning and end of the season the nights are cool. Typical transitional months with variable weather are April and October.
What not to miss? While in Sofia do not miss to visit the major attractions in the city.
The cathedral “St. Alexander Nevsky”, the rotunda “St. George”, the cathedral “St.Nedelya”, the building of National Assembly (Narodnoto Sabranie) with the famous yellow-paved square, the Presidency, the NDK building (the National Palace of Culture) and “Vitosha”, the most famous shopping street in the city, are must-seeing landmarks.
Don’t miss to climb Vitosha Mountain via cable car and enjoy the amazing panoramic view of Sofia.The view that reveals from the Kopitoto at an altitude 1345 meters is probably the most beautiful.
When to visit Sofia? Sofia is traditionally more attractive in winter. Furthermore, the proximity of Vitosha creates good opportunities for skiing.
In spring and autumn the city is quite busy, though not as much as during the winter months. In summer Sofia falls into a deep summer sleep and lethargy.
The city streets become more quiet and not so dynamic, and the lazy holiday atmosphere makes most people leaving the city, heading to the Mediterranean and Black Sea coast.
If you want to see Sofia in the busiest part of the year, you have to visit it during the period from December to March.
If you want to enjoy the city without wandering among crowds of people, the months of July and August are recommended.
Accessibility. Sofia is the most hectic transportation hub in Bulgaria. Here is the biggest and most modern equipped airport in the country that handles flights to most major cities in Europe and around the world. The city is well connected by bus services with virtually all the major cities in Bulgaria.
Dangers. Principal hazard in Sofia, like in many other cities in Bulgaria, comes from the homeless dogs that are sometimes able to bite or attack random people.
The animals carry different kinds of diseases and parasites such as intestinal worms, tapeworms and others.
Avoid poor and apparently neglected parts of the city, especially during the late hours of the day. The risk of being robbed is largest in public transport and other places with a large concentration of people.