Spring has sprung in Bulgaria, with pink blossoms covering the trees and the sun shining in the sky, so to welcome in the new season, we’ve put together a list of fun things to do outside in Bulgaria’s capital and largest city, Sofia. If you’re looking for something to get you out of the hotel and back to nature, then this is the article for you.
Note: A lot of these things can also be done at any time of year, so if you’re not reading this piece when it’s first published, you can still enjoy these suggestions. (Just adjust your wardrobe accordingly.)
Spend time in a park
Whether you’re looking to read a good book in the shade of a tree, enjoy a picnic, or get the kids to burn off some excess energy, Sofia’s many parks are a top spot for tourists and locals alike. The crisp, fresh air mixed with the close proximity to plant life can also have a positive impact on your physical and mental health.
If you want to take in some history, head to the City Garden, which has been repeatedly revamped over the years to reflect the changing political landscape, or Doctor’s Garden, which features the Monument of the Fallen Medic, to commemorate army medical staff who died in wartime.
If you’re looking to do some moderate exercise, head to Youzhen Park on a Saturday morning where they have a free 5 km race for you to join. This fun run regularly attracts around 400 people. It’s a great way to get those endorphins pumping before you treat yourself to a nice lunch and a well-deserved glass of wine.
Alternatively, if you really want to immerse yourself in nature, head to Vitosha, the largest national park in the Balkans, where you can hike, ski, mountaineer, or explore the dense flora.
Swim in a mineral pool
If you’ve never taken a dip in a mineral water pool, then you’ve never really swum at all. Even if there’s still a chill in the air, you should soak in the hot springs and let your worries drift away as you relax. Sofia is close to several pools, but Bankya and Korali come highly recommended. Both are roughly a 30-minute drive from Sofia’s city centre.
Speaking of driving, you may find it more convenient to rent a car in Sofia, rather than relying on public transport, which can be difficult to navigate, particularly if you have limited time. If you’re looking to save money, use comparison website such as this one to help you shave up to 30% off the price of a hire car.
While picnicking is a fantastic way to spend your lunchtime, or even dinnertime, many restaurants and cafes in Sofia actually convert their gardens into dining areas for the spring and summer months. This means that you get the alfresco experience, while still dining on delicious meals from incredible chefs.
Here are some of the best restaurants in the city:
- Shtastliveca: Named after one of the pseudonyms used by the Bulgarian writer Aleko Konstantinov, this restaurant serves traditional Bulgarian cuisine and local versions of international dishes.
- Mr. Pizza: This restaurant, which features a blend of Mediterranean and Bulgarian cuisine with affordable dishes, is just a street away from the National Palace of Culture.
- Corso: If you’re looking for good food with a good view, then choose Corso for its European cuisine and prime location opposite the Russian Church.
- Hadjidraganovite Izbi: This is the hotspot for traditional Bulgarian cuisine, with even locals coming out to try dishes long-since-forgotten by the public.
Enjoy a cocktail (or two)
There’s nothing better on a spring evening than enjoying the local nightlife, so why not take a walk down Vitosha Street and find a seat outside at one of the trendy bars or restaurants? Many will even offer you a blanket in case it gets a little chilly when the sun goes down.
Hopefully, this has given you some ideas for your upcoming trip to Sofia, a city that’s vibrant and welcoming throughout the year.