You just cannot miss Sofia when you are in that part of the world. And I more than sure the city and the people will make you enjoy the place anyway, but there are just few more things that can make this the highlight of your travels.
Stay at Hostel Mostel
First comes the one and only Hostel Mostel. Seriously, if there is any other hostel like this let me know, I give all my money to them. Why is Hostel Mostel so great?
If a place costs 9€ and you get free breakfast buffet and dinner included, then I would say its already pretty neat. But oh wait – their food is also not something so ordinary. Can you imagine waking up in a hostel to a smell of freshly brewed coffee, puffy egg omelet and warm waffles. YES WAFFLES, which you can cover with endless amount of Nutella for chocolate overdose. The all you can eat buffet has seriously everything from fruits to scrambled eggs to organic teas. And as a backpacker, this meal will last you for all day long.
And the dinner – you have an option to choose from 3 different vegetarian dishes with a small salad buffet. But the most appealing to everyone probably is the free glass of beer that you can cheers to your dining buddies.
Last but not least – the facilities itself. The Hostel Mostel atmosphere is built to make new friends and spend time listening crazy travel stories. Common area is at the same time a reception and the cafeteria, so it remains the place where everybody just ends up staying and laying around. The “No drinking” policy after 10 PM is fine as well since they offer free Pub Crawl every night for the ones who are up for a party. There is also a pool table and some music instruments free to use.
And if you want to sleep tight then get a bed in the loft area. Big 18 bed dorm on the attic floor is actually the quietest place we have ever slept in. Also the dimmable light will make guarantee that no one will disturb your nap, when coming in late.
Hostel Mostel was so freaking awesome that we checked out 3 times, but found ourselves late afternoon still sitting in the lobby and chatting with the freshly checked in people. So, we checked in again, and claimed our beds back.
Take Free Walking Tour
There are two kinds of free walking tours: one is where the tour guide hints you many times during the tour that he lives out of the tips and you should give around 5-10€ for his company. The other one tells you nicely that the money goes for an NGO to support the activities, but the tour itself is so awesome that after three hours you feel even shamed to give the 10€ because the guy is worth a payroll.
One of them is Sofia Free Tour, and no wonder it has 568 (and counting) excellent reviews in Trip Advisor. If you have a chance then go with Nikki cause he is just super sweet and funny guy to begin with. But seriously, the tour is so comprehensive, not over blown with boring facts and historical dates, but a 3 hour walk with engaging activities and fun A-ha moments. They have everything that is not written in guide books and they are helping with any extra questions you may have.
Get the elite city view with no tourist around
Like the knowledge about : “Where is the best viewpoint in Sofia”. Right answer is : In the University of Architecture A corp. This should be actually the only place where you get the full view over the city and have no one else standing on your way, when you try to attempt that perfect selfie.
The campus is just a walk away from the city center, and the A building is parallel to the main street. Make a face like you totally know where you are going, pass the security guards and take an elevator to 11th floor. Even though they try to prevent students using the balcony there by removing the door handles, windows are perfectly usable to climb out and enjoy the view.
Rent a car and visit old communist sites in Bulgaria
Do it just because Bulgaria is full of weird creepy looking communist sites that needs a private car or a tour group to be reached in the secluded areas.
We took on a full day trip to one of the most infamous site Buzludzha, a communist headquarter, and its surrounding sites, Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak and the Shipchenski monastery. A money saving tip for the Kazanlak – have your student ID ready for only 1,5 LEV entrance. (0,75 €), all others pay 6.
With a dinner in a roadside diner and a parking ticket, we spent all together 100€ for 5 people (so that included food, gas and car rent)
Catch street artists doing their magic.
Maybe you remember this picture?
Or maybe the most recent one?
Bulgaria youth is known to express their views through street art and they have also found a way to send a strong message to the world. The Monument of Soviet Army in the city center has become almost a symbolic statue that every now and then becomes a part of “vandalism” or work of art, when the silent protest against political situation is carried out.
The street art is mostly legal and artists usually agree with the owners of the constructions to use the walls as canvas. A special project is held with national electric company who has let artist to paint all the switchboards and substations across the country, to make them more melt in the urban streets. An as the trust to young painters is high, they don’t even have to pose a sketch of their work, but have a free will to do whatever they like.
“Art is what you can get away with.”
― Andy Warhol