Dangers & Annoyances
Sofia is a safe city and there are few specific dangers and annoyances. Watch for traffic when crossing the street as drivers seem oblivious to pedestrian crossings; note that while bul Vitosha is pedestrian-only, the cross streets are not and cars zip across.
As always, be careful with bags, wallets and purses on crowded public transport and particularly in busy areas such as the Ladies’ Market and around pl Sveta Nedelya.
Embassies & Consulates
Emergency & Important Numbers
Sofia has a large underground gay community, though gay and gay-friendly clubs and cafes come and go with the season. For more information, see www.gay.bg.
Most cafes, restaurants and bars offer free wi-fi for customers. Simply ask your waiter for the password. Nearly all hostels, guesthouses and hotels have free in-room wi-fi for guests. Larger hotels will also have a computer or 'business centre' for guest use.
Internet cafes have largely died out in central Sofia, though you may occasionally find a hanger-on, identified by the sign 'Internet'.
- Programata (www.programata.bg) A useful, widely available weekly listings magazine, with details of cinemas, restaurants and clubs. It’s only in Bulgarian, but the website is in English.
- Sofia City Info Guide (www.sofia-guide.com) Published monthly, this includes basic practical information and reviews of hotels, restaurants and clubs and comes with a free city map. Available at hotel reception desks.
- Sofia – The Insider’s Guide (www.insidesofia.com) A pleasingly opinionated quarterly publication featuring background information and advice for visitors, as well as restaurant and entertainment reviews. Available at some hotels and travel agencies.
Shops and offices in the capital generally adhere to the hours below. Museums are usually closed on Mondays. Bars and clubs get going late and often stay open until the next morning.
Banks 9am to 4pm Monday to Friday
Bars and clubs 11am to 2am (or later)
Government offices 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday
Post offices 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday
Restaurants 11am to 11pm
Shops 9am to 6pm
Central Post Office Centrally located bank branch and 24-hour ATM.
National Tourist Information Centre Helpful, English-speaking staff and glossy brochures for destinations around Bulgaria. The office is a little hard to find, hidden near a small side street, a few steps southwest of pl Sveta Nedelya.
Sofia Tourist Information Centre Lots of free leaflets and maps, and helpful English-speaking staff.
Alexander Tour Runs numerous tours around Bulgaria, including day trips from Sofia and longer, tailor-made tours.
Odysseia-In Travel Agency Organises hiking, skiing, climbing, birdwatching and other trips across the country. Oriented towards groups. Entrance is on ul Lavele.
Zig Zag Holidays Aimed at individuals, with a long list of hiking, climbing, caving, wine-tasting and biking trips on the program. Day trips to Rila Monastery and Mt Vitosha. Entrance is on ul Lavele.
Travel with Children
With its uneven pavement and heavy traffic, Sofia can be challenging for parents with small kids. Nevertheless, there are several attractions aimed at younger visitors. Babysitting services aimed at visitors are still fairly rare, though some larger hotels may be able to provide day-care services for guests.
Sofia Zoo Small collection of large mammals, including lions, tigers and elephants. Free to kids under seven years old.
Muzeiko Family-friendly science and technology museum with plenty of interactive exhibits to delight children from 6 to 16 years of age.
Kokolandia Three-part climbing park and obstacle course, with different sections aimed at different ages, starting at five years of age.
Maleeva Tennis Club Indoor and outdoor courts as well as equipment rental.
Sofia is not an easy destination for travellers with disabilities. Uneven and broken footpaths make wheelchair mobility problematic, and ramps and special toilets for those in a wheelchair are few and far between, other than in a handful of top-end hotels. Public transport is not geared towards the needs of travellers with disabilities.
One organisation worth contacting is the Sofia-based Center for Independent Living (www.cil.bg).