I recently took a short trip to Sofia for the first time with my friend Lilian, and although it wasn’t a working trip, I can certainly recommend it if you’re looking to get away for a few days and work somewhere that’s a. cheap, and b. has some of the best night life I’ve seen in a long time.
So the first thing to note about Sofia is it’s not the most picturesque of places to visit, however that’s not to say it’s not a beautiful place. Here’s some things to note:
We went in early October, the weather was very changeable. When we arrived we sat outside a cafe in t-shirts as it was around 20c. The next day it was bitingly cold, pouring down with rain, and snow had arrived on the mountain tops. I’d suggest packing for all weathers!
2. Flights & Accommodation
If you want cheap and quality, Sofia is the place to go. We stayed in this 2 bedroom Airbnb apartment just on the edge of the city, which is around a thirty minute walk to the centre, or 5-10 minute (very cheap) taxi ride. The amenities were excellent, wifi was brilliant, and it was a nice little haven away from the bustling city. Next door was a supermarket and small cafe, and very close was a restaurant and a club/bar under a bridge.
I can’t vouch for hotels, but if you have a root around on Airbnb you’ll find that accommodation is great quality and not very expensive. Including flights from Gatwick to Sofia (with EasyJet), we stayed for three nights and it was around £300 for two people. If you can travel with a large group, accommodation will be even cheaper.
3. Wifi & Data
I was on EE and data was free to use (which was a welcome relief from having to pay £6 per megabyte or whatever ridiculous price they usually charge for data roaming abroad). I had no problem with signal, and the wifi everywhere was pretty great – useful for taking your laptop to coffee shops!
4. Nightlife – the famous Sofia Pub Crawl!
The nightlife here is unlike anything I’ve seen before – this place never stops! There are some really interesting nightclubs hidden down strange alleyways, and the quieter bars also stay open ’til the early hours of the morning. One place we went to I’m sure was someone’s flat by day and a bar at night. Great vibes though – the washing machine in the bathroom was an interesting touch.
If I recommend one thing to do here, is to go on the organised Sofia Pub Crawl. You pay 20lev (around £10), Danny and the other hosts are very welcoming and lead you around 4-5 bars/clubs that are super hidden away and always have a unique touch. The best part was meeting a bunch of new people who were also travelling (shout out to Olivia, Matt, Lachlan, Fara & William!). Each bar includes a free drink and honestly it was one of the best nights out of my life.
Very handy – it’s on every night of the week (9pm-1am) so if you’re there for a while it’s a great place to meet new people and explore the city at night.
Second to the nightlife, the best thing about Sofia is the cost. At the time of writing this it was around 2.2 lev to £1.
At the first cafe/bar we stopped at a 0.5L of beer was 1.80lev (around 80p). One evening we went to a traditional Bulgarian restaurant, and paid around £15 each for 2 mains, 2 starters, and 2 glasses of wine each. The prices are fairly standard from place to place, although expect to pay a little extra in clubs (saying that, they don’t seem to use measures either). There’s a handy table of costs here.
6. Getting around
This was really really easy. There’s a taxi app called TaxiMe, which let’s you drop a pin and they’ll usually pick you up within about 4-5 minutes and take you wherever. You can pay through the app, or with cash, but it’s usually no more than 4-5lev to go anywhere in the city (£2). Really handy if you have no idea where you are. There is also the metro but we never needed to use it.
Also a nice little touch to the TaxiMe app was the little ‘toot toot!’ sound it made when the taxi had arrived.
7. Co-working studios in Sofia
Now, I haven’t checked these out in person, but this is what I would look into next time as the prices seem very reasonable and the spaces seem great too:
- Soho.bg – 68lev for a desk for a week (around £30).
- Betahaus – Seems to be for more long term, but you never know.
- Puzl – Seems to offer a 5 day desk hire for 80lev.
8. Reasons to work here
This for me is a must place to visit if you’re thinking about working abroad for a few days for a working holiday, especially if you’re bringing other freelancers with you. This is why:
- It’s cheap.
- There’s not a huge amount to see during the day, the main event is at night, so you won’t feel like you’re missing out if you need to do a 9-5.
- The people are lovely – if learn a few words in Bulgarian, they will love you even more. Моля!
- The bar crawl – a great way to meet other people there.
- Great internet connectivity.
- Easy to get around.
9. Places to visit
Here are a few of the places we visited whilst we were here, all of which I highly recommend.