If you have 24 hours in Sofia, Bulgaria, in between flights or as a quick getaway, this post is for you. Our local Travel Blue ambassador in Sofia has gathered a list of things for you to see. Assuming (and hoping) you’ve arrived safely and have gotten settled in your centrally located hotel or hostel of choice, it’s now time to get to know the downtown area of the city. You may have heard of the main things, but just in case you haven’t:
The historical centre of Sofia is the National Palace of Culture or NDK (locals call it Endekato, stress on the ka). Built back in communist times as a cultural monument it’s the so-called Point Zero to this day – in the sense that every destination in the city is measured from it. For example, the 4th kilometre, a hospital of neurology and psychiatry, is exactly 4 km away from the NDK, and everyone calls it the 4th kilometre and not St. Naum, its real name.
Endekato is a tall, vast, beautiful building. Every now and then the area around it is undergoing renovation – if this coincides with your visit, sorry, too bad for you. Actually, Sofia’s mayor is really active and there are always lots of renovations everywhere. The building itself has multiple storeys and halls where concerts are usually held. Mostly, they are by traditional Bulgarian performers, but sometimes we have major international artists here. In any case, we recommend going to a concert or two. The sound systems are amazing and the ambience is great.
The second, third, and fourth floors of the building usually host trade expositions on a rotating basis. Every winter they have a “Made in Bulgaria” expo with exclusively Bulgarian products. Another event is the Book Fair celebrating Bulgarian and foreign literary culture.
Next to the building is what locals call Lovers’ Bridge. In summer it’s home to quite a few exhibitions as well. Last summer everyone loved the nature photography exhibit. Real photographs of some of the most beautiful natural attractions in the country, made by professionals, were displayed in glass boxes. The exhibits are on a rotating basis too. At night, couples take leisurely walks (among other things – the name is no accident) across the bridge and in the area. However, I wouldn’t describe what you can see there at night as an attraction…
Vitosha Boulevard, the main commercial artery of the city brimming with life, is in the direction opposite of the Bridge. There are many luxury shops, casual dining venues, fast food joints and even a few wine bars here. On the downside, the boulevard is almost always under construction and if it isn’t then one or more of the adjacent roads are. This Christmas, the nearby Graf Ignatiev was being reconstructed. Works began back in the summer but they took a lot longer than planned. The builders were all dressed up as Santa.
The mayor surely has a sense of humour…