Founded seven thousand years ago, Sofia is the second oldest city in Europe and with population of more than 1.2 million people it is the 15th largest city in the EU. It is situated in western Bulgaria, at the northern foot of the Vitosha mountain, in the Sofia Valley that is surrounded by the Balkan mountains to the north, which presents amazing views from every point within the city.
Sofia’s architecture combines a wide range of architectural styles that vary from Christian Roman architecture and medieval Bulgar fortresses to Neoclassicism and Socialist-era. A number of ancient Roman, Byzantine and medieval Bulgarian buildings are preserved in the centre of the city. It also has an extensive green belt due to The Vitosha Nature Park (the oldest national park in the Balkans). Based on these and that it is also Europe’s most affordable capital to visit, meaning that it is not only beautiful, but also offers the best value for money ratio, makes it a favourable tourist destination.
The one building you have to get familiar with is the National Palace of Culture, where our studio is located and most of the fun time will be spent there. As it is right in the heart of the city, everything you need can be found within 5 minutes of walking. You can check a more detailed map here.
We are very friendly and kind people, who love to laugh and party hard! Our nightlife is pretty wild, so our parties are always a blast! If you are wandering around and get lost or you just need to ask something – don’t be shy and approach a Bulgarian. Huge percentage of the people know English and are happy to meet a foreigner.
However keep in mind that we are a weird nation and if you want to say “YES” with a head gestures – you should shake your head, move it left and right. Therefore, if you want to say “NO” – nod, up and down. Yeah….we like to be different than the rest of the world.
Travelling to and within Sofia
Bulgaria is an EU member state and it is easily accessible from most parts of Europe. If you are coming from outside the EU, you might need a VISA in order to enter the country.
There are a number of traveling options. Most visitors prefer getting here by plane or by car but there is also the possibility to use bus or train.
There are direct links to Sofia Airport with larger European cities and most capitals. Sofia Airport is located 10 km east from the city center.
Make sure you check the terminal that you are arriving at or departing from carefully. Terminal 1 (T1) is used by budget airlines like EasyJet and Wizz Air and by charter flight operators. Terminal 2 (T2) handles all ‘traditional’ carriers, and serves as a hub to Bulgaria Air, the national carrier.
For more information visit: www.sofia-airport.bg
- Between the airport and the city center
You can get to the city center by using public transportation. If you arrive with by pane – there is a metro station on the airport an you will be to the city center for a 15 min. Bus line 84 travels from both terminals to Sofia University (metro station in the city center). Allow 30 to 40 minutes to reach the city center depending on traffic. You can get tickets from newsstands in both terminals. You will need an additional ticket for any large piece of luggage (larger than 40/40/60 cm).
You can also use a taxi. Taxis in the airport are “regulated”. The company allowed to service the airport is “O.K. Supertrans”. You can request the service at the offices of OK Supertrans in the Arrivals of Terminal 1 and Terminal 2. Alternatively you can call the following phone number: (+359 2) 973 21 21 or visit the company’s website: www.oktaxi.net
Important! Beware of unregulated taxis that may overcharge you. The normal fare to the city center should be about 10-12 leva (5-6 EUR). We recommend that you only use taxi services offered at the office of the taxi operator of the airport.
To get to Sofia by car you will enter the capital of Bulgaria through one of four major routes. From Serbia you should cross the border at Kalotina then after 60 km you will reach Sofia at its west end.
Coming from Greece you will cross the border at Kulata and then you need to follow road E79 which continues as A3 highway. In about 200 km you will get to Sofia.
Coming from Romania you will most probably enter Bulgaria from Ruse and you will have about three and a half hours of driving to Sofia. You will enter city from north-east through Hemus highway and Botevgradsko shose.
If you are traveling from Turkey you will enter the country at Kapitan Andreevo. You will drive for about three and a half hours to get to Sofia. You will arrive by using Trakya highway which turns into Tzarigradsko shose Blvd.
Important! Vignettes are required for all vehicles driving on all public roads outside of cities and villages. Vignettes stickers can be purchased at most gas stations, at border crossings.
By bus and train:
If you are arriving from a nearby country, another option to get to Sofia is by using the railway network or by taking a bus. When you come to Sofia by train or by bus you will arrive at the same location. The Central Train Station and the International Bus Station are located next to each other. From there you can use the public transportation system or you can get a taxi. It will take you approximately 15 minutes to get to the city center.
Travelling within the city…
Public transportation in Sofia is very well developed and quite cheap. You can travel around the city by using metro, trams, buses and trolley buses. The ticket for all types of public transportation cost exactly 1 lev (0,50 euro). You can also use taxis. The regular fare is about 0,40 euro per kilometer but beware of frauds who may overcharge you.
Sofia Urban Mobility Centre: www.sumc.bg
The public transport of Sofia starts to operate every day in 5:00 in the morning and finishes at 24:00. On this site you can find detailed information about the whole network, itineraries and schedules. Extremely useful is this page, where you can check the arrival time of your selected means of transport. This has even evolved into a mobile app with the same function. To roam the urban jungle you have to buy a ticket and if you have with you a piece of luggage that takes up about as much space as another person, then you have to buy one extra for it as well. Generally with that ticket you can ride the trams, buses and trolleybuses. The ticket for the metro is different, but the price is the same.
If you have any additional questions, do not hesitate to contact us.
As you have noticed, accommodation is not included in your festival ticket. In Bulgaria this service is quite cheap. If you can’t arrange it by yourself, please contact us. We could find a friendly Bulgarian to host you, give you some helpful tips or even do some reservations in hotels near the venue at reasonable prices (from 10 to 25 EUR with breakfast incl. p.p./p.night).
Currency and shopping
The monetary unit in the Republic of Bulgaria is the lev (BGN), which is equal to 100 stotinki (st.). The value of the leva has been pegged to the Euro, at a fixed rate of 1 EUR – 1.95583 BGN. So when you see some prices in the shops or restaurants – just divide it by 2 and you get the EUR price
When you do your shopping, mostly you cannot do it in EUR. All the shops and restaurants are selling in leva – so you need to change some money when you come. Change bureaus at the airport are not that much reliable, so it will be better for you to use another one in the centre of the city or use an ATM directly.
The centre of Sofia is actually not that small, especially if you want to go sightseeing and get the best of it. If you can give yourself a free day before/after the festival, it will be great! We recommend you to take part of Free Sofia Tour (http://freesofiatour.com/). These guys are ready to show you and tell you all about the important and interesting places in Sofia’s centre. It happens every day, twice – at 11a.m and 6p.m., the duration is around two, two and a half hours.