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Fly with Austrian Airlines to Sofia, capital of Bulgaria and an up-and-coming tourist destination on the Balkans. Sofia is the largest city in Bulgaria and has a lot of history under its belt. Neolithic settlers lived here about 8000 b.c., the Greek and the Romans conquered the Thracian city Serdica, the ancient predecessor of Sofia. The oldest building of Sofia today is a Roman church from the 4th century. In stark contrast, the National Palace of Culture is a great example for socialist era architecture. The mighty Saint Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is the second biggest Eastern Orthodox Church in the world and certainly worth a visit. Sofia is surrounded by mountains, where hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter is possible. The Vitosha Mountain, a national park and great snow resort, is a favourite destination for the locals.

The city itself boast great parks and gardens to get a rest from the daily hustle, like the grand Borisova gradina, the oldest park in Sofia, or the Sofia University%s Botanic Garden. Try the unique Bulgarian cuisine, a blend of Greek, Balkan and Turkish traditions. The hearty food will give you the lining for a night out in the lively club and music scene of Sofia. Dance to the fast and folky Bulgarian version of the Balkan Beat and party with the locals until the sun comes up over the mountains around Sofia.

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Worth knowing

  • Sofia Airport (SOF): The airport is located 10 km (6 miles) east of Sofia.
  • Address: 1 Hristofor Columb Blvd, Sofia 1540, Bulgaria
  • Telephone: (359) (02) 937 2211
  • Airport Sofia

Where to shop in Sofia

Where to shop in Sofia
With their 2009/10 collection the designers of Ambitsia propose fashion that is elegant and casual at the same time. And you know what that looks like?. just as it feels: Incredibly casual. The material of choice this time are knitted and woven fabrics. The colours are modest, which makes the patterns come into their own.   This fashion has been created less for the catwalk but rather for every day. For the office and the drink afterwards, or stretching out in front of the TV. Well, true, for the latter you would actually be a bit overdressed, even if it would be comfortable enough. Again, the Ambitsia has also jumped on what seems to be the growth engine of the Bulgarian fashion industry: It also designs uniforms for companies.
Andrews Fashion

What to see in Sofia

What to see in Sofia
National Theatre
The National Theatre is a jewel in the centre of Sofia, and the locals are rightfully proud of it. Even the Austrians can take some credit for its glory. The architects Helmer & Fellner, professionals for theatre buildings, were hired from Vienna. The opening took place in 1907, and only later the theatre was named after the great Bulgarian writer Ivan Vazov. Just as many other great theatres this one wasn't spared the bad fate - in 1923 a fire broke out, and World War II destroyed large parts of the house. Yet it was rebuilt over again, grander than before.   Today it provides space for about 1,000 spectators. Not only are the performances great, the façade is a feast for the eyes. It's 40 metres high and is supported by six marble columns ornamented with Apollo and the Muses.
Vasil Levski
Sveta Sofija

Where to stay in Sofia

Where to stay in Sofia
Grand Hotel Sofia
There is none more classic. More luxurious neither. The Grand Hotel is one of the most renowned hotels in Sofia, and at a prime location: Just go outside for a bit. You are near the National Theatre, the City Art Gallery, the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and the great Concert Hall.   The VIPs who go here do this less because of the location but because of the stars. The Grand Hotel is graced by five of them, and each one of them stands for pure luxury. The façade is imposing with its marble, granite and glass. Inside you have sumptuous curtains, classy and old-fashioned upholstery and colourful glass doors. Thus it's no surprise that the Grand Hotel also features a museum: The in-house collection has over 400 oil paintings. Originals, of course. Doubles start at 79,- euros a night.
Sofia Inn
Sheraton Sofia

Where to eat in Sofia

Where to eat in Sofia
Bulgaria ranges among the oldest states in Europe. The gastronomic landscape of the capital is, however, anything but dusty. The Brasserie in the centre of Sofia serves as the best example for this claim.   From the outside the restaurant behind the Slaveikov Square looks like its surrounding concrete buildings - apart from the padded bench standing at the wall. Inside you might spontaneously feel like being on a ship: the main entrance is long and narrow with wood panelling, and small tables on each side. Some might possibly think of allotment-garden cottages now, but the wooden walls in the brasserie are way to chic. Continuing straight on the room will open more and more - up to a glass wall in front of the small patio. In between there's a brick wall. That might not turn the venue into a hot spot but the stones still look pretty good. Just like the psychedelic green wall and the display that evoke 70s feelings. The perfect match: lounge and house music. Some might say that the tables and chairs resemble garden furniture. But that doesn't matter - they even add to the cult status of the Brasserie.
Deja vu

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