Sofia is arguably the best city in Bulgaria for book lovers. You’ll find second-hand stalls, cozy cafe-bookstores and plenty of quiet restaurants with bookshelves to peruse during Sunday breakfast. Here’s our pick of the best.
Slaveykov Square is an emblematic place to discover new and second-hand books in many languages. The stalls are bending under the sheer weight of so many books on offer. Speak to the friendly and knowledgable vendors, who are happy to help you with your book search, even if they don’t have what you are looking for in stock. Take a photo on the bench with the sculptures of famous Bulgarian writers; father and son Petko and Pencho Slaveykov.
Peroto Literature Club is the book hub of Sofia, with thousands of books available to read or buy within a spacious and bright cafe, which also offers alcoholic drinks. The monthly program contains book promotions, readings and various other literature related events. The cafe is a popular hangout for bookworms and young authors. Open 24/7, remember to check out the staircase, which is a favourite on Instagram.
Chitalnyata (translated as The Reading Room) is a cozy little building in one of the most frequented parks in Sofia; the City Garden (better known as The Garden In Front of the National Theater). Chitalnyata doubles up as a library and tourist information center. If you are curious about Bulgarian literature, here you can find books by Bulgarian authors which have been translated into English. The books are not available for loan, instead visitors are encouraged to hang out, read and unwind. The friendly staff are super helpful – it really is impossible not to fall in love with this place.
Twice a year, in May and in December, the biggest event for publishing houses and readers alike, takes place at the National Palace of Culture. The Sofia International Book Fair is the place to meet famous authors, discover the newest releases and indulge in a series of creative book events and talks. Dates change every year, so ask at your hotel or check online for accurate information.
If you haven’t brought a holiday read with you, make a beeline for Orange Cafe-Bookstore. Just a minute’s walk from Slaveykov Square, climb the stairs to the top floor to get comfy with a book and a hot drink. There’s hundreds to choose from (including foreign languages). The entire store is lined with books, music, stationery and gifts to take home.
If you are craving a vintage-inspired setting, Elephant Bookstore is the place to go. The indie bookshop offers a curated selection of second-hand English books, comics, authentic signed memorabilia and accessories. Looking for a unique gift for someone special? How about a magazine from the month and year they were born? The Elephant team are on hand to help you find the perfect option.
Veda House is both a teahouse and vegetarian restaurant, making it a great destination for an afternoon pit-stop or a healthy dinner with friends. Bring something to read and head upstairs, where you can sit comfortably on floor pillows, as you sip your tea. If you don’t have a book, Veda House has a small library zone with books about Buddhism, eastern philosophies and the like.
Bookcrossing is a lovely international project which invites people to let their books roam free once they’ve been read. You simply put a tracking number on your book and leave it at one of the bookcrossing zones around the world, where someone else will pick it up in exchange for donating a book of their own. Bookcrossing has been increasingly trending in Bulgaria in the last few years. Anyone is welcome to join the initiative – all you need is a book to swap. Here’s a map of the existing bookcrossing zones in Bulgaria, created by the biggest Bulgarian book website AzCheta: