Most of the best attractions of Sofia are free, so you don’t need to worry about overspending your sightseeing budget. Join a Free Walking Tour or get a map from the Tourist Office and explore the city at your own pace. One museum that is worth a visit is the National History Museum (BGN10/ USD5). Most of the museums have admission-free days, usually once per month, so ask at the Tourist Office when the next one is.
Restaurants in Sofia are not expensive but if you are on a really tight budget, you can always opt for street food. There are many places offering tasty kebab, cheap pizza, and snacks. You can also find specialized soup eateries in the city center where you can have a soup for as cheap as BGN3 (less than USD2). Watch out for the special “lunch menu” of certain restaurants. This usually consists of a selection of freshly cooked meals at a discount price.
If you are in Sofia in summer, there are numerous free open-air concerts and festivals in the city parks. The Borisova Garden, the South Park, and Zaimov Park have the best live concert programs in the summer. Live bands also perform in many of the bars that have gardens. To attend it usually costs no more than BGN5-10 (US$3-5).
Look for happy hours, free entry nights and free events. Stroll along the main pedestrian street—Vitosha Boulevard, and you’ll be handed leaflets for all kinds of experiences. A place where you can always find discounts and good prices is Studentski grad (The Students’ Quarter). To get there, get on bus 280 or bus 94 from the city center. It is the area with the highest density of student dorms, canteens, bars and cafes.
Another budget party hub is the park in front of the National Theatre Ivan Vazov. It is a spot where young people arrive with beer and sit in the grass chatting till late at night. Similar park-party atmosphere can be found in the Borisova Garden and in the South Park.
Taxis are not too expensive in Sofia unless you have to take one at rush hour. In general, public transport will take you comparatively quickly and cheaply to any place you will need to visit as a tourist. A ticket for the bus/tram or the subway costs BGN1.60 (USD1). If you plan to travel a lot by public transport, you can buy a 10 journey ticket costing BGN12 (USD7). As a whole, the city center is compact and easy to walk around. The only attractions you can’t reach on foot are the Soviet Art Museum, The Church of Boyana and The National History Museum.
Book a hostel instead of a hotel. Many of the hostels in Sofia simultaneously work as art centers and their live concerts, exhibitions and other exciting events are often visited by locals.