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Sofia is one flight away from most of the big European cities and is perfect for a weekend getaway, even if none of your friends can join you. A solo traveler will feel comfortable in Sofia, or anywhere else in Bulgaria for that matter, but here are a few extra tips for you to really make the most of your trip to the Bulgarian capital.
The easiest way to meet other travelers in the city is by joining the daily Free Sofia Tour (three times a day in the summer, twice in the winter). You don’t have to book in advance, it’s enough to show up at the announced time. Although the tour is free, you are encouraged to leave a tip for your guide if you liked the walk.
If you are a museum person, you have a big choice – there are more than 25 museums within the city. The National History Museum (on the outskirts of Sofia, in Boyana district) will show you an overarching summary of Bulgarian history, while the Sofia History Museum will lead you through the capital’s turbulent past. Still a hidden gem and a great experience is Saint Sophia Basilica’s catacombs; here you can walk in a maze of ancient underground tombs.
Hostels are perfect if you want to socialize, affordable and artsy Airbnbs are available all around the central part of the city, and there’s a good choice of hotels for you to choose from. It’s a good idea to stay close to the center where most of the events, museums and restaurants are situated. But if you choose a place to stay further away, make sure at least you have a subway station nearby.
Sofia is a city with cultural events all year round. All you need to do is ask at your hotel or visit any of the tourist information centers to see what’s going on. From literature nights to live concerts, karaoke nights and festivals, you will easily find something to your taste. In the summer, plenty of free events take place in the city parks and open-air bars every night.
Sofia has the biggest percentage of English-speaking inhabitants in Bulgaria so don’t feel afraid to talk to strangers and make friends. You will find many open-minded people of all walks of life and, as a solo-traveling foreigner, you will be showered with attention and questions. Do have in mind, however, that elder people will speak mostly Russian. Of course, it’s always polite to learn a few useful phrases in Bulgarian before your visit—it will be appreciated.
In general, Sofia is a safe destination for a female solo traveler. There are certain areas you are advised to avoid after dark, such as the Lions’ Bridge or the compact gypsy neighborhood (where you are very unlikely to find yourself by chance). A little common sense will help too when you see a group of soccer fans or massive protests as these could turn violent. If you don’t feel safe or need help, call the emergency number 112.