There is no better way to strengthen the bond with your friends than a bit of a rivalry. Visit a board games club and spend a unique day out — or, rather, in. The 3 Trolls is a chain of board game bars in the city center with a total of more than 400 games, while Restart is a place where you can choose between board games and video games (How do two PS4 consoles loaded up with all the latest couch co-op and multiplayer titles sound?).
There are places in Sofia which were created specially for bookworms, like Orange Cafe-Bookstore where you can grab a book from the shelves and read it with a cup of good coffee, or the Peroto Literature Club where you can swap the coffee for wine. If you want to get an idea of Bulgarian literature but can’t read in Bulgarian, head to Chitalnyata, a public reading room in the small park in front of the National Theater.
The Dolls (Kuklite) is a museum and an art house where you can travel back to your childhood years and admire hundreds of different dolls, from porcelain dolls to traditional Bulgarian dolls. The smallest exhibits are as little as 2 millimetres, and the oldest dolls in this collection are more than 120 years old. You can also sign up for an art workshop and create your own doll.
Opera is sung in its original language, but if you want to know what the singers say, you will be happy to know there are subtitles both in Bulgarian and English for every performance in the Sofia Opera. Another perk of going to the opera in Sofia is that you can watch a first-class performance for less than half the price you would pay anywhere in Western Europe.
Testing your logic and combining the skills of you and your friends is what will help you get out of the locked room for the limited time that you have — one hour. There are many escape rooms in Sofia to choose from, each one with its own plot and special effects. Dextrophobia is one that offers the experience in English, all you need do is make a reservation in advance.
Sofia doesn’t suffer from a lack of shopping malls, but instead of seeing the same clothes of the same brands all over the world, you could plan a route to discover some Bulgarian designers.
As a capital, Sofia is a home of the biggest museums with the most impressive exhibits- – the gold treasures of the ancient Thracians are kept in the National History Museum, while the golden chariot of the Bulgarian King Ferdinand is displayed at the Sofia History Museum. If you are a mineral buff, the National Museum “Earth and Man” keeps more than 40% of all minerals known to science in its halls.
Eating is something you can’t skip, but when you have not many options left, you can undertake this activity in a more serious manner. Exploring the Bulgarian food, from breakfast to dinner, involves a lot of pastry, dairy products and grilled meat. Pour a lot of rakia (the local strong spirit) on top of it, and you can call yourself a half-Bulgarian.
Or at least get a general idea of Bulgarian art — both classical and contemporary. If you are an art aficionado, tour the best galleries and art museums in Sofia to understand why Zlatyu Boyadzhiev is considered one of the classics in Bulgarian art and what modern painters and sculptors have been creating recently.