We’re not gonna lie, winter in Sofia can be quite tough. However, there are plenty of things to do in the Bulgarian capital even when it’s -20°C. We want to pass this insight onto you, our lovely visitors. Keep in mind thought that you might just fall in love with Sofia and decide to make it your new home! Depending on what region of the world you hail from, the moment you poke your face out from your cozy hotel/hostel/airbnb room, it might feel like a warm spring kiss, or a bone chilling North Pole slap in the face! Either way, we’ve got you covered, and will give you our top winter picks to make your winter visit to our lovely city as enjoyable as possible!
Wondering what to do in Sofia in winter? Here are our top 10 picks for winter activities in Sofia:
It’s all about the powder a.k.a the snow! That’s right you saw it as you were landing – our beautiful Vitosha mountain! And yes we are totally going to brag that once work is over during the winter season we can drive up the mountain and do some night skiing. You are an early riser? You can get on those slopes as early as 8:30am. Due to the changing weather conditions, it is wise to check what time the lifts are open.
We have a less extreme outdoor activity. It’s the outdoor ice-skating rink at Ariana lake. In 2019 it will open on December 19th. It will be open 24h a day. You will find it at the entrance of Borisova Garden. Near the intersection of boulevards Evlogi i Hristo Georgievi and Tsarigradsko Shose. Once you have discovered the massive white tent, you will be ready to rent your skates. Make sure to hold onto that receipt! Sometimes there are discounts given at the nearby restaurant. Only because you were brave enough to get on that ice 😉 Don’t worry! You don’t need to be an ice-skating champion to put on those skates. If it is your first time, and you are not the most coordinated person, you might spend the majority of your time inspecting the ice on the ground, i.e. get ready to fall a lot, but trust us you will have tons of fun.
There is also another ice-skating rink very close by – the Yunak Ice-Skating Rink – right next to Vasil Levski Metro Station.
Perhaps you made some new friends last night at your hostel, but the outside temperatures are a bit snippy and you are not too keen on exploring the city. Don’t fear! There is a solution! You will be able to do something with your new bffs. How about some board games in a cool renovated old house that has a bar! Stop by Abordage or Karkason and you will see what we are talking about. That’s right board games, drinks, and a great company! That’s one way to escape a harsh winter day in Sofia!
You should definitely visit the Sofia Opera and Ballet and take advantage of the incredibly low prices. Yes, as low as 12 levs or around 6 euros, and increasing in gradation up to 50 levs or 25 euros, for the best seats. You can even book your tickets online, by first creating a profile. We advise you to do that so you can avoid the potential language barrier at the ticket box while personally selecting your seats from the comfort of your home.
The Red Flat is now open. Explore Bulgaria’s communist part by entering the cozy home of an average Bulgarian family from the 1980’s. A 1-2hour long interactive indoor activity that will immerse you into the daily life of the regular Bulgarian people during the Cold War.
Unfortunately, there are not many options for views in Sofia. However, there are several bars/restaurants that offer great views such as the Sense Hotel Rooftop Bar.
Our organisation is mostly famous for doing walking tours in Sofia and Plovdiv. A walking tour might not be the first thing that comes to mind when it’s really cold. However, one of our tours is certainly a better option for the cold winter days. That’s the culture tour. The tour visits different places (museums, restaurants, etc) and you will be mostly inside while learning about all the cool aspects of Bulgarian culture.
Malls are everywhere in Sofia. We have more shopping malls than we have time and money to spend on, enjoy them all. It’s warm, inside, at least.
Christmas markets are not really part of the Bulgarian Christmas tradtion. That’s why usually there’s only one such market in town and it’s extremely popular. It is situated in the garden in front of the National Theatre. Christmas specialties and mulled wine will keep you warm in the cold December days! The Christmas market is usually open from 22nd of November until 22nd of December. If you happen to be in Bulgaria during Christmas time make sure to learn about some the fun local Christmas traditions.
Traditional Bulgarian restaurants are so cozy that they offer the perfect environment for you to spend several hours enjoying incredible Bulgarian dishes and most of all… great local wines. One of our favorites is Pod Lipite.
We hope you find these suggestions helpful. However, if you do enjoy walking in the cold wintery mornings or nights, we have a bonus suggestion for you. It’s the Free Sofia Tour! The very friendly, young, and energetic tour guides will graciously take you for a leisurely two hour sightseeing walk. Feel free to join us every single day of the year in front of the Palace of Justice (November – March: 11am, 2pm & 6pm; April – October: 10am, 11am, 2pm and 6pm). See you soon!
Author: Free Sofia Tour Guide – Nina Nikolova
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