Shopping in Sofia
Everything from old street markets to quirky new stores to famous pedestrian streets. Shopping in Sofia the right way.
OLD CITY MARKETS
We would like to start with two local classics and two timeless shopping options that never lost their popularity:
The Women’s Market (Zhenski Pazar, Женски Пазар) is the oldest and by far most legendary market in Sofia. Established more than 140 years ago and always known as the place where one can find everything they need. Starting from fresh fruit and vegetables by Bulgarian farmers, going through traditional souvenirs, clothing, fresh meat and dairy products, and ending up with exotic foreign spices and condiments. All this garnished with a pinch of historical memories, since the Women’s Market area hosts an abundancy of old-architecture buildings seeping out history. That is why the market is an attractive tourist destination in Sofia, and the colourful merchants and their merchandise, combined with the authentic urban architecture attract increasing numbers of people. Around 60 000 people visit Zhenski Pazar every day. It’s also an essential part of our Sofia Alternative Tour.
Central Covered Market (Halite)
Another local favorite from back in the day, Halite (Central Covered Market), situated in the very heart of Sofia, right next to Serdika metro station, dates back to 1911. A big renovation project is currently in the works in hopes to restore the former glory of this place that is oh, so Sofia.
QUIRKY NEW STORES
In recent years Sofia became home to some incredible and unique stores that are highly reccomended for all lovers of modern urban culture.
Gifted Urban Culture Hub
This is a one of a kind space dedicated to travelers and urban art explorers. Situated right next to the pedestrian zone, Gifted is a modern gift shop with locally designed and produced items only, and a cozy gallery showing contemporary Bulgarian art and design. Furthermore, it provides tourist information, free maps, guides and information about tours and cultural activities in the region.
Elephant is a vintage style English bookstore and the most exciting indie gift shop in Bulgaria. You will be fascinated by an eclectic selection of English books (second-hand and new). Signed and limited Memorabilia and surprising gifts from Canada to Japan. Including a rich stock of fandom merchandise, Manga, small antiques and adorable contemporary gifts from the coolest worldwide trends. Elephant also offers thousands of original vintage American comics and magaziness. In Elephant Bookstore you will find a very cosy atmosphere, heart-melting vintage music, many inspirational ideas and very, very kind staff.
It’s not just a place. It is a space for collecting ideas. This concept store is a blend of three different components. First, you can find all of the limited handcrafted products like backpacks, bags, aprons, travel accessories, and other cool stuff made from raw denim, leather and canvas. Second, you can personalize them in denim atelier where you can take part in the design process. And last but not least, there’s the Espresso Atelier, where they serve Italian espresso, specialty coffee drinks and signature cocktails.
There are several famous shopping streets in Sofia. However, if you are a first-timer in Sofia, stroll along these 4 streets:
By far, the most famous street in Sofia – Vitosha boulevard is the city’s largest pedestrian zone, full of countless shops, bars and restaurants. Everything from local brand to your H&Ms and Zaras, Vitosha boulevard is a must when in Sofia.
A quiter and quirkier version of the Vitosha boulevard is Shishman street. If you are looking for small wine shops, small local galleries and cute restaurants, Shishamn street is the place for you.
Graf Ignatiev (Grafa)
Another one of Sofia’s famous streets is Graf Ignatiev. The trams passing through will make you feel the charm of Sofia from back in the day. It’s where some of the city’s best bakeries, ice-cream and shoe stores are.
Pirotska street is in fact the first ever pedestrian street in Sofia. Even though it’s lost its popularity over the past few decades and is now past it’s former glory it is still a must if you want to get a complete feel of what Sofia is really like. Pirotska street takes you from the Halite (Central Covered Market) all the way to the Women’s market.
Over the last 15 years Sofia transformed from a city with no shopping malls at all to one that now has (one would argue) too many. If you prefer indoor shopping, here are some of Sofia’s best shopping malls:
Probably the easiest one to get to as it has it’s own metro station (Vitosha), Paradise center also happens to be the biggest shopping mall in Sofia.
Serdika Center is located at around a 20-minute walk from the St Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and is also one of the shopping malls that offers a wide range of brands and stores.
If you are here for business and are staying in the area of Tsarigradsko Shose where most of Sofia’s largest business buildings are then The Mall is probably your best and most convinient option.
Sofia’s first shopping mall is located right behind the National Palace of Culture. You will find Park Cener in one of Sofia’s preferred residential areas right next to a park which makes for a perfect more relaxed-like shopping experience.