Free tours of Sofia
The interest towards Sofia is rapidly growing and so are the initiatives aiming at welcoming tourists and foreigners to Bulgaria’s capital. Here are two suggestions for what you can do for free in the city with the motto ‘Grows, but does not age’.
Dip into Balkan cuisine with a guided food tour
Every single day at 2pm, no matter the weather, an experienced guide is waiting at Park Crystal in the heart of Sofia to show a group of foreigners around the paved streets of the city. This is, however, no regular sightseeing tour. The highlight is rather on food. Balkan bites, as this guided tour is called, is organised by enthusiasts who are eager to show travellers traditional Bulgarian cuisine. This initiative stands out as the first free daily food tour in Europe. Balkan bites gives a taste of some of the favourite local dishes, seasoned with interesting facts and in a nice international company. The guides, who are working voluntarily, are radiant and devoted and give information on not only the food but also key places in Sofia.
The two- hour-long walking tour takes the newbies in town on a gastronomical experience. A mouthful of typical Bulgarian food is served at three different restaurants thus giving a taste of what locals like to eat and drink. Especially interesting is the last destination – a traditional family-owned restaurant with an authentic interior. Hadjidraganovite izbi used to be a wine cellar and the wine motif is kept in almost every detail of the interior. The experience of the authentic atmosphere is complete with live folk music every evening. Here you can take a virtual tour of this amazing place which kept the spirit of 19th century Bulgaria.
Become the Sofia master with Sofia Free Tour
Another way of getting introduced to a city is, of course, going around with a local. Alike Balkan bites, the Free Sofia Tour is again run by devoted volunteers who welcome you in the city with a number of witty stories and curious historical facts. Even though a native here I truly enjoyed this engaging tour. The buildings that I before passed by as a usual part of the cityscape I connect now with the intriguing stories told by the guide. One of the impressive highlights of the tour is The Square of Tolerance where a mosque, a Catholic cathedral, an orthodox church and a synagogue lie within few minutes walk of each other.
Free Sofia Tour is for those who not only wish to wander the streets of Sofia but understand Bulgarian history and culture. Hear about Roman remains in the very city center, get to know how the Bulgarian king Boris III escaped the biggest terrorist attack in the country, find out how Bulgarian Jews were rescued under World War II. These are just a few of the things you’ll learn that will make you a true Sofia master.