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Guide Sofia

General Information
Location: Western Bulgaria
Population: 1,200,000.
Ethnic Mix: 90% Bulgarian, 10% Romanian
Religion: 95% Bulgarian Orthodox, 5% Muslim, Jewish and other
Time zone: GMT + 2 (GMT + 3 from last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October).
Electricity: 220 volts AC, 50Hz; round two-pin or three-pin plugs are in use.
Average January temp.: - 2°C (28.5°F).
Average July temp.: 22°C (71.5°F).
Annual rainfall: 645mm (25.4 inches).

Points of interest
Sofia has a history that goes back thousands of years. Sofia will invite you to a fascinating encounter with its sights. As one of the oldest capital cities in Europe, it blends its past and present in a remarkable architectural style. Historic landmarks include the 10th-century Boyana Church (one of the UNESCO World Heritage protected sites), the Alexander Nevski Cathedral (one of the world's largest Orthodox churches), the Rotonda of St. George, The Banya Bashi Mosque, The Sofia Synagogue  and the early Byzantine Church of St. Sophia.   More modern architecture is represented by the Bulgarian National Opera and Ballet, the Ivan Vazov National Theatre, The Sts. Kilril and Metodii National Library,  the Rakovski St theatre district, Slaveykov Square's outdoor book market, and the NDK, which is Southeastern Europe's largest cultural and congressional centre.   There are 16 universities in the city, among them Sofia University, founded in 1888. Sofia is the see of an Eastern Orthodox and of a Roman Catholic diocese

Museums
Those who want to learn more about Bulgaria's capital will surely continue their tour in one of Sofia museums. They carefully keep the historical memory and cultural heritage of this city. Sofia houses numerous museums, notably the National Historical Museum, the Bulgarian Natural History Museum, the Earth and Men Museum, the Ethnographic Museum, the Military History Museum, the National Polytechnical Museum and the National Archaeological Museum. In addition, there are the Sofia City Art Gallery, the National Art Gallery, the Bulgarian National Gallery of Foreign Art, the Icon Gallery as well as numerous private art galleries. If you then decide to finish your walk through the streets of Sofia and dive in the city’s landscape, you will be surely amazed by the futuristic buildings constructed in recent years, which reflect the dynamic life of a modern European capital. This is Sofia nowadays - old, new and eternal ...

Transport

Arriving by plane
Sofia International Airport, 1 Hristofor Columb blvd.
tel: (+3592) 937-2211, 937-2212, 937-2213
Sofia international airport is 10 km east of the city center. The new Terminal 2, with its modern architectural design resembling a spaceship landed amid the Sofia plain, opened doors on 27th December 2006, on the eve of Bulgaria's accession to the European Union. The central building rests on a total area of 56 500 sq. m., its pier stretching out to 200 m with 7 passenger loading air bridges on the sides. Terminal 2 also has commercial units on a total area of 4000 sq.m, which offer passengers a variety of services - restaurants, cafe-bars, shops, tourist and rent-a-car services, banks and bureaus de change. The automated baggage handling system with integrated four-level security control, thirty-four check-in desks, and the modern flight information display system are only part of the facilities providing high level of customer service to 2000 passengers per peak hour.

Arriving by train
Central RailWay Station, Knyaginya Maria Luiza Blvd.
Tel. +359 2 931 11 11
Sofia ’s Central Station (open 05:00-24:00) is 20-minute walk north of the city center. Facilities include left-luggage, money exchange kiosks, ATMs, bars and fast-food outlets. There are coin-operated left-luggage lockers in the basement and a left-luggage office just off the eastern side of the main ticket hall (open 06:00-23:00).

Arriving by bus
Central Bus Station, Knyaginya Maria Luiza Blvd.
Tel. +359 2 0900 21 000
Most international and domestic buses arrive at the spanking new Central Bus Station, 200 m east of the Central Railway station. It include plenty of shops and cafes, a pharmacy and ATM. There is a 24-hour left-luggage office in the main ticket hall.

Public transport
Sofia is covered by interlocking network of trams, buses and trolleybuses, with services running from about 05:00-23:30. Single-journey tickets cost 1.00 lv. and can be bought from street kiosks or from the driver. Once on board each ticket must be validated by punching it. A strip of 10 tickets cost 8 lv. Passes (valid for one day, five days or one month) are also available, but they can only be bought from kiosks at major stops, not from the driver. Note that in case of using bundle of tickets you have to keep and carry with you the last ticket.

Minibus / Route taxis
Several popular cross-town routes are operated by minibuses. Rather than being limited to specific stops, they can be hailed at any point along their route, and will drop passengers off on request. Tickets can be bought only from the minibus driver.

 

Metro
Single metro line runs from Mladost district through the  city center to the western suburb of Lyulin. Tickets are different from those used in trams and buses, and can only be purchased from ticket counters in the underground stations themselves

 


Taxis
All legal and registered taxi cabs must be yellow, and operate by meter. Rates per km (between 0.59-0.69 leva), any starting and call-out charges must by law be displayed on the windows. Dispatchers and drivers usually speak only Bulgarian, so you may need someone to help you order one by phone, and you should learn how to name your destination. Remember that they will give you a 3 digit number of the taxi which will come to pick you up.