Bulgaria
Mar 2022
2 months

Sofia

A fantastic city to visit - only once all the snow has melted.

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The capital of Bulgaria, is a city simultaneously embracing history and modernity.

A mix of ancient Roman, Ottoman, and Soviet influences can be identified creating a unique urban landscape.

Verdict:
Worth it if in the area

If you're already in the Balkans, it's definitely worth a stay of up to a month during the warmer months. However, it would be towards the bottom of the list in winter.

🌎
Verdict:
Worth it if in the area

If you're already in the Balkans, it's definitely worth a stay of up to a month during the warmer months. However, it would be towards the bottom of the list in winter.

Verdict:
Worth it if in the area

If you're already in the Balkans, it's definitely worth a stay of up to a month during the warmer months. However, it would be towards the bottom of the list in winter.

👎
Verdict:
Worth it if in the area

If you're already in the Balkans, it's definitely worth a stay of up to a month during the warmer months. However, it would be towards the bottom of the list in winter.

🛫
Bulgarian Lev (BGN)
1.2 Million
💰 Great value

Summary

Having spent a couple of months in Budapest and with aspirations of being in Greece over the summer, i was wary of running close to my Brexit enforced 90 day EU limit. Being one of the few options outside of the Schengen zone, Sofia provided a useful alternative.

Accommodation
Great
Good
Ok
Bad

If booking a little in advance you should have no problem finding a good quality apartment at a great price by Western European standards.

info
New legislation
Recent changes introduced by the Turkish government has made short-term rentals for under 100 days more restricted. Keep an eye on Reddit threads for up-to-date assessments of how the new legislation is impacting short-term rentals in practice.
Places to work
Great
Good
Ok
Bad

The city has a big range of coworking options, from both independent operators to more corporate chains. There are no shortage of coffee shops to work from.

Value
Great
Good
Ok
Bad

General day to day expenses are considerably less than what you may expect in Western Europe, with lots of options for an inexpensive meals for lunch and dinner. More expensive than some of it's other Balkan neighbours.

info
The yen is currently at a 34-year low
While this is undoubtedly a negative for the Japanese, it makes for an exceptionally good time to visit Japan from abroad. Although this trend is unlikely to reverse significantly in the short term, it's still worth checking before visiting.
Read more
View the cost of living
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Working hours
Great
Good
Ok
Bad

Bulgaria operates on Eastern European Time (EET), pushing it an hour ahead of Western Europe throughout the year.

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Where to stay

Not an enormous city, but I would recommend being in one of these two areas where you will be close to the best items the city has to offer.

Would avoid
Recommended
Doctors' Garden
A beautifully sedate area, 15 minutes walk to the centre of town and loads of great cafes and bars situated within the area. Would highly recommend.
Would avoid
Recommended
City Center
Absolutely no harm in being as close to Viotsha Boulevard as possible. Plenty of options for coworking and nightlife within a 5 minute walk of Seredika underground station.

Where to work

Korner Sofia Coworking
Top Choice
☕️ Good Coffee
📍 Top Location
🥗 On Site Cafe
🧍Community Focused
⭐️ Quality Fit Out
🌳 Outdoor Space

Situated a 2 minute walk from the bustle of Vitosha Boulevard, Korner Coworking provides a peaceful and homely base to work from whilst being in the centre of the city. Dedicated desks are available and the kitchen is equipped with a decent coffee machine.

The only drawback is that there is somewhat limited space for taking calls, however if this is not an issue then I would 100% recommend it. Plenty of great lunch and coffee options available within the immediate vicinity.

Remote work visa

No remote work visa
Remote work visa available
Remote work visa coming soon
If staying for a prolonged period, you may want to consider a dedicated visa for this destination.
This country is actively working on a visa support for remote workers.
Check your government website for details of how to obtain a tourist visa.
View full details
To the best of my knowledge this information was correct as of 27th April 2024. If you notice something has changed drop me a message and I'll update it!

Citizen Remote is a great source of up to date knowledge for everything to do with remote work visas.

Safety

Off-work

Hike in Vitoshia Mountain

Enormous national park with an endless supply of hiking routes and some limited options for Skiing. Hiking up in winter can be challenging but look out for some log cabins selling hot drinks and food which make a welcome respite from the harsh conditions

Learn more
Day trip to Plovdiv

Accessible within a few hours on the train, Plovdiv is one of Europe's oldest cities featuring a well-preserved Old Town with cobbled streets. Worth a day trip, especially if you have any interest in archeology,

Visit St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

Probably the city's most recogniseable landmark, a Bulgarian Orthodox church with Neo-Byzantine architecture & an underground museum.

Hike in Vitoshia Mountain

Enormous national park with an endless supply of hiking routes and some limited options for Skiing. Hiking up in winter can be challenging but look out for some log cabins selling hot drinks and food which make a welcome respite from the harsh conditions

The Vitosha mountain towers over the city and offers scenic walks year around. Prepare to wade through snow anytime before April.
Day trip to Plovdiv

Accessible within a few hours on the train, Plovdiv is one of Europe's oldest cities featuring a well-preserved Old Town with cobbled streets. Worth a day trip, especially if you have any interest in archeology,

Plovdiv is only a couple of hours away by train and worth a day trip. The city is based around 7 hills with cultural and historical heritage dating back 8000 years,
Visit St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

Probably the city's most recogniseable landmark, a Bulgarian Orthodox church with Neo-Byzantine architecture & an underground museum.

Probably the city's most recogniseable landmark, a Bulgarian Orthodox church with Neo-Byzantine architecture & an underground museum.

Duration & season

I arrived in early March and the first two weeks were an awful mix of snow, rain and clouds. Vitosha Mountain which usually over the city was barely visible until half way through the month. From late March onwards the temperatures steadily rose leaving only faint scatters of snow on the mountains peak.

Unless you are explicitly looking for snow, it's difficult to make a compelling argument for visiting prior to April, where the city feels like it comes to life and the outdoor amenities can be fully enjoyed.

There's enough in Sofia to comfortably stay for a month.

Food & drink

Eurovelo 6
·
Cycle
One of the worst signposted routes in the Eurovelo network, the quiet roads are ideal for meandering through the countryside. Bring lots of water with you.
Vitosha
·
Walk
Easily accessible from the centre of town, the mountain has an abundance of well marked route with great views once you reach the top. Treacherous if attempting over winter in the snow.

People

There is a sizeable international community in Sofia, particularly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine where those who have been displaced ave relocated to the city. It has also become a home to numerous Russian's who have relocated there in the previous decade leading up the recent events. There is a sizeable expat community with many European companies having chosen to set up base in the city.

There is a small remote work community in the city, but you are more likely to find people in Bankso, a two hour drive from Sofia which has become a hub for remote workers.

Exercise

Eurovelo 6
One of the worst signposted routes in the Eurovelo network, the quiet roads are ideal for meandering through the countryside. Bring lots of water with you.
keyboard_arrow_down
Vitosha
Easily accessible from the centre of town, the mountain has an abundance of well marked route with great views once you reach the top. Treacherous if attempting over winter in the snow.
keyboard_arrow_down
Eurovelo 6
One of the worst signposted routes in the Eurovelo network, the quiet roads are ideal for meandering through the countryside. Bring lots of water with you.
Vitosha
Easily accessible from the centre of town, the mountain has an abundance of well marked route with great views once you reach the top. Treacherous if attempting over winter in the snow.

Verdict

Positives
  • Surprisingly international audience.Whilst it is by no means as multicultural as some other cities, there is a good mix of people from across Europe.
  • If travelling from Western Europe, great value.Compared to many other European capitals it is still comparatively inexpensive, but more pricey than some other neighbouring counties in the Balkans.
  • The metro makes the city well connected.It's not the most frequent service but it's cheap and you can pay with contactless and connects well to the airport.
  • Outside of the Schengen Zone.If for whatever reason you have reached your limit of time available within the Schengen group of countries, Bulgaria is an alternative.

Negatives
  • It's really bleak in winter.There were few benefits I could imagine being in Sofia before April time. My main memories of March were of snow filled streets and poor visibility.
Tips
  • Bansko is a renowned hub for remote workers.I didn't make it up there but if you are looking to connect with people in a renowned hub, it would be worth exploring.
  • You can reach Istanbul via an overnight train.It is comfortable but the prolonged border crossing in the middle of the night makes it something of an unpleasant journey.
  • The countryside is great for cycling.The roads are mainly deserted and of reasonable quality, making it a great place to cover some ground. Train service makes it easy to get to a starting point and cycle back.
  • Well worth visitng for the Film Festival.The Sofia Film Festival is in March of each year and is a well run event, with multiple cinemas across the city showing a range of regional and international films.
Planning a trip?
I loved everything about this trip to Japan. I've put together some thoughts on my entire stay in the country, which may come in handy if you are planning a visit soon.
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