by Bozhidara Georgieva

Sofia's popularity as a tourist and business destination is growing.

An increasing number of foreigners is seen and heard on the streets in the centre, and in the annual ranking of Mastercard Global Destinations Cities Index for the European cities with the fastest growth of visitors for 2009-2016, Sofia takes the ninths place. In 2016, the Bulgarian capital was visited by 1.01 million people, a rise of about 7 percent in comparison to 2015. Sofia performs better than a preferred and well-known tourist destination like Barcelona, which is on the tenth place.

Why is Sofia so popular, particularly when Woody Allen hasn't featured it a movie (yet)?

Because it is interesting and is still not that well known: a significant advantage for the over-satisfied modern tourist. The centre of Sofia is small enough for visitors to walk around it, offering them an intriguing mosaic of epochs: the Roman, the Ottoman, the Europeanisation between the late 19th and the mid-20th centuries, the Communism. Sofia sights like the yellow bricks of the Tsar Osvoboditel Boulevard, the gilt domes of the St Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, the blue silhouette of the Vitosha mountain over the pedestrian Vitosha Boulevard all look good on Facebook and Instagram. The opportunities for fun are dozens: lively cafes and hipster bars, restaurants with national cuisine or food from all over the world, festivals and culture events. Sofia is also a convenient starting point for a trip to the Bulgarian Black Sea coast or the mountains with their winter resorts, and the opportunities for a one-day trip from the city include sights like the UNESCO-listed Rila Monastery and the Belogradchik Rocks.

Sofia is also popular for its affordability: the number of the carriers, including low-cost ones, flying to it, is on the rise and the money-for-value ratio of services and entertainment is excellent. In Sofia one can go to a restaurant, bar or a cafe, and have a great time without fearing the moment when the bill will come. To make things even better, the quality is comparable to the one you will get everywhere else in Europe.

Sofia's hotels show best this part of Sofia's advantages. Regardless of the category that you prefer or that fits your budget, the capital offers you an excellent selection of opportunities, where you will feel comfortable, nice and as if at home. In the recent years the quality of hotel services in Sofia is getting better, and new hotels are popping up. They are targeting not only tourists, but also business travellers from Bulgaria and abroad. In their aim to attract guests and to leave a good impression, the capital's hotels rely on good location, renovated interiors, additional amenities, quality internet connection, conference rooms, and a number of services - at very reasonable rates.

Understandably, the capital has its fair share of luxurious international chains. But if you prefer more individual approach and local atmosphere, choose a local business or boutique hotel.

Olives City Hotel: The best friend of every business traveller

Four-star luxury and comfort, cosiness and style: Olives City Hotel (Students Town district, 1A Prof. Hristo Vakarelski St, phone: +359 2 963 31 30, +359 885 755 455, offers excellent conditions for work meetings, and corporate and private events. Exquisite atmosphere and comfortable location, professional service and correctness, and a restaurant that satisfies each culinary taste, are just a few of the things, which pleasantly impress the guests of Olives City Hotel even in their first contact with the hotel. The complex offers standard rooms, business suites and deluxe apartments, which combine functionality, elegance and comfort. For your business events you have at your disposal 5 conference rooms with natural sunlight and capacity for up to 90 people, completely equipped with the latest technology. All conference rooms have air conditioning, heating and limitless Wi-Fi access. And because a business trip should have moments of relaxation, the hotel offers to its guests the modernly equipped Olive'SPA Center with a gym, swimming pool, relaxation zone, Jacuzzi, steam bath and sauna.

Edi Hotel and Restaurant: Vitosha is near

The proximity of the Vitosha is one of the most pleasant sights of Sofia and Edi Hotel (Sofia, Dragalevtsi, 28 Krairechna St, reservations: +359 879 350 728,, gives you the opportunity to be even closer to the mountain and its clean air. Located in Dragalevtsi, the hotel offers comfortable and cosy rooms and apartments for complete relaxation. As a bonus you have the wonderful vistas of Sofia and the fir aroma of the mountain. The Edi's restaurant makes the stay at the hotel even more pleasant. The menu includes the most beloved dishes of the Bulgarian, international and Italian cuisine, the space is enough to organise here a wedding, a birthday party or an important dinner, and in the summer there is a wonderful garden and BBQ.

Amsterdam Hotel: The place to feel at home

When one travels, he or she always needs a place to relax and feel as if he or she hasn't left home. Amsterdam Hotel (Sofia, 37 Prof Dr Georgi Pavlov St, phone: 0882 44 30 00, is such a place. This boutique hotel is comfortably close to the centre of the capital and offers you a friendly atmosphere, warm hospitality and the comfort of rooms, studios and apartments equipped with everything you need, regardless of whether you are travelling alone for business or as a tourist with all of your family. The hotel's excellent garden restaurant specialises in Greek cuisine. Amsterdam is also a wonderful option for organising an event. A wedding, a business event, or a conference, the hotel is prepared both technically and organisationally to meet your requirements. Amsterdam also offers underground garage, business services, room service, free Wi-Fi.

easyHotel Sofia: The name of affordable comfort

When you are in Sofia for business or pleasure, and you don't plan to stay in your hotel for more than necessary, then easyHotel (Sofia, the intersection of Todor Aleksandrov Blvd and 108 Aldomirovska St, phone: +359 (0) 2 920 1654,, is the optimal solution for you. A part of the British international chain easyHotel, it provides you with comfort, cosiness and cleanliness, without making you pay for services you will anyway not use. The rooms at easyHotel Sofia are small but cleverly designed, and have everything necessary for the wholesome relaxation. Each of them has its own bathroom, LCD TV, Wi-Fi, air conditioning and ventilation. easyHotel Sofia lacks a cafe or a restaurant, but this is easily compensated with the installed vending machines and the excellent establishments close to the hotel. easyHotel Sofia is near the centre of the capital, has a free parking and is close to a metro station.

L do Rado Hotel: Quality without compromises

At the foot the Vitosha you will find a hotel, which meets all requirements for comfort and quality. The 3-star L do Rado (Sofia, Gorubliane, 16 Tsvetna Gradina St, phone: +359 2 441 5410; +359 882 145 410, gives you the tranquility of a place far from the buzz of the centre, but with excellent communications with the heart of the city. Stylish and comfortable, the rooms and the apartments in L do Rado help you to relax from the stress of the business day or the tiredness of walking around the capital's sights, and in the restaurant with a summer garden, winery, BBQ and an ethno corner you will find pleasant atmosphere and excellent cuisine. The guests of L do Rado use additional amenities like underground parking and a lobby bar, and the feel for cosiness is guaranteed.


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