You can tell a lot about a city by its nightlife. In some cities, there’s a block or two of good bars that only get busy on weekend nights. In other cities, bars and clubs are located all over the city and the best ones are always bustling–even on Monday nights.
Our experience with Sofia was the latter. The coolest places to drink are scattered sporadically throughout the city. The best places are almost always busy during the summer time, packed with locals and tourists alike.
We would have liked to check out the nightlife scene on the weekend, but our time in Sofia was limited to Sunday through Wednesday. So on a Monday night in July, we headed out to experience the nightlife for ourselves.
About Sofia’s Nightlife Scene
Like most European cities, the most popular nightlife spot for locals is on the patio of a cafe. We witnessed this firsthand along Vitosha Boulevard, a pedestrian walking area lined with cafes. All the cafe patios were filled with people, some eating a late dinner and many just enjoying a drink or a cup of gelato.
But there is way more to Sofia’s nightlife scene. There are also speakeasies, rowdy clubs, Irish pubs, bars in converted spaces, and so much more. A quick google search revealed as much to us, and we started getting unsure of where to visit.
That’s when we discovered the New Sofia Pub Crawl…
The New Sofia Pub Crawl
We found the New Sofia Pub Crawl online while searching for nightlife tours in Sofia. The tour meets every night at 9 PM in Crystal Garden, next to the big head statue of Stefan Stambolov. The cost is only 20 BGN per person, which includes a drink at most bars you visit.
We decided to do the New Sofia Pub Crawl, and had a great experience. We had two English-speaking Bulgarian hosts who were absolutely wonderful–we even took a picture with them above! They had great stories about each of the bars we visited, and they took us to some really great local spots.
They take you to different spots depending on the night of the week and the group size. So you could even do the tour twice if you’re really curious to see more of the best local bars in Sofia.
This is definitely the best thing to do if you want to experience Sofia nightlife and don’t know where to start. Plus, it’s a great way to meet fellow travelers! You can buy an online ticket here, or you can just pay cash when you arrive at the meeting point.
The prices for drinks in Sofia are very affordable. It’s only slightly more expensive than many of the other Balkan cities that we visited, but it’s a bigger city so that makes sense.
You can get a beer for 3 BGN at pretty much every bar, which is about $1.70 USD. We picked up a glass of sweet wine at The Apartment (pictured above!), which was 6 BGN per glass. Our pub crawl paid for most of our drinks, which was a nice perk.
Best Bars & Clubs
The Apartment was one of our favorite places that we visited during the Pub Crawl. The building has served multiple purposes over the course of it’s existence (it was once the Sudanese embassy!). Today, it’s been converted into a very cool bar modeled after an apartment.
Each room has a different theme, complete with comfy seating and beautiful locally made paintings on the wall. It’s a very relaxing atmosphere, and definitely ideal for a small group of people just looking to have a few drinks and hang out.
We ordered two glasses of sweet wine which was 12 BGN total (about $7 USD). They make the sweet wine in house, and it was really delicious! They also have a bunch of sweet treats for sale, including a chocolate cake that we barely resisted.
Bar “Bar” was the first place that the Pub Crawl took us to, mostly because it’s located right in the park where we met. It’s a great no-frills place to have a beer and hang out with some friends. Seating is limited, so we stood outside and enjoyed the beautiful summer weather.
Inside the bar, there was a small dance floor but nobody was dancing when we were there. Overall, it was a pretty cool local spot that we were glad we got to experience.
We NEVER would have found Hambara on our own. To find this speakeasy style bar, you have to walk down a really dark alley then enter a wooden door with no signage. Once inside, we were amazed at the awesome atmosphere. The entire place was lit only by candles, and art hangs from the wooden beam ceiling.
Our pub crawl hosts informed us that this place used to be a barn! Now converted, you can definitely still tell that much of its original foundation remains.
We drank the rakija here, a Balkan specialty that we have come to love. It comes in a shot glass, but you’re not supposed to drink it like a shot. You sip it slowly and enjoy the sweet flavor.
Bar Petak (Bar Friday)
By the time we got to Bar Friday it was very late (around 1 AM), so there weren’t many people here given that it was a Monday night. But it definitely seems like it would be a really fun place to come on a Friday night. They had good music pumping and the drinks were fairly cheap.
Off to one side of the bar, there are two foosball tables. It was a blast getting to play a round of foosball with our hosts. A game costs only 1 BGN.
Sofia obviously has a ton of great other bars, many of which we didn’t get to. Here are a few of the other bars that look great based on their online reviews. Also, this is a great guide to Sofia nightlife–written by locals!
- Dada Cultural Bar: The cool art and swanky atmosphere in this place is ideal for a classy night of drinking.
- One More Bar: Fancy cocktails + people watching on the patio = exactly my style
- Raketa Rakia Bar: Come on, you know you want to try Rakia! This Balkan specialty is as delicious as it is strong.
- Masterpiece Whisky Bar: For all you whisky lovers out there…
We are so glad that we got to experience Sofia nightlife! We definitely recommend doing the New Sofia Pub Crawl so that actual locals will take you to all the best spots. It’ll be a night of drinking, learning and making new friends. Cheers!
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