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Experience a Magic Sunrise in Sofia (and 7 reasons to choose it)

If you are in Sofia and wondering what to do and how to enjoy your trip to Sofia by doing something interesting and different, I highly recommend you to attend the Magic Sunrise in Sofia (FREE)!

This time I will share with you how it felt to attend that amazing outdoor experience in Sofia which is absolutely free (except for the transport) and it’s organized by the wonderful Laura and Asen from Balcanic.

Watching the sunrise? ‘’It’s too early for me!”
morning

you can say… and I absolutely understand you! I am not a morning person myself and hate waking up early. But this time I tried and it was definitely worth it! I woke up at 5, the meeting was at 5:45 at Alexander Nevski – one of the main highlights in Sofia.
nevski-sf

We were a group of tourists and travelers from different countries of around 15 people. I was surprised to see so many enthusiasts showing up so early. But an adventure like this is definitely an excellent motivation. So we took off with taxies & cars and after a 30-40 minutes drive we were at Vitosha summit – the fascinating mountain near Sofia.

              Important – what to know before going:

walk-vitosha

  • Wear mountain shoes (I was with sneakers and it was still snowy, so I was sliding most of the time 😀 ), I recommend to bring another pair of socks in case you get wet
  • Take a warm jacket with you, as well as extra layers
    Even if the weather in Sofia is hot, in the mountain there might still be snow        and it’s colder, especially in the morning
  • Bring some small snacks if you want
  • Be prepared for a walk
    I wouldn’t say it is a tough hike but still a walk in the mountain that takes approximately 25-30 minutes
  • Be prepared for stunning views!

 

Back to the experience near Sofia:

The atmosphere was very friendly, Laura and Asen are very welcoming, and during the trip they explain interesting things about the place, the nature and much more.
speech

From the parking at Vitosha Laura, our host, made a short inspiring speech and gave jackets to those who didn’t have. The walk (an easy hike) was supposed to be a silent meditation but we weren’t so quiet, it was actually a funny trip, that’s why we made a 10 minutes silent meditation near the Tree of wishes – the place that we were supposed to see the sun. We made our wishes, it was so magical!
the-tree-of-wishesthe-tree-of-wishes

We didn’t see the sunrise fully but… we saw a rabbit. The weather was a bit unpredictable but despite that it was a nice and recharging outdoor experience!
sunrise-vitosha

It was fun and interesting – getting to know other travelers from around the world, seeing a beautiful place in the mountain that only locals could know and show you (not a touristic spot) and I am sure that with the sunrise it will be a spectacular experience!

An interesting fact is that Balcanic:) is actually the only organization in Bulgaria that organizes outdoor experiences with a personal touch, sharing their favorite places and their passion for the nature. “From travelers to travelers’’ is their motto.

After the sun rose in the sky we played a game to get to know each other. However this was not the final part of the trip.
magic-sunrise1

Taste a typical Bulgarian breakfast

We went back to Sofia city centre and Laura and Asen showed us a pastry shop where we all took a delicious breakfast – a Bulgarian dish, called banitsa, made of cheese, eggs and fillo dough. Even me (I live in Sofia for 17 years already) didn’t know the place and was nicely surprised by the tasty food. We all had the opportunity to talk and laugh more.

banitsa

After that we say we said goodbye and came back to reality at 9 am. Wow!

Such a great experience so early in the morning!

If you still wonder why this experience in Sofia is for you, take a look at those

7 reasons to watch the Sunrise and choose Magic Sunrise in Sofia:

1.It reduces anxiety

It has been proven that catching the first rays of the sun relieves stress and has many physical and psychological benefits.

2. It’s a natural source of Vitamin D
3. You will be in a better mood during the entire day
4. Watching the sunrise gives you a better sense of gratitude
5.
Every sunrise is different
6. This magic trip in Sofia is a unique kind of experience!
7. You will share this special moment with like-minded people

The Magic sunrise in Sofia is one of the 7 cool activities and things to do in Sofia.

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7 cool activities and things to do in Sofia

statue-of-sofia

If you are heading to Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, and still wondering what to do and how to make the best of your trip, here are 7 cool activities and things to do in Sofia that we recommend!

 

1.     Experience a magic sunrise near Sofia

magic-sunrise
Do you enjoy sunrises?  If your answer is yes, check our next free activity near Sofia – Magic sunrise in Sofia!

2. Join The Bohemian Sofia Tour – Behind the scenes of Old Sofia

bohemian-tour

If you come to Sofia for the first time you would probably want to visit the highlights of the city, so we suggest you to choose the Bohemian Sofia tour (every Saturday).

It’s an independent free walking tour in English and reveals the secrets of the Bohemian decades of Sofia’s history, when it was a Monarchy.

The tour takes approximately 2 hours and starts from the most famous landmark of the city – Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. It covers some of the points of main interest for the tourists.

The Bohemian Sofia tour is very interesting and differs from the ordinary ones, that’s why we recommend it.

Viktor is a licensed guide who invests time in reading books and preparing his tours, so he provides good value.

See more about the Bohemian tour.

3. Take a morning walk and Roman mineral bath

balcaninc-walk

After a city tour, you would probably want to try a different type of activity near Sofia, so you can join Asen on our Morning walk and Roman mineral bath.

Especially if you are a fan of nature and beautiful views, and you love challenges, you will definitely enjoy it!

So, what it is about?

The area where it takes place is called Pancharevo – a village about 10 km from Sofia, known for its beautiful artificial lake.

The activity consists in an easy morning walk – a silent meditation hike to a place with a breathtaking view of Vitosha mountain and Pancharevo lake. It’s an energizing way to start the day. After the hike, Asen – your guide for this experience, will guide you to the local mineral springs where he will tell you their history and explain you in details the procedure of how to take the maximum benefit from it. In those baths the water is healing and contains 1g calcium and 1g magnesium per liter.

And here comes another challenge: getting naked with strangers! Yes, it’s a nude bath but don’t worry – it’s men and women separated! There are 2 different pools – one of 37 degrees and one of 42 degrees.

Check out our offer, it’s a very interesting and different outdoor experience!
pancharevo-lake

4. Solve the mystery of an Escape room

escape-rooms-sofia

 

Another way to escape from the ordinary itinerary is to try out the Escape rooms in Sofia. In case you don’t know, an escape room is an especially prepared room that will take you into a world of adventure and mystery. You have different tasks and series of challenges you need to solve in order to escape from the room you are locked in for 60 minutes. Use your brain and work like a team!

You can share the experience with friends, family or a group of tourists!

We recommend Escapeway in Sofia.

5. Relax in one of the many parks in Sofia
parc-sofia

If you have time to sit and relax in the park: there are some that are perfect for that purpose: we advise you to choose Borisova gradina – the oldest park in Sofia, known as the city’s lungs or Yujen (South) park.

We have some amazing news for you! Starting from May this year 2018, we will organize free trainings in the park. Stay tuned!

6. Have fun with Sofia mountain biking

mountain-biking-sofia
If walking isn’t enough for you and you seek some more adventurous activity you should try out Sofia mountain biking with Asen. He is a passionate mountain biker who will take you through his favorite parts of Vitosha mountain, the surrounding villages and the local family sweet shop. Have fun and be in contact with the nature while biking! Beginners or experts, everyone is more than welcome! See details about this exciting experience.

7. Enjoy a Puppet show in the Sofia Puppet Theatre

puppet-show-sofia
If you are looking for something different, spending an evening at the Sofia Puppet Theatre can be a great idea. Enjoy a unique puppet performance of your choice!

 

As you can see, there are many interesting activities and things to do in Sofia. Don’t hesitate to try them!

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9 things to see and do in Sofia

Sofia, Bulgaria

@ photo credit Jay Dred (@jay_dred)

Hey traveler, welcome to Sofia, Bulgaria! Whether you have been here before or it’s your first time here, rest assured that this not-yet-so-famous city has so much to offer! Every corner breathes with history, energy and awesome people. 

Those are a few of our most favorite picks of Sofia, which will make you fall in love in the city so much, that no other city will live up to your expectations again 😉

  • 1 Vitosha

things to do, hiking, biking, Sofia

There is a beautiful mountain in Sofia. In spring, summer and autumn it offers opportunities for hiking, picknicking, biking or just chilling. In winter, it’s perfect for skiing and snowboarding. Go to Vitosha mountain – really just go. No matter where, it’s so worth it for the view. The contact with nature and it’s vicinity to Sofia will be like a shot of espresso in the early morning.

  • 2 Meet a local – Bulgarians are warm and hospitable people

Although it might not look like it, people in Bulgaria are extremely welcoming. They will invite you to their place and stuff you with food just to make you feel at home. If you want us to connect you with some locals for a visit to their home, don’t hesitate to send us a message

  • 3 Go to the National Theater Park and soak into the local life

Usually a lot of youngsters get together, there is life music and people dancing. The general atmosphere is relaxed and allows you to really soak into the local lifestyle.

Don’t miss the booth for public reading. You will find novels from Bulgarian authors, written in English.

  • 4 Bulgarian wine is to die for!

wine, Sofia, Bulgaria

Bulgarians have been producing wine for centuries. In fact, wine has been produced on Bulgarian lands before there were even any Bulgarians. The Thracians, for example, were so proud of their wine production that they stored it in golden vessels. As a matter of fact, those are some of the oldest treasures in Europe. Check here a nice article about the different varieties of wine in Bulgaria.

  • 5 Ba-ni-tsa

local food

When it comes to food, there are several things you MUST try when in Sofia and one of them is Banitsa. A pastry, made of cheese, eggs and fillo dough. Locals have basically grown up eating banitsa for breakfast, for special occasions and so on. With the newest food tendencies, Bulgarians have even gone so far as to offer gluten free banitsa, vegan banitsa and wholegrain banitsa among others.

  • 6 Yogurt, Ayran and anything with yogurt actually

drink Sofia, Bulgaria

In Bulgaria, we are talking about the art of yoghurt and it is widely believed that consumed daily, it strengthens the immune system and brings longevity. As the main bacteria, responsible for the fermentation practically is Bulgarian – lactobacilicus bulgaricus, you will find some of the tastiest and purest variations of yoghurt. You might also come across a refreshing summer drink, with a Turkish name called ayran. It’s basically yoghurt with water and salt and it’s delicious!

  • 7 Check out the snail house

The weirdest building in Sofia, now a kinder garden looks like a snail. It’s a bit out of the city, but totally worth to check it out. It’s located on blvd. “Simeonovsko shose” 187.

  • 8 Alexander Nevski Cathedral

Activities in Sofia

You might have seen it already on many postcards or google images. This is one of the biggest cathedrals on the Balkan peninsula. With its golden roof, it’s visible from airplanes and from the Vitosha mountain. It’s worth a visit during day time when you can enter and during night time because of the majestic lightning.

  • 9 Bulgarian national dances

horo dance

There are more than 1000 varieties of Bulgarian national dance, also known as HORO. Bulgaria is divided in several ethnographic area and each one has its distinctive clothing and cuisine. The ethnographic area of Sofia is called Shopski region and it’s characterized with colorful national costumes. You can view dance performance in several restaurants, one of which is “Vodenitsata” on Vitosha mountain. OR you can join the HORO dance every Sunday afternoon in front of the National Theater.

 

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5 Reasons why you should try mineral bathing in Sofia

If you are the adventurous type and always searching for the best local experience, then check this out. Asen, the founder of Balcanic: will explain to you why soaking in the mineral water is his number 1 way to keep viruses away and stay healthy.

  1. It’s coming deep from the ground at 47 degrees / 117.6 Fahrenheit.

This quality makes the water an amazing idea not only during the cold winter months, but at any day of the year actually. Soaking helps relieve physical pain, arthritis, heals the joints and calms the nervous system. When you enter the bath, you will find signs on the walls saying: “Water heals in silence” and this is so true! Try for yourself to just sit still for 10-15 min and see how the mind starts to quiet too.

  1. There are no other tourists, so you feel like a local too!

Believe it or not, there are no tourists in the local mineral bath. Asen usually goes in the early hours of the day around 9am and 11am when it’s less busy and calm. Doing something special like this, helps you feel the spirit of the culture and makes this experience even more valuable.

  1. Calcium, Magnesium and other minerals are best absorbed through the skin

The magic healing water contains 1000 mgr calcium and 1000 mgr magnesium per 1 ltr of water. This is a lot! Just to give you an example, 1 banana contains 27 mgr of magnesium. Magnesium is important for the nerve transmission, muscle contraction, blood coagulation, energy production, nutrient metabolism and bone and cell formation. Unfortunately, nowadays most of the people suffer from magnesium insufficiency. Why not just soak in the water and take care of the level of the minerals in your body right away.

Oh and by the way – as your skin is the largest organ in the body, you can imagine it absorbs stuff much quicker ? That explains the rise in energy after the bath as well as the improved mood!

  1. It’s just soo good for your skin!

Mineral water makes your skin soft. Soaking in the water for 10-15 min makes it easier to scrub your body and release the dirt and accumulated dead cells. In some bath houses in Bulgaria, you can encounter the local “bath men”. Their job is to literally scrub the dirt off your body. The effect on your body and mind is immediate. You will notice that your body never felt so clean! After a mineral bath the skin glows and has a healthy complexion.

  1. Last but not least – you can fill up your bottle and drink the water!

Mineral water is healing not only for soaking, but also for drinking. It’s best to drink it when it cools down. In many local baths, you have a source just right outside the bath, where you can fill up your bottle and continue the treatment even when you go back home!

Asen organizes regular experiences to his favorite local bath house just 10 km away from Sofia. He combines them with a silent meditation hike with a beautiful view.

Join Asen to his morning inspiration experience to the local bath house.

Read more about this experience by Kara Mosseso, digital nomad – nurse, who joined his special edition experience for Remote Year.

For questions or special requests, send us an e-mail at info@balcanic.com 

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How to get to and sleep over in the Rila monastery

About the Rila monastery
The monastery was built some 10 centuries ago by Ivan Rilski. It has 5 floors, 4 of which are visible and one is “hidden” due to requirements at the Ottoman time. This is the biggest monastery in Bulgaria and therefore a real must see, housing the biggest collection of icons on the territory of the country. Moreover, the beautiful scenery of the surrounding Rila mountain will help you find peace and tranquility.

Best way to experience it?
Imagine being able to stay the night at Macchu Picchu? Undoubtedly, one of the best ways to immerse into a place, is to sleep over and there are very few tourist attractions in the world where you can actually do it. This is possible in the Rila Monastery, for a very low price and we strongly recommend it, so you also get the chance to feel the surroundings!

How to get there?

  • By public transport: There is a regular shuttle bus going from Sofia to the Rila Monastery. It departs every day from Bus and Coach station Ovcha Kupel at 10:20 AM and the journey takes 3 hours. The cost of the ticket is 11 BGN and you can buy it at the bus station or in the bus. To get to the bus station, you can take tram 5. You can buy the tram ticket from the tram stop, from the machine in the tram or from the driver as last resort. It costs 1,60 BGN and it’s always better to have the exact amount prepared. The tram stop is situated behind the Palace of Justice on street Lavele. Get off at the 11th stop at Bus Station Ovcha Kupel, that is approximately after 20 minutes depending on the traffic. Mind you, the return bus is at 3PM from Rila Monastery back to Sofia.

 

  • By car: It takes about 2 hours to drive the 120 km to the Rila monastery from the center of Sofia. Once you get there, there will be a Parking to leave your car. Don’t park in front of the monastery if you are going to stay for the night, as this parking is just for short-time visitors. Go around and park behind at the designated area. You can rent a car from Val & Kar starting at 20 EUR per day, as well as have your rental delivered to your door from Dream Rent.

Sleeping over in the monastery
This is an amazing experience which we would definitely recommend. The monastery has a specially designated area for hosting travellers. Don’t expect anything luxurious, but do expect a tranquil time with the monks. Here is what you should know about sleeping over.

  • Make a reservation by calling at +359 70542208. The reception doesn’t speak English, so some basic Bulgarian is recommended. Here is a phrase you can use: “ Mozje li da rezerviram leglo za dovechera na imeto na ….(fill in your name).” – meaning “May I reserve a bed under the name of…..”
  • The price is 25 BGN per night and check in is before 6PM, otherwise the door will be closed 🙂
  • There are many restaurants in the area but you might want to bring some snacks for breakfast just in case.
  • At 9pm the doors of the monastery close, so make sure you are in your room before that.
  • As of 9:30am, there is fresh Mekici for breakfast. The breakfast is not included, but you will find the shop behind the monastery.

Things to do around the monastery
Once you wake up fresh and vibrant, you might want to walk around. We recommend visiting the Ivan Rilski cave. It’s around half an hour walk from the Rila monastery. The saint spent 7 years of his life in this cave and there is a legend that you will be clean from all sins if you pass through the stone hole in the cave. Stay tuned for more detailed information about how to get to the cave and what to do there.