Sofia Adventures

Welcome to Sofia!

Sofia is an intriguing city, with corners that show at various times a glint of the splendor of Vienna, the charm of Istanbul, the quirkiness of Budapest, and the brutalism of Moscow. You’ll find Roman ruins in our subway stations, medieval icons in the church basements, and Thracian relics in the former presidential palace. Yet Sofia brings all of these seemingly disparate traditions together into one magical, inspiring city.

DISCOVER SOFIA

DISCOVER SOFIA

DISCOVER SOFIA

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Belogradchik Fortress & Rocks: Bulgaria’s Hidden Gem in the North

Bulgaria is a country with so much yet to be discovered by mass tourism, making traveling here a paradise for those seeking the few last remaining hidden gems in Europe. One may not associate the country of Bulgaria with castles (and truly, Romania’s castles have the edge here, as much as I hate to admit it), but Belogradchik Castle is truly the most beautiful of all the historical Bulgarian castles.

One of the places in Bulgaria that many people neglect to visit when planning their Bulgaria trip is Belogradchik Fortress, a beautiful fortification built into the impressive Belogradchik Rocks. Essentially, it’s a man-made fortress on top of a nature-made fortress and it’s basically a Bulgarian fairytale come to life.

The History of Belogradchik Fortress

The Belogradchik Fortress has existed in some state or another for over two millennia. There was a small rampart created on the site of what’s now Belogradchik around the year 1 AD, using the natural stone terraces to make easier work of the fortress. The rampart was used primarily for defensive and observational purposes, as it occupied an important position between two Balkan passages, Sveti Nikola and Kadu-Boaz.

Proof of Belogradchik’s age has been found in its artifacts, which support the historical record: coins from several different Roman emperors have been found as well as fragments of ceramics, foundations of walls, and spears and arrows made of iron. There is also some evidence of advanced understanding of controlling rainwater to create a reservoir, further proof of the advanced standing of this Bulgarian fortress even 2,000 years ago.

The rampart was later fortified into a more proper fortress in the mid-14th century under the supervision of the ruler of Vidin, Ivan Sratsimir, who added two partition walls, a few additional buildings, a hanging wooden bridge, and stone staircases to make the fortress more functional. However, despite all these fortifications, it still fell to the invading Ottoman army in 1396.

Until the beginning of the 19th century, not much changed. Suddenly, a renewed interest in restoring the fortress occurred, and the Ottomans enlisted the help of French engineers and Italian specialists in fortifications in order to enlarge and strengthen the fortress.

Yet again, advances in fortifications couldn’t beat back the inevitable, and in 1878 during the Russo-Turkish War, an army of Bulgarians, Russians, and Romanians were able to oust the Ottomans. A few years later, in 1885, Serbia would make an attempt to also conquer the fortress, but they would also be defeated.

Today, the Belogradchik Fortress is no longer a working fortress but rather a historical monument. It has walls measuring 2 meters thick (nearly 7 feet) and 12 meters (almost 40 feet) height, in addition to its natural fortifications of the Belogradchik Rocks. There are three fortified yards, each connected by a gate which could be blockaded to defend the fortress as needed. It’s now a little-visited but much-beloved darling of Bulgarian tourism.

What About the Belogradchik Rocks?

The Belogradchik Rocks may be just as interesting as the fortress that is nestled inside them. They are an entirely natural geological formation which span about 3 kilometers wide and 18 kilometers long (taking up an area of 50 square kilometers) in the heart of Northern Bulgaria. Each of the rocks protrudes from the earth in a similar fashion to what you may have seen in photos of Meteora and its monasteries in Greece. The rocks are massive, measuring from 250 meters to 620 meters in altitude.

The history of the Belogradchik Rocks goes back all the way to the Permian period (that’s around 230 millions ago for all you non-geology nerds). The tectonic plates shifted quite a bit during this time, raising the ground underneath Belogradchik. During the Triassic period, Belogradchik became a shallow sea, and it was this sea combined with intense winds that would later give Belogradchik Rocks their unique shape.

Gravel, sand, and clay eventually formed strata which got baked into large rock pillars, heated up in the dry climate as the shallow sea disappeared. This is when a mineral called hematite (an iron oxide) got incorporated into the rock, giving them their red hue. The sedimentary layers would grow to form these rocks over the course of 20 million or so years.

A particularly active geological period 40 million years ago created large folds in the earth (anticlines) which thrust up the Belogradchik Rocks even more dramatically. Erosion by wind and rain would create fissures in between the rocks and erode the strata vertically, creating the standalone pillars with nearly vertical slopes that we see in Belogradchik today.

Where Exactly Is the Belogradchik Fortress?

Belogradchik Fortress is in the very northwest corner of Bulgaria, quite close to the border with Serbia. It’s actually quite separated from the rest of Bulgaria’s tourist trail, which is why I think many people don’t bother to make it part of their itinerary (their loss, your gain!).

It’s in a small town called Belogradchik which is pretty much only famous for the fortress, which is why tourism is quite infrequent around here.

In fact, even after doing nearly a dozen different day trips from Sofia, I had yet to visit Belogradchik until I did a road trip around Serbia and realized that if I stayed the night in Zajecar instead of Nis before entering back into Bulgaria, I’d be able to visit Belogradchik easily the next day on only a small detour on the way back from Sofia.

How to Get to Belogradchik from Sofia

While normally bus is the best way to get around in Bulgaria, Belogradchik is the rare exception where a train may be more handy. There are three trains per day to the nearby town of Oreshec. There’s one at 7:22 AM, one at 11:42 AM, and one at 5:00 PM. I’m not sure of the exact price but it should be somewhere around 10-12 leva (about 5-6 euros). It takes four hours.

From there, you’ll need to then take a cab to Belogradchik. It’s only 12 kilometers, so it shouldn’t cost too much more than 15 leva. However, you may be a bit of a sitting duck at this train station, obviously a tourist who needs to reach Belogradchik, so don’t be surprised if taxi drivers try to overcharge you.

There is a daily bus to Belogradchik proper on BG Razpisanie that has a transfer in Vratsa, and the entire route takes 4 hours. However, this daily bus is only at 4:30 PM so it is hard to do as a day trip, requiring an overnight stay.

None of these are really stress-free ways to get to Belogradchik, especially as a day trip, so I’d suggest you to take a tour or rent a car, which is what I did. Be aware if coming from Serbia that the roads between Zajecar and Belogradchik are quite bad. It may suggest you route via Vidin; even though it looks longer, I would recommend this as it’ll likely be faster since you’ll be traveling on better roads.

The easiest way, of course, is a guided tour. This tour by V Travel has a nearly perfect rating (4.6/5 stars) and includes not only Belogradchik Fortress but also the nearby Maguro Cave, the largest cave in the country. It’s definitely a much easier way to visit one of Bulgaria’s 7 Wonders of Nature, especially if you’re traveling solo or you’re not comfortable renting a car, and you’ll learn a lot on the tour as well.

Click here to read user reviews, see prices and availability, and learn more about the itinerary.

Where to Go After or Before Belogradchik

If you have a rental car, I recommend also combining a trip to Belogradchik with a trip to Maguro Cave, the largest of all the caves in Bulgaria.

Another possibility would be to visit the city of Montana or the town of Vratsa, where you can hike to Skaklya Waterfall and explore the Vrachanski karst nature reserve. These are both on the way to or from Sofia.

Advice for Visiting Belogradchik

Belogradchik Fortress cost 6 leva (~3 euro) to enter when I visited in 2018. It is open from 9 AM to 6 PM in high season (April to September) and closes at 5 PM in the low season (October to March).

It’s located about 1.5 kilometers from the town of Belogradchik itself so everything is walking distance, albeit up a giant hill.

Bulgaria - Shopka Salad - Bulgarian Cuisine

There’s not a ton to do in Belogradchik beyond visiting the fortress but you can go for a delicious lunch at the Hotel Skalite, the nicest hotel in town. This is also where I would recommend you sleep if you decide to have an overnight in Belogradchik (which isn’t a bad idea – think about how amazing sunrise would be by the fortress!)

Click here to read reviews, see photos & check prices/availability.

Bulgaria Travel Resources

We have so much advice about Bulgaria! If you haven’t already, check out our massive guide to things to do in Sofia (we also have guides to the city’s best hotels to stay in, as well as the best bars and the best restaurants). We also have city guides for Plovdiv and Veliko Tarnovo, two can’t-miss cities in Bulgaria.

If this will be one of your first trips in the Balkans, check out our massive list of things to know before traveling the Balkans as well as our Balkan busroad trip, and itinerary guides. 

We publish new articles and trip advice nearly daily! For more information about traveling to Bulgaria and the Balkans, bookmark our Bulgaria and Balkan travel pages, where you’ll find our entire archive plus anything new we publish before you leave for your trip. 

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance!

Make sure you always travel to Bulgaria with a valid travel insurance policy. While the country is safe, accidents can happen anywhere (especially when climbing giant stones and two-millennia-old fortresses with sketchy staircases). If you experience an accident or theft, travel insurance will help you recover your costs and enjoy the rest of your trip.

For travel insurance, I use World Nomads.I’ve been a happy customer of theirs for almost three years, and I’ve never had an issue when making a claim. I’m happy to refer them to anyone I meet.

Get a travel insurance quote for your trip here.

The 23 Most Instagrammable Places in Bled & Lake Bled Photo Guide

Lake Bled is the stuff of Instagram legend. But there’s much more to Bled than just one or two pretty spots. Here’s are our picks for the most Instagrammable places in Bled plus hotel recs.

The Most Instagrammable Bled Hotels

Some of the best lake views can be had at the various gorgeous lakeside hotels. To have access, you need to be staying at the hotel or dining at their restaurants and cafes. If you dream of waking up with Lake Bled views or sitting in a jacuzzi looking at Bled Castle, then you should stay at one of the hotels on the lake. Just make sure to book early since Bled is a popular Slovenian vacation destination and the best rooms sell out early. 

Vila Bled

Vila Bled is the most famous and historic hotel on the lake. It was the summer residence of President Tito when Slovenia was a part of Yugoslavia. Today it’s a four-star hotel with a luxury spa. The furniture and decor are an updated take on 1950s style from the Tito-era.

While President Tito used the vila he hosted leaders from around the world, including Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie, leader of the Soviet Union Nikita Khrushchev, King Hussein of Jordan, and Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, among others. 

Learn more about Vila Bled here.

Guests of Vila Bled have access to a private swimming dock, boat house, and a restaurant with lake views. You can choose rooms with lake or park views. 

The restaurant on site serves both Slovenian and international dishes, but the highlight just might be the views. 

Check Vila Bled reviews and availability here.

 

Hotel Triglav Bled

A four-star hotel originally opened in 1906 (but updated in 2009), Hotel Triglav offers rooms with lake views in addition to multiple common areas and eating spots where you can relax and look out on Bled Island. 

Other hotel amenities include a wellness center, a restaurant, a piano bar, and a fireplace lounge for those who visit Lake Bled during the winter. 

Learn more about Hotel Triglav here.

Check Hotel Triglav reviews and availability.

Grand Hotel Toplice

Located right on the lake shores, the five-star Grand Hotel Toplice offers amazing panoramic Lake Bled views, with all guests having access to the lakeside terrace and private beach. 

Amenities include two restaurants, bars, a cafe, and the boutique wellness center which includes saunas, a thermal pool, and beauty treatments. 

Learn more about the Grand Hotel Toplice here.

Can you imagine relaxing in the sunbeds on the private beach and waking up looking at Bled Castle?

Check to see Grand Hotel Toplice reviews and availability.

The 13 Most Instagrammable Places at Lake Bled

Lake Bled is the stuff that Instagram dreams are made of, but it’s not as easy as just showing up and snapping a pic. You need to plan which shots you want since many of the best pics involve a hike, a boat ride, or walking until you get the right view.

Mala Osojnica Hike & Viewpoint

Getting to the top of Osojnica is a hike that takes about an hour and includes a stop at Ojstrica as well (see below). Osojnica includes a bench with the perfect island viewpoint. Getting to the top is easier than getting back down, which can be slippery and steep. It’s suggested that if this will pose a problem for you that you return the way you came, making the entire trip about two hours (excluding however long it takes you to get insta-perfect). 

Ojstrica

Ojstrica is the first hill you’ll encounter on the way to Osojnica. Click here for instructions on how to hike to both locations.

On Bled Island

While most people choose to take pictures of Bled Island, it’s actually a great photo opportunity in its own right. This is the view from the Church of the Assumption, but you can explore the island and look for many different takes. 

Bled Castle

The cliffside Bled Castle is one of the most picturesque castles in Slovenia (or possibly all of Europe). The view of teh castle changes whether you are looking at it from across the lake or on the shoreline below it and a few hundred meters away. 

From Bled Castle

While the castle is beautiful from the ground, if you want to visit make sure to stop and get pictures from the castle terraces with Bled Island in the background.

Boats on the Lake

The boats on Lake Bled are iconic. You can choose to take photos of them from the shore, or you can get in one and combine a trip to Bled Island with a chance to grab a boat selfie. 

There are different kinds of boats available at the lake, including rowboats and passenger boats. Either way, make sure to stop and appreciate the beauty of the wooden lake boats. 

Lake Bled Swans

See the lake from swan-level, and appreciate how beautiful the views are for these amazing creatures that call the lake home. 

The Boardwalk

My favorite thing to do at Lake Bled is to walk the boardwalk completely around the lake to see how the views change as you progress around. Bring your camera with you and go on a self-guided (and entirely free) photography walk around the lake. 

Chairlift

If you’re looking for a more unique take, find the tobogganing line and chair lift at the Bled ski resort. 

From the Docks

If you want to be in the frame, one of the best shots is the have someone photograph you while you stand at the end of one of the docks. While some are public, some are privately owned, so pay attention and use good Instagram etiquette. 

If you want to enjoy the docks for more than just a quick pic, a great way to do so is to bring a picnic and enjoy your time on the edge of tranquility. 

Pustolovski Park Bled

An adventure park in Straza Park above Bled that offers obstacle courses complete with ziplining. It also has great views with Bled Castle basically parallel to eye-level. Accessible by chairlift. 

Straza Park Bled

For those who want to skip the adventure park, you can still come to the top of the hill and appreciate the views (minus the ziplining). 

Insta-Heart 

While these kinds of photo spots aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, the beautiful Insta-Heart on the edge of Lake Bled frames Bled Island. 

You can take photos of the heart framing the island or you can get into the frame yourself. 

10 Bled Instagram Spots that Aren’t at Lake Bled

While most people come here are looking for Lake Bled photography locations, there is so much natural beauty in the area that you don’t need to restrict yourself to just the lake. 

Lake Bohinj

Less famous than Lake Bled, Lake Bohinj is another serene mountain lake just a thirty-minute drive away. 

Church of St. John the Baptist

If you come out to Lake Bohinj, make sure to stop by the Church of St. John the Baptist and its iconic bridge. 

Lake Jasna

Just forty minutes from Lake Bled, Lake Jasna is rising in popularity after there were renovations to the lake’s facilities in 2015. A gorgeous Alpine lake with new swimming areas and an ice cream parlor? Yes, please!

Šobec (Sobec)

A camping area just ten minutes away from Lake Bled, Camping Sobec is located on its namesake lake, complete with a Blue Flag beach.

Vintgar Gorge

A fifteen-minute drive from Lake Bled, Vintgar Gorge is one of the most popular sites in the country. Beyond the sublime natural beauty:

The Vintgar gorge also includes two man-made sights. The single-arch stone bridge of the Bohinj railway, constructed in 1906, which crosses the gorge 33.5 m above the trail, and the dam from which the water is routed to the small Vintgar hydroelectric power plant under the Šum waterfall.

Sava River

A ten-minute drive from Lake Bled, the Sava River is one of the most important rivers in the Balkans, flowing all the way to Belgrade. Its beautiful mountain setting turns a picturesque river into something truly majestic. 

Triglav National Park

Mount Triglav is so important to Slovenians that it’s actually on the crest on their flag. Just a fifteen-minute drive from Lake Bled, you can enjoy winter sports here or come for beautiful views year-round. 

Pericnik Falls

A thirty-minute drive from Lake Bled, Pericnik Falls in Kranjska Gora is a 52m waterfall that is best visited on foot from Mojstrana. If you’re careful you can access the area behind the waterfall, just be careful because it’s slippery. There’s also another waterfall (though a much shorter one) that you can also visit.

Kozjak Waterfall

This one is the furthest spot away from Lake Bled since the drive is two hours, but it’s just so beautiful that I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least mention it. 

Iglica Falls

While not as stunning as the two previously listed waterfalls, Iglica Falls is just a five-minute drive from Lake Bled, which is perfect for anyone looking for a quick excusion. 

Bonus: Wherever You Are

Of course, if you’re looking for an interesting tattoo idea, get a Lake Bled tattoo as your souvenir from Slovenia. Just know you won’t be the first (or the last). 

 

Slovenia Travel Resources

Headed to Slovenia? We have some great travel resources to help you with your trip. First read our guide to planning a trip to Slovenia, which covers visas, budgets, vaccines, and much more. We also have a Balkan currency guide which explains how money works in Slovenia and local tipping customs.

If you’re still putting together your itinerary, here’s a great list of places to visit in Slovenia to help you choose.

Next, you’ll want to read our guide to shopping in Slovenia so you know which souvenirs are truly local gems.

If this will be one of your first trips in the Balkans, check out our massive list of things to know before traveling the Balkans as well as our Balkan busroad trip, and itinerary guides. 

We publish new articles and trip advice nearly daily! For more information about traveling to Slovenia and the Balkans, bookmark our Slovenia and Balkan travel pages, where you’ll find our entire archive plus anything new we publish before you leave for your trip. 

 

Finally, Don’t Forget Your Travel Insurance!

I’m sure you’re aware that travel insurance is essential for Slovenia and for travel in general! This is especially true when you’re talking about traveling with your camera and smartphone because you don’t want your trip ruined if they get lost, stolen, or fall in the lake!

Allison and I have both been paying customers of World Nomads for the last three years. We love the peace of mind it gives us in case of emergencies, accidents, illnesses, theft, or trip cancellation or disruption.

While Slovenia is perfectly safe to travel around, there’s always a risk inherent in everyday travel, so it’s better to play it safe. The saying goes “if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel” is true!

 

Get a travel insurance quote for your trip here.

 

Pin this Bled Instagram Guide for Your Trip

23 Most Instagrammable Places in Bled, Slovenia

 

 

 

25 of the Best Pieces of Sofia Street Art & Where to Find Them

When I first visited Sofia in 2016, it didn’t immediately seem like a street art destination. I’d just spent a month in Athens, where street art is literally everywhere, and Sofia appeared far barer. However, there are several street art initiatives and active artists here, and three years later the city looks far colorful. Every time I go to the city center I find new Sofia street art to admire. 

How to See Street Art in Sofia

Bulgaria - Sofia - Street Art

Some of the places on this list are easily accessible by foot from the center. Others are farther out and better reached using a taxi or public transit. This is a great way to see street art if you’re primarily interested in seeing a few pieces in between you’re other sightseeing.

For those who are interested in getting a deeper understanding of the art their seeing, you can go on the Sofia Graffiti Tour. The tour is run by local street artists and people involved in the community. They also go to some places that are inaccessible to regular pedestrians.

Click here to check out reviews and schedules for the Sofia Graffiti Tour

The Best Sofia Street Art

Here are our picks for the best Sofia street art and graffiti and where to find them.

Maria Luiza Boulevard Above Serdika Metro Station

The parking lot above Serdika Station is one of the most famous spots for street art in the city. Here you can find a parking lot full of different pieces. The Chup Chups mural is an advertisement (now pealing), but it has its own interesting artistic cred. It’s the logo for a Spanish candy company, but the logo was designed by Salvador Dali. So while the painting wasn’t painted by Dali, you could say Sofia has it’s own Dali in the center of town. 

Bulgaria - Sofia - Street Art

The Chupa Chups mural shows a logo that was designed by Salvador Dali for the Spanish candy

Under the Chupa Chups mural and on the other wall are more pieces. Highlights include this mural of Saint Sofia after the Saint Sofia statue down the block. These murals, while a highlight, are sometimes hard to get to. I’ve been by trying to grab photos and the parking lot guards have told me I wasn’t allowed inside. At other times, the guards don’t care but there might be too many cars to be able to see the pieces you want. 

Bulgaria - Sofia - Street Art

If you’re set on seeing these pieces up close (as opposed to across the street) it helps to go early before the parking lot is full. If you run into a guard who won’t let you in, you can still take photos from across the street or down the sidewalk. In this situation, it’s helpful to have a zoom lens.

Bulgaria - Sofia - Street Art

Location: bulevard “Knyaginya Maria Luiza” 9, 1000 Sofia Center, Sofia

Theatre 199

Bulgaria - Sofia - Street Art

A vestige of street art from the Communist days, this sgraffito (monumental fresco) by Stoyan Iliev advertizes Bulgarplod, the communist ‘company’ that mass-produced fruit. I was having a hard time finding any information about it, but Viktor Topalov from the Feel of Sofia pointed me in the right direction.

Location: ul. “Slavyanska” 8, 1000 Sofia Center, Sofia

Hadzhi Dimitar

The neighborhood of Hadzhi Dimitar is somewhat of a mecca for Sofia street art fans. The Urban Creatures festival brought street artists to the neighborhood of socialist housing blocks, painting building-size murals on the sides of many of the buildings. 

This one, called Nineties, is by Bozko. It’s a little ways away from the rest of the Hadzhi Dimitar pieces, but it just might be the most iconic. 

Bulgaria - Sofia - Street Art

Another Bozko piece that’s located closer to the epicenter of the Hadzhi Dimitar works.

Bulgaria - Sofia - Street Art

This next one is called Surprise is by the Polish team Etam Cru.

Bulgaria - Sofia - Street Art

The next two pieces are by the street artist Nasimo

I’m not sure who painted this mural that looks like it’s targeted more for children, but it’s hard to look at it and not immediately be filled with a child-like sense of wonder and the desire to play make-believe again. 

Bulgaria - Sofia - Street Art

Here’s behind the scenes footage from 2013 of Urban Creatures working on some of the murals. It’s in Bulgarian, but the shots of the murals and the painting are awesome.

 

 

Location: Hadzi Dimitar neighborhood with murals in no particular order at addresses:

  • ul. “Spas Ginev”, 1510 Hadzhi Dimitar
  • ul. “Ostrovo” 10-12, 1510 Hadzhi Dimitar
  • ul. “Filip Totyu” 57, 1510 Hadzhi Dimitar
  • ul. “Macgahan” 42, 1510 Hadzhi Dimitar
  • ul. “Filip Totyu” 118
  • ul. “Macgahan”, 1510 Hadzhi Dimitar

 

Addresses from Urban Kultur Blog

Sofia’s Utility Boxes

A public art initiative began in 2011, many of Sofia’s utility boxes and electrical boxes are painted by some of the city’s most prominent artists. This one by Ventislav Dikov is my favorite in the city. You can see more examples of his more traditional work here. 

Bulgaria - Sofia - Street Art

While there are far too many in the city to show all of them, here are two more of my favorites:

You can see more examples of utility box art from Sofia at Kathmandu & Beyond.

Location: all over the city, but many are on Tsar Shishman and Rakovski

The Snail House

Currently undergoing a restoration project, the Snail House on the outskirts of Sofia is a residential apartment building built and painted to look like a psychedelic snail. 

Bulgaria - Sofia - Street Art

Built with eco-friendly materials, its more than just a funky house. It’s a statement about protecting the planet and a bold project where public art meets commerce. 

Location: Boulevard “Simeonovsko Shose 187, 1434 Simeonovo, Sofia

UNDERGROUND

The Underground is an underground art gallery connected to the Five High skating rink in Hadzhi Dimitar. 

Bulgaria - Sofia - Street Art

While it’s technically a gallery, I love the mural out front (which is also in the middle of an industrial park). They reclaimed an industrial space that literally no one would use. There is also a mural across the street on the river bed. Their mission:

Gallery/Studio “Underground” is a project of “Four elements” (4LMNTZ) company. It is an art platform for free and independent art; a space that provides room for artists to express themselves in all visual and stage arts in all of their expressive forms in modern society. Our focus is to unite and preserve the spirit of art and to let it talk for us.
We are Underground.

Finding the place is a bit hard. The address takes you to the front of the industrial complex, but you need to keep walking straight back, and you will see it on your left. 

Location: ul. “Vladayska Reka” 4, 1510 NPZ Hadzhi Dimitar, Sofia

Bacho Kiro

There are three murals within two blocks on Bacho Kiro. You can see all three in about ten minutes (stopping for photography included.    

Bulgaria - Sofia - Street Art

Location: ul. “Bacho Kiro”, 1000 Sofia Center, Sofia across from 18, across from 26, and next to 35

God’s Gift

Another piece by Nasimo, this beautiful mural of a Bulgarian bride highlights the beauty of local traditions. Pic coming soon.

Location: ul. “Sandor Petofi” 55, 1463 Pette Kyosheta, Sofia

Stairwell

In the stairwell on Malko Tarnovo is this little one-eye graffiti. While not as magnificent as some of the other pieces on this list, I love the playful way it interacts with the passersby (and any parked motorcycles). 

Bulgaria - Sofia - Street Art

Location: near ul. “Malko Tarnovo” 3, 1000 Sofia Center, Sofia

Political Art

There are some great political murals in the city. The mural below is a painting based on an actual historical photo of Vasil Levski. He was a revolutionary and freedom fighter who fought against the Turks. The quote on the utility box is by him as well.

Bulgaria - Sofia - Street Art

Below is a mural of Dimitar Spisarevski. He fought in World War II, and he is famous for taking down an American pilot when the Americans were bombing Sofia. He achieved this by ramming his plane into the American plane, sacrificing his own life to protect the city.

Bulgaria - Sofia - Street Art

There are more great examples of political murals around the city.

There are also some pretty terrible (and hopefully temporary) pro-Nazi graffiti (as there is in most of Europe, unfortunately). 

Location: 23 бул. „Тодор Александров“, Sofia, Sofia City Province

Rainbow Gate

I walked by this gate on one of my first days in the city. I can’t find any information about it, but it’s beautiful. I always love when you find hidden bursts of color in the city.

Bulgaria - Sofia - Street Art

It’s a little plain to photograph on its own, but in the hands of the right photographer (or the right Sofia Instagrammer), it could really be something special. Maxi dress not included.

Location: ul. “Georgi Benkovski” 32, 1000 Sofia Center, Sofia

Iztok

While not the most cutting edge mural, this “Happy Birthday” mural in Iztok always brings a smile to my face. Would be great for sending a birthday message to someone special in your life. 

Bulgaria - Sofia - Street Art

I can’t find any info about its origin (like who exactly is the only one?), but it’s easy to find. It’s across the street from the UPI Salon (which is my favorite hair and nail salon in the city).

Location: across from 2, ul. “Nikolay Haytov”, 1113 g.k. Iztok, Sofia

Sofia Travel Resources

We want you to have the best trip to Sofia possible. To help you, we’ve created a number of resources that will be helpful.

If this will be your first time in Bulgaria, check out our Bulgaria Trip Planning guide. 

For transportation, check out our guide to avoiding taxi scams in the city. If you’ll be flying into Sofia, you can read our tips for flying in and out of the Sofia Airport. 

Next, check out our gigantic list of 101 Things to Do in Sofia. We also have Sofia restaurant and bar recommendations. We also have articles for popular day trips from Sofia like Plovdiv and Buzludzha.

For more resources for your trip, check out our pages on traveling in Bulgaria and the Balkans

Where to Stay in Sofia

Accommodations in Sofia offer great value compared to other cities in Europe. Here is a general range of what we mean by each budget category:

 
  • Budget: A room in a hostel, usually $5-12 USD per night for a dorm bed or under $40 for a double.
  • Mid-range: Around $40-80
  • Luxury: Around $100 per night or more

 

Budget: For a hostel, we always recommend Hostel Mostel. I have never stayed at the Sofia location but several of my friends have and have always spoken highly of it. I stayed at the one in Veliko Tarnovo and it was excellent. Perks include a free vegetarian dinner in addition to breakfast included in your stay! Check rates and availability here. If you are traveling in peak season, be sure to book online, as Hostel Mostel is popular and tends to get booked up.

Mid-range: For a trendy new boutique hotel that is shockingly affordable, we recommend R34 Boutique Hotel. The location is fantastic, near the Ivan Vazov National Theater in central Sofia. It has gorgeous, loft-inspired details like exposed brick, giant windows, and streamlined but modern décor. It’s a great bargain, too – check rates, reviews, photos, and availability here.

Luxury: As far as we see it, there’s only one option for the best hotel in town: Sense Hotel. We go to their upscale, beautiful rooftop bar all the time when we have guests in town – it has one of the best views in the entire city and they make fantastic cocktails. With beautiful views over Alexander Nevsky, Sofia’s most iconic landmark, the hotel couldn’t be in a better location. Sense Hotel also boasts a state-of-the-art fitness center, an art gallery in the lobby, an excellent spa with luxe treatments, and an indoor pool. It’s truly the best choice in town. Check rates, reviews, photos, and availability here.

 

Looking for more hotel options in Sofia? Check out our full Sofia Hotel and Hostel Guide. 

 

Planning a Trip to Bulgaria? Don’t Forget Travel Insurance!

Make sure you always travel to Bulgaria with a valid travel insurance policy. Travel here includes outdoor activities and travel to highly touristed sites. You need to be covered in case you have an accident or fall victim to theft. This is especially true if you’ll be doing any urban exploration looking for street art. Should something happen, travel insurance will help you recover your expenses and continue to enjoy your trip.

For travel insurance, I use World Nomads. I’ve been a happy customer of theirs for almost three years, and I’ve never had an issue when making a claim. I’m happy to refer them to anyone I meet.

 

Get a travel insurance quote for your trip here.

 

Pin this Sofia Street Art Guide for Your Trip

 

25 of the Best Pieces of Sofia Street Art & How to Find Them

The 12 Balkan Flags & the Meanings Behind Them

Flags have a way of inspiring, and Balkan flags are no different. They also tell the stories of their countries’ struggles to achieve independence from empires abroad and sometimes from each other. Many flags were chosen to honor their countries’ pasts, while others were chosen to declare allegiances to other nations on the world stage. However it came to be, each flag tells a story of the country it represents. 

Since there can be several tense political situations in the Balkans to this day, knowing the country’s flags is actually something that will help you as you travel the Balkans. This is especially true when traveling through Kosovo, Serbia, Bosnia, and Albania, where knowing the flags for all four countries can help you recognize political situations before you accidentally entangle yourself in something you don’t understand. 

Balkan Flags and their Meanings

Here are the twelve Balkan flags, along with their meanings and other important background information. 

Albania

Albania Flag - Pixabay

Description: red field with a black two-headed eagle in its center

Width-to-Length Ratio: 5 to 7

Origination: Used originally in 1443 when Skandenerg (a national hero) raised a red flag with an eagle over the Fortress of Krujë while defending the fortress from the Turks. The double-headed Eagle is the national symbol of Albania, but it was adopted from the same symbol’s use as a representation of the Byzantine Empire. Used in some kind of official capacity since Albania gained independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1912. 

Officially Adopted: May 22, 1993 (current version)

Flag Day: November 28

Bosnia  & Herzegovina

Bosnia Flag - Pixabay

Description: a blue field divided by a large yellow triangle and a diagonal line of nine white stars; the stars at the top and bottom are cut off by the edges of the flag

Width-to-Length Ratio: 1 to 2

Origination: There is no historic Bosnian flag or symbol that dates to the time before it became a part of Yugoslavia. Because of the political struggles and violence that occurred during the 1990s, every attempt to unite the country with a single flag which used symbols from the country’s past was rejected by different Ethnic groups. To remedy this, the United Nations created Bosnia’s current flag with symbols that could not be linked to Bosnia’s past in any way.

The color palette of white, blue, and yellow is meant to signify peace. The stars represent Europe. The yellow triangle is meant to approximate the shape of Bosnia and Herzegovina, with the three points representing the three Ethnic groups of Bosnia: Bosnians, Croats, and Serbs.

Officially Adopted: February 4, 1998

Flag Day: March 1

Bulgaria

Bulgaria Flag - Pixabay

Description: tricolour: white, green and red fields, placed horizontally from the top downwards

Width-to-Length Ratio: Not Specified

Origination: After Russia helped Bulgaria gain independence from the Ottoman Empire at the end of the Russo-Turkish War, Bulgaria adopted the Russian Flag but changed the Russian blue for green. Over the years the flag has been modified in different ways. Sometimes the country’s emblem has been placed across the white and green stripes on the left. However, the simplified version was readopted in 1990.

Officially Adopted: November 27, 1990 (current version)

Flag Day: Not Celebrated

Croatia

Croatia Flag - Pixabay

Description: horizontally striped red-white-blue national flag with the national coat of arms in its center along with five ancient arms

Width-to-Length Ratio: 1 to 2

Origination: The red, white, and blue of the Croatian flag were chosen because they were the colors of the flag of Russia, who was a potential Croatian ally in their fight to overthrow the rule of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the 1850s. It stayed a symbol of Croatian nationalism even after they lost the struggle. Fascists added the Croatian coat of arms in the 1940s when they declared themselves independent from Axis-controlled Yugoslavia.

The coat of arms was changed to a star when Croatia rejoined Yugoslavia following the war. When Croatia broke away from Yugoslavia in 1990, they added the coat of arms back and inserted the five historic shields of Croatia, Dubrovnik, Istria, Slavonia, and Dalmatia.

Officially Adopted: December 22, 1990 (current version)

Flag Day: Not Celebrated

Greece

Greece Flag - Pixabay

Description: national flag consisting of nine horizontal stripes of blue and white with a blue canton bearing a white cross

Width-to-Length Ratio: 2 to 3

Origination: Many different flags were created during Greece’s struggle to gain independence from the Ottoman Empire. The blue and white versions were selected because the blue represents Greece’s dedication to the Greek Orthodox faith (as opposed to the Ottoman Empire’s Islamic majority). The white cross represents “the wisdom of God, freedom, and country.” 

Different rulers and governments have used various shades of blue throughout the last two centuries. The current blue was finalized in 1978.

Officially Adopted: December 22, 1978

Flag Day: October 27

Kosovo

Kosovo Flag - Pixabay

Description: a blue field with a yellow silhouette map of Kosovo in its center and an arc of six white stars above the map

Width-to-Length Ratio: 2 to 3

Origination: Kosovo never had the political status that allowed a separate flag at any point in its history. Ethnic Albanians in the territory sometimes used the Albanian flag as a substitute for having no flag at all. 

After Kosovo declared independence in 2008, they held a contest to create a national flag. Designs based on the Albanian flag were rejected in favor of the current design based on the flag of the European Union. The goal was to promote Kosovo as a multi-ethnic country and not merely a nation of Albanian Kosovars. The six stars stand for the six ethnic groups of Albanians, Bosniaks, Gorani, Roma, Serbs, and Turks.

Albanian and Serbian ethnic groups in the country still use the flags of Albania and Serbia to indicate their political allegiances (and agitate for different causes). That’s why it’s helpful if you’ll be traveling to Kosovo to be able to recognize the Serbian and Albanian flags. 

In addition, Serbia does not recognize Kosovo as an independent country and therefore does not recognize Kosovo’s flag. Serbia does not have a flag for Kosovo, so instead, they use the Serbian flag. 

Officially Adopted: February 17, 2008 

Flag Day: Not officially celebrated. Some Kosovo Albanians (and Serbian Albanians) will celebrate Albania’s Flag Day on November 28.

Montenegro

Montenegro Flag - Pixabay

Description: Yellow bordered red national flag with a yellow double-headed eagle bearing the national coat of arms in the center

Width-to-Length Ratio: 1 to 2

Origination: Montenegro historically had no independent flag. At times throughout the nineteenth and twentieth century, it used the red, white, and blue tricolour. These colors were inspired by the Russian flag and had become a symbol of pan-Slavism. 

After World War II, Montenegro added a star to this tricolour and used it as the flag of its republic as part of Yugoslavia. 

In 2004, Montenegro and Serbia were the only two republics still a part of Yugoslavia, and the country went by the name Serbia and Montenegro. They chose to make a new flag to represent their republic, choosing the double-headed eagle holding a shield with a lion. This had been used by the Njegoš dynasty, one of the only dynasties and periods of Montenegran history where they weren’t engulfed inside a larger empire.

When Montenegro seceded from Yugoslavia in 2006, they voted to keep their 2004 flag in place.

Officially Adopted: July 13, 2004

Flag Day: Not Celebrated

North Macedonia

Macedonia Flag - Pixabay

Description: a red field with a golden central disk and golden rays extending to the edges

Width-to-Length Ratio: 1 to 2

Origination: Red and gold were traditionally used on Macedonian flags, but throughout the Yugoslav era they typically had a star featured. In 1992 Macedonia created a flag with a starburst pattern based on iconography from Alexander the Great. This was a symbol of the ancient Macedonian dynasty.

That pattern is called the “Star of Verghina.” Greeks believe it is a symbol of ancient Greece (since they do not believe that Macedonia or North Macedonia has a right to claim a share of this heritage). Many Greeks did not want North Macedonia using this symbol on their flag. 

Facing political and economic pressure from Greece, North Macedonia modified the flag, changing the starburst to a sunburst in 1995. 

Officially Adopted: October 5, 1995

Flag Day: Not Celebrated

Romania

Romania Flag - Pixabay

Description: vertically striped blue-yellow-red tricolour

Width-to-Length Ratio: 2 to 3

Origination:  The Ottoman Empire allowed the regions of Walachia and Moldova to have their own flags. The current tricolour was adopted at the naval version of this Walachian flag. Different iterations were used throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, but the constant was the colors of blue, yellow, and red.

During the communist era, communist emblems were added to the flag. These were stripped after the overthrow of the communist government in 1989.

Officially Adopted: December 27, 1989 (current version)

Flag Day: June 26

Serbia

Serbia Flag - Pixabay

Description: three equal red, blue, and white horizontal stripes and the Serbian coat of arms center-left

Width-to-Length Ratio: 2 to 3 

Origination: Serbia began using the red-blue-white tricolour of Russia in 1804. The Ottoman Empire recognized the flag as the flag of Serbia in 1835, over forty years before Serbia won its independence. 

As part of Yugoslavia, Serbia adopted the red-blue-white triclour but added a communist star. In 2004, when Serbia and Montenegro were the only two Yugoslav republics left, they swapped their star for the Serbian Royal Arms. They elevated the flag to their national flag after Serbia became an independent country in 2006.

Officially Adopted: August 17, 2004 (current version)

Flag Day: Not Celebrated

Slovenia

Slovenia Flag - Pixabay

Description: horizontally striped white-blue-red national flag with a coat of arms in the upper hoist corner

Width-to-Length Ratio: 1 to 2

Origination: During the Napoleonic wars, Slovenia adopted the white-blue-red tricolour to show solidarity with Russia and the Panslavic cause. However, these colors had also been traditionally used in Slovenia prior to them being adopted by the Panslavic movement and separate from their associations with Russia. This flag was used with various coats of arms.

The current coat of arms with the mountain peaks symbolizes Triglav Mountain which has three peaks. Beneath Triglav are two wavy blue arms symbolizing the Adriatic Sea and Slovenia’s important rivers. The stars above come from the Coat of Arms of the Counts of Celje who were in power in the fourteenth and fifteenth century.

The current flag has been used since Slovenia declared independence from Yugoslavia on June 25, 1991.  

Officially Adopted: June 25, 1991

Flag Day: Not Celebrated

Turkey

Turkey Flag - Pixabay

Description: red field with a white star and crescent moon in the center

Width-to-Length Ratio: 2 to 3

Origination: While the Crescent Moon and Star are today seen as symbols of Islam, these symbols have been used throughout the ancient Greek and Middle Eastern worlds as religious symbols. When Istanbul was the city of Byzantium is was dedicated to the Greek moon goddess, while a star was added to this during the era of Constantinople.

The Turks adopted these symbols after the fall of Constantinople and they became associated with the Ottoman Empire. The current version of these symbols on a red background has been in use by the Turkish navy since 1793.

After Ataturk’s revolution in 1923, the flag was officially adopted as the flag of Turkey in 1936. 

Officially Adopted: June 5, 1936 (current version)

Flag Day: Not Celebrated

Interested in More than Balkan Flags?

If you’re interested in learning more about the Balkans, check out our Balkan travel page, where you can find information about planning a trip to the Balkans. Additionally, there are more ways you can use this Balkan travel blog to learn about the region before visiting. 

 

Pin this Guide to the Balkan Flags for Your Trip

The 12 Balkan Flags & the Meanings Behind Them

 

7 Ways You Can Use This Balkan Travel Blog to Have an Awesome Trip

As this Balkan blog approaches our one year anniversary, I’ve been thinking a lot about why we are writing Sofia Adventures and what we hope you get out of it. Since Allison and I both have our own travel blogs (mine’s History Fangirl and she writes Eternal Arrival), and we’ve both been blogging separately since 2015 and have covered places in the Balkans on our own website, some would think starting another website to cover just the Balkans would be crazy. Yet we wanted to do something more than just document the places we go with travel tips. We wanted to put together a comprehensive website to help people do what we love to do: travel the Balkans

So here are seven ways you can use this Balkan travel blog to help inspire, plan, and travel.

Learn About the Balkans

Serbia - Belgrade - House of Flowers and Museum of Yugoslavia Map

The Balkans are the countries located on the Balkan penninsula…which is a lot bigger region than just the former Yugoslavia

A lot of our readers come to us curious about the Balkans, and we’re so happy to help answer these questions! We have articles about which countries count as Balkan countries, articles about different regional cuisines so you can learn what Romanian food or Greek food is, and descriptions of various holidays and festivals like Baba Marta and the Surva Festival.

We know that not everyone is ready to come travel here yet, but so many people are curious about what life is like on the peninsula. 

While these articles are far from a complete overview, we’re always working on new posts to highlight the best of the Balkan festivals, customs, cuisine, and traditions to help spread an understanding abroad about these wonderful cultures.

Discover New Places

Bulgaria - Communist Monuments Tour - Stephanie

We love traveling to villages we haven’t hear of before. There’s so much beauty in this region three years or thirty just wouldn’t be enough.

Our next goal is to help readers learn about new places in the Balkans that they’ve never heard of before. That’s why we’re hard at work on our series about the best places to visit in each country. We know that a lot of people have heard of Transylvania, Sofia, and Belgrade, but you might be curious to learn about more off-the-path (but equally or more beautiful) places like Bucovina, Arbanasi, and Vojvodina

That’s why we make sure to write about the places we love in the Balkans, from the big cities to the small. And it’s also why we’re hard at work on our “Best Places to Visit” series:

Albania (coming soon)

Bosnia and Herzegovina: 11 Stunning Places to Visit in Bosnia & Herzegovina

Bulgaria (coming soon)

Croatia: 23 Best Places to Visit in Croatia: What to See & Do!

Greece: Where to Go in Greece: 27 Top Greece Vacation Destinations

Kosovo: 5 Best Places to Visit in Kosovo

Montenegro (coming soon)

North Macedonia: 21 Mind-Blowing Places to Visit in Macedonia

Romania (coming soon)

Serbia (coming soon)

Slovenia: 27 of the Best Places to Visit in Slovenia

Turkey: 17 of the Best Places to Visit in Turkey for Culture & Adventure Lovers

Get Travel Inspiration

Romania - Sibiu - Castelul de Lut Valea Zanelor

Some places just catch your imagination, and you physically can’t sit still until you see them for yourself.

Once someone knows a place exists, it doesn’t mean they just rush out and buy a plane ticket. (Okay sometimes Allison and I do, but most people aren’t as insane as us). That’s why we love creating photo essays and Instagram guides to our favorite Balkan places.

Our hope is that by showing you some of the most magical corners of these Balkan cities, you’ll be as enchanted by this part of the world as we are. So whether it is showing your photos of a snowy Meteora or our favorite Instagram spots in Belgrade, we want you to imagine how great it would be to see these places for yourself. 

Learn the Rules of Each Country

Bulgaria - Border to Serbia - Allison with Dog

There are just some things that have to be done before you leave, and we want to help you keep track of them.

Unlike traveling in the Schengen Zone, the Balkans is twelve countries with ten visa schemes. Add on top of that the fact that there are nine currencies, three major alphabets in use, and multiple language families, and a simple backpacking trip can start to seem complicated.

That’s why we’re working on guides to help you plan your trip to each country and posts on travel tips, plus regional guides to the big topics like how Balkan currency works or how to road trip in the Balkans. Whenever some big topic seems like it needs to be addressed at the regional level (which you can find on our Balkans page) we want to put out a guide to help you easily navigate this big, beautiful, complicated peninsula.

Here are all of our country planning guides:

Albania (coming soon)

Bosnia and Herzegovina (coming soon)

Bulgaria: Planning a Trip to Bulgaria

Croatia: Planning a Trip to Croatia

Greece: Planning a Trip to Greece

Kosovo (coming soon)

Montenegro (coming soon)

North Macedonia: Planning a Trip to Macedonia

Romania (coming soon)

Serbia (coming soon)

Slovenia: Planning a Trip to Slovenia

Turkey: (coming soon)

Create Your Trip Itinerary

Turkey - Canva - Cappadocia - Best Places to Visit in Turkey

It helps so much to know where to get the best pics and which tour companies have the best reviews.

After you know where to go and how to get there, we want you to have the best time! That’s why we put together guides to help you pick out your activities, like our massive 101 Incredible Things to Do in Sofia and 101 Exciting & Unique Things to Do in Belgrade. We really know and love these places, so we want to give you access to all the info we’ve picked up over the last three years of traveling here. We don’t expect you to see all the places we listed, but you can know what’s available and make choices from there.

We also have guides for some of the best day trips and tours, our favorite restaurants, etc. While far (far) from complete, we’re working on these every day to make this website as close to a one-stop Balkan shop as it can be for you.

The best way to find this kind of information is on each country’s page:

Albania (coming soon)

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bulgaria

Croatia

Greece

Kosovo

North Macedonia

Montenegro (coming soon)

Romania

Serbia

Slovenia

Turkey

Support You While You’re Traveling

Bulgaria - Buzludzha - Summer - Allison

Sometimes you just need to pull up a step-by-step guide when you’re on the road to help you with your navigation.

We’ve all been there. You’re on the road, and despite how well you planned your trip, you need a bit more information. Maybe you decided to DIY a day trip or you need to know how to get a Sim Card in the country now that you’re already here.

Whenever we encounter situations on the road where we wished we had practical information, we try to write it down for you. While not complete, we are cataloging how we get places using public transportation, exactly how we do trips when we DIY them, and what it was like getting a SIM card or other basic need.

Look on the country pages for this kind of practical advice. Many of these step-by-step articles are great to bookmark so you can return to them once you’re here. You might appreciate our overview of how to get to Buzludzha while you’re planning, but you’ll love being able to pull up the map in it with the exact coordinates marked once you’re actually here. 

Share Your Own Trip to Help Others

Bulgaria - Burgas - Pink Lake

Spotted: an Instagram husband in the wild

We want you to have a great time in the Balkans, and we want to hear all about it! If you get some information from our post that inspired you or helped you (or has changed since we wrote it), let us know! Come back to the posts and comment with your own updates!

You can also find us on our Instagram @SofiaAdventures. If you use the hashtag #sofiaadventures on your trip, we might feature it on our account. We love seeing your trip photos!

You can also find us on our Facebook Page @SofiaAdventures, where we share our new posts on an ongoing basis and our own trip photos. 

 

Final thought, what can we do to make this Balkan Travel Blog more useful for you when planning your trip? Let us know in the comments!

6 Best Cave Hotels in Cappadocia For All Budgets

Cappadocia is a photography dreamscape, and an essential part of planning your visit to this magical wonderland is picking the best cave hotel in Cappadocia with epic balloon views.

While you may think that picking a cave hotel in Cappadocia will cost you a fortune, in reality, there is such a wide range of accommodations options that you really can have this incredible bucket list experience on a moderate budget.

I visited Cappadocia during a Muslim holiday, when the prices of all the accommodations were quite high, and I still only paid approximately $45 USD per night for a genuine cave hotel with an actual jacuzzi bathtub inside (of course, I paid more for a room with a tub, because I’m extra like that). The hotel had a lovely terrace with breakfast and sunrise balloon views, and while it was by no means as Instagrammable as other Cappadocia hotels, it was no less magical.

Commonly Asked Questions about Staying in a Cave Hotel in Cappadocia

I know it may seem crazy to sleep in a cave, so let me dispel some of the most common misconceptions and answer some questions about what it’s really like to stay in a cave hotel in Cappadocia.

Q: Is it comfortable?

Yes, sleeping in a cave hotel is extremely comfortable! All cave hotels have electricity and modern conveniences like indoor plumbing. Most cave hotels have air conditioning and virtually all should have heating, though if you are traveling at a particularly hot or cold time of year, do your due diligence in ensuring the Cappadocia cave hotel you select has the appropriate climate control. The cave hotel I stayed in Cappadocia had air conditioning, a towel warmer, and a jacuzzi tub – hardly roughing it! However, I will note that WiFi can be tricky due to the thick cave walls, though generally, it is perfectly fast in the lobby or open areas.

Q: Is it dark and/or claustrophobic?

In many cave hotels there is not a ton of natural light but if you are staying in a larger cave suite with a big window then you won’t have a problem! Most of the cave hotels I’ve researched have one window that you can open and close to control the light, so you won’t feel completely trapped in the dark. If you are particularly claustrophobic you’ll want to scour the photos of your room type to ensure you have a window. My room had a small window which helped me not feel too claustrophobic, and every cave hotel will have plenty of indoor light as well to brighten up your room and make it cozy.

Q: Is it expensive?

Delightfully, no, not at all! While of course there are several luxury cave hotels in Cappadocia that offer a premium service for a premium price, there are a number of quite affordable Cappadocia accommodations that will offer a similar experience for a quarter of the price (or less). I personally in a mid-range cave hotel, Chelebi Cave House, and for around $50 per night (in September during Eid Al-Adha, so pretty much as high season as it gets!). Despite the affordable price tag, I had a great experience! It can’t compare to a luxury hotel, but for where to stay in Cappadocia on a budget, it was a fantastic choice.

A quick note on the budget categories below: I did a Booking search for them for one month in the future, a time that’s not particularly peak season nor low season either. The prices I’ve listed below are based off the most affordable room at that hotel. However, various factors may change the cost of the room – staying in a double room vs. a more expensive suite, day of the week, seasonality, holidays and festivals, etc. – so please use these price ranges as a general guide rather than strictly accurate.

Where to Stay in Cappadocia: Luxury Cave Hotels in Cappadocia ($150/night+)

I’ll start with luxury cave hotels in Cappadocia because they are something truly unique and spectacular, but budget travelers, don’t fear as I will have plenty of recommendations for you on where to stay in Cappadocia on a budget near the end of the post. I haven’t personally stayed in any of these hotels yet, but hopefully soon!

Sultan Cave Suites

The Instagram classic, you’ve undoubtedly seen the breakfast set-up at Sultan Cave Suites approximately eleventy jillion times during your scrolling on Instagram. While this is staged (the food is not meant to be eaten and you must take your turn to get the shot), there is an actually edible delicious Turkish breakfast spread ready for you once you’ve gotten your Insta pics, so you can snap your ‘breakfast photos’ without your food getting cold. Oh, also, there’s an adorable dog included. Marketing genius.

But breakfast aside, let’s talk the rooms and amenities. All of the rooms are quite spacious, setting aside any claustrophobic ideas you may have about staying in a cave hotel in Cappadocia.

Every room is technically a suite so there is not only just a room with a bed, but also a sitting area and modern bathroom all as part of the room. There are four sizes, ranging from smallest to bigger (and thus cheapest to most expensive): junior suite, suite, king suite, and sultan suite.

What each room has varies – some have a fireplace, others a giant balcony with views over the town of Göreme, so check through the photos of various rooms on Booking (you can do so here) and make sure you’re getting the room you want.

If you want a glimpse inside the suites, this is what they look like – genuine cave rooms!

While I unfortunately haven’t gotten the chance to stay in this hotel personally, the reviews on Booking back it up, so check them out here for detailed user experiences.

Some of the best amenities of Sultan Cave Suites include a gorgeous sun terrace with sweeping views of Göreme and its many fairy chimneys and fellow cave hotels, affordable shuttle service, a concierge who will help you organize excursions, a swimming pool, and a sauna/steam room at an extra charge if you want a day of pure R&R.

While Sultan Cave Suites often sells out, it is one of the more affordably luxury cave hotels in the region, with prices as low as $150 per night when you can be lucky enough to score a room. Not bad for the most photographed hotel in town!

Check out guest reviews, prices, and availability at Sultan Cave Suites here.

Museum Hotel

Awarded both the Best Luxury Boutique Hotel and the Best Hotel Architecture in Europe, you can rest easy that Museum Hotel is one of the finest cave hotels in Cappadocia. It’s located in Uchisar, not Göreme, which is a smaller town but Göreme is easily accessible by taxi if you want to head into that town and its famous carpet stores and open air museum. However, there are still plenty of restaurants and any tours you want to do will pick you up in Uchisar, so you don’t have to feel envy that you’re not staying in Göreme.

If you want a dreamy place for sunrise balloon photos, you’d be hard pressed to beat the dreamy infinity-style pool at Museum Hotel – yes, breakfast can be included poolside! Better yet, the pool is heated so you can enjoy it even if you visit Cappadocia in winter.

The coolest thing about Museum Hotel is that its name isn’t in vain: the hotel is literally set within historic ruins which have been renovated to provide an incredible hotel experience. It has a number of artifacts from around Turkey that create a ‘museum’ within a hotel, plus each room is furnished with invaluable antiques that you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else. Staying here is like staying in a living, breathing, 5* piece of history.

Rooms range from deluxe suites to spa suites with jacuzzis and stone massage tables. Some of these rooms are accessible through original tunnels that date back to the cave’s original purpose, adding an extra layer of intrigue your Cappadocia cave hotel stay. Each room is extremely different with different levels of luxury increasing with each room tier, so be sure to go through the details of each room type before booking so as to avoid disappointment.

Here’s a little walkthrough of one of their suites:

Museum Hotel is a step above other cave hotels in Cappadocia and is priced to match. You can get the lowest-level room for as low as $400 in the off season, but be prepared to pay double that in the peak season, so it’s certainly a splurge (honeymoon, anyone?).

Certain rooms even come with a literal free wine tap so brb, pooling my life’s savings in exchange for a paltry few nights’ stay right now.

Curious? Check guest reviews, prices, and availability here.


Where to Stay in Cappadocia: The Best Mid-Range Cave Hotels in Cappadocia ($50-150 per night)

Chelebi Cave House Hotel

This is where I stayed in Cappadocia and I found it worth every penny! I got an abnormally good deal and paid $50 per night for a double room with a jacuzzi (not a comped stay). It was the high season because I was visiting during Eid Al-Adha and it was one of the few hotels left, so I was lucky to end up snagging such a beautiful hotel at the last minute despite the holiday. Generally, Chelebi Cave House Hotel is a little more expensive than what I paid now (perhaps they’ve increased their rates since I visited in fall of 2017) but it’s still an excellent deal and absolutely worth it.

They had an absolutely delicious daily Turkish breakfast with an incredible view of fairy chimneys and other cave hotels nestled in Cappadocia’s beautiful and unique topography.

I can say firsthand that the staff was really helpful and friendly, assisting us with booking tours around the city, organizing transportation from the airport (a long way away in Kayseri as the nearby Nevsehir airport was closed at the time), and figuring out onward transport to Pamukkale.

There are a variety of room options available, from suites to double rooms. I opted for the economy double but I got the jacuzzi upgrade because bathtubs are life.

For the sake of continuity with all the Instagram embeds in this article, my economy double room looked something like this – comfortable, but nothing too fancy, but what can you really expect at that price?

The rest of the building is quite beautiful, a traditional Greek house built in the Cappadocian style and dating back to . There are five cave rooms and three stone rooms so if you have your heart 100% set on sleeping in a cave room be sure to check the room description when booking and ensure you are getting the right room type.

Check out guest reviews, prices, and availability here.

Henna Konak Hotel

While I love luxury hotels, realistically, I almost never book them. I travel more than most people do, about 50% of the time, and contrary to popular belief a lot of travel bloggers actually prefer to pay their own way with hotels rather than chasing complimentary stays based off exchange of services: these collaborations are often more trouble than they’re worth. Therefore, mid-range hotels are what I tend to book, and I’m always keeping an eye out for affordable luxury hotels with personality and a keen sense of aesthetics.

When I researched the prices for Henna Konak Hotel I was truly shocked at how affordable one of the most beautiful hotels in Cappadocia is. Henna Hotel is absolutely gorgeous and it’s way less “discovered” than Sultan Cave Suites, which I feel like I see on Instagram every other day. If your aesthetic is all about interiors, patterns, and a slightly off the beaten path vibe, Henna Hotel is a dreamy place to stay in Cappadocia.

While it’s not a Cappadocia cave hotel in the strictest sense, its stone walls blend into the geography of the city in a traditional way that’s been done for over 400 years, so if you’re not strictly seeking to sleep in a cave room but are more interested in the historical architecture and traditional design of Cappadocia homes (as it used to be a mansion), it can be an excellent choice.

I’m especially in love with the detail of this exquisite breakfast room dating back to 1823 and preserved in pristine condition… I mean, who needs hot air balloons? Though of course, not to be outdone, Henna Hotel also has a gorgeous rooftop terrace where you can sit on some carpets that have been laid out and watch the balloons.

The rooms are beautifully designed with bespoke furnishings, and while they’re not quite as luxurious as, say, a spa suite with a built-in massage table, they look extremely cozy and aesthetically pleasing.

Virtually every guest review raves about the host, Mustafa, and so you can rest assured that you’ll receive 5* service with the intimacy that only a small boutique hotel can offer.

The hotel was used as a mansion until 2014, with rooms nearly 400 years old and decorated with the traditional stone-room structure you’ll find in many Cappadocia cave hotels. The mansion underwent three years of renovation and opened as a boutique hotel in 2017, with only six rooms. As it’s still rather new, everything feels cozy and fresh.

For an example of the interior, check out this shot provided by the hotel (you can peruse more photos here):

Each room comes with finely designed details like ornate doors as headboards, woven curtains, and traditional Turkish cotton sheets. All of this can be found in a small hotel that’s kept its original structure, while adding modern amenities like air conditioning.

Keep in mind this is an extremely small boutique hotel that is getting more popular by the day due to its Instagrammability, so book in advance if you have your heart set on staying here.

Check out guest reviews, prices, and availability here.

Where to Stay in Cappadocia: Best Budget Cave Hotels (Under $50/night)

Travellers Cave Pension

One of the more affordable cave hotels in Cappadocia, Travellers Cave Pension offers a traditional cave room experience without a huge price tag. Opened in 2010, it’s a small, 10-room boutique hotel so you can be sure to have a personalized experience. It even has a hidden underground hammam room if you want to add a spa experience to your stay!

There is also a peaceful garden and terrace with balloon and fairy chimney view for all guests to enjoy. It offers a combination of stone and cave rooms so if you really want a cave room, be sure to clarify that when booking.

The rooms feature traditional Turkish furnishings and private en-suite bathrooms. They have central heating in the winter although no air conditioning in the summer. The stone walls should not make the heat an issue but in the case of abnormally high temperatures this could potentially be uncomfortable, so keep that in mind.

Check out guest reviews, prices, and availability here.

Gedik Cave Hotel

Another budget-friendly place to stay in Cappadocia, Gedik Cave Hotel offers an affordable option in the heart of Göreme town. This stone-built mansion is exquisite, and it offers a lovely terrace and cozy cave rooms (though like the abovementioned hotel, not all of them are authentically caves, so inquire if that is a strict selling point for you).

Guests have raved about the Turkish breakfast and the roof terrace from which you can watch the balloons in the morning.

Each room has central heating and an en-suite bathroom and garden views, however, if you are traveling summer, keep in mind that this hotel does not have air conditioning. While generally the stone construction keeps rooms cool, if there is a heat wave I would imagine it could get uncomfortably hot.

Check guest reviews, prices, and availability here

Here’s a sample room pictured below:

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