NOTE: Due to COVID-19, all of Sofia’s bars are currently closed. Need a cocktail fix? Get inspired by these cocktails from around the world!
Sofia’s a seriously fun city to party in. It hasn’t been taken over by stag dos the way that Bucharest has been, and thanks to the cheap price of booze, a night out is extremely affordable. On average, a beer or a glass of wine will cost 3-5 leva (1.50 to 2.50 euro) and a craft cocktail will cost 8-10 leva (4 to 5 euro).
The majority of bars are clustered in the center, mostly in the area east of Vitosha Boulevard in the center and in Oborishte. This is great because it means you can quite easily hop to several different bars in a single night if you only have a short weekend in Sofia to explore.
Here are a few of our favorite bars we’ve discovered over the years in Sofia. Feel free to suggest your favorites in the comments!
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Raketa Rakia Bar
Want a little vintage flair and Communist nostalgia with your drinks? Hey, why not!
It’s got a fun, slightly grungy flair and an extensive selection of Bulgarian rakia (which is politely translated as “schnapps”, though moonshine or rocket fuel would be slightly more accurate). For those who want to avoid feeling like hell the next morning, there is also an ample selection of Bulgarian beers and other drinks.
Location: bulevard Yanko Sakazov 17, 1527 Sofia Center, Sofia
Opening Hours: Daily from 11 AM to midnight
Bar Sputnik sells itself on its “craft cocktails, funky music, and sacred geometry.” Whatever that means, the cocktails are some of the best in Sofia and the vibe is really fun, especially on Saturdays.
Bonus, it’s co-located right next to Raketa Rakia Bar (and it’s owned by the same people) so that you can easily bar hop from one to the other. Raketa closes first, so you can head to Bar Sputnik after.
Location: bulevard Yanko Sakazov 17, 1527 Sofia Center, Sofia
Opening Hours: Daily from 11 AM to 2 AM
Bar Petak (Bar Friday)
Naturally, this is the place to be on a Friday night in Sofia if you want a proper night out!
Despite the name, this bar is fun pretty much every night of the week. It’s also great for people who like to party until the crack of dawn, literally, as it’s open until 6 AM every night.
Location: ulitsa General Yosif V. Gourko 21, 1000 Sofia Center, Sofia
Opening Hours: Daily from 6 PM to 6 AM
5L Speakeasy Bar
This speakeasy-style bar is one of my favorite places to go for cocktails in Sofia. The bar is located behind a hidden door, where you have to test out a bunch of keys to find just the right one (I won’t tell you exactly how to get in, as that’s part of the fun! But it’s not rocket science).
There are two levels — the upper level is open on weekends, and on weeknights, the bar is only open on the lower level, so don’t be surprised if you walk in and it looks deserted — just head downstairs.
5L has some of the most creative cocktails I’ve seen in Sofia and literally everything we tried was delicious.
Location: ulitsa Tsar Shishman 15, 1000 Sofia Center, Sofia
Opening Hours: Daily from 4 PM to 2 AM
One More Bar
One of my favorite bars in Sofia — it’s way too easy to say yes to “one more” when you’re here. With great cocktails (and delicious mulled wine in the winter) and an extensive beer and wine menu, One More has basically everything you want in a historic building which used to be a kindergarten.
It’s even better in the summer when the front terrace is open. Also, it’s quite close to 5L Speakeasy Bar, so it’s a convenient place to stop as you bar hop down Tsar Shishman, one of the best nightlife streets in Sofia.
Location: ulitsa Tsar Shishman 12, 1000 Sofia Center, Sofia
Opening Hours: Daily from 8:30 AM to 2 AM
A:part:mental (AKA The Apartment)
One of the most hipstery bars in Sofia, A:part:mental (also just called The Apartment) is located in, yes, a former apartment building that’s since been exchanged through a number of hands, including a brief stint as the Sudanese embassy.
Now, they’ve combined two former apartments into one bar. There are lots of homey touches — book, board games, a piano you can play — and the atmosphere is just super cozy.
People love the raspberry wine; I think it’s disgustingly sweet, personally! They have a wide selection of Belgian beers that are more my style. It’s also a café during the day so you can order teas, coffees, or cakes.
Location: ulitsa Neofit Rilski 68, 1000 Sofia Center, Sofia (look for the Tibetan flag outside and climb the stairs to the second floor)
Opening Hours: Daily from 10:30 AM to 1:45 AM
Lit only by candles, Hambara is one of the most interesting bars in Sofia. But it’s also super hidden — you have to walk down a pitch dark alleyway that looks super sketchy, only to knock on a wooden door and wait for someone to open it from the inside.
The story goes that this was a place for the intelligentsia to hide out and talk politics and other forbidden matters during Communism — but I don’t know if that’s true or just a myth. Still, I do know that it’s one of the coolest bars in Sofia.
Location: ulitsa 6-ti septemvri 22, 1142 Sofia Center, Sofia (hidden in a super dimly lit alleyway, where you have to knock on a wooden door — ask around if you have trouble finding it!)
Opening Hours: Monday through Saturday from 9 PM to 3 AM, closed on Sundays.
I’ve only been here once but I’m already meaning to get back. The music was really fun (I mean, they played Shaggy’s “It Wasn’t Me”) and the vibe was really laid-back and unpretentious on a Friday night.
They have an… inventive cocktail menu with a few misses (you can safely skip the Rusty Nail with mustard powder, which is exactly as gross as it sounds) — but many of the more standard cocktails, including the bloody mary and the basil gin smash, are solid.
Location: ulitsa Angel Kanchev 1, 1000 Sofia Center, Sofia
Opening Hours: Daily from 5 PM to 2 AM
What to Bring with You to Sofia
We strongly recommend having your own unlocked smartphone to make travel around Sofia easy – and it’s super cheap with a local SIM (here’s how to get one in Bulgaria).
If your own phone company charges too much to get it unlocked, you can buy a cheap unlocked smartphone online (here’s one we recommend). But generally, if your smartphone is unlocked, we advise you to bring that with you and just be sure you have travel insurance in case of breakage, loss, or theft.
Sofia is a safe city but we always recommend people to be cautious with their belongings. We know a lot of people like money belts for Europe – this is the best-reviewed one we’ve seen. However, neither of us use them.
Instead, we both have the same awesome anti-theft backpack by PacSafe and bring it everywhere with us – in Sofia, when we travel, and even just on beach days and coffee outings! With locking zippers, slashproof construction, and other security features, it’s peace of mind in a bag. It’s also surprisingly gender-neutral and stylish.
Finally, don’t forget a guidebook! While travel blogs are great, we love having a well-researched guidebook at our fingertips. We suggest Lonely Planet Bulgaria & Romania as the best option for the country.
Where to Stay in Sofia
Wondering where to flop after a long night on the town? Here are our best recommendations from two Sofia locals, broken down by 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, I 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 could’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.
More 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.
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.
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. 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.
Originally from California, Allison has been living in Bulgaria for the last two years and is obsessed with traveling around the Balkans. She has been published in National Geographic, CNN Arabic, Matador Network, and the Huffington Post. She loves befriending dogs, drinking coffee, geeking out about wine, and cooking food from around the world.