If every city has its best season, Sofia's is the summer. The streets are green and shaded with trees. The warm sunlight makes the city look colourful and alive. People leave their cars at home and take long, strolling walks in the centre or in one of the parks and gardens, vivid with summer flowers.
It is easy to fall in love with the city just by wandering round the centre for a couple of hours. Try the area around the National Theatre, where cooling fountains spout jets of water opposite the imposing façade of the building. Young people sitting on benches are drinking beer, children are playing and groups of men are clustered around chessboards. Street musicians playing jazz melodies add to the relaxing atmosphere.
Parks such as the Borisova Garden provide a respite from the heat. Cyclists and roller skaters take advantage of the shadowy lanes, weaving around people walking their dogs or children playing chasing games. Workers sit on the benches having a snack, reading a book or finishing some job on their laptops away from the office. Just spread a blanket under a tree and lie back, listening to the birds or watching the squirrels climbing through the trees.
To complete your Sofia summer evening experience, you should definitely head for a restaurant for something to eat. Try a glass of wine and a light vegetable meal in a flowerfilled garden with gleaming lanterns, or sample the favourite Bulgarian combination of fried fish and chips while enjoying the sunset in the park. Whether in the centre or in the suburbs, the choice of restaurants and cuisine is diverse and always tempting.
Tourists who come to Bulgaria for the first time usually prefer to try something typical of this country. It's easy to find a restaurant decorated in traditional Bulgarian style and offering regional cuisine. You can have a shot of rakiya and a shopska salata, while listening to live Bulgarian music and folk songs.
If you are not after the traditional, you can choose from many fine restaurants offering typical Italian, French or Asian cuisine in stylish environments. Most of these places employ native cooks, so the authentic taste of the food is guaranteed. Fusion cuisine is also popular in the capital and many restaurants tempt adventurous spirits with unconventional recipes and combinations of food.
After the democratic changes of 1989, and especially when the first critical years were over, Sofia saw the appearance of restaurants with foreign food hitherto unknown to the Bulgarian palate. The first ones were Chinese, and they were regarded as posh eateries in the first years of their existence. So was MacDonald's...
Over time, Bulgarians got used to them and today even mediumsized provincial towns have at least one place where you can eat Peking or Sichuan duck. Most Chinese restaurants in this country, however, won't impress you with the quality of their food and, in some, the hygiene standards are simply appalling. Fortunately, there are always exceptions. Amongst them are the two restaurants of the Happy Golden chain, located in Mladost and in the subway by Mosta na Vlyubenite, or Lovers' Bridge, near the National Palace of Culture. The Happy Golden restaurants have a pleasant interior with new furniture and are spotless. The staff is kind and obliging and the dishes do not include such "improvements" as chips. Mr Jin, the owner, wants to offer his customers only the best of Chinese cuisine and hospitality, and is doing an excellent job.
If you want to indulge yourself into the pleasures of the Italian taste and atmosphere, you should definitely opt for Osteria di Sofia. This place will bring you back in time to the years when people used to try naturally all tastes and smells on Earth. The restaurant offers the magical environment of an old house and traditional Italian cuisine, prepared from carefully selected products. The master skills of the chefs make your dinner an exclusive emotion. Have a classic Italian meal from the restaurant's main course list, fresh or dried pasta garnished with authentic ingredients or a Mediterranean fish specialty in the summer garden, add to it a glass of fine wine and enjoy your unique Italian experience in Sofia.
Tempting pasta specials are also to be found in the menu of the Pastorant Garden restaurant. Romantic interior and a rich menu of fresh salads and antipasti, delicious entrées, and all sorts of pasta and tasty meat dishes await its visitors. The open garden of the restaurant is an ideal choice to spend the warm summer evening in the city. The world-wide selection of wine is a refined complement to the exquisite food served.
The bright and stylish Park Inn by Radisson Sofia Restaurant is the perfect place for business lunches or private dinners. It is also one of the most preferred venue in Sofia to celebrate seated or cocktail parties, as well as wedding receptions. The restaurant provides an international snack menu, the chef 's weekly specials (international and Bulgarian), a grill menu, and an extensive international wine list complete with Bulgarian selections. For a unique dining experience among restaurants in Sofia, guests can dine inside under the glass roof or on the outdoor terrace, which is surrounded by lush gardens. Just off the bustling boulevard, this sun flushed and cozy restaurant and garden retreat with warm atmosphere and candles for an ideal place to unwind and gather among friends, family or colleagues.
The newly opened Rozalina Wine Bar and Restaurant welcomes its guests to enjoy authentic Bulgarian wine and delicious meals in a fresh and charming environment. The restaurant is spacious, bright and cosy and can accommodate up to 60 persons. It is suitable for romantic weddings in fair tone colours – the management of Rozalina promise to turn your celebration into a magical fairy-tale.
If you are tired of the urban environment, you can try the Serbian restaurant Kotiloto, situated in Dragalevtsi, at the foot of Vitosha mountain. The open barbecue and the summer garden of the restaurant will make your stay a relaxing experience. Kotiloto offers typical Serbian specialties such as pleskavitsa, veshalitsa and kavarma and also Balkan dishes – banitsa, sarmi,BBQ baked bean, mish-mash, and variety of home-made bread. You can be sure in the authentic taste of the dishes, as the chef of the restaurant comes from Serbia and has been awarded a gold medal at the famous barbecue competition Skariada in Leskovats.
At the foot of Vitosha mountain you can also try traditional Turkish meals. Turqouise restaurant is a piece of paradise, where you can experience the real Turkish cuisine in Bulgaria. You can enjoy nature and tranquility in the spacious green garden and try the delicious meals, prepared by original Turkish recipes in wooden stove and barbecue. Nine selected chefs from Turkey are taking care of the food’s delightful taste.
If you have stayed long enough in Sofia, you must have heard of the famous restaurant Limoncheto in Boyana. The good news is that now you can enjoy the fine cuisine of the Limoncheto Restaurant and Garden in the centre of Sofia. The offers include the well-known salads of Limoncheto, mildly melting beef steak and a special selection of Belgian and German beers. You will have to make reservations, to be sure that you will get seats at the cooling terrace. Limoncheto will make you feel in the right place, if you want to be special – from the choice on the list to the service and the ambience.
Leisure air and friendly environment await the visitors of Bar Posolstvoto Steakhouse in Sofia’s Iztok district. The interior is cosy and suitable for casual meetings with friends or family dinners. You can sit near a wooden table and have a spicy barbecue special, accompanied by shopska salad, or just rest on a bar chair and enjoy a pint of cold beer.