Travel Postcard: 48 hours in Sofia, Bulgaria

Fri Feb 4, 2011 6:04am EST
 
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By Tsvetelia Tsolova

SOFIA (Reuters Life!) - Got 48 hours to explore Sofia? Local correspondents help you get the most out of a stay in Bulgaria's capital - famous for its cheap prices, good food, thriving night life and post-communist chic.

FRIDAY

7 p.m. Start your visit at the heart of the city in the Independence Square, surrounded by the presidential, government and parliament buildings, nicely lit at night. The central building once hosted the headquarters of the much-feared Communist party.

Take the yellow-cobbled road, check out the former royal palace, which now hosts the national gallery and is worth returning to over the weekend for a taste of Bulgarian contemporary art.

Further down the road, right before the plenary hall of the parliament, turn left to see the gold-plated domes of St. Alexander Nevski Cathedral, one of the biggest East Orthodox churches in the Balkans and Sofia's prime ecclesiastical monument.

8 p.m. After a refreshing walk, you may try the national cuisine at Manastirska Magernitsa, (67, Khan Asparuh St. www.magernitsa.com), a lively spot where you can enjoy traditional Bulgarian cooking and settings, or Pod Lipite (1, Elin Pelin St., www. podlipitebg.com) or Chevermeto (1, Bulgaria Blvd, www.chevermeto-bg.com) where you can also see some folk entertainment.

Try the famous Shopska salad and the local brandy - rakya. If you are into wine-tasting, opt for Mavrud, a native red grape variety which dates back to ancient times.

11 p.m. If your batteries are still charged, plunge into Sofia's dazzling night-life and experience the joy of "chalga", Bulgaria's eclectic blend of folk and pop music, combining live dance tunes with oriental and gypsy motifs.   Continued...