Is Sofia the Least Relaxing Capital in Europe?

Sofia was described as the least relaxing city to go on a vacation by SpaSeekers. Is that really the case? We don’t want to spoil the answer, but yes, it is probably is. But there is more to it than a mere yes or no, so keep reading.

Does Sofia’s unrelaxed nature matter?

Interestingly enough, SpaSeekers’s list also puts Sofia on par with Paris, Amsterdam, and Madrid, all cities that are famous for their tourism. However, these towns are vastly different in their nature. They also prove that not all tourism is about relaxation, and in Amsterdam's case, it may be more related to intoxication. Sofia is a working-class city. While it can be a fine place to live, it’s the main purpose is to be a jumping off point for the actual tourist spots in Bulgaria. You can check out some of them here.

Why is Sofia so unrelaxed?

While Sofia is a city with a long and fascinating history dating back at least 7,000 years,  not all of it served to make it a relaxing environment to go on a vacation.

The truth is that despite the scenic view to Vitosha Mountain, Sofia is hardly a city of romance. Most of the town’s center does have a 20th-century charm to it, but the buildings are quite densely packed, hiding the view and the sky itself despite not being all that tall.

Most of Sofia was built during the times of communism. For those that may not know, the socialist government had a strict, state-run economy. Housing was part of that planning. People couldn’t just move wherever they pleased and construction was more conservative than it is today. Sofia’s socialist construction defines its overall appearance.

While the housing method of blocs managed to give many Bulgarians home, it’s certainly a drab look compared to cities with a less utilitarian construction philosophy. That’s not to say that the buildings build today to make things much better.

There’s a construction boom going on in Sofia right now, which makes most citizens unhappy. There are also quite a regular road patch jobs and the building of the new metro lines is still in full force. This makes movement in the city even harder than it usually is. Sofia is certainly the least calm its ever been in decades.

The general infrastructure of the city is more or less the same it was prior to the fall of communism. While some roads were widened to service more traffic and the metro made urban mobility easier, Sofia’s population has increased by several hundred thousand. Many of the new denizens now own automobiles, further cluttering the streets.

The list goes on and on, but the point is made - Sofia is a city of workers rather than of tourists despite having many wonderful and interesting tourist destinations and a good nightlife. Bulgaria still has a lot to offer, especially in its countryside, but keep your expectation in check when visiting Bulgaria's capital.

Alex Dimchev

Alex Dimchev is a writer, editor, and weapons master for

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