Souvenir Shopping, Sofia (Self Guided)

It would be a pity to leave Sofia without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. We've compiled a list of gifts and souvenirs, which are unique to Sofia, that a visitor might like to purchase to reflect their visit.
How it works: Download the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play to your mobile phone or tablet. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and its built-in GPS navigation functions guide you from one tour stop to next. The app works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

Download The GPSmyCity App

Download 'GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities' app for IOS   Download 'GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities' app for Android

Souvenir Shopping Map

Guide Name: Souvenir Shopping
Guide Location: Bulgaria » Sofia (See other walking tours in Sofia)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.9 km
Author: Daniel
1
CASA VINO

1) CASA VINO

What to buy here: Rakia – While in Bulgaria you wanna drink as the Bulgarians do. Well you have to get really well prepared for this difficult task and to know that the Bulgarians are big drinkers (like all Balkans).

The most popular alcoholic drink in Bulgaria is called Rakia and it is made usually of grapes, but also of peaches, plums, cherries and any other sugar fruits. Big part of the people still produce it in big copper distillers at home. If you are invited in a Bulgarian house you will definately have to taste it. Do not refuse a glass of this fire drink as it would be considered as an affection by the host. If you decide to keep up the rapidity and the quantity that your host will consume, be careful as it is difficult to keep the rhytm of the locals. A small hint – while drinking rakia do not forget to eat from all kinds of flat sausages that are usually served with the drinks.

Open daily from 10 am to 9 pm.

00359 2 9442084
2
Center of Folk Arts and Crafts

2) Center of Folk Arts and Crafts

What to buy here: Palamarka –a swaphook – The « palamarka » is a precious gift for people who appreciate handicrafts and are interested in history and ethnography. This tool was traditionally used by harvesters to protect their hands while cutting wheat-ears with a sickle. The palamarka was also part of several pre-harvest rituals. The most popular ritual is called « the singing of the palamarka ». Young, unmarried girls would put their palamarkas, along with a small note, in an apron, then took them out one by one reading the predictions. The predictions usually focused on future possible mates, like for example if the prediction read « You will be eating milk and cheese » it ment that the future spouse will be a shepard.

You can order an icon to be painted or a wish to be written especially for you on the palamarka. From 9$.

Hours: Mon - Sat: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
3
Alexander Nevski Square Street Vendors

3) Alexander Nevski Square Street Vendors

What to buy here: Traditional knits and embroideries – Here are two crafts, which are about to disappear as nowadays only grannies still take the time to create themselves a napkin for their beloved nephew or a handkerchief for their niece. If you do not have the basic knowledge how to crochet-knit or stitch then you have few possibilities: find a granny who is willing to teach you, look for an appropriate book, look up the information on internet or (and this is your last possibility) just buy a crochet hook knitted piece or a fabulous embroidery.

In the very city center of Sofia, just next to the biggest Cathedral you will find many old women sitting there and knitting and embroidering all day. You won't see however fashion skirts or pullovers, but all kinds of blankets, tablecloths, traditional napkins, handkerchiefs many of them decorated with the “Bulgarian style embroidery with lace” with red or green yarns. Many of the ornaments are similar to those of other Slavonic people – geometrical, floral and animal ornaments, straight or undulating lines, knitted or sewed on white cotton or hemp canvas or silk canvases. Threads and stitches also differ depending on the item created, common being cotton, silk and even yarns with gold or silver fibers. Rest assured that regardless of the item you purchase, the chances are really high that your acquisition is something truly unique and unrepeatable. Few have been the cases when two blankets were completely similar. The most common color used for knitting and embroidering is red, largely regarded in Bulgaria as a symbol of good health and well-being. Best place for buying embroideries and different kinds of knits is the square in front of the Cathedral. These grannies sell only handmade stuff. They are very polite and often give a good price after a short negotiation especially if you are the first client for the day.
4
National Art Gallery Gift Shop

4) National Art Gallery Gift Shop

What to buy here: Kukeri masks | Litak | Martenitsa | Traditional rugs.

Kukeri masks - The Bulgarians start the new year with some traditional rituals for prolific year, prosperity and good health by organizing different events. The Bulgarian carnival « Kukeri » is organized mainly in the region of Sofia and takes place in the end of January. Only married men can participate in this ritual. They dance and perform folk theater in large groups with the purpose of scaring away evil spirits and promoting fertility and good health. Most of the masks are made of wood. Different colored threads are glued on it as well as pieces of multicolored fabrics, mirrors and other shiny elements. The masks represent a ram, a goat or a bull. The impact that the masked mummers make, gets even bigger by the sound of the copper and bronze bells that hang on them. The participants produce the masks themselves, the more scary they are, the stronger impact they have.

Some of them have two sides (two faces) – from one side the face is and from the other the nose is big and the face is scary. These type of masks are symbols of the good and the bad that exist in the nature and are inavoidable. Very important are the colors of the decoration – mainly used is the red color as a symbol of the fertility, the sun and the fire. The black colo r is a personification of the mother earth and the white is the water and the light.

Prices from 250$ for a small size mask, 350$ for a middle size, 450$ for a big one.

Working time: 10:00 - 18:00, closed on Monday
5
The White Stork souvenir shop

5) The White Stork souvenir shop

What to buy here: Traditional doll –

The doll in the Bulgarian traditional culture has an important role dating from the childehood of every Bulgarian. It has come from the remote antiquity in the folklore and the folk tales together with the pagan legends and beliefs. The doll in the Bulgarian ethnography is a priceless art heritage that kept the spirit of our ancestоrs.

All types of traditonal dolls are handmade. They can be males or females with big variety of the colors and models of customs. In the Bulgarian folklore there are few types of traditional dolls – the most popular are those dressed in traditional vestments from different parts of Bulgaria presenting typical ornaments of the customs of the region.

Prices from 6$ do 45$. Open from Monday to Saturday from 10 am to 7 pm.

00359 2 980 4378
6
Bulgarian Rose at the TZUM

6) Bulgarian Rose at the TZUM

What to buy here: Rose oil – Roses are possibly the world’s most favorite flower because of their beauty and amazing fragrance. More than 300 years ago the Rose Damascena was imported from Damascus to Bulgaria. Thanks to the fertile soil and the favourable climat the rose found its second motherland here. Today Bulgaria is one of the biggest producers of Rose oil in the world and the rose is the tourist symbol of the country. The essential oil of Rose is extracted from the petals by a solvent extraction method. To obtain a kilogram of rose oil is needed five tones of petals and this fact places the Rose flower absolute as the most precious essential oil in the world. It is also called « the liquid gold » and is preferred by the biggest companies in the perfumery industry and beauty as it is one of the basic ingrédients of the composition of every perfume. It is also wildly used in the composition of the skin care products - creams, body lotions, cleansing products, soaps. Rose oil has no equal in skin care for moisturising, firming, smoothing and repairing the skin. In so doing, it produces no irritation, being cooling, calming and soothing. Rose has a positive effect on broken superficial capillaries and is thus ideal for mature, dry or sensitive skin. Rose water can also be used for flavoring food such as milk puddings, ice creams, fruit salads. The jam of roses is very popular in the confectionary. Not to forget the brandy from roses, a sweet drink with a very pleasant flavour of flowers, but more than two glasses can cause a heavy hangover on the next day.

Prices from 15$ for 1cl of pure rose oil (15 drops). Open from Monday to Friday from 9 am to 6 pm. Saturday open from 9 am to 2 pm.
7
The Mall of Sofia

7) The Mall of Sofia

What to buy here: Bulgarian white cheese.

Popular in Bulgaria as “white brine sirene “cheese” it is very often confused by the foregners with the Greek feta. The truth is that the Bulgarian cheese is unbeatable by its taste and incomparable with any other type of cheeses. The taste of the cheese is given by the unique bacteria called “Bacillus Bulgaricus” dicovered in 1905 in Bulgaria and named after the name of the country, which is also the reason for its slightly acid taste. Thanks to the same bacteria the Bulgarian yougurt is world known for its wholesome effect on the health.

The cheese can be made of goat milk, cow’s milk or sheep milk. For best taste it has to be put in storage for 60 days. The cheese is one of the must ingredients of the most popular Bulgarian salad called “Shopska” as well as the famous stuffed pepper with cheese. If you drink red wine it is an indispensible product on the table dusted with finely ground red pepper and olive oil. It is also used in the preparation of the most common breakfast of the Bulgarians – salty pastry stuffed with wite cheese « banitsa ».

The white cheese is one of the products that remind the communist era in Bulgaria and today the people still remember the real taste of the home made white brine cheese produced with home made milk and yeast and strained in the dining room of the house. From 9$ for a kilogram.

Working time Every day 10:00 - 22:00
8
BalkanFolk

8) BalkanFolk

What to buy here: Traditional Bulgarian musical instruments – kaba gaida, dvoyanka, tupan.

If you have decided to go out in Sofia you definately have to choose some of the numerous pubs « krachma » where musicians perform folklore music every night exept Sundays.

There is no celebration or event in Bulgaria without the participation of some of the traditional Bulgarian musical instruments. One of the most popular is called « kaba gaida » and is the main accompanying instrument in a very popular Bulgarian folklore song chosen to be included in the playlist of the gold gramophone record launched with the two American aircrafts « Voyager 1 » and « Voyager 2 » in 1977. As an instrument with a very powerful sound it is often played at weddings, during the grape-harvest time, holidays like Trifon Zarezan in February when the vines are clipped, at Nestinari (barefoot walking on live coals) or Koukeri (masking parades) games and gatherings. The gaida is a respected instrument in many parts of the country but it is most treasured in the Rhodopi Mountains.

The prices start from 48$ for a « Kaval » , 292$ for a « Tapan », 300$ for a « Gadaulka », 300$ for a « Gaida ».

Walking Tours in Sofia, Bulgaria

Create Your Own Walk in Sofia

Create Your Own Walk in Sofia

Creating your own self-guided walk in Sofia is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Famous Museums and Galleries Walk in Sofia

Famous Museums and Galleries Walk in Sofia

Sofia boasts a number of great museums that reflect Bulgaria's history, its cultural heritage and the way of life in the country. Take this walking tour to get a keen insight into Bulgarian history.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.9 km
City Orientation Walk

City Orientation Walk

Sofia is considered one of Europe's oldest cities, with a history going back more than 7,000 years. It's also Bulgaria's cultural, economic, and educational epicenter. This fascinating city is rich in historical and architectural sights as well as many other attractions. Take this walk to visit the biggest and best attractions in Sofia.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 km
Borisova Garden Walk

Borisova Garden Walk

Borisova Gardina is the oldest and most famous park in Sofia. Established in 1884, the park was named after Bulgarian Tsar Boris III. Take our tour to explore the sights within the garden and find out more about this top Bulgarian landmark.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.7 km
Levski Boulevard Walking Tour

Levski Boulevard Walking Tour

Levski Boulevard is the main street of Sofia, and is notable for its many landmarks and monuments. The street took its name from Vasil Levski, a national hero in Bulgaria. Take our tour to explore the top sights of Levski Boulevard.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.6 km
Yellow Paves Walking Tour in Sofia

Yellow Paves Walking Tour in Sofia

Yellow Paves is an area of Sofia where the roads are covered with yellow rocks - they were a present from the Austro-Hungarian rulers for the wedding of King Ferdinand I. Yellow Paves has since become one of the popular symbols of the capital - why not take our tour and visit the top attractions in the area.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.2 km
Sofia Landmarks Walking Tour

Sofia Landmarks Walking Tour

As the capital of a former communist country, Sofia has a number of imposing monuments and landmarks that recall the long history of Bulgaria. Make sure that you will take this self guided walking tour to visit some of the most amazing and important attractions in Sofia.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.7 km

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip


Sofia Shopping: 15 Things To Memorize Bulgaria By

Sofia Shopping: 15 Things To Memorize Bulgaria By

Increasingly popular tourist destination in recent years, Bulgaria has opened up to the outer world, revealing colorful identity, manifested in rich craftsmanship, culinary and cultural traditions and history. The country's capital city Sofia is a lovely alloy of Eastern and Western European...

Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Sofia for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Sofia has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Taking Care of Your Feet


To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Sofia, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device


Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.