With an abundance of gorgeous architecture, millenia old history, ancient ruins in the metro stations, a central park large enough to hold an observatory, and a great nightlife, Sofia is the perfect place for a science-based weekend getaway. This year, we have gathered all our insider knowledge of this Eastern European gem to give you the best advice out there and bring you a true Ratio weekend experience!
How to get here?
If you are coming from Europe, you will find flights to Sofia really cheap and accessible with the low-cost airlines – especially if you book in advance. Check out some potential flights on Skyscanner below:
Arrival & departure
We have a great transport infrastructure that can get you from Sofia Airport to the city center in less than half an hour. You can choose between several buses and the metro, and if you don’t want to use public transport, you can just grab a taxi.
We highly recommend using the metro – it`s cheap (1,60 lv which is about 0,80 euro), fast (it’s about 20 minutes to travel to the center of Sofia) and regular. You can find more information and detailed travel guides here and here.
Keep in mind that the Bulgarian currency is lev and you can not pay in euro. Most places take cards, but it`s good to have some cash with you as well.
Ratio 2019 Fall will take place in Sofia Event Center which is located in the city center – the exact location is Mall Paradise, floor 3, Sofia Event Center. You can easily get there with metro line M2 – your stop is “Vitosha”. Bus – 120, Bus – 83, Bus – 88 also have routes that pass near Sofia Event Center.
Our Airbnb places are pretty good, so you can check them out – we usually even book Airbnb places in the city center for our speakers and we’re really happy with the experience. There are also some great hotels in the city center. We recommend booking at Downtown, BW CiTY Hotel Sofia or Crystal Palace, where we make accommodations for those of our lectures who prefer staying at a hotel instead of a private Airbnb apartment.
Do you still have any question or do you need any help with your reservation? Write to us and we will help you with the details! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
We’re sure you’d like to use your time in Sofia to get acquainted with the local culture and sights. The center of the city is pretty safe and becoming more tourist-friendly every day. Still, lots of Bulgarians are either too shy or don’t really know English well, so asking for advice might be tricky. Your best bet are young people. We’d recommend you always keep your accommodation address handy on Google Maps, so that people can see it and guide you by the map.
In any case, there’s lots to see and here’s a list of our favorites.
Sofia center is pretty small and the area worth going through can be crossed in about 30 minutes by foot. If you want to go somewhere farther and need to use a taxi, you need to know that there are good ones and there are some bad ones.
You can download the app TaxiMe (Google Play and App Store) and use it to call for a cab. Don’t worry if you put the end address wrong – as long as it’s in the same general vicinity, it’s all fine. You can also put your credit card details in and pay through the app, which is a great option, as local taxi drivers are not big on carrying change and will frown if you give them a 50 or 100 (and sometimes even 20) leva banknote.
If you want to get a cab from the street, your best bet is Yellow Cabs.
Free Sofia Tour will give you a great overview of all the sights in the city.
If you prefer to go on your own, we’ve prepared a map with the key places to see.
If you only have time for three things, we’d recommend these to be:
Alexander Nevski Monument Cathedral – a mix between a place of worship and a monument to the liberation from the Ottoman Empire, it’s the signature landmark of Sofia. While you’re there, you might want to hop by to St. Sophia Temple (known as The Red Church), built in the 4-6th century. There’s a lower level with old Roman ruins that’s open to visitors.
Nezavisimost Square – it gives you a great feeling of the grandiose Socialist architecture, but you can also see some old Roman ruins there. If you’re in the area, pop by the fountain in front of the Presidency to see our guards and go in the courtyard where you’ll see St. George Temple (known as Rotonda), the oldest building in Sofia, dating back to the 4th century.
National Palace of Culture – the huge building is the signature building of the Socialist regime in Bulgaria. It now hosts the Council of the European Union, so it’s not possible to see on the inside, but you can see the grand front and the newly renovated fountains. There are lots of popular stories about this building, like the fact that the construction company “forgot” an excavator and poured the foundations over it. It was also the headquarters of the post-apocalyptic overlords in a terrible sci-fi movie with Antonio Banderas.
There are now many places to try out, and we’d gladly show you around most of them. You can see our favorite restaurants and breakfast spots on the map, but what you should now and try are the following dishes:
Mekitsi – a fried dough “bagel” served with sugar and jam or Bulgarian white cheese on top. it’s a traditional breakfast and you can try it at “Mekitsa i kafe” and “Daro” (the latter is our personal favorite)
Tarator – something typical for the summer months, it’s a cold soup made of yogurt and cucumbers. May sound weird to foreigners, but do give it a go! You can find it anywhere.
Banitsa – another traditional breakfast piece, it is a pastry made of phyllo dough with different fillings, but always based on Bulgarian white cheese. You can try it out at HleBar.
We’ve put on the map a couple of places where you can just chill with an afternoon beer/cocktail – test them out.
Ratio’s mission is to show young people the excitement, the mystery, and the awe science can bring to the world by discussing scientific topics in an everyday language. To this end, we organize popular science events under different shapes or form ranging anywhere between 150 and 900 people.
Ratio Science Forum is a full-day event with international speakers and lots of on-site activities. Our first forum was held in 2012 with some 250 guests and now we bring together close to 900 people.Ratio Science Forum hosts many different topics, ranging from biology and chemistry to cognitive psychology and skeptical thinking. We’ve had more than 10 international speakers, including Susan Blackmore, Jerry Coyne and Christopher French.