As volunteers, we love to travel. It’s great to travel with other young people and discover new places. Here in Greece, there are a lot of places to see in the and near country, and if we could, we would travel every weekend. The only thing stopping most of us from doing precisely that is money. As mostly unemployed young adults, we live on a budget. Still, we love going on trips and when the idea to travel to Sofia last weekend came up, eight people wanted to come.
On Tuesday last week, we sat together to plan. Planning a trip with so many people can be difficult. Everyone has different expectations of what
distinguishes a good trip. Often people have concerns when they see how much a trip costs. Therefore we tried to find the cheapest travel option, accommodation and activities in Sofia, which is how we managed it.
Or first way to save money was with accommodation. We managed to bisect the expenses for our accommodation by only spending one night in a hostel and the other overnight on the bus. This idea may seem extreme, and honestly, when we arrived at 6 am in Sofia, we doubted our decision. We were standing in the rain after less than five hours of sleep. In the dark and were looking at each other like: why did we do this? But in the end, we could spend a long day in Sofia and didn’t lose any daytime with the bus drive. If we will do this again? I don’t know. Still, it was an exciting experience and travelling overnight is a real option to save money.
On our second night, we slept in the Smart- Hostel and spent 12,35 euros – to be exact.
Which is a price everyone was satisfied with, and the stay was alright. We had anything we needed, showers, bathrooms, and beds and the employees were very friendly and helpful. The only problem was that they didn’t turn on the heaters till 11 pm, which was freezing. Eventually, we still slept better than on the bus and checking in and out was easy. Moreover, we could leave our luggage in the hostel storage. Therefore, I recommend booking a hostel in Sofia to save money and have a pleasant stay.
We decided to buy the tickets at the train station for the bus trip. Not booking online was a good decision, because we all got a discount for being students, even though not all of us are. You are more likely to get a discount when you buy tickets in person instead of booking online. Most employees are more likely to overlook age to give a deal. At last, we saved 10 Euro, and the trip cost 28 Euro.
The bus ride went smoothly. Even though the first bus didn’t come on time, we arrived in Sofia on time. And on the way back, we arrived an hour earlier than expected. Of course, travelling by bus instead of the train will take longer and be less comfortable, but it’s a good option for travelling with a budget.
I suggest cooking on your own on trips to save money. However, on this weekend travel, we only had a little time and weren’t in the mood to cook. Still, most of the food options are cheaper in Sofia, and we wanted to eat some traditional Bulgarian food too. I ate some heavy, traditional Bulgarian cheese pie called “banica” for breakfast. This kind of pie you can find all over the balkans, but they are a cheap filling choice. We found a lovely place called “Supa star” for lunch. They serve soups that cost, converted in Euro, 3 to 4 Euro. We all enjoyed the soups we ordered, and it was nice to have a warm thing in our stomachs.
The culinary highlight of the trip was our lunch on the second day. The place was called Hadjidraganov’s Houses Restaurant. The ambience was very authentic, and it smelled very nice. I ate the best garlic bread of my life there. It’s called Perlenki. Everyone loved their main dish. I paid 9.40 leva for my dish, which is 4.80 Euro and for eating in a restaurant, this is still cheap. The taste was rich, and I propose visiting this authentic Bulgarian restaurant if you visit Sofia.
Free walking tour
We come to my favourite activity of the trip: the “free walking tour”. I have done a lot of free walking tours before, but this one was one of the best. Our tour guide, “Vasil”, was enthusiastic and took us to all the “must sees”. He balanced the part of the exciting history of the city and some unique background information to make us know “more than the locals”. The walking tour was the best way to discover the city in a big group without getting lost. The time included 20 places and lasted for more than two hours. At one point, we were in a park, and our tour guide asked for volunteers. We participated – of course. He started by putting the people in line. After that, the setting turned into an interactive game.
The participants became the rulers of Bulgaria. In this way, dry history came alive, and everyone had fun. In the end, we even got an informative leaflet for tips and Sofia. We all enjoyed the tour; it was the best opportunity to quickly get to know the city. Moreover, we could decide if and how many tips we give, therefore we could all afford the activity.
All in all, visiting Sofia on a budget is entirely possible. Moreover, Sofia is an enjoyable city for a weekend trip. I recommend doing the free walking tour and going to a traditional Bulgarian restaurant, especially.