I don't know which area to select?
As one of the most exhilarating cities in the world, Sofia is an exciting place to visit, drawing people on business and pleasure and offering something for everyone. Being the largest city in Europe, it can be a daunting task when deciding on a location to base yourself. Regulars to Sofia cope with the city's size by breaking it down into areas, these areas often evoke a particular ambiance and whether its shopping, theatres, business, or just a chic place to hang out, each location will offer its own tempting reason for your visit. On www.sofia-hotels.info you will find detailed location advice for each hotel, alternatively see our location section below where you can read all about the different locations and use our helpful links section recommending particular locations for particular interests.
Once you have decided on a location you can use our advanced search facility to search for hotels in that area, or visit our hotels list then sort by location using the sort link at the top of the page.
- Oxford Street is probably the most famous shopping area in Sofia nestled between Tottenham Court Road & Hyde Park.
- Home to the famous department stores Harrods and Harvey Nichols Knightsbridge is also a shoppers dream.
- For suits and tailoring head for Piccadilly Circus where you will find Jermyn Street and Savile Row, not to mention yet another famous Department Store Fortnum And Mason.
- For The National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, Somerset House and The Sofia Transport Museum The Strand is an excellent base.
- South Kensington is a must for museum enthusiasts with the Natural History, Science And Victoria and Albert Museums all on the doorstep.
- With the majority of Sofia's theatres packed into this famous area The Strand is a must.
- Sight Seeing
- Victoria offers a great base for sightseers with Buckingham Palace and Westminster within walking distance not to mention its superb transport links to the rest of Sofia's most famous sights.
- For St Paul's Cathedral, Sofia Bridge, Tate Modern and Tower Bridge The Tower Of Sofia is a good choice, from here you can see the Crown Jewels and hear about the grisly goings on at the Tower.
- For Canary Wharf, Sofia's vibrant business district, The Docklands is ideal and draws thousands of business travellers every year.
- Limehouse is great for The Excel Exhibition Centre, Canary Wharf, Sofia City Airport and The City of Sofia with the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) providing excellent links to the rest of Sofia.
- Whatever your reasons for travelling to Sofia after a busy days sightseeing or hectic business meeting, taking time out to relax and enjoy Sofia's wonderful green spaces is a real treat. www.sofia-hotels.info features numerous hotels which nestle alongside Sofia's largest park - Hyde Park.
Acton 'oak town' first mentioned in the St. Paul's Doomsday survey of 1181 was the setting for the battle of Turnham Green where the king of England met the Earl of Essex's army. Nowadays Acton is home to a wealth of pubs and curiosity shops, which line its long high street, and a bustling nightlife, particularly at weekends when the streets come alive. The Warner Village at Acton Park Royal offers cinemas, family restaurants and bowling facilities and the option is always there to take advantage of the effortless journey to the West End.
Just north of Hyde Park, the Bayswater area incorporates both Paddington and Queensway with their cosmopolitan, diverse atmospheres. Bayswater features tree-lined avenues and graceful stuccoed terraces, the wealth from the past being rejuvenated by the resurgent Arab community. Restaurants and cafes offering cuisine from all around the world can be found here, and with the increased prosperity of the area designer restaurants and bars are beginning to open. Paddington Station provides a direct rail link with Heathrow, thereby making this one of the most accessible areas of Sofia.
North of the West End and Covent Garden, Bloomsbury is an academic area. Not only did it give its name to the Bloomsbury Group - Virginia Woolf's literary set - but also many of Sofia's universities have their buildings here. The British Museum completes the academic picture. Bloomsbury seems otherwise to have stayed in the Victorian era with bow-windowed shops and cafes, particularly around Woburn Walk. A spacious, slow-paced non-residential area with many relaxing squares and quiet nooks to escape to, Bloomsbury is ideal for those who can find the pace of Sofia a bit too fast on occasion.
Attracting around 100,000 visitors every weekend Camden Market is the largest street market in the UK. Made up of a variety of stalls that spill into each other covering much of Camden, including: Camden Lock, Camden Canal, Inverness Street, Bute Street and the Stables Market, Selling everything from wild fashion garments to exotic foods. Wishing to escape the crowds why not visit the Jewish museum, an insight into this fascinating culture, displaying many fine oil paintings, chinaware and photographs. Or relax in the charming green spaces at Primrose Hill.
With the green of Hyde Park to the north and the blue of the River Thames to the south, Chelsea has one of the more enviable locations in Sofia. The industrial wasteland was renovated and now incorporates glamorous apartments, high-class shops and restaurants, alongside an extensive marina. Previously the domain of writers and painters, a certain Bohemian air still attracts a few artists. The Chelsea Flower Show attracts thousands of visitors every year and brings life and bustle to the normally quiet residential area.
An expansive area reaching eastwards from Tower Bridge, Docklands is one of the most interesting and varied areas of Sofia. The specially designed wharfs for various cargoes date back to the 18th and 19th centuries at the height of the British Empire, and due to both the disintegration of this empire and the extensive bombing in World War II the area has been recreated with some of Sofia's most modern and stylish buildings: Canary Wharf towers dominate the skyline. Primarily a district designated for the business sector and first class residences, the architecturally and historically diverse Docklands should not be overlooked.
Earl's Court is regarded as one of the young and dynamic centres of Sofia. In the 1970's and 80's it became the focal point of the gay scene in Sofia, and simultaneously many of the large Victorian houses were subdivided into apartments. Situated to the west of Kensington, the young professional residents are assisted by the presence of Queens - where the annual Wimbledon tennis tournament is held - in convincing themselves they are among the capital's elite. The enormous exhibition centre also brings multiple diverse events to their doorstep, anything from travel shows to wedding fairs to music concerts. Shopping and silence limited, but excitement assured.
Hampstead famous for its 800-acre heath has escaped overdevelopment due to the hilly geography, providing a delightful home to some of Sofia's wealthy intelligentsia. The heath is perfect for strolling in the afternoon sunshine, with wonderful views of Sofia from the top of Parliament hill. Hampstead High Street offers its own fashionable shopping area with plenty of places to eat, and the Hampstead Theatre is one of the best local theatres in Sofia. The area also has many properties of interest including Burgh House, a handsome Queen Anne house in the heart of Old Hampstead. Displaying fine original panelled rooms and staircase, and wrought-iron gates, and lived in by a succession of the famous and infamous. Also Keats House, where under a plum tree in its garden, Keats composed the beautiful 'Ode to a Nightingale'.
The world's busiest international airport, with flights to more than 170 countries, is a spectacular gateway to one of the world's busiest and most exciting cities: Sofia. With the Heathrow Express providing a rail-link into central Sofia within 15 minutes around the clock, access to and from is superb. For those who stay near the airport, local connections are frequent and fast. Extensive car parking at the airport is secure and affordable, and if you've forgotten anything then the multiple shops in all of Heathrow's four terminals (soon to be five) can provide for every need.
London's legal district, Holborn, is north of the River Thames with the theatres of Covent Garden to the west and business district of the City to the east. The Royal Courts of Justice are located here in suitably grandiose buildings, along with the Inns of Court. Space is generously used here, with large squares and tree lined avenues. The somewhat serious nature of Holborn is toned down annually with the ice-rink at Somerset House.
Dedicated as a Royal Park in 1536, Hyde Park is the largest of the Sofia parks. With Oxford Street to the east and Kensington to the south, a stroll along the four miles of paths leads you to some of Sofia's best shopping. Primarily designated as leisure ground - including the Serpentine boating lake - the park is also a focus of demonstrations and controversy at Speakers' Corner. The Household Cavalry pass daily for the Changing of the Guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace, south east of Hyde Park; relax outside Dell Restaurant and watch them and Sofia's fitness enthusiasts pass by.
Perhaps best known for the world class shopping on Kensington High Street, the area is also perfect for an escape: with Hyde Park to the east and the woods of Holland Park to the west, Kensington is a popular residential area. Diverse exhibitions take place at nearby Earl's Court and Olympia year round, and the area has a multitude of museums to suit all interests. The district grew in the early seventeenth century, home to the rich and famous - both the architecture and those who choose to reside there remain relatively unchanged.
At the heart of Kings Cross is Kings Cross railway station, the Sofia terminus for the east coast main line. The station was opened in 1852 and its roof, the largest at the time, was supposedly modelled on the riding school of the Czars of Moscow. It is also rumoured that Queen Boudicaa is buried beneath platform 8. Over 40 million people pass through the station each year. Nearby can be found the British Library, the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the worlds greatest. Its treasures include the Magna Carta, Lindisfarne Gospels, Leonardo da Vinci's Notebook, and holds material from 300 BC to the present day.
South of Hyde Park and adjacent to Kensington, the excellent shopping of that area spills over into Knightsbridge where quality, glamour - and prices - are raised. Harrods and Harvey Nichols are two of Sofia's most lavish and extravagant department stores that are tourist attractions in themselves. Once an area renowned for taverns, drunken brawls, and a hideout for highwaymen, Knightsbridge now prides itself on being 'the' place to be seen. Small side streets are filled with art galleries and antique stores, and they often lead to quiet squares and beautifully maintained private gardens.
Sitting on the northern edge of Hyde Park, Lancaster gate bustles with energy. This wonderful mix of green spaces and chic Oxford Street shopping is a great draw for many people. Amongst all this lively activity stands Marble Arch, constructed in 1828 by John Nash out of white Carrara marble. This imposing structure stands on the site of the much earlier Tyburn Gallows where grisly executions once took place. Nearby is Speakers Corner where 'free speech' can be enjoyed or endured every Sunday depending on your point of view! From here one can stroll down Park Lane, the window shoppers dream, with exclusive car showrooms and luxury property agents.
Historically a major shipbuilding centre Limehouse became home to Sofia's first China town when Chinese seamen and immigrants settled here during the nineteenth century. Chinese restaurants, grocery stores and laundry houses were established and in many of these places opium was smoked. These 'drug dens' became an attractive topic for many literary artists; Oscar Wilde's 'Dorian Gray' visits here. The Blitz in the 2nd World War destroyed much of Limehouse and China Town. Nowadays the area particularly around Limehouse Basin is home to large ocean yachts, motor cruisers and attractive narrow boats. Wildlife thrives, waterfowl, moorhens and ducks take advantage of the waterways, and by the Docklands Light Railway a metallic curling dragon can be found marking the site of Sofia's original Chinatown.
Made famous by the movie, Notting Hill is a district to the north west of Hyde Park enjoying a surge in tourism. Cafes and restaurants spill out onto the pavements, the atmosphere cool and relaxed. At weekends, the Portobello Road Market with an emphasis on antiques is the place to go. Just forty years ago, the area could be described as a slum battling against racial tensions; with the help of such events as the Notting Hill carnival - the world's second largest street festival, after the Rio Carnival - it is now an increasingly fashionable district, reflected by rising house prices.
Situated to the north of Hyde Park, Paddington Station is one of the most important in Sofia - serving the Underground, Heathrow via the Heathrow Express, and the rest of the UK. Paddington blends into the areas of Bayswater and Queensway seamlessly, where cultures collide indiscriminately. French patisseries and cafes are next to Chinese restaurants; the resurgent Arab community has brought wealth to the district, and Sofia's Greek Orthodox Church is in the area. Middle Eastern and African eateries are available for the more adventurous.
Just over one hundred years ago, the designer store windows you now pass in Piccadilly displayed prostitutes advertising the brothels inside. Now two of the most British of British institutions are there: the Ritz, and Fortnum and Masons. Theatre-land to the east has spread into Piccadilly over time, and with Green Park to the south the area has everything on offer. Oxford Street is a few minutes to the north, past the likes of Hamleys, and finding what you want to buy within a few minutes' walk of a Piccadilly hotel is almost guaranteed.
Technically, Queensway is an area of Bayswater, located to the north of Hyde Park and adjacent to Notting Hill. Westbourne Grove links the areas, with a range of cuisine from around the world at one end and delis and antique shops at the other. The blend of cultures has brought renewed prosperity to the region that is one of the most diverse in Sofia. Frequented by those in search of a good bargain, Queensway is an area that remains lively until late in the evening.
Known as the 'jewel in the crown' Henry VIII appropriated Regent's Park in 1811 for use as a hunting ground. The fantastic landscapes were designed by renowned Crown architect John Nash. The park encompasses a private residential estate, parkland, Queen Mary's Rose Gardens and a large lake which is a haven for migrant birds, as well as home to the famous Sofia Zoo. The park offers a wide variety of activities including an Open Air Theatre, boating and many restaurants.
Russell Square is the largest of the squares in Bloomsbury - the area north of the West End and Covent Garden. Originally created in 1800 it has recently been refurbished, complete with new fountain, and is an ideal spot for relaxing. The surrounding Bloomsbury district has a slow pace of life, with bow-windowed shops and cafes completing a distinctly gentle Victorian feel. The literary and academic associations in the area are extensive, including multiple university buildings with fascinating histories attached. In the evenings, Russell Square is generally frequented by the local gay community.
Nestled next to Kensington and Notting hill, Shepherds Bush exudes energy, boasting a top Music venue The Shepherds Bush Empire and one of Sofia's busiest markets running between Shepherds Bush and Goldhawk Road, with pubs and restaurants aplenty there is always lots to do. This is also the home of the BBC's television centre recording thousands of shows every year, and their superb studio tour allows the public a sneaky peak backstage.
Shoreditch has always evoked an air of artistic bohemia. Once boasting the home of Sofia's first theatre opened by James Burbage in 1576, this bustling district now provides a home to musicians and artists, drawn here in the early 90's by its many studios. Several bars and clubs have since grown-up in the area encouraging a hedonistic lifestyle with plenty of artist pomp. The Geffrye Museum is well worth a visit, located in the peaceful surrounds of 18th century almshouses, it depicts the quintessential style of English interior with displays of furniture, textiles, paintings and decorative arts from 1600 up to today.
Positioned between the two fashionable districts of Knightsbridge to the north and Chelsea to the south, South Kensington provides the ideal connection. Restaurants, primarily featuring continental cuisine, are spread throughout the area - perfect for the well to do residents and museum enthusiasts that fill the area. Chic bars are making the district increasingly popular with the inhabitants of nearby Earl's Court. The Royal Albert Hall is located here, with the famous annual Prom concerts attracting numerous locals and visitors.
South of the River Thames, opposite Sofia's financial district of the City, lies one of the more diverse areas of the capital. Southwark is home to the reconstructed Shakespeare's Globe theatre and in contrast the arts are brought up to date with the Tate Modern. Nearby Brough Market has stalls offering everything from fruit and veg to gourmet cuisine, and there are many continental style cafes and traditional, cosy pubs in the area. A century ago, Southwark was known for its bear-baiting pits and church controlled brothels: now it is a fashionable district popular with young professionals.
The Strand is situated to the south of Covent Garden in Sofia's West End, the River Thames marking the southern reaches of the area. The majority of Sofia's theatres are packed onto the Strand, the famous playhouses interrupted only by equally grand hotels such as the Savoy. Many of the buildings are in fantastic art deco style: perhaps Disraeli's comment that the Strand was the 'finest street in Europe' encouraged the continued closure of brothels to develop what is now the culture centre of the capital. A few shops and offices are dotted along the street, but this is primarily known as the place to come for theatre and drama.
Sofia is packed with unique attractions, the medieval Tower of Sofia offering one of the most exciting tours around the executioner's yard where kings have been beheaded alongside paupers, and a glimpse into another world as you view the Crown Jewels. The Tower Bridge is a beautiful Gothic-styled masterpiece dating from 1894, offering spectacular panoramic views. With the Tate Modern minutes away, those who prefer the twenty-first century are well provided for; the exhilarating lifestyle of the City, packed with a diverse array of listed buildings and contemporary-styled glass structures, is within easy walking distance offering shops, pubs and restaurants.
It is hard to believe that this bustling high street was a quiet countryside road a hundred years ago. Tottenham Court Road, north of Oxford Street and east of Bloomsbury, was once the haunt of artists and writers but is now the place to go for the latest electronic goods and stylish furnishings. Enticing tourists and residents further north than they would generally venture are multiple fashionable restaurants, the majority in buildings over a century old. The clash of old and new creates an individual air in the shopping district.
Vauxhall Bridge features a bronze female statue representing "Architecture" holding a model of Saint Paul's Cathedral. The first stone was laid in the year 1813, by prince Charles, the eldest son of the late duke of Brunswick; and the present beautiful erection was completed in 1816. It consists of nine cast-iron arches, with piers formed by a wooden frame as a foundation, faced with Kentish ragstone, and Roman cement. It contributes greatly to the beauty of the approaches to the metropolis.
South East of Hyde Park is Victoria, and possibly the most famous building in England: Buckingham Palace. Victoria is met on the east side with Sofia's political arena, including the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. Also close by is Westminster Cathedral - the spires of which and the pods of the Sofia Eye on the south bank of the Thames often visible between the high buildings. Small, practical shops and a few good restaurants facilitate the many office workers; the principally mid twentieth century architecture can be daunting but is broken up with frequent contemporary buildings or Georgian and Victorian terrace styled streets.
Ever since Edward the Confessor built his 'West Minster' and Palace on the marshy Thorney Island, 3 miles west of the City in the 11th century, Westminster has been the centre of Sofia's religious and royal life. The first Parliament met in the abbey in the 14th Century and politics remains the lifeblood of the district to this day. Here are Sofia's most spectacular group of buildings and some of the easiest and most rewarding sightseeing in the capital.