Sofia (София) is the capital of Bulgaria. It is also the biggest city in the country with about 1.4 million citizens (including suburbs). Today, Sofia is a dynamic Eastern European capital, distinguished by its unique combination of European and Communist-style architecture as well as many beautiful orthodox churches. Furthermore, it claims to be one of the few European capitals with beautiful scenery and a developed ski-resort so close to it – the Vitosha mountain.
Sofia was founded 2,500 years ago. Over the centuries, it has been given several names – Serdica , Sredetz and the remains of the old cities can still be viewed today. Because of its strategic location in the middle of Balkans for a while it had been selected for a new capital of the Roman Empire. Near Sofia is the Boyana church, one of the most valuable memorials of Bulgarian and European culture. The church has frescoes, acclaimed by specialists as “the best examples of Eastern medieval art during its twelve century history”.
The decline of Sofia during the Turkish Ottoman Empire was followed by the rejuvenation after the Russian liberation in 1878, when Sofia was chosen as the capital of Bulgaria at the First National Constituent Assebly, and followed by a brisk and straight-forward period of construction.
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Over 25 airlines fly in and out of the Sofia Airport with daily direct flights to/from Athens, Paris, Vienna, London, Rome, Amsterdam, Munich and other European cities.
Along with the traditional carriers, some low-cost companies traveling to Bulgaria are EasyJet (to/from London-Gatwick, Madrid, Manchester), Germanwings (to/from Cologne-Bonn), Wizz Air (to/from Paris-Beauvais, Barcelona, Brussels-Charleroi, Dortmund, Eindhoven, London-Luton, Milan-Bergamo, Rome-Fiumicino, Valencia).
Bulgaria Air, the national carrier flies to Alicante, Amsterdam, Athens, Barcelona, Beirut, Berlin – Tegel, Brussels, Bucharest – Otopeni, Frankfurt, Istanbul – Atatürk, Kiev – Boryspil, Larnaca, London – Gatwick, London – Heathrow, Madrid, Málaga, Manchester, Moscow – Sheremetyevo, Palma de Mallorca, Paphos, Paris – Charles de Gaulle, Rome – Fiumicino, Skopje, Tel Aviv, Tirana, Tripoli, Valencia, Vienna, Zürich.
There are a few domestic flights, from Varna and Burgas, including some charter flights.
Terminal 1 (T1) is used by budget airlines like EasyJet, Germanwings and Wizz Air; and by charter flight operators.
Terminal 2 (T2) handles all ‘traditional’ carriers, and serves as a hub to Bulgaria Air, the national carrier.
Funded Airport Terminal 2 has one Moneyexchange Office in the public Area with rates that are acceptable for an airport (Feb 2012). There is also an ATM next to it. There is also one small and very expensive Money Exchange Office in the Arrival Area, after Passport Control and before Baggage Claim.
When you exit the customs/declarations door, turn to your right. You will see an office for OK Taxis in front of you. They speak English so the best thing is to give the person your destination. They will check it and then print out a slip with your taxi number on it. This saves having to explain to the taxi driver! The taxis are out the doors to your right. Go through these and a taxi controller will point you to your taxi. To reassure you, you’ll see a big queue of “OK” taxis lined up with “O.K. (973 2121)” written on them in blue writing with the two dots in red. However, if you go straight out to the roadway rather than right, there are unregulated taxis. You should be careful, because there are taxis, which imitate the logo of the O.K. and the phone number. Before hiring a taxi look at the right-front-door window – there should be a tariff. The normal tariffs are: initial fee (about 0.70 lv), daily price per km (about 0.79 lv), night price per km (about 0.90 lv), price per minute of stay (about 0.22 lv), price for ordering a taxi via phone (about 0.50 lv). Please, check these figures and if you see ANY figure greater than 1.00 lv, do not take this taxi!