Bulgaria’s capital city, Sofia, is growing in popularity each year, with interest from all kinds of travellers. But today we’d like to focus on backpackers, helping any budding backpackers plan their trip to Sofa. It is perhaps the simple question of ‘when is the best time for backpackers to visit Sofia?’ that brought you here, but we’d like to go beyond this, offering useful advice and information while also inspiring you to make the absolute most of your backpacking adventure through Bulgaria. If anything in this guide inspires you to travel part of the way with Excedo Travel, please check out our Bulgaria Day Trips and get in touch if you have any questions for us.
The Best Time for Backpackers to Come to Sofia
Chances are that you’re planning your grand adventure and you need us to answer the main question first of all. Whilst we can’t anticipate what your specific interests are, for most people, the best time to visit Bulgaria is during May and June. Why? Because the weather is warm, but not at its warmest, and because visiting Sofia at this time offers the greatest opportunities, with a rich variety of things to do and places to see.For many, the highlight of their entire visit to Bulgaria is the Festival of the Roses, which only occurs in June each year, when the roses are in full bloom and Bulgaria comes together to celebrate their country’s most beautiful and culturally unique harvest. If this interests you, take a look at our Tour of Bulgaria’s Rose Valley. The Festival of the Roses alone is reason enough to visit Bulgaria in June, perhaps using Sofia as a base to visit the Rose Valley, but there are other reasons to visit in the summer months…
Hiking and Mountain Climbing from Sofia
All hiking and mountain climbing opportunities from Sofia offer the best possible experience in the summer and autumn months, with dry, fair weather ideal for hiking and rock climbing. We have previously written guides specifically about hiking in Bulgaria’s national parks and the best places in Bulgaria for rock climbers, so please check them out if you’d like nothing more than to get out in Bulgaria’s wilder, more mountainous areas. It’s also worth noting that Sofia really is the perfect basecamp for any hiking or climbing as it’s a short journey away from Vitosha Mountain, and just a little longer to the Rila and Pirin Mountains.
Hiking and rock-climbing rely on good weather, so the summer is absolutely the best time to visit if you plan to spend most of your time adventuring out in Bulgaria’s wild areas. That said, the weather is still good for both hiking and climbing from late spring (May) through to late autumn (October-November). Over the past 5-7 years climate change has resulted in a significant shift in our active hiking season. September and October have become the best months for hiking, as it’s no longer that hot and the weather is very predictable. November is usually the time when the first frost hits our mountains, whereas January through March the country is often blanketed in snow, making the various hiking and rock climbing activities too dangerous to recommend.
Can Backpackers Have a Good Time in Sofia During Winter?
The quick answer is that it completely depends on what you’re looking for. Sofia is a wonderful, vibrant city, with plenty to offer visitors at any time of year, but most outdoor activities are probably off-limits — except winter sports! Snowshoeing, ski touring, skiing and snowboarding opportunities in Bulgaria are great, though you will probably not be staying in Sofia as you’ll need access to the best slopes in the country. That said, there are winter sports opportunities in Vitosha Mountain that are very handy to Sofia.
Otherwise, you will want to stay in one of the numerous ski resorts in the country. The best skiing season is between January and April. But if snowshoeing, ski touring, skiing and snowboarding don’t interest you, Sofia can still make for a lovely winter break as there are plenty of great attractions that are no less impressive when enjoyed at colder temperatures, such St George Rotunda, Ivan Vazov National Theatre, and Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.
Backpacking Accommodation in Bulgaria
As you might expect, Sofia has the most budget accommodation in Bulgaria suitable for backpackers, but there is usually a hostel and/or affordable guest houses in every main town you visit, making Bulgaria perfect for backpackers. There are various hostel apps and websites that allow you to check which towns have hostels in them — you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how many hostels there are! If you’re travelling to Sofia from most other countries in Europe or the US, you will consider its prices on the cheaper side, and this means that your money goes a lot further — this is another thing that makes Sofia one of the best backpacking destinations in the world.
If you’re interested in camping instead of staying in hostels, take note that Bulgarian campsites have three different rankings: I, II, and III. Both I and II have hot and cold showers available, while III only has cold water. If you’re happy with a bracing cold shower every morning, then opting for a category III can help you save a little money that is better spent on a tour or activity. In general, if you are looking for a campsite, we would recommend visiting https://camping.bg/en/. There you will find a lot of useful info on most camping facilities in the country, as well as reviews and contacts.
That’s all we have time for today. We hope we’ve answered a few of your questions and that you’re that little bit closer to organising your backpacking trip through Sofia and Bulgaria as a whole. This is a very backpacker-friendly destination and we can’t wait to welcome you here! If you have any questions whatsoever, please feel free to get in touch.