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Shopping 'til you Drop: Spending in Sofia

A few years ago this article would have been no more than a blank page; however the growth in the number of retail outlets across Bulgaria has risen dramatically with malls springing up in every major town and a general up market trend in the new independent outlets setting up on the country’s main shopping boulevards. The worldwide growth in retail therapy has lead to many tourists planning their holidays and mini breaks around their love of shopping and with the increase in low cost flights to Sofia; the opportunities for a new retail experience have  Easy Access


Low cost flights from EasyJet, Wizz Air, British Airways, Bulgarian Air and Sky Europe make the Bulgarian capital a natural choice for those who want to sample the unknown delights of Eastern Europe and you don’t have to waste your spending money on getting here, flights during April with EasyJet care under GBP 50.00 return with good, quality hotels priced at the same rate. The city now offers an array of trendy boutiques selling global designer brands at knock-down prices alongside stylish but low cost bargain basements, which offer fashionable shoes for 10 lv. and handbags for 20 lv.

Hand Crafted Souvenirs and Antiques

The city has plenty of souvenir shops selling the usual range of holiday tat that the sophisticated shopper would rather avoid, but some of them do offer some unique goods that are well worth taking in; Bulgarian rose oil toiletries are made from the world’s finest roses, whose scent is an integral ingredient in some of the world’s leading perfumes. Take some time to check out the rows of tables manned by the city’s old ladies who sell handmade lace and knitwear.

The city also offers the best selection of antiques in the country, a market that has yet to be exploited in Bulgaria. Around the Alexander Nevski Cathedral, one of the city’s leading landmarks there are many independent sellers offering a wide range of militaria, army helmets to old medals. Many of these dealers also sell old notes and coins from across the world but in particular from the former Soviet bloc. Other more discerning antique shops in the centre sell fine English china, Viennese furniture, antique maps, paintings and silverware.

Vitosha Boulevard

Stretching from the Southern Park down to St Nedelya Square with the enchanting Vitosha Mountain as a picturesque backdrop, true designer shopping abounds on the city’s main street, Vitosha Boulevard. This pleasant tree lined area has a touch of the Champs Elysee with its art nouveau kiosks, wrought iron benches and abundance of exclusive stores, fashionable bars and contemporary restaurants squashed in between some of the city’s most historic buildings. Most international designers have a foothold here from Armani to Ermenegildo Zegna and many of their prices are lower than in their other European stores. Vitoshka as the street is known locally is the ultimate example of Bulgaria’s hearty embrace of Western capitalism.

Mall Mania

If the weather takes a turn for the worse, the army of new shopping malls will provide the perfect shelter. The largest is the Mall of Sofia with 130 outlets selling everything from High Street fashion to home ware. The beauty of the Bulgarian malls is that they have not attracted the retailers from the British High Street, instead there are many Eastern European retailers selling equally fashionable goods at lower prices. For the retail weary or for your better half who carries your personal bank, there are plenty of cafes, restaurants and bars as well as a cinema and video games area and plenty of techie shops for him to browse. The City Centre Mall Sofia consists of three floors is another place of interest for visitors and citizens. It is spread over 3 floors and features more than 100 outlets including a kids’ play area. The Sky City Mall offers much in the way of entertainment with 105 outlets selling everything from jewellery and furniture to mobile phones and clothes and a two-storey bowling alley, billiard and snooker tables, darts and an internet café.


Once the Communist luxury goods store, the Central Department Store known more popularly as TZUM covers three floors and sells everything from souvenirs to designer clothing. It is housed in the majestic Largo complex, which is a temple to Communist architecture. It was opened in 1957 largely to show tourists that the Eastern bloc countries did offer style and luxury, even though the locals could not afford to shop there. TZUM was designed by renowned architect Kosta Nikolov; it features a beautiful, covered inner courtyard and is home to stores like Laura Ashley, Timberland, Nautica, FILA, Fred Perry, Nike, Miss Sixty and Rossignol. The store is a popular retail landmark with 12,000 people visiting each day.

Marvellous Markets

There are a host of wonderful open air markets dotted all around the city. They are by no means sophisticated affairs but they are home to some real bargains. The simple stalls sell everything from fresh food and home grown produce, to cheaply priced lingerie sets costing 6 lv., fresh flowers, machinery parts and basic household items amongst many other things.One of the largest open air ‘bazaars’ as they are called is the Zhenski Bazaar, which is three rows crammed with stalls on the street named Roman Wall. Don’t expect smiles from friendly stall holders, people here have a hard life and have not been educated in customer service, although many will reluctantly barter with you.


Vitoshka picture courtesy of