Perhaps the best word an active traveler can use to describe Sofia (София) is “scruffy”. In this city electrical wires dangle out of buildings, street surfaces are cracked and uneven, overgrown gardens sprawl onto walking paths, and even treasured monuments are in need of post-World War II repairs. That being said, the scruffiness of contemporary Sofia gives it an intriguing energy. This energy blends nicely with the city’s multicultural heritage, still plainly evident in her center. There are few places in the world, after all, where a church, a synagogue, a mosque, and a McDonalds can harmoniously coexist within meters of each other.
To sum up, today’s Sofia is neither the most stunning nor most runnable capital of Europe. Yet the city does possess a couple of good parks where you can find a great running adventure and really let loose. Post-workout, take the time to indulge in the city’s exotic fusion of East and West.
- SURFACES: The cracks, holes, and all-around unevenness of this city’s pavement are truly treacherous. Conditions caused our BTG researcher to both roll her ankle and twist her knee within three hours of arrival, thus largely limiting her subsequent running experience.
- Not-Quite Pedestrian Zones: Pirotska (Пиротска) Street is a walking mall, and many of the other streets are largely the domain of pedestrians and trams. Watch out for the latter, which truly whip along these streets. Also be on the lookout for the occasional car or motorcycle that decides to join this crowd.
- Water-Clogged Streets: Sofia’s street surfaces are not great, and the gutter system is even worse. During particularly strong rainstorms, drowning can be a potential hazard.