Towns and Villages Near Sofia
Listen, if you want to move here for anything else than work, there is no point in staying in Sofia. Even if you have to go there each few days on business you can and should avoid living in it. Unless of course you are the rare kind of animal that likes to live in big and unorganized city with traffic jams.
This page is for expats who have to visit Sofia frequently (better not daily though), but don't want to live there. Let us tell you about several small villages and towns nearby that might offer better alternatives.
But First, Why Live Nearby?
Even if you don't work in the capital, being an expat you may want to stay near to it. All the government institutions are there, the biggest malls, cinemas and theatres are there too. And most important, Sofia is the place where most international flights start from, so it's where you'll be heading up when visiting your home country. Of course all this matters unless you want to completely detach and explore living in rural Bulgaria. Expect more about that in another post.
Unless you have work or friends there, I don't recommend living in Sofia for several reasons. Besides being a bit boring big city, owning a home there is far more expensive than in the nearby places. And if you hope to have a house with a backyard you should prepare crazy amounts of money. Most of the Sofia citizens live in apartments.
OK, So What's Around?
First, let's explore few villages that technically don't belong to Sofia city but are very close to it and are part of the city transport network.
Balsha is a small hilly village on the Northern side of Sofia. The population is nearly 700 people, there is public transport (buses 29 and 30). I don't have personal impressions of this place. Sounds good enough ever for someone who works in Sofia.
Bankya is famous for its mineral baths and springs. It's a town with around 10,000 inhabitants. Transportation to Sofia is relatively good but still may take more than 1 hour each direction if you take the bus. It's a good idea to at least visit Bankya if you stay in Sofia for a while.
Botunec is not that recommended. This ex-village turned into suburb and is not looking good - too close to industrial parks and Kremikovtsi.
Buhovo. Similar to Botunec it's a mining town close to industries and not that great. Anyway, if you are looking for cheap properties and relatively easy access to Sofia downtown, you may have a look at it.
Voluyak is almost part of Sofia. It's a village just 3km away of Obelya, connected by a straight road and you can reach the Obelya metro station by cycling or even walking (ok, walking won't be great on that road). There are city buses from Voluyak to the metro station as well. It's a decent option for living very close to Sofia.
German is a great hilly village starting just at the end of Sofia, and very easily considered just a suburb. From the end of the village you'll easily reach the Pancharevo lake, Lozenska mountain and few monasteries. Properties in German aren't cheap though. And it has nothing to do with Germany ;)
Jeleznica is a mountain village at 1,000 m altitude. Winter is longer there and transport to Sofia isn't that great. A city bus will take you to Darvenica and the nearby metro station but that city bus runs only few times per day. If you don't like snow and cold, Jeleznica isn't your place. On the other had, popular touristic routes on Vitosha start from Jeleznica.
Katina is beautiful village 16 km away of the Sofia city center. There are buses to Novi Iskar and "marshrutka" to Sofia downtown. After the plans to build a golf resort near the village seem to be failed, you can expect the property prices to be relatively low now.
Mirovyane is just 10km away of Sofia and has been converted into a neighborhood. There is a city bus that can connect you with the tram lines 11 and 12.Mramor is bigger village that's even closer to Sofia - just 2 km away. It's near Voluyak and Mirovyane. If you are keen gardener you may like it there because of the good soil.
Plana is nice but a more remote village - 24 km mountaneous road set it apart from the city. Plana is also the highest altitide village of this list - between 1200 and 1338 m above the sea level. It has only 72 inhabitants at this moment but because of the Plana mountain and the satelite communication station there are few tourists visiting it - mostly in the Summer.
All these villages above offer some option to live outside of the big city while still working there. Here are also few towns and villages that are more remote and may not be good for everyday travel to Sofia. Still, they are close enough for taking the trip a couple times of the week. The reason to prefer them may be the lower property prices, the better nature, and the cleaner air.
Svoge is a mountain town 40km North of Sofia. With a population of 9,000 it has most of the things you'll need - banks, few markets, etc. Transport to Sofia is by train or bus. If you want to drive, mind the winding mountain road. The nature is very beautiful and there are properties at good prices. Villages near Svoge are good option too although transport to the big city may be harder.
Kostinbrod is only 16km away, and probably the closest town. There is a good road so it's OK for driving or even cycling. Public transport is available by intercity bus and train. The train runs only 4-5 times per day. The nature isn't that great however, and the property prices are unreasonably high.
Novi Iskar is in my opinion much better alternative to Kostinbrod. It's only 14km away, has better nature, and better rail connection. There are also city buses connecting Novi Iskar with Sofia (cheaper than the intercity buses). The house prices are similar to these in Kostinbrod.
Bojurishte is a small town with about 5,000 residents. Only 14km away of Sofia it was attractive to the builders few years ago and a few residential complexes popped up. I guess there are still empty apartments there at good price, in case you want to know ;) There is a city bus connecting Bojurishte with Slivnitsa metro station. We haven't visited the town yet but in general it looks like a good option if you want to travel frequently to Sofia.
Godech is a small mountain town 45 km away of the Capital. Public transit connections aren't very good - only intercity buses are available and they take more than 1 hour to the Sofia North Station (which is not a great place). Otherwise Godech has beautiful nature and many monasteries and landmarks around. The house prices in Godech are lower than in most of the other places we reviewed here.
Elin Pelin lies 23 km west of the Capital. The location is not exactly great due to the industrial area. On the other hand, transportation is good - there are buses and trains many times per day. Property market is rather slow there and it's a rarity to see a good offer for a house.
Pravets is 60km away of Sofia but next to the Hemus higway so it's still easy to reach. With less than 5,000 inhabitants it's almost a village and is rather calm. Currently there are a few nice houses for sale under €50,000
Slivnica is only 22 km away of the Capital and has good road and rail connections. With a population of less than 8,000 it's another of these small towns that offer you nearly rural lifestyle. Slivnica is known as a windy place.
Botevgrad is a slightly bigger town with more than 20,000 people there. Sixty km away of Sofia and reachable by road only. Homes are more expensive than most of the other places mentioned on this page.
Of course this is not a complete list of places where you can live nearby the capital. There are a lot of other small villages close to it. If you have a specific query in mind, just share it with us.
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