Sofia is Bulgaria's largest city, approximately 50 miles east of its neighboring nations of Macedonia and Serbia. Visitors are welcome to visit its Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, which sits on its own in a massive traffic circle and is able to accommodate 10,000 persons, and the famous frescoes of its World Heritage Site of Boyana Church on the city's outskirts. Most Bulgarian business and government administration is conducted in the city, with Sofia event venues reaping the benefits of downtime.
The principal gateway to Sofia and all of Bulgaria is Sofia Airport (SOF), which also goes by the tongue-twisting name of Letishte Sofia-Vrazhdebna. Approximately three miles east of the city center, the airport has service from all over Europe, but no service — even on national carrier Bulgaria Air — comes direct from or to North America.
Chief among convention venues in Sofia is the Inter Expo & Congress Center, which is in a southeastern suburb and covers more than 420,000 square feet of space. Inside are seven congress halls and six exhibition pavilions. A 99-room Best Western Hotel Expo, by the Inter Expo & Congress Center, has five meeting rooms of its own.
Hotel venues in Sofia are of a high standard. You can choose among the stately, imposing, 184-room Sofia Hotel Balkan, a Luxury Collection Hotel which has five meeting and function spaces, including the Royal, Serdica, and Sredetz ballrooms; the 142-room Radisson Blu Grand Hotel Sofia, which has six meeting rooms for up to 400 persons; the 63-room Crystal Palace Sofia, which has two meeting rooms, the largest able to host 40 persons; and the boutique, glass, 31-room Les Fleurs, which has use of a series of conference rooms for up to 40 persons a one-minute walk away.
Take advantage of Sofia's long, diverse history when you plan private functions. Choices include the Central Army Club, which is a grand, pinkish-yellow building that despite its name and its use by the military is a cultural center opened in 1895, with a coffee house, art gallery, several function halls, and a 450-seat concert hall; the Stalinesque Boyana Residence, which was the center of government in the Communist era (it still has government use) but today has function rooms that sit beneath Vitosha Mountain; the large, glass-fronted Universiada Hall, a sports and function facility with 15,000 square feet of exhibition space and a main hall for 2,300 persons; Sofia Armeets Arena, a new indoor arena with 14,000 seats and room for 15,000 persons that hosts major acts and sports, including volleyball (a major Bulgarian obsession); and Museum of Modern Art Gallery Sofia, which has space in its main gallery and two-room Art Saloon.
Restaurants in Sofia ideal for larger parties include ornate Restaurant Krim, close to the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and with lots of wood, which in addition to a main dining room has two rooms on its second floor hosting 12 persons each, a conference space on its third floor, and a garden; Restaurant 33 Gastronauts, which has an international menu, Mediterranean to burgers; Tchergata, with a Bulgarian menu, 200 seats in its main dining room, the capability of hosting more for cocktail parties, and a garden for 100 persons; Restaurant Chevermeto, which also has a Bulgarian menu, interiors livened up with colorful upholstery, and cultural shows; and, also with national dishes, Manastirska Magernitsa, which has a great wine list, six halls (including one that preserves Bulgarian folk traditions), fireplaces, and both summer and winter gardens.