If night clubs are not really your cup of tea, Sofia offers a huge variety of bars for any taste, where you can hook up with girls in a more casual and relaxed environment (except for Memento, which is a popular summer time high-end cocktail bar). I’ve selected a few places to check out during your stay, which should give you plenty of options for a couple of days trip.
1. Bar Dak & Bar Dak -2 – I gotta start with a disclaimer here, stating that I do have an investor share in both venues, but that’s only partially the reason they are listed here. Both bars are comfortably situated 300-400 meters away from each other, right in the heart of the city. Since the crowd around is usually friends of friends and the venues are relatively small, casual night outs easily turn to quite a bit of fun. In fact, I’ve met more cool people (both male and female) in our bars, compared to anywhere else. Sometimes, the lower number of options actually work well in your favor, as there are also not too many guys either. Drinks are as cheap as they go pretty much, so many people use the bars as pre-drink venues or event celebrations (birthdays etc). Quality of girls can be a bit hit & miss for my taste, but if you are into artsy hipster chicks who like photography, Instagram and quinoa – you’d usually find quite a few of them here.
2. Friday (Petak / Петък) – that’s likely the biggest underground styled bar in Sofia, where the majority of the hipster upper-class is gathered. Apart from my personal dislike for the club (it reminds me a lot about the numerous similar shitholes around ShoreDitch in London) it has great potential to be a major success – there’s usually plenty of people on any day, quite a lot of chicks who would describe themselves more “down-to-Earth” frequent here, there is a huge bar, a playroom and smoking is only allowed outside, which gives additional conversation starters and pick-up options. Get a drink from the bar at the second level and take a glance downstairs from the deck – it helps a lot to identify women you’re interested in, especially if the place is packed. Alcohol comes at a similar price to the casual venues.
3. Memento / Beach Bar (May to September) – an important thing to consider is that during the summer (and especially July and August), the city is pretty much dead during the week and only a few venues get really busy at weekends as well. The reason for it is that holidays are a pretty big thing for Bulgarians, as we like to party, drink and eat obsessively, so the majority of the night scene is moving to the Black Sea (mainly around Sunny Beach and Sozopol) for the summer. On the bright side, a plethora of cocktail bars have gone into business in the last couple of years and Memento & Beach bar (it’s actually two different bars, adjacent to each other, so they form one large place) are probably the most popular of them. You can find people there pretty much every day of the week. As everywhere in the night scene in Sofia, you’d mainly find larger mixed groups of people (6-7 or more) sitting around and getting shitfaced with a giant grin on their faces. There are often also girls-only groups, but since pickup is still not overly popular in the country, going up to their table would seem weird…for a local. As a foreigner you can actually come across as exotic, open, interesting etc, but most women I know would not be comfortable with a Bulgarian stranger approaching them at this particular place, unless it’s a local celebrity. Alternatively, I’ve seen some of the guys do successful approaches around the path leading to the restrooms there, but unless you are completely comfortable with being snubbed multiple times in a row, I’d probably go for the bar as a safe observation spot. Booking and arriving early may be a good option, especially on Thursdays onwards.
4. Piano Bars – Sinatra / Silicone / Camino
Since I’m an avid fan of live music, I really enjoy going to these venues. The only reason why they are not on top of the list, is that quite often they do play a lot of Bulgarian music as well (including chalga in Silicone), which might not be as relevant for tourists. The piano bars (especially Sinatra and Silicone) usually have the highest female-to-male ratio I’ve seen in Sofia, but the crowd there is slightly on the older side, late 20’s and early 30’s, so if you are looking for barely legal girls, you won’t find them here. There is always an extra charge on top of your bill that goes for the performers and drinks are as expensive as in the high end clubs. Sinatra is a good place to go to on Friday and Saturday, especially if they have a performance by a prominent singer, the place literally gets flocked with pretty girls. Silicone is good to go on Thursdays and weekend nights, but you’ll have to book in advance, as the place has gone quite popular lately. If you want to get easy access next to the top chicks, look for places at the royal itself, or as close as possible. Otherwise, hanging out at the bar or between the dancefloor and royal is a good option in both places, as there would be numerous approach options left and right. This is also the type of environment where you can actually dance to good music with girls and they tend to play some slow songs every once in a while, which does help if your dancing skills are a bit of a hit and miss.
5. Student City
Student city (Studentski Grad) is the name of the quarter where most Sofia universities and their campuses are located. There are a few things worth knowing about it, before deciding whether it’s a good option to explore it. For starters, people who are originally from Sofia avoid it like the plague – as in most countries, there is a degree of separation between the capital and the remainder of the country and Bulgaria is no exception. As a result, it’s safe to say that 95% of the women you’ll meet in Studentski grad won’t be from Sofia, so cultural and language barriers might be bigger. Additionally, due to the freakishly excessive consumption of alcohol in the country, chances are that you’ll witness a bar brawl in one of the clubs at some point. This becomes more critical when you are on the hunt for chicks, as guys there tend to be way more territorial and aggressive – you might get punched in the face even for looking at a woman that may not necessarily be their girlfriend (yet), while most of the time in the other venues you’ll just get away with a smiley warning if you try to dip your hands in somebody else’s cookie jar. On the bright side, the quantity of girls here is extremely high, it is possible that most of them haven’t met many well-traveled guys in their lives, so this alone would be exciting for them. Alcohol is cheaper, albeit this may be down to its quality as well. My recommendation would be to go to Club 33, but regardless which of the venues you choose, be prepared to listen to chalga (the Bulgarian pop-folk music, a mixture of genres varying between oriental, house and traditional folk) throughout the majority of the night. Needless to say, I don’t go often to Student City, so I can’t offer many tips around what works there and what doesn’t, in terms of getting panties rolling. The overall impression I got though is that it’s similar to all other high-end places, but it doesn’t hurt if you have a big couch with a couple of bottles on the table J
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