Popular Sofia suburbs are Boyana, Simeonovo, Dragalevtsi, Kambanite and the villages of Bistritsa and Zheleznitsa. They are all to the south of Sofia, at the foot of Vitosha mountain. Luxury properties abound, though the state of the roads during the winter months may leave something to be desired, and a 4 wheel drive is all but mandatory.
Accommodation in town usually means an apartment, either in modern purpose-built blocks or in some of the older grand buildings, which unfortunately may have rather run down communal areas. Living in downtown Sofia is recommended for singles or couples without children who enjoy going out in the evenings. You can easily get by without a car in the centre as everything is so close. The drawback is the traffic noise, dirty streets and pavements and shockingly poor air quality especially in the winter months.
The centre and south/southeastern neighbourhoods tend to be the most sought-after. The area around Moskovska /Alexander Nevsky is pleasant as the buildings are generally grand turn-of-the last century with large rooms, high ceilings and a regal air about them. The common areas may be unkempt but the streets tend to be cleaned every morning as the municipality also has its home here.
The Doctor’s Garden neighbourhood is highly recommended (Oborishte, Shipka, San Stefano streets), surrounding the small Doctor’s Garden park and with plenty of little shops, bars and cafes to give it a lively feel, but it is also one of the most expensive in the city centre.
To the east Iztok and Izgrev quarters were traditionally home to diplomatic residences and are now easily accessible from the city centre via the metro stops at Joliot Curie and G.M.Dimitrov. With easy access to the Borissova Gradina park the neighbourhood has plenty going for it.
To the south of the city centre Ivan Vazov and Lozenets border on the South Park, though parts of Lozenets are looking crowded and ugly these days with narrow streets and not much breathing space between the apartment blocks. Parking can also be a bit of a challenge if you do not have access to a garage space.
Bulgaria Boulevard has seen a lot of new high rise construction with some very luxurious properties leading up to the ring road though the infrastructure is poor and there is no hope of finding a park or anywhere to walk the dog or take the kids if you live here.
The suburbs beyond the ring road hold the promise of better air quality, gardens and peace and quiet (albeit you may have to listen to dogs barking all night!). If you have young children you may decide to send them to one of the many excellent nursery schools in the suburbs and they need never go down to Sofia at all. The villages themselves are slowly beginning to cater to the needs of their new wealthy residents for local shopping, and there are big supermarkets on the way up to both Simenovo and Dragalevtsi. There are quite a lot of gated communities offering 24-hour security, children’s playgrounds and other communal facilities.
Boyana to the West has the advantage of the wide Bulgaria boulevard leading straight into the city, though it gets very congested at peak hours.
The upper road connecting all the villages is lined with houses and compounds all the way to Dragalevtsi and from there to Simeonovo. Both villages have double lane roads into the city centre.
Bistritsa is higher up the mountain – an extra 15 minutes drive from Simeonovo – but is popular for its true village atmosphere and almost constant sunshine.
Malinova Dolina refers to the area where the American College is situated below the ring road and above the ring road between IKEA and Bistritsa. The upper part has little in the way of infrastructure and can be difficult to reach in the winter, though the Sofia Residential Park compound is a foreigner-magnet.
The town of Bankya is in a completely different direction, to the West of Sofia in the Lyulin mountain range. Only 20-30 minutes from Sofia city centre, the town has its own unique microclimate (people with lung ailments are sent here for the air), healing mineral water and many people commute from here to work in Sofia.
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