A fashion entrepreneur's guide to Bulgaria

August 2, 2019 0 By HearthstoneYarns

Sofia, Bulgaria’s capital city. Image credit: Instagram.com/fab_azzi

I grew up in Haskovo, about a two-hour drive from Bulgaria’s capital, Sofia. Located in the Thracian Valley, Haskovo is considered by many historians to be one of the oldest winemaking regions in the world. The lowlands have a mild climate, rolling hills and a maritime influence that provide the perfect environment to grow grapes. As someone who loves a good red wine, I am always excited to visit home and see new vineyards that have cropped up. Archaeologists recently unearthed evidence to suggest wine was made 7,000 years ago by members of the cult of Dionysus, the god of wine, right in my hometown. Outside of being lovers of delicious wines, people from Haskovo also like to talk a lot about the fact that our little town plays home to the tallest statue of Mother Mary in the world. But enough about Haskovo – below I’ve described some of my other favourite spots in Bulgaria.

Sense Hotel Sofia. Image credit: Supplied.


Character-filled, comfortable places to lay your head in the city and the country. 

Sense Hotel Sofia
If you want to stay in Bulgaria’s capital, my favourite spot is Sense Hotel, located in the heart of Sofia. Outside of the beautiful rooms, views and generally luxurious nature of Sense, the rooftop bar is the perfect place to unwind after a long day exploring the city. They have French and Italian wines, but try a local Bulgarian drop for something a bit different – there are a couple of beautiful reds from the Thracian Valley on the menu. The hotel is in a prime position and in the rooftop bar you can sip red and enjoy views of the city’s most iconic landmarks.

The rooftop bar of the Sense Hotel Sofia. Image credit: Supplied.

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Guest rooms at the Sense Hotel Sofia. Image credit: Supplied.

Castra Rubra Guest House. Image credit: Instagram.com/zoomstudio_

Castra Rubra Guest House
Staying at the Castra Rubra Guest House is a real treat. With modern rooms, incredible architecture and lush vineyard surrounds, it is one of my new favourite spots.

Exterior of Castra Rubra Guest House. Image credit: Supplied.

Interior of Castra Rubra Guest House. Image credit: Supplied.

Cosmos restaurant. Image credit: Supplied.


Enjoy world-class dining in Bulgaria’s capital, Sofia.

Cosmos is one of those places I always take people when they are visiting Bulgaria – it is traditional Bulgarian cuisine with a refined (cosmopolitan) twist. It shows the style and flair of the city without being too over the top. The menu is inspired by forgotten recipes, integrating produce from small farms. Cosmos really shows off the richness of Bulgarian culture and traditions. My top recommendation is the chicken kavarma in radomir style. The one dish that every Bulgarian connects with their childhood is banitza with boza – a pastry filled with Bulgarian feta accompanied by boza, a fermented drink made from wheat. You have to try it to really get a sense of how delicious this Bulgarian favourite is.

Cosmos restaurant. Image credit: Supplied.

Cosmos restaurant. Image credit: Supplied.

Ahora restaurant. Image credit: Supplied.

Ahora by Sevda Dimitrova
My next stop would be Ahora by Sevda Dimitrova, particularly for a dinner out with girlfriends. It is a winner for those wanting cool interiors from their dining experience, but also comes with a little celebrity credibility – Chef Sevda was the winner of MasterChef Bulgaria in 2016. I love the duck magret and for dessert, my go-to would be the scheherazade, which is actually a Moroccan cake. Once food is decided upon, I strongly recommend taking in the beautiful surrounds of the restaurant. Think black and white tiled floors, plush seating, plants (everywhere) and big tables suitable for lots of food and great wine.

Ahora restaurant. Image credit: Supplied.


Immerse yourself in local wine, art and architecture.

Castra Rubra Winery
Castra Rubra Winery (also home to the guest house mentioned previously) is located in the village of Kolarovo. Kolarovo is located near both the borders of Greece and Turkey, and is only 30 minutes from Haskovo (my hometown). It is right here that the conditions for winemaking are the most perfect. There are significantly more sunny days than the Bulgarian average and the soil is diverse, so each vineyard produces unique grapes. Close to the village are the remains of the Castra Rubra Roman fortress – this is where Castra Rubra Winery gets its name. I am all about red wine, so can vouch for the beautiful Syrah and Merlot. If you find yourself at Castra Rubra Winery factor in time to walk around the beautiful vineyard (after your tasting, of course).

The cellar at Castra Rubra Winery. Image credit: Supplied.

The National Gallery of Bulgaria. Image credit: Instagram.com/_chabanov_

Kvadrat 500 at The National Gallery
Kvadrat 500 is the newest building in the National Gallery of Bulgaria and an exciting addition to the art scene. It is only four years old, but is now the largest (and in my mind, the most impressive) building within the gallery. With art and sculpture intertwined, you can easily spend hours here – if not for the art, then for the architecture of the building itself. After wandering through the works, enjoy a sunny afternoon at the Tobacco Bar, which is a short walk from the gallery. Order a cocktail and enjoy people-watching. This is the place to enjoy a Bulgarian summer afternoon.

The National Gallery of Bulgaria. Image credit: Instagram.com/nationalgallerybg

The National Gallery of Bulgaria. Image credit: Supplied.

Tobacco Bar. Image credit: Supplied.

Tobacco Bar. Image credit: Supplied.

Tobacco Bar. Image credit: Supplied.

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