Bulgaria’s capital has a lot of stories to tell, and each historic attraction will give you a new perspective on Sofia’s complicated past. Take the churches here that have spent several centuries of their existence as mosques, the overbearing soviet architecture or the Roman history that is still being uncovered and blends with the modern city. If you plan your trip to Sofia, here are list of 10 traditional bulgarian things to buy.
1. ROSE OIL – Rose oil is the most famous Bulgarian export, but the prices for a small bottle can reach 50 euro. Rose water, a byproduct of rose oil production is a lot more affordable and often comes in a souvenir bottle holders.
2. ICONS – The iconographic tradition in Bulgaria is alive and kicking, and it is easy to find icons of all sizes and quality. A high-quality icon can easily cost over €250, but street artists and gift shops offer much cheaper options.
3. CERAMICS – The hand-painted Troyan-style ceramics are sold and used everywhere. If the traditional green, brown, and ochre are not to your liking, go for the more contemporary-looking ceramics sold in art galleries.
4. KILIMS (carpets) – The double-sided flat woolen rugs with colorful motifs can cost up to €500, but a good kilim is expected to last for generations. Ask about cleaning instructions before buying. Most kilims cannot go in the washing machine.
5. COPPER ITEMS – Copper items of all shapes and sizes make a good souvenirs. If you would like to be more practical go for cezve (a pot for boiling Turkish coffee), serving trays, or small cups for rakia.
6. WOODCARVING – Woodcarving is a traditional Bulgarian craft, one in which local craftsmen still excel. Anything made from wood, from cooking spoons and jewelry boxes to elaborate wall pieces, makes a wonderful gift.
7. WOOL – The hand-knit terlitsi are woolen socks still worn around the house in the winter.
8. JEWELRY – From copies of Thracian jewelry to the creation of young artists, Bulgaria is a great place to fill up your jewelry box.
9. TABLECLOTHS AND DOLLIES – Tablecloths and dollies handmade by local grandmas come in thousands of shapes and sizes.
10. BELLS – Originally worn by the freely grazing livestock, bells are now a decoration in countryside houses and traditional restaurants.