Luckily there's some pretty cool and quiet parks in Bulgaria's capital, and some of them are right in the center of the city. So let's start from there and check out two of the most popular green spaces, openly available to those who want to take a sit for a while and grab a cup of coffee or even a beer, and then dive deeper and go further in search for the perfect calm spot for a picnic in Sofia. Or some jogging, or cycling, or whatever floats your boat!
Borissova gradina (Boris' Garden)
Boris' Garden is the oldest and best known park in Sofia and a preferred spot for a quick escape from the city's rumbling. It's location in the city center near Orlov Most (Eagle's Bridge) makes it the perfect place to take a walk if you're heading downtown. What it offers is a glimpse of serenity in the very middle of the city, and also, century old trees, green spaces, nice benches, a tennis court and other sports facilities, a summer stage where live music can be heard and overall a place to relax and have some fun. It's construction and arrangement began in 1884 and it is named after Bulgarian Tsar Boris III.
The history of the garden embraces three periods, under three renowned gardeners. Swiss gardener Daniel Neff took care of the garden during the 1882–1906 period. Then the Alsatian Joseph Frei was appointed manager of all gardens and parks of Sofia in 1906, including the biggest and most popular – Boris' Garden. The next turning point in the development of the park was when the famous Bulgarian gardener and specialist Georgi Duhtev was in charge from 1934 to 1944. All three followed the initial scheme, further developing and perfecting the place and didn't really made radical changes to the original design. That wasn't exactly the case after 1944 – when the communist regime took power the park was renamed "Freedom Park" (Park na svobodata) and a huge antifascist monument was erected in 1956 and also some structural changes were made. After the fall of the regime the park reverted to its original name. The monument is still there, though!
Gradska gradina (City garden)
Another precious gem in the historical center of the city – Sofia's City garden is the oldest garden in the capital. It's a popular retreat for the residents of the city and a popular place for young people to unwind with a drink after the work day. It's also a favored place for amateur chess players who gather in the space in front of the National Theater. It's quite easy to find – the small and beautiful park is located between Tsar Osvoboditel Blvd. to the north, Knyaz Alexander Batenberg Str. to the west and Gurko Str. to the south. Sofia's City garden once was a part of the former Royal Palace (now acting as the National Gallery of Arts) until the communist regime erected a (now demolished) Mausoleum for the party's leader Georgi Dimitrov, thus reorganising the space towards the Ivan Vazov National Theater. However the City garden is one of the most pleasant places in Sofia, vibrant with life - blooming in green in spring and offering a cool relaxing space in summer.