International network
for contemporary
performing arts

Réseau international
pour les arts du spectacle
contemporains

Rete internazionale
per le arti performative
contemporanee

コンテンポラリー
パフォーミングアーツ
国際ネットワーク

Internationales Netzwerk
für zeitgenössische
darstellende Künste

Международная сеть современного 
исполнительского 
искусства

Red internacional
para las artes escénicas
contemporáneas

Internationaal netwerk
voor hedendaagse
podiumkunsten

თანამედროვე საშემსრულებლო
ხელოვნების
საერთაშორისო ქსელი

Rede internacional
para as artes performativas
contemporâneas

الشبكة الدولية
لفنون الأداء
المعاصرة

Alþjóðlegt
tengslanet
í sviðslistum

Xarxa internacional
d'arts escèniques
contemporànies

Rhwydwaith rhyngwladol
ar gyfer celfyddydau
perfformio cyfoes

Rrjeti ndërkombëtar
për artet skenike
kontemporane

Διεθνές δίκτυο
για σύγχρονες
παραστατικές τέχνες

Međunarodna mreža 
za savremene 
scenske umjetnosti

Mezinárodní síť 
pro současné 
divadelní umění

International netværk
for kontemporær
scenekunst

Internasionale netwerk
vir kontemporêre
uitvoerende kunste

თანამედროვე საშემსრულებლო
ხელოვნების
საერთაშორისო ქსელი

Nemzetközi hálózat
a kortárs
előadóművészetért

國際當代表演藝術網絡

líonra idirnáisiúnta
na taibhealaíona
comhaimseartha

Starptautiskais tīkls
laikmetīgai
skatuves mākslai

Netwerk internazzjonali
għall-arti performattivi
kontemporanji

Międzynarodowa sieć
na rzecz współczesnych sztuk
performatywnych

Internationellt nätverk
för samtida
scenkonst

Međunarodna mreža
savremenih izvođačkih
umetnosti

Международна мрежа
за съвременни
сценични изкуства

Rrjet ndërkombëtar
për arte skenike
bashkëkohore

Міжнародная сетка
сучасных
перфарматыўных мастацтваў

Međunarodna mreža
za suvremene
izvedbene umjetnosti

国际当代表演艺术网络

Rahvusvaheline
kaasaegsete etenduskunstide
võrgustik

현대 공연 예술을 위한 국제 네트워크

Tarptautinis tinklas
šiuolaikinis
scenos menai

Интернационална мрежа
за современа
изведувачка уметност

شبکۀ بین المللی
برای هنرهای نمایشی معاصر

Rețeaua internațională
pentru artele spectacolului
contemporan

Medzinárodná sieť
pre súčasné
scénické umenie

Çağdaş
gösteri sanatları için
uluslararası iletişim ağı

CONTENT

On this page you will find all the relevant practical information to help you plan your trip to and stay in Sofia.

Participants should take IETM Sofia as an opportunity to try new environmental practices and follow-up on previous sustainable commitments. As always, don’t forget to pack lightly. Please consider bringing your walking shoes and a warm coat for the evenings, as well as your own water bottle and reusable mug.

Please also use the IETM Forum to share your suggestions on how to minimise your footprint travelling to and from this meeting. You can also consult our FAQ page linked in the Forum to find frequently asked questions or add your own by leaving a comment below.

You can click on the links below to jump ahead to the desired section:

COURTESY TIPS

 

IETM plenary meetings are unique gatherings of our peers, partners and friends from across the globe. These sessions are opportunities for us, individually and collectively, to champion and challenge our work, our opinions and our thoughts for the future.

In the spirit of inclusion, IETM is committed to the creation of a safe space in which all voices can be heard; and an environment in which opposing views can exist without judgement and prejudice.

To achieve this, we encourage speakers and participants to show respect when they speak and listen to others.

  1. For many people in the room, English is not their native language, so please take care to speak slowly and clearly (with the use of amplification where available).
  2. When a question is asked by a participant in a session, we would ask the moderator or speaker to repeat the question before answering it.
  3. Please allow all speakers and participants to complete their statements without interruption; however, please also be mindful to allow space for many voices to be heard and for moderators to manage it.
  4. Respect everybody’s right to both hold and share an opinion, listen actively to what someone is saying, and ask questions if you need clarification. Show that you value their perspective and experience.
  5. Use the language that the individual prefers when referring to their gender, disability, or racial identity. If you are unsure what language to use, ask respectfully.
  6. Acknowledge and respect Indigenous sovereignty: Indigenous peoples have unique histories, cultures, customs and traditions that deserve respect and recognition.
  7. If a speaker or participant is using access support, please communicate directly with the individual concerned and not via their translator or support worker.
  8. If a speaker or participant is using a wheelchair and the conversation lasts more than a few minutes, sit down or kneel to get yourself on the same level as the person, if you can.
  9. Always ask for someone's permission before touching them or getting physically close to them.
ACCESSIBILITY

 

In the city

In Sofia, the public transport consists of buses and tramways, as well as an underground metro. A one-way ticket for public transport costs 2 lev / €1.00. You can also purchase a daily ticket for 4 lev / €2.00, which covers all types of public transport except for the night lines. However, there are many cobbled streets and narrow pavements in some parts of the city and the green areas and parks are mostly soil which can be difficult for wheelchair users, people with walking difficulties and blind or partially sighted people to pass.

Most crossings in the city centre are equipped with sound signals.

Wheelchair users or those with a mobility aid can access city buses for free - the driver is required to stop and install an access ramp. Please note that wheelchair users must be able to navigate city buses and on the trams either independently or through the help of a companion. In the metro, there are elevators and a marked entrance.

To know more about accessibility for the IETM Sofia Plenary Meeting, please go to: meeting venues, accommodation, restaurants. 

At the meeting

We aim to make the IETM Sofia Plenary Meeting as accessible as possible. However, it may not be possible to offer all access requirements at every location and we therefore recommend that you check the location of your interest ahead of time. 

The accessibility of each venue will be uploaded upon confirmation of the full programme. 

All accessibility details provided online are based on the information received from the venues' staff and their websites. If you need more information, please get in touch with the venues directly.

There will be a range of accessibility features available at the meeting, on which you can find more details below.

Due to budget restrictions and being dependent on the local infrastructure, we cannot always guarantee that the conditions will be the same from one meeting to another. Nevertheless, for this meeting we are able to:

  • Offer preferential rates for disabled participants;
  • Offer free registration fees for your support worker;
  • Provide a large print version of the programme;
  • Provide speech-to-text captions for all plenary sessions of the meeting. Details of these services will be available online upon confirmation of the full programme;
  • Ensure that all venues hosting the working programme and most venues hosting artistic performances are wheelchair accessible.
  • Provide a quiet room accessible to participants at the meeting main venue.

The Relaxed Room is located in Dressing Room 1 of Toplocentrala. It is a space of no talking and digital detox, to step aside from the hustle and bustle of the Plenary meeting and reduce sensory overload.

If you have any questions about the accessibility of the IETM Sofia Plenary Meeting, please get in touch with us by writing to ietm@ietm.org.

MEETING LOCATIONS

 

Sofia is Bulgaria’s capital and the largest city, located in the western part of the country. It’s a land of ancient civilizations and unique landscapes. 

Near the city is Vitosha mountain and in the centre you can take the Sofia Free Tour to visit the most important sightseeing locations. You can find a more chronological history of the city of Sofia here.

The capital of the Republic of Bulgaria is a unique ‘city that grows but does not get old’ and has more than 7000 years of history.

Main meeting venue

Toplocentrala

Address: ul. "Emil Berzinski" 5, 1408 Yuzhen, Sofia

Spring, 2014: the city of Sofia is preparing its candidacy for the European Capital of Culture, and the independent art scene is in the process of co-organising a Plenary Meeting in Sofia with one of the world's largest performing arts networks - IETM. 

The decision is made to include three possible locations in the city - one of which being the Heat Centre - for a three-day work group during the IETM Plenary Meeting on 16-19 October. Sixty-five foreign experts took part in the work group and upon visiting the three locations voted for each one, based on five different criteria.

The Contemporary Art Center Toplocentrala was opened in 2021 within the remains of an old and abandoned heat plant, which was part of the National Palace of Culture infrastructure. Nowadays, Toplocentrala is a unique space for creative professionals and the only contemporary art centre in the capital. Toplocentrala hosts around 1000 events annually; concerts, exhibitions, theatre and dance performances, movie festivals, workshops and discussions of national importance. The space provides multifunctional halls for theatre, dance, contemporary circus as well as a gallery, a bar with a small stage for improv and music performances, a large terrace for gatherings and events, a small studio for workshops, an amphitheatre, a planetarium and a river park.

Accessibility: Toplocentrala is a step-free and wheelchair-accessible venue with wheelchair-friendly toilet facilities on -1 and ground floor level. There is an entrance to Toplocentrala for wheelchair users on both sides of the main building.

We will be using the following spaces:

  • Foyer 1 - Daytime meeting space, accreditation, registration, info desk and ticket desk
  • Foyer 2 - Chill and relax, enjoy a calm visual environment
  • Hall 1 - Main hall for artists and Plenary programme 
  • Hall 2 - Small artistic programme hall 
  • Hall 4 - Relax space for quiet time and digital detox 
  • Bar - stage - Day and evening meeting point 
  • River park - Day and evening meeting point, artistic programme space

HEMUS HOTEL  ***

Address25 Cherni Vrah Blvd, Sofia, Bulgaria.

This conference hall will be used for a working group session.

Artistic programme venues

Toplocentrala 

Address: ul. "Emil Berzinski" 5, 1408 Yuzhen, Sofia

For more information on Toplocentrala’s history, check out the Main meeting venue.

Accessibility: Toplocentrala is accessible for wheelchair users. The venue has a ground-level entrance and elevator. Please contact the office at +0877223172 when you order your tickets for a performance to let them know that you are bringing a wheelchair. The venue has wheelchair-accessible toilet facilities.

DERIDA STAGE

Address: 32 Tsar Samuil St., 1000 Sofia Center, Sofia

Derida Stage is the first centre for contemporary dance and education in Bulgaria, founded in 2010. The DERIDA stage is a completely independent space for contemporary art and culture, whose official opening took place on April 19, 2019. Various dance and theatre performances, a contemporary circus, audiovisual performances, photographic and art exhibitions and social events take place on stage as part of the monthly programme. 

Accessibility: Derida Stage is not accessible for wheelchair-users. The venue has a ground level entrance with stairs to the main hall. The venue does have wheelchair-adapted toilet facilities.

National Students House

Address: 10 National Assembly Square, 1000 Sofia Center, Sofia

The National Student House was built in 1933, in the heart of the Bulgarian capital - at National Assembly Square. It is the home of the independent scene and is specifically open to all representatives and friends of the Bulgarian student community and the theatre community.

Accessibility: National Student House is not accessible for wheelchair-users, but it is possible to enter with a companion. At the front entrance of the building there are three steps which are not equipped with wheelchair ramps. The entrance to the main stage has additional three steps with no rails or ramp. The venue has wheelchair-adapted toilet facilities.

Yalta Art Room

Address: 20 Tsar Osvoboditel Blvd., 1000 Sofia Center, Sofia

YALTA Art Room is open to works by young artists and creative actions from all over the country. The space is located in the basement of one of the most popular dancing clubs in Sofia and it is one of the newest creative circles that supports the dialogue of young artists with their audience.

Accessibility: YALTA ART ROOM is not accessible for wheelchair-users. There is a steep staircase to the hall located underground. The venue does have wheelchair-adapted toilet facilities.

I AM Studio 

Address: 149 "Georgi S. Rakovski" St., 1000 Sofia Center, Sofia

I AM STUDIO is a theatre for contemporary dramaturgy, placing texts by contemporary European authors. As one of the newest artistic spaces in Sofia, I AM STUDIO is a stage mainly for freelance artists and organisations with specific vibe.

Accessibility: I AM STUDIO is accessible for wheelchair-users. It is located in the centre of the city, at the ground level. The venue has wheelchair-adapted toilet facilities.

National Theatre “Ivan Vazov”

Address: 5 Deacon Ignatiy St., 1000 Sofia Center, Sofia

The National Theatre has more than a century-long history as a centre of Bulgaria’s cultural life. The building was opened in 1907 and keeps in its memory the triumphs of the greatest Bulgarian directors and actors on its stage; the work of the national poets and writers who have contributed to the theatre over the years.

Accessibility: NATIONAL THEATRE is accessible for wheelchair-users. It is located in the centre of the city with a steep staircase, equipped with a ramp. The venue has wheelchair-adapted toilet facilities.

State Theatre of Youth

Address: 8 Knyaz Alexander Dondukov Blvd., 1000 Sofia Center, Sofia

The youth theatre has been telling stories since 1945 and until today its repertoire includes titles for children and adults.

Accessibility: The Theatre of youth is accessible for wheelchair-users. It is located in the centre of the city on the ground level. The venue has wheelchair-adapted toilet facilities.

Pre-meeting trip venues

Veliko Tarnovo 

The city of Veliko Tarnovo is a place with a rich history spanning more than five millennia. It was the capital of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom in the Middle Ages. Today, Veliko Tarnovo is one of the liveliest places in today's contemporary art life in Bulgaria.

TaM

Address: 5 Velcho Djamdjiata, Veliko Tarnovo 

TaM is a self-sustainable, community-driven place for culture and social initiatives in Veliko Tarnovo. Launched in 2012, the space became an attractive stage for contemporary art and culture. TaM regularly presents upcoming and established artists from all over the world. The programme includes activities promoting participation in urban social processes.

Accessibility: The venue is not accessible for wheelchair-users because of the hills and paved roads.

Tsarevets Fortress

Address: 6 "Nikola Piccolo" St., 5000 gh.k. Varusha-south, Veliko Tarnovo

Tsarevets Fortress is the most impressive and visited landmark in Veliko Tarnovo, preserved from the 12th century when the city was proclaimed the capital of the second Bulgarian Kingdom in 1185. Tsarevets was home to the aristocracy and its main fort. The unique view to the fortress from the city cathedral is amazing and it’s a part of a unique show Sound and Light, which will be included in the pre-meeting programme.

Accessibility: The venue is not accessible for wheelchair users due to the hills and paved roads.

Varusha South

Address: 6 "Nikola Piccolo" St., 5000 gh.k. Varusha-south, Veliko Tarnovo

Varusha South neighbourhood is emblematic of Veliko Tarnovo. This is one of the old neighbourhoods that dates back to Ottoman times and contains a variety of architectural styles. On its territory one can find the most important museums and cultural institutes in the city. In recent years, Varusha South has attracted young entrepreneurs and artists who gave a modern twist to the place. Newcomers have opened specialised drinking establishments, restaurants, galleries, work studios, shops and places to stay overnight. Since 2022, the team of TaM and other active citizens organise a community festival called 48 hours Varusha South. This year's programme includes over 85 events presented within 48 hours.

Accessibility: The venue is not accessible for wheelchair users because of the hills and paved roads.

Park Marno Pole, Аmphitheater

Address: 5000 Marno Pole, Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria

‘Marno Pole’ Park is located near the city centre and is one of the most preferred places for recreation of residents of Veliko Tarnovo. In the past, there was a mediaeval settlement here and today the park is at its liveliest during the weeks when it becomes the scene of the annual international folklore festival, various concerts and cultural events held at the summer theatre.

Accessibility: The venue is not accessible for wheelchair users due to the hills and paved roads.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude Art Center

Address: Str Bryanska 72, 5306 Gabrovo, Bulgaria

Under an agreement signed with the Gabrovo-born artist Christo and his brothers – Stefan and Anani Yavashev - in 2013, the Municipality of Gabrovo received a donation of fifty posters and committed itself to establishing the Christo and Jeanne-Claude Center for Contemporary Art. This centre will comprise of exhibitions featuring the work of Christo and Jeanne-Claude, as well as a documentary exhibition on the history of the Yavachev family in Gabrovo and Cristo’s childhood. To function as a living organism, the centre will also offer a dynamic program of temporary exhibitions, presenting young artists whose art shares common features with Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s projects.

Accessibility: The venue is located on an off-road, hilly park and is therefore not accessible for wheelchair users.

Variety Theater

Address: 68 Bryanska Street, 5300 Gabrovo, Bulgaria

The Variety Theater is a legendary theatre from the time of socialism and the dawn of transition, which closed in 1998. It is currently not functioning, but it has an interesting architecture and an interesting history, which is important for the city and the region, as well as for the development of dance theatre.

Accessibility: There are stairs to reach the theatre and is therefore not accessible for wheelchair users.

Post-meeting trip to Varna venues

Varna is a seaside resort, so we advise you to bring a swimsuit, flip-flops, towel and sunscreen!

The temperature in June is expected to be between 21 and 26°C. The seawater temperature is expected to be around 21°C.

‘Boris Georgiev’ City Art Gallery

Address: ul. "Lyuben Karavelov" 1, 9002 Varna Center, Varna

City Art Gallery - Varna is one of the most remarkable architectural monuments of the city. Situated in a romantic neo-Gothic building from the end of the 19th century, it hosts numerous exhibitions as well as music events, theatre performances, concerts, etc.

Accessibility: The venue is not accessible for wheelchair users: there are stairs at the entrance and all the way to the second floor without an elevator.

ReBonkers

Address: ul. "Baruten pogreb" 4, 9008 Hristo Botev, Varna

This venue will be used for performances and for the closing session during the post-meeting trip.

ReBonkers is an alternative space for the visual arts. The stone building, built by the Ottoman authorities back in 1823 as a storehouse for gunpowder, is the oldest fully preserved building in Varna. It functioned as a live music club in the beginning of the 90’s, but was eventually abandoned. In 2021, it was reconstructed by a local NGO and turned into a venue for cultural and social events. 

Accessibility: This venue is accessible for wheelchair users.

Beach Bar Menthol

Address: ul. "Kapitan Georgi Georgiev", 9000 Primorski, Varna

This venue will be used as an evening meeting point.

This beach bar with live music is a preferred summer meeting place for the local art community.

Accessibility: This venue is accessible for wheelchair users.

Yunashki salon

Address: 1 “Hristo Botev” Blvd, 9000 Varna

This venue will be used for sessions during the post-meeting trip.

The Yunashki Salon (Heroes’ Salon) is one of the symbols of Varna and the first sports facility built in the sea capital. The building, a more than 100 years old cultural monument, was in ruins for a long time until it underwent a complete renovation nine years ago. Today, it is used for sports training, conferences, and other events. Occasionally it also hosts cultural events.

Accessibility: This venue is accessible for wheelchair users.

Varna Summer Theatre

Address: Primorski Park, 9002 Primorski, Varna

This venue will be visited during a city walk. 

The Summer Theater in Varna is the largest outdoor theatre on the Balkan Peninsula. Built in 1957, it plays an important role in Varna’s cultural life. Each summer it hosts numerous theatre productions, opera performances, music concerts and dance shows. The picturesque stage, naturally decorated with ivy, is well-known within the dance community for being the birthplace of the very first international ballet competition in the world. 

Accessibility: This venue is accessible for wheelchair users.

Varna State Theatre and Opera House

Address: 1 Nezavisimost square, Varna 9000, Bulgaria

This venue will be visited during a city walk. 

The building of the Drama Theater was designed in the Neo-Baroque style and opened its doors on 29 October 1932. Today, it is home to both the Drama Theatre and the Opera House, united under the name ‘Theatre and Music Production Centre - Varna’. 

Accessibility: This venue is accessible for wheelchair users.

State Puppet Theatre Varna

Address: 4 Dragoman str., 9000 Varna

This venue will be visited during a city walk. 

Established in 1952, the Puppet Theatre is nowadays situated in the building of a former adventist church (a cultural monument). It accommodates a stage, chamber hall, summer stage, and the Museum of Puppets. 

Accessibility: This venue is accessible for wheelchair users.

MAP

 

Click here for a map of all venues, restaurants and hotels.

TRAVEL

 

Getting to Sofia

IETM is a strong advocate for rail travel and we therefore encourage you to travel by land if you are able to.

If you are a category 1 or 2 IETM member, you are eligible to apply for a travel grant if necessary.

By train


Train travel is a rewarding way to travel which reduces your contribution to climate change and brings you closer to the country you visit. You can relax, read a book, take a nap or immerse yourself in the IETM Sofia Plenary Meeting programme.

Sofia can be reached by train from Istanbul or Bucharest. It takes around 12 hours. There is a train from Belgrade too, but it’s much slower.

Please visit BDZ Bulgarian Railways here to find your connection route options. If you wish to check a detailed itinerary from European capitals, you can also check Eurail’s page.

BDZ does not offer assistance for disabled people. You can find further information about their services on their website.

By bus/coach

You can take a Flixbus from almost all European cities. To check the options, please visit their website here.

Sofia Bus Station is one of the city's main transport hubs and is located near a Metro Station and central train station. Sofia has many connections by coach to and from neighbouring countries.

Car pooling

If you choose to drive to Sofia, don’t forget to ask other participants if they want to share a ride by posting on our Forum.

Sofia has direct connections to the European network of motorways, making it easy to get to and from most European cities. 

Please note that in Sofia you have to pay to park or use the hotel parking if possible. Please check with the hotel you have chosen. On this site you can find information on how and where to park while you are in town.

By air

Sofia Airport

Sofia airport has two terminals, located 14 km northwest of the city and offers direct international flights to several European cities. Please visit their website here for information on flight arrival and departure times.

Metro 

The best option to get to the centre of Sofia from the airport is the Metro station located on the Eastern side (to your left when you go out) of Terminal 2. To find it, just follow the blue line on the floor in the public area of Terminal 2. The ticket price is €0.80, paid with card or cash in Bulgarian lev. 

Keep in mind that only Terminal 2 has a direct metro station connection. If you arrive at Terminal 1 you can take a free shuttle to Terminal 2 to access the Metro or bus to the city centre. The shuttle route starts at Terminal 1 and is available from 08:00 to 20:00, every 30 min. To check specific arrival times, please check here

If you are headed directly to Toplocentrala, you should look for the European Union' station and then walk eight minutes through the park to reach Toplocentrala. The other Metro station nearest to Toplocentrala is the National Palace of Culture.

Bus route № 84

The 84 bus route connects the city centre (Gen. Gurko Str.) to Sofia Airport Terminal 2 and Terminal 1. It then goes back along Christopher Columbus Blvd. – Tsarigradsko Shose Blvd. to Gen. Gurko Str. The travel time to downtown Sofia is about 30 minutes or less, depending on the traffic during rush hours. The bus stops in the city centre, a 15 minute walk from our main venues. 

The bus fare is €1 (2 Bulgarian lev) and can be paid to the bus driver in cash only.

Taxi

You can get a taxi directly from the airport with an approximate price of €10 to €13, depending on the traffic and company rates. Usually, payment for the taxi service is only in cash, but you can ask the driver if cards are accepted. The distance between the city centre and Sofia Airport is about 10 km via Brussels blvd. and Tsarigradsko Shose blvd.

IMPORTANT - Look for the ‘Yellow!’ cars at the main taxi rank or request the service at the ‘Yellow!’ offices in Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 Arrivals. You can also order a taxi by calling +359 2 9 11 19 or via the website.

We recommend that you do not use taxi services offered outside the office of the taxi operator or in front of the terminal to avoid the risk of abuse or scams.

If you attend a pre-meeting trip, please make sure to check the relevant airport and arrive towards the morning of the pre-meeting at the latest.

Getting to Veliko Tarnovo from Sofia

The journey to and from the pre-meeting venue will be organised by bus and included in your registration fee for the pre-meeting overnight stay to Veliko Tarnovo and Gabrovo.

For those interested in travelling to Veliko Tarnovo from Sofia outside of the organised pre-meeting stay, there are also the following options: 

By bus

Two companies make this journey every day. You can find a bus schedule here. The travel time is around three hours.  

By train

There is no direct train to Veliko Tarnovo and the route takes around 8 hours to get there by train. 

If you arrive from Bucharest, you can get a train to Rousse from Bucharest North Train Station, make a change at Gorna Oriahovica and continue on another train to Veliko Tarnovo. It takes around eight hours. 

If you arrive at Varna Airport, you can take a train to Veliko Tarnovo - it's a slow and beautiful trip that will take you about five and a half hours. It is also possible to travel by bus from the Central Bus Station - Varna to V. Tarnovo. There are over fifteen opportunities per day (you can find some of them here and here). 

Duration: Three hours. 

Costs: Around 12 euros.

Getting to Varna from Sofia


A night train trip has been organised for all those attending the post-meeting trip to Varna. There are nine separate compartments with three beds each in each train wagon. The compartments are separate for men and women. There is a small sink in each compartment and two shared bathrooms in each wagon, with no shower. It is recommended to bring your own food, water and cold or warm drinks, since it is not possible to buy those on the train.

The journey takes eight hours and twenty min. The ticket cost is included in the post-meeting trip price.

The group will meet in front of the Central Railway Station in Sofia at 22:00. The organisers will provide you with your individual train tickets.

The night train to Varna departs at 22:55 and arrives at 07:15. 

The railway station in Varna is a 15-minute walk from the city centre.  

For those interested in travelling between Varna and Sofia outside the organised post-meeting overnight stay, there are also the following options: 

By train

There are five day trains from Sofia to Varna and three night trains (with the possibility of a bed in a sleeping car). The average journey time is eight hours. The railway station in Varna is a 15-minute walk from the city centre. More information here

By plane

There is a direct flight from Sofia to Varna. The average flight time is less than one hour. You can find more information about the flight here.

Varna airport is less than 10 km from the city centre. The city centre can be reached by public transport or taxi. The bus can be taken every 20 minutes and costs less than €1.50. By taxi, the price is around €7-€8. You can find more information here.

By bus

There are over ten day buses and two night buses. The duration of the trip is between 6:15 - 7:15 hours with one break. The buses do not have a toilet or the possibility to charge an electric device. The trips cost around €17 euros each way. You can find more information here.

Getting around Sofia

By foot

In Sofia, everything is within walking distance. It is only a few minutes’ walk from the meeting’s main venue Toplocentrala to the city centre. The city is clean, compact and well organised, which makes walking an excellent and enjoyable way to get around.

By bike

If your hotel or accommodation is located outside the city centre, you may want to consider renting a bike. Sofia is not an ideal city for cycling, with a few steep hills and limited bike lanes, but for short distances, the bike is the most popular transport for local residents. Check out the possibilities for renting a bike here. 

Public transport

If walking is not possible, we strongly recommend that you use public transport to get around Sofia. Sofia city public transport is provided through a network of buses and tramlines. You can buy a ticket on the go from the driver with a card or cash. The price is 2.00 lev (€1).

City buses

You can buy a single ticket when you get on the bus. Tickets are available to buy in cash only and can be purchased from the driver. A single adult ticket costs €1.00 (2.00 lev) for the entire trip. Your ticket has no expiry time, but you have to buy another ticket if you decide to change bus and tram lines.

Visit Sofia Traffic to plan your journey by bus or tram.

Accessibility on public transport: Wheelchair users or other people using mobility aids (referred to as wheelchairs in the following) may be carried free of charge on city buses, trams and metro stations. Out on the street you should wait for the driver to open the ramp and help you with the wheelchair, but we recommend a personal assistant to accompany you if possible.

Metro

Sofia has three underground lines:

  • Line 1 (red) runs from Slivnitsa (Lyulin) in the West of the city to the Business Park Sofia, via the city centre;
  • Line 2 (blue) runs from Vitosha in the South (Paradise Center) to Nadezhda and loops on itself to Sofia Airport Terminal 2;
  • Line 3 (the most recent line) runs from Haadzhi Dimitar in the North-East of the city to the suburb of Gorna Banya in the West. 

The underground is clean and efficient, though it does get crowded at peak times. Currently, tickets cost 1.60 lev (€0.80) for a single journey in one direction and can be bought from the ticket machines/booths at the entrance of the stations or you can use your bank card directly and just tap it on the scanning device at the turnstiles. The new charging system has been in place since the beginning of 2023 and means that for each journey (each time you tap your card), you will be charged 1.60 lev - however, the maximum charge for any one day is 4 lev - so after your third journey of the day you will not be charged, even if you tap your bank card again. 

When the ticket inspector comes round to check on you on the train, you just tap the same bank card onto their mobile device so they can verify your payment. 

Working hours: 05:00 - 00:00.

You can find additional information here.

ACCOMMODATION

 

Share a room or host an IETM participant

Are you looking for someone to share a room with? Post your offer of accommodation or find a bunkmate via our Forum .

Hotels in Sofia

Deals

We have arranged several reduced hotel rate deals in Sofia for our participants. The hotels listed below offer a 10% discount on their daily rate, so make sure you book your accommodation in advance to benefit from the deal.

The rates include VAT (25%) and breakfast, unless specified otherwise.

Economy

HEMUS HOTEL  ***

Address25 Cherni Vrah Blvd, Sofia, Bulgaria.

Rates:

Type of room Price per night, per room Breakfast per night, per room
Single room €45,00 / 90 lev €7,50 / 15 lev
Double room €60,00 / 110 lev €7,50 / 15 lev
Apartments* (3 people) €90,00 / 170 lev €7,50 / 15 lev

*There are only four apartments available

How to book: Book by sending an email to marketing@hemushotels.com with the subject line containing ‘IETM’ as a code word to secure the discount. 

Please note: When booking via email, you have to elaborate on any additional services you may need such as breakfast, parking or room type. Please note that Hemus Hotel is an old building where you can choose between a ‘standard’ room, which has not been renovated and on the lower floors. We therefore recommend you to book a ‘classic’ room which is located on the upper floors with a nice view and more comfortable for your stay. 

Accessibility: The hotel provides a ramp to the entrance for wheelchair users but assistance will be needed. The hotel is in front of the European Union metro station, which provides direct and easy access to Airport Sofia - Terminal 2.

Distance from the Toplocentrala: The hotel is an 11 minute walk through the Park Center Mall and South Park.

Premium 

Grand Hotel Millennium Sofia *****

Address: 89B, Vitosha Blvd., 1000 Sofia, Bulgaria

Rates:

Type of room Price per night, per room with breakfast included
Single room €185,00 / 370 lev

How to bookThe booking link will be available soon. Please note: when booking via this link, the rate may appear higher than stated above as it includes breakfast and is flexible (i.e. you may change or cancel your reservation up until 12:00 on the day of arrival). If you do not want the possibility to change or cancel the reservation, the rate may be cheaper.

Walking time to the main venue: Seven minutes. 

Accessibility: Full accessibility for wheelchair users (ground floor on street level and an elevator for upper floors) and disabled people

Hotel Marinela *****

Address: 1407 Sofia, 100 James Bourchier Boulevard

Rates:

Type of room Price per night, per room with breakfast included
Single room €80,00 / 160 lev
Double room €90,00 / 177 lev

How to book: Book online by filling in this booking form and sending your booking request  by email to dana.doncheva@hotel-marinela.com, where you will receive personal confirmation of the booking. 

Please note: Booking via this online form includes breakfast and is flexible i.e. you may change or cancel your reservation up until 1 May 2024. If you decide to book after this date, the price will be more expensive and availability is upon request. 

Accessibility: Full accessibility for wheelchair users and disabled people. The hotel is near the James Boucher Metro Station, which provides an easy and direct way to get to Airport Sofia - Terminal 2 and to the main IETM venue at Sofia - Toplocentrala. 

Walking time to the main venue: 26 mins walk or only one stop with the metro followed by an eight minutes walk through the Park Center Mall and South Park.

Downtown****

Address: 27 Vasil Levski Blvd., 1142 Sofia Center, Sofia

Rates:

Type of room Price per night, per room with breakfast included
Single room €65,00 / 130 lev
Double room, single occupancy €80,00 / 160 lev
Double room, double occupancy €90,00 / 180 lev

How to book: Book online by sending an email to viareservations@hotel-downtown.net with IETM in the subject line to access the deal. You can also call the hotel via +359 88 23 00 411

Accessibility: Downtown Hotel provides accessibility for wheelchair users (ground floor on street level and an elevator for upper floors) and disabled people. The hotel is not the closest to Toplocentrala, but we recommend it as it is in the heart of the city centre.

Walking time to the main venue: 16 mins./1.2 km walk 

Hotel in Veliko Tarnovo

The Hill 

Address: ul. „Nikola Pikolo“ 2, 5000 zh.k. Varusha-yug, Veliko Tŭrnovo

Located in the city centre, this informal guest house is 1km from Sveta Gora Park, as well as 2 km from Trapezica Hill Fortress and Trapezica Railway Station. It offers practical rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows and a restaurant with panoramic views on the top floor.

Rates:

The following rates are included in the pre-meeting stay registration fee:

Type of room Price per room, for one night, breakfast included
Single room, single occupancy €70,00
Double room, double occupancy €50,00

How to book: Accommodation for the pre-meeting overnight stay in Veliko Tarnovo and Gabrovo is booked and covered by the organiser following your registration, either in shared double rooms or single rooms, at your preference.

Hotel in Varna

Hotel and Casino Cherno More****

Address: bul. "Slivnitsa" 33, 9000 Greek Neighborhood, Varna

Rates:

The following rates are included in the post-meeting stay registration fee:
 

Type of room Price per room, for two nights, breakfast included
Single room, single occupancy €80,00
Double room, double occupancy €55,00

How to book: Accommodation as part of the post-meeting overnight stay in Varna is booked and covered by the organiser following your registration, either in shared double rooms or single rooms, at your preference.

Accessibility: Hotel and Casino Cherno More is accessible for wheelchair users. 

Walking time to the venues: Four-minute walk to the City Gallery, 26-minute walk to ReBonkers, eight-minute walk to Menthol.

MEALS

 

There will be no meals provided during the Plenary Meeting. At the Toplocentrala court, you will find some street food trucks, offering vegetarian Mediterranean food and other tasty meals from 10:00 until 22:00. Alternatively, please find below a list of recommended restaurants nearby.

There will be some light catering at the welcome reception and the farewell brunch. However, please note that these aren’t full meals and we encourage you to plan an alternative meal.

RESTAURANTS

 

In Bulgaria, you will find many restaurants with different price ranges and different menus, including organic, vegetarian and vegan options and traditional local cuisine. While in Bulgaria, make sure to try one or all of the following dishes to get a taste of the local gastronomy:

  • Banitsa: An ideal breakfast dish containing white cheese and eggs;

  • Sarmi: Can be eaten either with meat or vegetarian;

  • Tarator: Fresh yoghurt soup with cucumber, served cold;

  • Shopska salata: The most popular local salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, white cheese and onion;

  • Moussaka: Although commonly known as Greek, this dish is cooked in a specific way in Bulgaria. Usually it contains meat, but there are also vegetarian options; 

  • Bulgarian Gyuvech: Vegetable dish;

  • Kiselo mlyako: A yoghurt dish with honey and fruits

Most restaurants in Sofia are open from noon until 22:00-23:00. However, the kitchen usually closes half an hour to one hour before closing, and hot meals are not normally served after 22.00

Tipping is optional. No specific sum is required, it depends on your satisfaction with the service and the quality of the space and the food. 

Bulgaria has a smoking ban in all public indoor areas and private businesses - including restaurants, shops, transport, entertainment venues, workplaces etc. Smokers are expected to step outside for a smoke.

Tap water in Sofia is completely safe to drink. Some places may serve it for free when you order food or coffee, but most restaurants, cafés and bars are likely to charge you for it. Usually, it’s not a problem if you take your own water bottle with you to the restaurant.

Accessibility: You can easily find restaurants and cafés in Sofia with step-free access. If in doubt, call the place in advance and ask. 

Coffee, snacks and dinner near Toplocentrala

Lunch & Dinner

Sofia has a lot of restaurants and cafés with different price ranges. Below you can find a selection of nearby places.

Villa Park – Balkan grill

Address4B Arsenalski Blvd, Sofia, Bulgaria 
Opening hours: 10:00 – 00:00
Price range: The average meal price is a bit higher than average, around €8-€10 / 16-20 lev.

Located in South Park II, near Toplocentrala and the CCS Shopping mall, Villa Park is a restaurant with a wide range of local cuisine and Mediterranean food. It’s open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and it is recommended to make a reservation for dinner. The space has an indoor as well as very nice outdoor seating area. For step-free access, you can enter on bul. Arsenaslki from the European Union Metro Station or take a 10 minute walk from Toplocentrala through the park. 

Tip: For a large group having dinner at Villa Park, we recommend you to make your reservation here (available in English).

The.Gentlemen

Traditional Bulgarian dishes with a fresh home made lunch menu, also available to take away 

Address: Bul. Vitosha 158
Opening hours: 09:00-19:00 Monday-Friday, 09:00 - 18:00 Saturday
Distance: Seven minute walk from Toplocentrala 

Fatherland 1939 – Home made food (takeaway option)

Address: bul. "Vitosha" 162, 1408 Ivan Vazov, Sofia
Distance: Eight minute walk from Toplocentrala
Opening hours: 10:00 - 22:30
Contact: +359877010131

Happy Bar & Grill - Pizza, Grill, Mediterranean food 

Address36 "Bogatitsa" str., 1407 Lozenets quarter, Sofia
Opening hours: 11:00 – 23:30

Pleasant atmosphere, quality service and, it goes without saying, always delicious food. The two-storeyed restaurant is interconnected through a gorgeous spiral staircase. It offers ten parking spaces and a large summer garden outside. The menu features their most popular dishes - sushi - plus the hottest delights of the season. All waitresses speak English.

Paesano Gourmet Pizza - Pizza 

Address81 "Arsenalski" Blvd., 1421 Lozenets, Sofia
Opening hours: 11:30 – 23:00
Contact: +359 0883777764 or hello@paesano.bg

Classic Italian pizza. Reservations for dinner needed.

DRINKS

 

Sofia has a wide range of nightclubs, bars and pubs where you can enjoy a cocktail or a cold draft beer, good atmosphere and music.

Caché - Bar and coffee

Address: 2 "Arsenalski" Blvd., 1421 Lozenets, Sofia
Opening hours: 9:30 - 4:30

Park Center 

Park Center is a shopping mall with a variety of shopping options, including pharmacy, fruits, clothes and food. 

Address: 2 "Arsenalski" Blvd., 1421 Lozenets, Sofia
Opening Hours: Monday-Friday: 10:00 – 22:00

Bar-stage Toplocentrala

All bars can be found on this map.

SUPERMARKETS

 

Park Center 

Park Center is a shopping mall with a variety of shopping options, including pharmacy, fruits, clothes and food. 

Address: 2 "Arsenalski" Blvd., 1421 Lozenets, Sofia
Opening hours: Monday-Friday, 10:00 – 22:00

Wherever you choose to buy your groceries, remember to bring your own bag. It is cheaper than buying a plastic bag at the counter and much better for the environment.

VISA

 

Bulgaria is part of the European Union, which means that you do need to show your national ID card or passport when you are travelling to or from the EU or arriving in Bulgaria. Some airline operators still require you to present a passport even for travels outside the Schengen area.

If you travel to Bulgaria from outside the Schengen agreement area, you may require a visa. Check here the list of countries for which a visa to enter Bulgaria is required. 

If you need an invitation letter to apply for a visa, please register for the meeting first and then contact ietmsofia2024@toplocentrala.bg.

CURRENCY & PAYMENTS

 

The currency in Bulgaria is the Bulgarian Lev (BGN). Nowhere In Bulgaria accepts euros - we therefore recommend that you exchange to the local currency or use a card/Revolut. Most places and some taxi companies accept major credit cards.

The exchange rate between Euros and Leva is 1 euro for 1.895 Lev. Banks and exchange offices are located in the city centre close to the hotels and cash points accepting major credit cards are conveniently located all over the city. You can also use the ATM at the Park Center shopping mall to withdraw Bulgarian lev.

COVID-19 TRAVEL REGULATIONS

 

Please be aware that local COVID-19 regulations may affect your journey as well as the meeting until the very last minute.

Most COVID-19 health restrictions were lifted in Bulgaria. Providing proof of full vaccination, recovery from COVID-19 or a negative test result to access public places is not required.

Nevertheless, the general advice from the Bulgarian health authorities should still be followed, and general infection prevention recommendations should be taken into account. We recommend that you regularly check the latest regulations and requirements leading up to your trip. For the latest information on COVID-19 travel regulations, please check the official governmental information here.

Make sure to also check if there are any restrictions when travelling from your home country to Bulgaria here. If you travel by land, COVID-19 entry restrictions may differ depending on the countries that you cross. For an updated overview of the regulations in place around the globe, check here.

Where to get tested in Sofia?

Antigen tests

Rapid antigen tests are available for self-testing. You can buy test kits at all pharmacies and in some grocery stores.

Cell Genetics

Address: 15 Tsar Petar St., 1463 Sofia Center, Sofia
Open every day: 7:30-18:00

USEFUL NUMBERS

 

Emergency numbers

Emergency (ambulance and fire fighting service): 112
Police: 166
Emergency doctor service: +359 2 9154 213
24-hour Emergency Medical Service and Emergency Room: Lozenetz Hospital. You have to call the emergency doctor service number before showing up (tel:+35929607540)

ENVIRONMENTAL CONSCIOUSNESS AT THE MEETING

 

In addition to the precautions we take to make the impact of the Plenary Meeting on the environment as gentle as possible, we ask you to also contribute by following these tips:

  • Switch off your computer and your smartphone when they are not in use.
  • Connect to the venue’s public Wi-Fi instead of your 3G/4G data. 
  • Avoid disposable tableware whenever possible and bring your own tote bag to shops and grocery stores.
  • Sort your waste according to the instructions at the meeting venues. In Sofia, waste is currently sorted in: a) residual waste, b) paper and cardboard, c) glass, plastic and metal, d) batteries (to be expanded in the autumn of 2024). You can find more information about the sorting rules in Sofia here.
  • Recycle bottles and cans. In Bulgaria, you can throw your plastic or glass bottles in containers. In Toplocentrala there are machines for immediate glass recycling which are located near the main entrance and at the BAR - STAGE terrace.  
  • Bring your own water bottle and reusable coffee mug to spare the environment the plastic and yourself the money.
  • Refill your bottle. Tap water in Sofia is completely safe to drink. We recommend that you fill up your water bottle in the morning at your hotel, and do refills during the day. You can do so in the bathroom at the meeting venues, or at one of the city’s free water stations, located in the BAR - STAGE area.