Sofia has several famous shopping streets and retail districts.
They might not have their own distinct themes or specialties, with a little bit of everything scattered all over, but each makes up for an distinct experience.
Once the major shopping artery of the city, Vitosha Boulevard lost its shopping fame after the arrival of the shopping malls.
The pedestrian boulevard now hosts scores of open-air cafes instead. In the summer of 2014 we counted a total of 30 open air-cafes and restaurants occupying the one-kilometer-long sidewalks of Vitosha Boulevard's pedestrian stretch.
Check out the large Greenwich bookstore and cafe and the Refan & Rose of Bulgaria stores, which sell Bulgarian-made cosmetics. Stop for icecream at Alfredo's or grab what is probably the best espresso in town at Bar Memento.
GRAF IGNATIEV STREET
Often simply called Grafa, this long street has a little bit of everything, from small clothing and shoe shops with little pretense, to a street market for fruits and vegetables, to the large open air book market that occupies most of Slaveykov Square.
The narrow Shishman St that runs from the Parliament to Graf Ignatiev Street is home to numerous small galleries, bars and coffee shops. Its narrow sidewalks might be hard to navigate, but the effort will be well rewarded.
Pirotska Street has some specialized stores and a lot of cheap clothes and shoes.
At its West end, it runs into the Lady's market, a large market selling fruit, vegetables and just about everything else. The streets around are lined up with ethnic grocery stores and impromptu flea markets. Street dogs lurk around the grill stands and the place has a reputation for pick pocketing.
The street's other end has the Central Market Hall and Serdica Metro Station.
TZUM, short for "Central Universal Store" was the only department store during the Communist era. Stocked up with unaffordable goods, it served as a showcase of the “wonderful life” in Communist Bulgaria. For the locals, it was more of a museum.
Today, TZUM is of unclear character. Far from the classy and expensive place it once was, it is now a collection of stores that don't seem to make sense side-by-side.
Talks about converting it into a museum have been going around.