The Gay Side of Sofia
Since Bulgaria joined the European Union in 2007, it has had to comply with EU human rights standards such as the ban on all forms of negative discrimination, including on the basis of sexual orientation. In fact, since 2003, when the country began negotiations with the EU, it has made tremendous efforts to align its legislation regarding sexual minorities to the European norms and standards. However, non-discrimination is still a far cry from equal rights, and at the moment there are no provisions in Bulgarian law regarding civil unions or marriage for homosexual couples, and co-habiting partners cannot adopt children, nor do they have hospital visitation or inheritance rights. However, gay unions are now recognised in some Eastern European countries, such as Hungary, so it may only be a matter of time before Bulgaria catches up.
While other cities in Central and Eastern Europe have been holding tolerance or equality parades in the past few years, Sofia's first official gay parade in 2008 was marred by violence from extremists. However this year, 400 people marched peacefully through the city centre, a sign which hopefully shows that Bulgaria is becoming more accepting of gays and lesbians. For more information about this year's march Click here
Gay visitors to Bulgaria, and especially Sofia, will find it a tolerant place, and actually much more open to homosexuality than many Eastern European countries. There are more than a handful of popular gay bars and clubs in the city, and homosexual couples can generally walk around the centre of the city safe from harassment. Be aware that places on the scene can come and go quicker than a drag queen's one-liners. So don't be too surprised, after you've been lured half-way across town by some enticing sounding joint, that it's morphed into a mini-mart. Be aware as well that some places may be hang outs for male hustlers - which may or may not suit your tastes. To help you get the most out of your trip we've put together a list gay, lesbian and gay-friendly bars and clubs below, open as of July 2009.
We have also compiled a list of websites of GLBT organizations and different portals where Sofia's homosexual community communicates on the web, and are good starting points for meeting people before coming to Sofia. The main organization for advancing GLBT rights in Bulgaria is the Bulgarian Gay Organization Gemini, which was started in 1992 by a gay couple, but several other gay organizations and portals exist for Bulgaria.
So if you're a gay visitor to Bulgaria, we welcome you, and hope you'll only experience the positive side of life in Sofia.
Above: BGO Gemini, the largest gay rights organization in Bulgaria
Sofia's gay and gay-friendly venues:
Bars and Clubs
Tel: 359 887 965026
A coffee shop by day and laid-back club by night, Exit Club is a very popular club, perfect for pre-partying. However, we've had reports of foreigners being overcharged in Exit, so check your change.
Adonis Bar:(opposite the headquarters of Bulgarian Socialist Party)
122 Knyiaz Boris St.
Adonis is one of the oldest gay bars in the Balkans, and recently re-opened after a brief closure. The small bar is a bit hard to find, as you have to ring a bell next to a black door, and follow the stairs down to the small basement club.
In Da Club:
33 Tsar Samuil St.
This gay club has three levels, massive dance floors, and is open 24 hours a day so the party never stops. A roof terrace, open in the summer, is another attraction.
ID Club - NEW LISTING
18 Vitosha Blvd
Tel:0898 200 000
Wesbite: Click here
Currently the place to be seen on Sofia's burgeoning gay scene, this popular party hangout has different themed nights including Chalga singers, cabaret, and retro gigs. With three bars, lots of dance space, chill-out areas, plasma screens and, if that's not enough, darkrooms as well to keep you amused. Check out ID's website for info on current happenings. ID is only open Tuesday to Saturday 9pm-5am.
31 Stamboliysky Blvd.
Tel: 986 66 30
A private gay club, it's a bit hard to find and you have to ring the doorbell of an iron door to get in. However, once inside it's a crowded dance club on Friday and Saturday nights, with occasional shows.
29 Alexander Stamboliysky Blvd(opposite KFC)
Tel:359 89 9998666
A lesbian bar open Wednesday through Saturday.
Lips - NEW LISTING
12 Bratya Miladinovi Street (corner with Alexander Stamboliyski Blvd)
Tel: 359 87 8804138
Elegant new bar in the heart of Sofia, Lips offers top-notch service and is a great place to unwind in. Lips is only open Wednesday to Saturday from 8pm.
Soho - NEW LISTING
32 Todor Aleksandrov Blvd
Tel: 089 4661607
New kid on the block, Soho offers all the usual attractions for a fun and friendly pink night out. Open Tuesday to Sunday from 7pm to 4am.
Club Chillout - NEW LISTING
1000 Sofia, 5 Triaditsa street (behind the Council of Ministers)
Tel: 359 2 980 02 03, +359 888 241164 (mobile)
Website: Click here
Think Ceaser's Palace - think Club Chillout. About as OTT as you can get, this place has more bling than an Essex girl on her wedding day. Big, beautiful spaces are lavishly laid out with trendy, pure white sofas, plenty of disco lights, and big mirrors so you can keep watch on whoever catches your eye. Attracts both a gay and straight crowd.
To get to Club Chillout take tram 1,7,18, 20, 22 to these stops - Banya Bashi Mosque stop, Halite stop, Central Bath House stop
Accommodation and Tours
Ekzarh Iosif St.
+36 (309) 323334
The first gay hotel in Sofia, Scotty's is located in a renovated and restored historical building in the very centre of the city and offers a variety of rooms. The staff is exclusively gay and ready to point out the best spots in town.
Sofia's gay guide provides a variety of gay-tailored tours around Sofia and throughout Bulgaria.
Bulgarian GLBT Organizations and Websites:
BGO Gemini: www.bgogemini.org
European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA): www.ilga-europe.org
Bulgaria's gay portal: www.gay.bg
Bulgarian gay portal for men: www.bgmen.com
Dolphin Gay Club for Naturism and Sport: www.momcheto.com
Tangra Gay Sports Club: www.tangra-bulgaria.org
Gay News Bulgarian Portal: www.gaynewsbg.com
GayGuide Sofia: www.sofia.gayguide.net - A guide specially catering to the gay or lesbian traveller. Also available for Warsaw, Cracow, Prague, and Budapest.
If you know of other particularly gay-friendly places in Sofia, please let us know; and feel free to post your comments about gay Sofia on this page below. We encourage different viewpoints and want to hear your thoughts about the gay cause in Sofia (though we won't tolerate abusive or hateful comments). We've included a few Sofia-specific GLBT websites above, though many are only in Bulgarian. We hope they'll be a helpful resource; if you know of any other helpful websites, let us know as well!
Karl from Spain Reply
Hello, I am traveling 4 days for business and I doubt I have the time to visit gay bars, I was trying to chat to some Bulgarian people on gaydar, so I can meet once there, but rarely 20 people were there on the site! Where are all the gay Bulgarians? I would like to know what gay sites do the Bulgarian use ?
James from Germany Reply
I went to I.D. club the first week of February 2013, and not sure why there are so many complaints about the doorman...I was very nervous to go there and was expecting the worse (i.e. had a backup plan), but the "bitchy blonde fag" was actually quite nice, I think people's comments were maybe a bit too harsh on him (he was blonde, yes, but I'd hardly describe him as a bitchy fag...), and maybe there WAS a reason they were turned away. As for the club itself, it's nice for Eastern Europe--a bit larger than I expected, overall has the same feeling as most Western gay clubs (Rihanna/Beyonce/Britney mixes...though good sound and DJ). Men were dressed nicely--casual button-ups mostly, and mostly "guys" in that 23-35 age range...I'm not sure about other nights though, if there are more twinks or more welcoming to people older than 40. They had a rotation of 5 or 6 very muscular gogo dancers, oiled up dancing on stages. This is definitely the "classier" place in Sofia. I've also been to Tin-TIn, which is smaller but attracts a younger crowd I think, had drag shows etc. And I most highly recommend Why Not for a new experience, an alternative to the regular "gay scene"...there you'll get a real taste for Bulgaria, as they normally play Bulgarian Pop-Folk, which is incredible to dance to, very fun and sexy, people get into it a lot and it's difficult not to join them. All ages are welcome here, the staff and crowd are very friendly and it's easy to meet and chat with people without a lot of pressure--people will also most likely start chatting to you, but don't be frightened, they're very open with just being clear about what you want or don't want. Sofia's gay scene is small but diverse and I enjoyed it a lot!
pdbngc from Australia Reply
I am a non-white Australian, visiting Sofia. I was booked at the Best Western Hotel which was just around the ID Club. I was dressed extremely well and neat and got there around 1am on Saturday 19th. When I got there, I took out my entrance fee to pay, only to be told, that tonight is a reserved night. I looked at the blonde guy quite shocked. I guess it's a more polite way of saying: non-whites not allowed. I feel sometimes that us gay people want equal rights and want to be treated like our straight counter-parts, yet we are the ones that are intolerant to people that are different. I guess that the mindset of this establishment will remain fixated on practises that would strengthen a socialist regime rather than a free and liberal one. Having said that, I spoke to someone that was there on Friday night and was quite shocked about the behaviour of their staff and told me that he will inform the manager. I will like to see how the manager deals with complaints. Are there other people out there that had such an experience?
nick from Greece Reply
the "boy" in the entrance of ID club is disgusting. He refused twice the entrance to me, although i was perfect dressed and generally did not create any problem. What do the owners of the place say about this?
Angela from Spain Reply
hello everyone I am Bulgarian living in Spain iv been all around Europe and let me tell you I haven't seen better looking gay people then the Bulgarians I know Bulgarians are a bit difficult to understand but once they let you in you will have the best time of your life, just make sure you don't put them down, Bulgaria is a country with a lot of problems. I love Bulgaria love the clubs and the people,in Varna is one very good gay bar I am sure you will enjoy it, if anyone want to talk or ask something you can chat me any time on my email email@example.com i will be in Sofia very soon and hope to meet new people, not only Bulgarians and of course on only women as I am a women liking women I enjoy to talk to anybody so don't be shy, really hope Bulgaria would be very open for you as is been for me.
from United States Reply
same exact thing happened to me on new year's eve, a feminine fag is a good way to describe him. he was so nasty and rude, and very confrontational. he denied me entry into the club on 12/31 and called me a stupid american.
Stephan Berner from United States Reply
ID club in Sofia ----------------- My experience with this club is very bad. I was denied entry on Dec/31/2010 and jan/01/2011, supposedly because of "dress code violation", but I think it's personal. I visited many clubs all over the world but was never denied entry, therefore it can't be all my fault. Other people were also dressed regular like me. Some disgusting fag guy (very feminine) screens the customers and probably doesn't like me. This club ruined my vacation completely because there are no alternatives in Sofia. All other places were completely empty on those two days or already shutdown.
J from United Kingdom Reply
So which bars have the hustlers? What's the going rate?
tallo armando from Italy Reply
We are two gay friends marco and Armando come to visit Sofia for one week and we will say that the first impression was a little bit scared,but after 3 days that we go around the city we LOVE this city,mostly of the people we met was very nice with us everywhere,straight and gay people.We make new friends and I think we will come here soon again,because we love you.In the gay clubs everybody is very kind and I'm talking about ID CLUB and LIPS wonderful places; around the city we see a lot of people not smiling and that makes as a little bit sad.But after they now us the first 5 minutes everybody was smiling and happy,in the shops,in the supermarkets and everywhere,so we just love you,and thank you Bulgaria to be so nice with us.
username45 from Bulgaria Reply
exit doesn't exist anymore, and before that it has moved in another place. it was a nice club haven't heard it's gay one tho. however guys, you can go to gay clubs, but people don't act too gay as you do on west. so this str8 night i'm quite sure have been gay, just looked str8 :)
Kosta from United Kingdom Reply
Well Sofia it's not London or Paris!!We all know that! The best time for gay life in Sofia is the WINTER TIME(COS EVERYONE GOING TO THE SEA SITE)! I spend one month in Sunny Beach and i had fabulos time...It's not Mykonos ofcorse,BUT HERE I MET ALOT OF GAY AND I ENJOYED ALOT! Gay guys here are very friendly ,natural and sexy! Something different from all the CLUB MONSTER!ID CLUB IT'S FINE! x
andre from Netherlands Reply
Thursday night, same thing: couldn't find Exit; Adonis is closed; ID Club seems to be doing a straight night. What a boring city! Anyways, tomorrow (Fri) is my last night here, if anyone wants to hang out and have a beer please leave a comment here.
Mike from United Kingdom Reply
Went out on a Tuesday and of the 5 places I looked up, all were either shut or had a different name. Sofia is one hard place to have fun!
Andy from United States Reply
updated ... nice
Stoyan from Bulgaria Reply
A nice site. That way I will know where NOT to go :)Have fun people - I am not against homosexuality but I wouldn't really love to visit a so called gay bar :D
charles from United Kingdom Reply
checking some feed backs on your gay bar's some say most are closed?if so you should keep up todate for any one coming over for hols,ect.I my selft &2 friends in june can you email me so I will know what bar's are still open ,clubs,but over all it;s good to see you have a gay spread for the like of us coming to your country good luck ......charles
Brent Anthony Egan from Australia Reply
Great site. Always looking for places in Bulgaria, respecially obscure places like Devin. Can anyone help?
Natalia from Serbia Reply
Very helpful page! It's good to know some background information about the city and the gay cause, not just a handful of gay bars like most gay guides. Thanks@!