While Sofia is not a booming go-to capital for the gay scene, it DOES have a pretty exciting LGBT night life…
…IF you know where to go, that is.
So, to help you have a more enjoyable stay on your trip to Sofia, we created this article covering the best gay (and lesbian) bars in Sofia, plus some useful info on LGBT life in Bulgaria!
Looking for something specific? Feel free to skip ahead:
- The gay bars in Sofia are One to One and Barcode
- There’s only one lesbian bar in town, but it’s super popular among the locals – Essence
- A lot of the bars/clubs are gay & lesbian friendly, including Tell Me and 65 Fireflies
- Looking to meet other international travelers? Join us for a pub crawl
- Important info and resources on LGBT life in Sofia, Bulgaria – Safety, local Pride Parade, and more
For a gay old time, read on! (*ba-dum tss*)
5+ Best Gay Bars in Sofia
#1 One To One
Location: ul. “Pozitano” 22, 1000 Sofia Center
Working hours: 11:30 pm to 6 am (Fri & Sat only)
Ok, let’s kick the list off with one of the best known gay bars in Sofia. It also doubles as a club – there’s always a DJ and they’re famous for their good music selection and for having very handsome male dancers on special events. If there are no professional dancers, the guests are welcome to get up on the stage and dance themselves.
One To One has two floors and each one has a bar. The atmosphere is very ambient with 3D LED lighting all around.
Unfortunately it’s kind of small, so there isn’t always enough room for dancing.
They do themed events every week, so you can check out what’s in store for the night or you can just go with the flow. Some events they organize include:
- Live music
- Strip dancing
- Genre-specific music nights
One To One is also more famous among the early 20s crowd. The staff are always very friendly and positive.They have a fully-stocked bar, high-quality cocktails, and pretty much all the usual suspects you’d find in a club. And last but not least, their drinks are actually somewhat cheaper than in other bars!
Location: ul. “Knyaz Boris I” 95, 1000 Sofia Center
Working hours: 10 pm to 4 am (Tue-Sat)
Barcode, or just “The Code” as it’s known with locals, is a bit of a hidden gem, despite its central location.
They have a pretty unique interior – comfy couches and armchairs, old paintings on the walls, old-fashioned lamps and dim soft lighting. The bar is also relatively big, split into several smaller areas. That, plus the whole vibe of it, makes it super cozy and chill – overall a sit and talk type of place.
There’s one room with a table and all around seating which is more cut off from the rest of the bar, so you’re looking for a more private place, there you go.
The music they play varies, but from what I’ve experienced it’s mostly soft rock and pop.
What sets them apart from other bars is that they do a 50% off night every Thursday. They also do LGBT Halloween, Pride pre- and after- parties, and several other themed events.
#3 Tell Me
Location: ul. “Ivan Vazov” 12, 1000 Sofia Center
Working hours: 8 pm to 5 am (Wed-Sat)
Tell Me is a very well-known bar/club among the LGBT community in Sofia. The bar isn’t gay exclusive, but it’s very gay-friendly and regularly frequented by both gay and lesbian people. More often than not they do LGBT themed events, even RuPaul’s Drag Race screenings.
Tell Me sort of doubles as a club, there’s always a DJ, a disco ball and there’s always some dancing. Their “thing” is the LED ambient atmosphere and live electronic music.
But you can also have just the bar experience if you prefer that – there’s comfy outdoor seating if you wanna smoke or have a convo in quiet. There’s also a section of the bar that’s kind of separated – it has tables, leather seating and dim red lighting. It’s perfect if you want to kind of cut off from the club part of it.
#4 65 Fireflies
Location: ul. “Solunska” 65, 1000 Sofia Center
Working hours: 2 pm to Midnight (Mon-Sun)
65 Fireflies is another one of those places that is locally known for attracting a large LGBT crowd, but not really being a gay or lesbian bar exclusively.
In fact, it’s not just a bar too, they work during the day as well (from 2 pm) and they serve some food too, not just drinks. They’re kind of well known for their delicious cocktails, so make sure to try them out!
The vibe of 65 Fireflies is pretty unique, it’s all hand-made and incorporates various quirky decorations (as seen in the picture above).
The place is a bit more on the pricey side than other bars though, so keep that in mind.
Location: bul. “Aleksandar Stamboliyski” 29, 1000 Sofia Center
Working hours: 11:30 pm to 4 am (Wed & Fri-Sat)
Unfortunately, there isn’t much variety in Sofia for lesbian bars, as there’s only one exclusuvely lesbian bar – Essence.
It is, however, pretty awesome, and we can’t recommend it enough. Other than that, you can also try Tell Me (we mentioned it a bit back up), which is both gay and lesbian friendly.
They’re an underground (literally) bar in the centre of Sofia. Once you find their distinct black door with a big red sign on top saying Essence, you have to ring their door bell. Now, they’re a bit strict on who they let in. There’s a camera outside they use for face control. If you’re someone they’ve never seen before and if they deem you looking too “straight” they might not let you in, so keep that in mind. They also have a strict no men policy (apart from only gey men they know personally).
If you make it in though, you’ll find a nice atmosphere, relatively small space and a chill, sit and talk kind of experience.
#6 Sofia Pub Crawl
Location: bul. “Vitosha” 2, 1000 Sofia Center
Working hours: Fri & Sat 8:30 pm – 1 am
Sofia Pub Crawl is very LGBT friendly! We do both public and private bar tours in the center of Sofia. We work specifically with trusted venues, which are very open to foreigners, LGBT crowds, etc.
So if you want to experience the best of Sofia nightlife, without having to worry about finding places, getting there, etc, come on a crawl with us!
Never been on a pub crawl? Sofia Pub Crawl is a guided bar tour of some of the best Sofia nightlife establishments. The tour costs 20 BGN per person, and includes:
- Tour of 3 of the most unique bars in town
- Free entrance to one of the most popular clubs
- Free welcome shots in each of the bars
- Drinking games!
But most importantly, you get to meet a group of international travelers & have an awesome night!
We do bar crawls every Friday and Saturday at 8:30 PM, so make sure to join us if you’re around.
Book your spot here! Or, if you’re a group of 8+ people, get in touch with us for a private crawl!
Important Info and Resources:
Ok, now bars aside, here’s some useful information we thought would be good for a foreigner to have about the LGBT community in Sofia.
Bulgaria is semi-conservative when it comes to non-heterosexuality. It’s not illegal to be openly gay or anything and we have our gay pride parade every year which gets bigger and bigger each year!
But we thought it’s important to note that unfortunately there are still some people that are not very supportive. Openly gay people in Sofia have been known to be victims of hate crimes.
So while it’s generally safe, we still want to advise caution with people you don’t know and at empty public spaces.
It’s also important to note that it’s especially important to be watchful in the evening after our Pride Parade (usually in June) after all the extra security has left.
Will you find local gay people in Sofia?
Yes! But it will probably be at one of the bars we mention in our list. According to a recent study only 7% of LGBT Bulgarians are completely open about their sexuality. So a lot of us only get our gay on at bars where we feel safe.
Keep in mind though gay bars in Sofia are pretty open to anybody, so don’t be surprised if you walk into one and find somewhat of a straight crowd as well or mixed gay and lesbian. It’s always open and supportive folk though, so don’t worry.
Sofia Pride Parade
We do our very own Pride Parade every year in June, so if you’re visiting around that time, we recommend joining. There’s a lot of security, it’s safe and the overall vibe is “love”, everyone’s happy and eager to meet new people.
Plus there’s always an afterparty at a club after, which is also very fun. To find out when it is, either Google it, or just text us on Facebook and we’ll let you know!
LGBT organizations in Bulgaria
The LGBT community in Bulgaria is pretty well-established. We have a few organizations, whose main focus is organizing LGBT events, spreading awareness of LGBT legal issues, promoting LGBT art, etc. So if you want to look at some of the stuff they’re doing or if you just want to shoot them a question, they’d be happy to help. Here are some resources:
- Sofia Pride website / Facebook page
- Bulgarian LGBT community Facebook group
- Bulgarian LGBT youth organisation “Action” website / Facebook page
- Single Step foundation website / Facebook page
We hope you found our list of contemporary gay and lesbian bars in Sofia and the overall LGBT info and resources helpful.
For more useful articles on what you can do when visiting Sofia, feel free to browse our blog page. Here are some of our best articles on things you can do in Sofia:
Looking for the best fit club-wise for your visit to Sofia? Here’s a complete list of all the best clubs in Sofia, varying by music, vibe, locals’ choices, etc.
And this is a list of some of the best bars in Sofia in general. It covers a variety of places, both popular and off the beaten track. If you’re curious about bars and clubs in Sofa, feel free to also just join us on our Sofia Pub Crawl and we’ll do all the work for you!
Visiting Sofia and want to also see the sights? This article covers the most popular and worth to see places in Sofia – old roman remains, monuments, museums, churches and so on.
To come with us on an exciting night out around the pubs (bars) in Sofia, text us on Facebook. We do both public and private bar tours, very much inclusive to everybody, including LGBT.