Winter Season 2016/17 in Sofia, Bulgaria


When the first snow of 2016 fell in Sofia I was stuck in Rome. November 28, 2016. That was the date. The flight that was supposed to take me back to Bulgaria had been cancelled due to bad weather conditions. The only option was to fly to the International Airport of Athens, spend the night in the city, and the next morning get on the first flight to Sofia. Throughout the previous months I had been extremely excited to be there and witness the first snow of the season. When I heard that the first snow had fallen in Sofia, I felt extremely disappointed. But… why should I feel disappointed? I was just about to experience the coldest winter of my whole life.

The aircraft landed on the 29th of November at 11 a.m. The floor was covered in a heavy white coat and the snow wouldn’t stop falling. I was reacting just like a kid, watching snow fall for the first time ever. Well, not the first, but the fourth! First and second times in Portugal and the third one in Brussels, Belgium back in the beginning of 2015.

Landing in Sofia. Shot from the inside of the aircraft.

Landing in Sofia Airport. Floor covered in snow.

These first two days were just a mere sample of what we were about to experience this past winter. Of course I had to shoot plenty of photos and videos, to show to my friends and family back home in Portugal. It was marvelous. I put on some snow boots and I went on adventure across the seas of snow.

Mladost – Covered in white

Cars parked in Mladost

Eventually, throughout December the snow melted away. We traveled to Romania for our last vacation of the year on the 15th of December and we returned to Bulgaria on the 18th. Christmas came and there were no signs of snow. The temperatures kept decreasing for the remaining days of the year. On New Year’s Eve I could barely stay outside. We gathered a few friends to come home for the evening and thirty minutes before midnight we went outside for the countdown and the fireworks. The temperatures had decreased to -10 degrees Celsius. My hands were frozen, I couldn’t feel my face and I hadn’t bring my winter jacket with me.

January proved to be a lot colder than December. The second week in particular, between January 6 – 12, temperatures got stuck on -13 and -14. I believe the highest temperature recorded between those dates must have been -11 or -12 degrees Celsius. As for the lowest recorded on my cell phone was indeed -21, I just cannot recall the exact date.

Photo shot from our bedroom’s window – January 5 2017

My mother-in-law was spending a few days in Bulgaria for my girlfriend’s birthday. On the 11th of January we planned going to the Vitosha Mountain, located on the outskirts of Sofia. We had been there in July and in October, but this was our first visit with snow. We took the bus number 111 to the Ring Mall, then we walked all the way to the lift from Simeonovo to Aleko. It was Wednesday but we were aware that the lift was working. Aleko is one of Bulgaria’s most famous ski resorts.

  • Sun shines south of Sofia Ring Mall
    Sun shines south of Sofia Ring Mall

The Aleko Hut is located at an altitude of 1840m. The wind was blowing hard and the temperature over there was of 19 below zero degrees Celsius. Insane! The trees make the view terrific and everywhere you look you’ll just see a never-ending white blanket. Ice dams were covering the roofs making the view even more spectacular. The photos themselves speak for the beauty I was witnessing.

  • Aleko - Mountain Vitosha
    Aleko - Mountain Vitosha

In downtown Sofia, the view was similar. A vast sea of white, covering the city gardens, buildings, cars and some of the most famous monuments. The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral looks astonishing with snow covering part of its golden domes. Despite the beauty of the winter in Sofia, it can also be harmful. I recall reading that on the first 24 hours of heavy snow in Sofia, there were 394 traffic accidents.

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

Russian Church, Sofia

Benches at National Theater Ivan Vazov

Cars covered with snow

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

The winter is now long gone and we’re halfway through the summer. As for the next winter season I wish the same as for this past one, snow all over the place!