What are summers good for in Britain? I say camping! Let’s take it up a notch: a proper bed in a tent, dinner cooked by a chef and served at a table and good old camping becomes a glamorous camping, aka glamping. One night in […]
Seaside and fantastic countryside in one trip in the UK? You need to go to Kent! Only 1.5 hours from London, the county is full to the brim with seaside towns and beaches, quirky villages, beautiful landscapes and child-friendly activities. We have already been to […]
I do not know who loves going to a zoo more: my kids or I. When I was preparing for our Bulgaria trip, I discovered that there was a zoo in Sofia, so we decided to pay it a visit.
Getting there was quite easy, we took a metro to Vitosha station and from there you can either take a 5 minute bus ride or walk for roughly 15 minutes to the zoo entrance. We tried both options and they are both doable with kids: bus stop is slightly ahead of the metro exit. For the bus number we just asked the passer by for advice.
Sofia Zoo has a large territory and it is nicely organised, so we were able to see lots of animals without doing detours or walking for miles. When we were there in Spring 2019 some of the areas were being redeveloped, so maybe when you visit next the zoo will be even prettier.
Admission prices are very affordable , especially if you compare it with London Zoo, where you need to spend £100 for a family of 4 before getting through the door. I find London prices for kids attractions sometimes prohibitive, so it was a relief to see that Sofia was not heading in that direction. Sofia zoo tickets costs £2.00 for an adult and £1.00 for a child 3-18. Kids under 3 are admitted for free.
We saw many animals, our favourites this time were the bears, the elephants and various types of fish. Letitia also loved the fact that she could read about some of the animals in English, as her Bulgarian is non-existent. The space around animal enclosures is plentiful, so if you have a buggy , you should not have any difficulties and there is plenty of space for kids to see the animals up close.
Sofia Zoo is one of the oldest in the world, in fact, it is 130 years old and was established by the King of Bulgaria at the time. While Letitia was enjoying the swings, I was able to read a little bit about the history as there is an outdoor display with old photos and how it is all started.
The facilities are also good , as there are plenty of affordable food options, so you don’t really need to bring a picnic as there is plenty to choose from and, of course, don’t forget the ice-cream. Or if you want to bring the picnic, it is also fine and there are plenty of tables available. We also saw couple of playgrounds, which will come in handy if your little ones are tired to look at animals and want to switch the activity.
We enjoyed Sofia Zoo, but had to say goodbye to the animals at the end of the day. You can easily spend a whole day there, so bring a good mood and enjoy learning and watching different animals!
Our visit was hosted by Sofia Zoo, but all opinions are my own.
Plovdiv has been selected European Capital of Culture in 2019 and once you visit it, it is easy to see why. I absolutely loved the place: there were not many tourists around and it is full of historical sites and ancient monuments, which are within […]
For Easter holiday break we choose Bulgaria and it did not dissapoint. I have done an itinerary which included a bit of nature, city life and relaxation. Sofia is a great starting point as it is very well connected and availability of public transport is great. To get acquainted with the capital of Bulgaria we walked the streets and tried local food, but my daughter can only enjoy walking so much. So on our second day in Sofia we planned to see children interactive museum Muzeiko, which is very easily reached from the centre by metro. It is only a few metro stops and once you get out of the metro the path to the museum is well signposted, so we did not get lost.
The building looks great and if it is nice weather you can enjoy the climbing wall outside or a small playground. Or maybe a coffee and a fresh air on the cafe terrace- I loved the cafe, as it was full of light and space!
Right at the entrance you will encounter the Iconic Tree , which is a phantasmagorical creation and even adults will be fascinated by it. You spin the wheel and it sends a ball on a complicated journey!
Once we got to the museum, I was slightly worried that we would not be able to read about the exhibits, but that was not necessary. Majority of the exhibits include English translations as well and where there were none, we just had to use your imagination!
The museum is split into 3 levels and there is something always going on, whether it is demonstrations or special talks. You can check the timetable in advance of your visit on the museum website. I also thought that the size of the museum was perfect, as it was not too large that you felt you did not see half of the stuff and not too small, so it was possible to bring push chairs with you and be comfortable going around.
The themes range from natural environment, space, paleontology and archaeology, build and make space and urban environments.
Letitia loved most of all the section on cities and nature: information is presented in a playful format, and there are a ton of activities, that kids can do. For example, we tried to operate the digger, have a go at constructing earthquake resistant buildings and growing plants on the screen, using either organic method or a fertiliser.
I would recommend allocating 2-3 hours to see majority of the museum, as we were during the weekday so it was quiet, but if you are going on a weekend, I suspect there might be some waiting time to get to some of the exhibits.
There is a fantastic soft play area for little ones, they really made this museum comfortable for all ages. We did not use it, but we saw plenty of babies having the time of their life. If your baby does not want to stay inside the soft play area, they can always crawl and touch different exhibits- the museum actively encourages you to do so!
While we were there, there was a demonstration with soap and colours. Workshop leaders are inclusive and encourage everyone to take part. They speak Bulgarian, but it was no problem to understand what was going on.
There was also an exhibition on Black Sea Map and Letitia had a go at wearing Virtual Reality glasses. It was funny to watch her trying to touch the walls and walking in a weird pattern. This was part of a temporary exhibition, which will probably change couple of times per year to keep regular visitors a little bit more entertained.
I felt this was a fantastic place where both small kids and older ones can be easily entertained and educated at the same time. As a bonus, you also have a playground, which can be used even after museum closing time, so go on knock yourself out!
Our visit was hosted by Muzeiko but all opinions are my own.
USSR is now left in memories, old maps and nostalgia style cafes one can find in Moscow and Saint Petersburg. If you want to experience what it was like to be a kid in USSR, then you should visit “15 Kopeek”, museum of Soviet arcade […]
Istanbul is many things: mosques, Islamic art, sprawling bazaars, East and West in the same city- you name it. For me, Istanbul was definitely about food. This was largely due to the food tour I went on with Culinary Backstreets, which showed me a different […]
Istanbul is full of sights and quite a few of them are located around Aya Sofia: Topkapi Palace, Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, Blue Mosque and Basilica Cistern. You can comfortably just stay in the area for a couple of days exploring these treasures. I was fascinated by Basilica Cistern pictures online and was looking forward to visiting it in Istanbul.
I visited it in middle of winter, so the queue was very short, however if you are visiting in the summer, be aware that you will have to stand outside before you buy your ticket. If you are traveling with kids, you might want to split with your partner, who can go and sit in the shade with your little ones, or vice versa, and one of you will get tickets. Otherwise, if you are travelling alone with kids or a child, bring an umbrella and fix it to the buggy or give umbrellas to your kids to hold to avoid possible overheating. The good news are once you have an admission ticket on your hands, you are going to subside into subterranean kingdom.
Parents rejoice! The whole walkway in the Basilica is a boardwalk, so you can bring the buggy downstairs. There are couple of places (near Medusa head) where you might want to come down to see things a bit closer, but stairs are small and you will be able to carry the buggy down, no problem.
Basilica Cistern is essentially an underground water storage system, which was built on the site of another temple, so it is quite fascinating to see how something practical has been built using a temple as a base. The columns are lit up and there is a soundtrack playing in the background. The water, the music and the light create a magical effect, where you can imagine yourself walking in a different reality. It is just very different from busy and distracting environment at the street level with bright lights, mosque calls for prayers and many people trying to visit the attractions. Down here it is peaceful, subdued and slightly dark.
If you are an aspiring photographer, you can be in for a treat. If you like to play with long exposures, there is just enough light to make weird and wonderful pictures.
If after 5 minutes your kids think that this place is boring, take them on a treasure hunt. Spot Medusa Head, Crying Column and fish in the water. Or at the end of your visit you can dress up in Sultan costume and have a fancy dress photo session, as there is a small studio set up immediately after you come dowstairs after the ticket office.
As I mentioned, it was not the height of the tourist season when I visited, but I can imagine the Basilica being quite busy during holidays or in the summer. If this is the case, plan your visit one hour before closing time. This strategy worked for me in Aya Sofia, where 15 minutes before closure, I almost had it all to myself, as majority of people were gone by this point.
I enjoyed my visit immensely and I think it is such a special place, that if you have time for the Basilica Cistern, you should definitely include it on your itinerary.
Disclaimer: My visit was hosted by the Basilica Cistern, but all opinions are my own.