Sofia will completely steal your heart, and you'll have to explain to the groom-to-be why his future wife can't stop talking about this woman! The red wines are delicious and so eye-poppingly inexpensive that you'll start off splitting bottles and each end up with her own by the end of the Sofia hen night… Drinking is totally de rigueur here: there's no reason to ever stop, and the friendly locals wouldn't want it any other way - they're just glad you made it to the hen do party! Keep in mind; Bulgaria's kind of a crazy place, so shaking your head means "yes" and nodding means "no"!
So..wait...where is this? Sofia! You know, Sofia? The capital city of Bulgaria - and Europe's most affordable capital city for tourists is often overlooked by all but those in the know. It sits at the base of a huge mountain that's perfect for skiing in the winter and hiking in the summer, so so it is perfect for a hen weekend all year round. The city itself is a fascinating mix of clashing histories - Greeks, Romans, Ottomans, and Soviets have all left criss-crossing marks across the architecture, art, and culture of Sofia. It's a burgeoning city just coming into its own, so get there for your epic Sofia weekend before everyone else figures out how low the prices are - and before licenses to sell alcohol become a thing!
Flying is easiest from London or Manchester, and comes in at under £40 with EasyJet and Wizz Air. Flight time is just about 3 hours, so you can relax a bit before the crazy gets going. Once in, the city centre is compact enough that you'll be able to get wherever you're going on foot. Taxis are incredibly cheap, even for daytrips out of the city, but there are some scammers around, so your best bet is to call taxis from a hotel or restaurant. Don't rent a car unless you're crazy, because otherwise you won't fit in with the other drivers in Sofia.
It's definitely worth checking out the drop-dead gorgeous Cathedral of St. Alexander Nevsky during the day, and to wander along Vitosha Boulevard to check out the designer shopping and sneak down some side streets to see quirky craft shops and trendy boutiques. Sofia has a thing about baths - so get into the spirit of it and visit the ruins of the ancient Roman baths and then wander over to the most beautiful building in the city, which also happens to have once been the city's Turkish mineral baths (it's now a gallery). After all that talk of bathing, it's time to hit the spa! Luxuriate in preparation for a glorious night out on the town.
If wandering the town and lounging with bottles and bottles of wine aren't your style, then opt for the action-packed avenue and go up the stunning Mount Vitosha for hiking in the summer or snow mobiles in the winter. You can go white-water rafting, quad biking, or go-karting with your girlfriends to get amped up for the evening, because night-time is when Sofia really wakes up. It's not uncommon for people to take their sunglasses out with them so that the sun doesn't get in their eyes come the morning when they emerge from the basement venues. Head out on an epic guided bar crawl or splashy cocktail tour until midnight when the bars shut their doors (don't worry, they open again at 6am) and the clubs burst open. Yalta Club and Escape host internationally renowned DJs (and the latter is free for ladies). Oh, and don't believe all the tired stereotypes about Bulgarian men - there are tons of lovely, respectful, and actually gorgeous cuties out there to dance with! And if you like your men on stage, Sofia's got a liberal enough attitude that there are actually a couple of clubs where you can watch chiseled men strip down for you - or you can hire a private dancer for your blushing hen! The Sofia hen do is a perfect place for female bonding, with just enough of an edge to make it exciting.