The public transportation system in Sofia is efficient, quick, and cheap. It includes buses, trams, trolleys, and a limited metro service. It is overseen by the Sofia Urban Mobility Center. Their website provides info in English with timetables, fare info, and more.
Sofia has one of the longest tram networks in Europe with 308 km of tracks and a total of 5 lines throughout the city. It is well-established with some lines over 50 years old. However, the busiest lines can be crowded at peak times.
The buses, trams, and trolleys are all run on a regular schedule and can take you anywhere in the city (with a little walking to your destination).
Trams, buses, and trolleys run on a specific schedule throughout the day. Transportation begins at 5:30AM and ends at 11PM. Service becomes limited after 11PM (consult the night schedule here). Also note that there is more limited service weekends and national holidays.
Electronic payment is not an option for tickets and all tickets must be paid in exact change.
Tickets for buses, trams, or trolleys cost 1.60BNG. You can also buy 10 rides per passenger for 12 BNG. You cannot use the same ticket for two people when using the option. A daily pass with unlimited rides is 4 BNG.
Tickets can be bought from the driver or the ticket machine on board but be sure to have exact cash and it only accepts coins. Also, most stops have a kiosk nearby where you can purchase tickets beforehand. Oversized luggage is also tickets and costs 40 BNG.
There are two lines operating in the Sofia that intersect at the Serdica Metro Station. Line 1 (red) goes from Lyulin to Mladost and includes Sofia Airport and Line 2 (blue) goes from Nadezhda to Lozenets and connects Business Park Sofia. There is currently a third line under construction.
The Metro runs from 5:00AM to 11:30PM and has pick up intervals ranging from 5 to 15 minutes.
To buy tickets for the metro, you must purchase them at any metro station at a cash-only ticket machine or manned ticket booth. Metro tickets cannot be used for any other source of transportation and must be paid only in cash. The tickets are valid for up to 30 minutes after purchase. Tickets cost 1.60BNG for one ride, 12BNG for 10 rides, and 4BNG for a daily pass.
The main international airport in Bulgaria is Sofia Airport (SOF; 1 Christopher Columbus Blvd., 1540 Sofia, Bulgaria). It serves as the home base for Bulgarian airlines such as BH Air, Bulgaria Air, and Bulgarian Air Force. It also gets frequent flights from affordable airlines like Ryan Air and Wizz Air. Flights go to many locations all over the world, with direct flights to many European countries.
The airport is about 10 km to the city centre. You can get to and from the airport by taxi, metro, and bus routes, or you can hire a car or pick-up. Transportation is offered to from Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 every 30 minutes free of cost.
Taxis in Sofia are very cheap. Taxis can be hailed directly on the street by simply stretching out your arm and or waving. Approach the taxi with your desired location and ask how much it will cost before entering. Be sure they start their toll when you begin your journey.
By law, every taxi company needs to clearly state its prices. Expect to pay about 3.60 leva (1.80 euro) per km. and a waiting fee of 5 leva per minute (2.5 euro).
To avoid scams, only use official taxis with a taxi sign on the roof that display the prices on the side of the car. Ask about prices before entering the vehicle.
Reliable Taxi Services in Sofia:
There are car rental services throughout the city of Sofia, but the best place to hire a car is at the airport upon arrival. The most popular rental companies are Naycal Rental, Sixt, and Choice Rent A Car.
Prices can range from 50 Euro a day to higher depending on the car you pick and amenities like automatic vs. manual transmission. There can sometimes be special offers during weekdays or for longer rentals.
The legal driving age in Bulgaria is 18 years old. However, to rent a car you usually need your valid driver's license, as well as an international driver's license. Drivers usually must be above 21 and may pay an additional fee til age 25. You should also check if insurance is covered from your private insurance or credit card, or if you need to buy additional coverage from the car rental. Carry your passport and paperwork at all times in the vehicle.
While it is not necessary to rent a car to travel within the city, it does make traveling the country much easier.
Driving in Bulgaria generally follows the standard of other places in Europe. Driving is on the right side of the road. Drivers should keep their lights on at all times.
Tolls are not required on highways, but a vignette sticker is required. The rental company should provide this, but if you need to buy a pass, you can do that at border crossings, in gas stations, and in post offices. They cost 15 BGN for 1-week, 30 BGN for a month, and 97 BGN for a year.
Another note of caution is to beware of potholes. Some roads are in semi-poor condition and can cause major damage.
Speed limits in Bulgaria:
Finding a spot to park in Sofia can be difficult, especially in the most popular areas of the city. This is especially true during the working day. You may want to consider leaving your car in a parking garage if you are staying for a long time and taking public transportation instead.
Parking on the street is limited from 2 to 4 hours depending on the location. A Blue Zone is short-term parking and costs 2 BNG per hour. Green-Zone is 1 BNG per hour for 4 hours. You have to pay by phone by texting in your license plate number (with no spaces) to the number provided on the sign. If you don't, you will get a parking ticket. If you park in a no-park zone, your car may be towed.
Parking garages and lots are scattered throughout the city. Even though they are the most convenient, they are much more expensive than street parking. There are underground spaces for park and ride that hosts up to 2,000 lots for people to park their cars and take public transportation into Sofia.