If you plan to travel to Sofia, or through Europe, you are in the right place – I have been exploring the digital nomadic lifestyle for many years. And I also like to explore this wonderful world.
This article of mine is full of practical Sofia travel tips, which I think will make your journey in this city more enjoyable. Therefore, I believe you will find something useful when you visit Sofia.
Table of Contents
Currency & Exchange Rate
Sofia uses Bulgarian lev as its currency. The exchange rate of 1 Euro to Lev is 1.96 Lev. Basically, this means that there are 2 levs per Euro. This exchange rate has remained unchanged for many years.
Tipping in Sofia
Usually, Bulgarians don’t pay tips, but waiters and taxi drivers have begun to expect tips from tourists and use them to help themselves survive in the city. If you have been to other parts of Europe, you will understand that Bulgaria’s salary is the lowest in the EU. If you can afford to travel here, you can pay a tip here.
I suggest that if your travel budget is adequate, it is appropriate to pay 10% of the service tip.
For taxis, I suggest that if the fare exceeds 10 lev, I will pay a tip for the lev. If the chartered car goes from city A to city B, I have to pay 10 levy tips.
If you are staying in a hotel with housekeeping services, it is good to pay 5 levs per day. If your budget is tight, it is also acceptable to pay 1 lev.
Card and cash
Credit cards are widely used in Sofia. However, there are some places in Sofia that do not accept credit cards, so I suggest you carry a certain amount of cash, dollars or lev with you. If I don’t have cash, I will check the shop window for any credit card symbols. If not, I will ask before accepting the service.
Usually, shops will accept credit cards, but only cash tips, so I suggest you leave some tips in order to get better service.
Bulgaria is part of the European Union, but it has not yet become part of Schengen. This means that if you are a traveler and need to leave the Schengen area for a while, Bulgaria is an ideal place!
The Bulgarian visa rules vary by nationality, but for Americans, you can stay for 90 days every 6 months. If you have a valid Schengen visa or are allowed to be exempted from Bulgarian visa.
If you have questions, please check the Bulgarian MFA page.
Visa-free regime for holders of Schengen visas for a stay of up to 90 days
On 25 January 2012 the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Bulgaria adopted a decision according to which by the date of Bulgaria’s accession to the Schengen area, our country will unilaterally apply a visa-free system for holders of valid Schengen visas. They will have the right to enter and reside in the Republic of Bulgaria for a period of no more than three months in any six-month period from the date of the first entry, without needing to have a Bulgarian short-stay visa. The decision entered into force on 31.01.2012.
Visa-free regime for holders of valid visas and residence permits issued by Romania, Cyprus and Croatia for a stay of up to 90 days
Sofia Travel Safet
Over the years, I have lived and traveled in countless cities, and I think Sofia city centre is one of the safest places. I have never been harassed, and I have never felt insecure.
Although it is the most economically backward region in Europe, it is safe here. There is no mass unemployment and no serious crimes.
However, if I don’t know much about the surrounding area, or if I’m drunk, I won’t go home alone at night.
Parking in Sofia
An annoying aspect of Sofia travel is parking. If you don’t have a local SIM card based on a contract, Sofia’s parking spaces are terrible.
You need to send the text with the license plate number to the listed number via SMS. It costs 2 levs per hour and the maximum time is two hours; or 1 lev per hour and the maximum time is four hours.
However, if you do not have a local SIM card or a chargeable SIM card, you will not be able to use this service because there is no actual ticket machine. Therefore, if you do not have a SIM card and need to park in Sofia, I recommend parking in one of the private parking lots.
There are usually private parking lots every two blocks. They are usually more expensive, 2 levs per hour.
If you drive an RV, then I suggest that you do not park the RV in the middle of the city. If it is a trailer, then I suggest you find a wide place to camp before entering the city. Then use the bus or subway.
Bulgaria uses F-type sockets (also suitable for C and E) with a standard voltage of 230 volts. If the standard voltage in your country is between 220-240 (such as the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe, as well as Australia, some Asia and some Africa), you can use appliances without a voltage converter.
Explore the most famous surrounding area in Sofia
- 7 Rila Lakes
To Sofia: 90 km
The 7 Rila Lakes are natural wonders. They are seven glacial lake groups located at different heights in the Lira (2925m), the highest mountain in the Balkan Peninsula. The hike to the lake will pass through all the lakes and finally reach a peak overlooking all 7 lakes. awesome! Read the entire post about 7 Rila Lakes here.
- Rila Monastery
To Sofia: 120km
Rila Monastery is one of the world heritage sites recognized by UNESCO. The architecture of the monastery is really impressive, and the monastery itself is worth a visit. It is located in Rila Mountain. The monastery was founded in the 10th century by St. Ivan, the hermit of Rila.
To Sofia: 130 kilometers
Plovdiv (Plovdiv) is unique in that it has six Masayama called tepeta. The Old Town of Plovdiv is famous for its paved streets and historic houses, and most of them are famous for ancient theatres-ancient theatres.
If you are flying into Bulgaria, you can travel to Plovdiv, which is 130 kilometers away. But if you are entering from Turkey or other neighboring countries. Then you will pass Plovdiv, so there is no need to go separately.
If you pass by Plovdiv, then you must visit two attractions. These are two unique caves, definitely worth it
To Sofia: 111km
Koprivshtitsa is an ancient town in central Bulgaria. It was the center of the April 1876 uprising and is known for its authentic Bulgarian architecture and folk music festivals, making it a very popular tourist destination. Koprivshtitsa is one of Bulgaria’s characteristic towns and still maintains a medieval atmosphere to this day.
How to get there
By train: There is a direct train from Sofia through Koprivshtitsa. Please note that the train station is only a few kilometers from the town.
- Climb Mount Musala
To Sofia: 111km
The Rila Mountain is the highest peak in Bulgaria and the Balkan Peninsula. The highest peak is Musala (2925m). Climbing Mount Musala is a challenge for every climber, and the scenery is breathtaking. You can start by taking the cable car from Borovets to Yastrebets Lodge, and then walk from Yastrebets to Musala Lodge (one and a half hours of hiking). Starting from the Musala cabin, the trekking continues to the “Ledeno ezero” shelter (one and a half hour hike). From there, you have a 30-minute walk to the Musala peak.
- Passing cave
To Sofia: 120km
Prohodna is the Karov cave in north-central Bulgaria, near the village of Karlukovo in the Lovech province. The cave is famous for its two eye-like holes in its ceiling, known as the Eye of God or Oknata. The cave has two entrances facing each other. Prohodna is 262 meters long and is the longest cave passage in Bulgaria.