How to move through Sofia: public transportation guide
Whether you're a local or a visitor, moving around the city is one of the most essential things to know.
Written by Aryan Curiel, edited by Lindsay Martin, photos by Sara Coll Lopez
There is no cheaper way to do it than public transportation. Well, maybe walking, but unless you are a "walking fanatic," it may not be your best option. Let's discuss this less physically demanding option.
The public transportation in Sofia starts at 05:00 in the morning and finishes around midnight. You will find four ways of moving around; subway, buses, trolleybuses, and trams. Here’s how to get a ticket or card:
The basic ticket is 1.60 BGN/0.82 EUR and is for a single-use. A metro ticket can be purchased at every metro station, but it's not accepted for any other form of public transportation, like trams, buses, or trolleys. Single-use bus/tram/trolley tickets are available from the driver or at station kiosks. These tickets cannot be used for the metro. If you use public transportation frequently, there are more economical options than single-use tickets.
Transportation cards are a good option if you use public transportation frequently. You can choose between a cheaper personalized card or a more expensive non-personalized card that can be used by a friend or family member. If you go for the non-personalized option, please be aware that after a card is used in the metro, it will be temporarily blocked so no more than one person can use it at the same time.
If you are here for a short visit, you can buy a 1 or 3-day card which can be used for all forms of public transportation. The cost is 2.05 EURO/4 BGN and is unlimited during the requested days. But, since you probably want to enjoy the city for a longer time, I want to let you know about the monthly card. It works for all public transportation and costs 25 EURO/50 BGN. You can also get a 3/6/12 month card, but with a higher price, of course. Monthly cards have a 2 BGN initial fee and another 8 BGN for photo service with the personalized card. You can avoid the 8 BGN fee if you bring a standard size ID photo.
Another good option is the 10-trip reusable metro card for 12 BGN. You can buy it and recharge it at every metro station. Unfortunately, it does not work on the bus/tram/trolley. There is a 1 BGN fee for the card, which is reimbursed by issuing a single ticket if you decide not to use it any longer.
You can find more information about the different options n the Sofia Metro official site, but we want to help you in the fastest possible way. Here’s a summary:
|Card/ Ticket||Mode of transport||Price, BGN||Price, Euro|
|Single ticket||Bus, tram, trolleybus*||1.60||0.82|
|Single tickets (10 pack)||Bus, tram, trolleybus||12||6.14|
|One day ticket||Bus, tram, trolleybus, metro**||4||2.05|
|Three-day ticket||Bus, tram, trolleybus, metro**||10||5.11|
|Monthly (personalized)||Bus, tram, trolleybus, metro||50||25.56|
|Monthly (non-personalized)||Bus, tram, trolleybus, metro||60||30.68|
|3-month (personalized)||Bus, tram, trolleybus, metro||130||66.47|
|3-month (non-personalized)||Bus, tram, trolleybus, metro||156||79.76|
|6-month (personalized)||Bus, tram, trolleybus, metro||255||130.38|
|6-month (non-personalized)||Bus, tram, trolleybus, metro||306||156.46|
|Yearly (personalized)||Bus, tram, trolleybus, metro||365||186.62|
|Yearly (non-personalized)||Bus, tram, trolleybus, metro||600||306.78|
- * These tickets are different from each other
- **These tickets need to be validated at the kiosk when entering the Metro
There are transportation offices around the city to buy and recharge monthly and yearly cards. You can find all the information you may need here.
The fine for using public transportation without a valid ticket or card is 20 EURO/40BGN, which is given by ticket inspectors who are easily recognizable by their blue uniforms and handheld verification machines. They like to go in pairs sometimes and get on the bus from each side so no infractor can escape. So, be sure you always have your card ready for verification.
The subway is definitely the fastest and best way to move through the city if your origin and destination are close to a metro station. There are currently two metro lines covering 34 metro stations around Sofia.
There is a third line in construction that should be finished in 2020. If you want to learn more about this, you can check this link.
How to find the best exit
One of the main problems I’ve experienced with the subway is finding the right exit since most of them have four, two from every side of the platform. I strongly advise you to know where to go, or you’ll find yourself needing to re-enter the subway, or walking a lot. Why? Because some of the metro stations work as crosswalks for the avenue, and if you choose the wrong side, there will be just two options; getting back to the subway or walking additional blocks. Google Maps is my favorite way of finding the right exit.
Buses, trolleybuses, and trams
The bus/trolleybus/tram stop is easy to recognize. It has an electric board with the routes stopping there and the time remaining for the next one.
If you don’t have a transportation card, you must buy a ticket from the driver or at kiosks located at some of the busier bus stops. It’s best to have exact change when buying from the bus driver. After purchasing, tickets must be validated at one of the perforators on board. Be aware that every bus, tram, and trolleybus has a different perforation pattern, so you can’t fool the inspectors if they ask for your ticket.
10-packs of tickets for the bus/trolleybus/tram can also be purchased at kiosks located at the busier bus stops.
As mentioned earlier, public transportation in Sofia runs from approximately 05:00 to midnight. But what happens after midnight? Well, you can take a taxi or walk, but there is also a system of night buses with four routes across the city. These buses have a low frequency, but if you know the timetable, it is a good option for moving after midnight for a low price.
They are not included in the cards we mentioned above. A night bus ticket costs 2 BGN, and a single ticket works for all the routes that night.
If you want to have an easier experience, you should always have these apps for improving your day in Sofia.
Without a doubt, for me, this is the most important app of all. Moovit is similar to Google Maps, but with better synchronization with the transportation’s GPS. Just set your starting and ending destination. Moovit shows you different routes, and you choose the best for you. Moovit guides you every step of the journey. The interactive map takes you the way to the metro/bus/tram/trolleybus stop. Once onboard, it alerts you upon arrival at your stop.
Moovit has minor issues with the compass, so you may find yourself walking in the wrong direction. Additionally, you may find that it is sometimes inaccurate underground in the metro.
Google Maps is definitely the best map app. It’s accurate, and it is the best option when you want to walk, use a bike, or finding the right exit in a metro station. Locals, however, sometimes see it showing inaccurate vehicle arrival time.
You won’t use this app too much, but it could be helpful. EasyWay includes info and route maps for every Bus, Trolleybus, Tram, and Night bus in Sofia. So, if you want to know where a bus ends or starts, or if you want to build your own route, this is the best choice. Unfortunately, it’s not available for Apple lovers. For the iPhone, you have the “interactive” map on the Sofia Public Transportation official website.
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