Tickets, and transport options to get around the Bulgarian capital
Written by Scott Green and Aryan Curiel, edited by Lindsay Martin, photos by Unsplash
Published 27 March 2020, updated 11 May 2023
What better way to experience a city than the way locals do, public transportation it is then. Unless you really love walking, public transport is the cheapest option with services beginning at 5 AM and finishing around midnight. Sofia has four fast and affordable ways of moving around; subway, buses, trolleybuses, and trams. If you are catching the last transport, make sure you get off at the final stop, otherwise, you might find yourself being driven to the depot rather than where you want to go.
IMPORTANT: Your paper ticket/ transport card must be validated in the vehicle you first set foot on, otherwise, you risk a 40 BGN fine. Tap your ticket/card against the machine and check that it flashes green, if not, try another machine. The ticket is then valid for the following 30 or 60 minutes depending on which ticket you purchased.
The cheapest ticket is 1.60 BGN and allows you to transfer between as many vehicles as needed within 30 minutes; if you transfer within 60 minutes, you will pay 2.20 BGN. You must validate your ticket upon entering your first vehicle and revalidate it at every subsequent vehicle. If you have the Sofia City Card or the Ultralight Card you can load it on there to be used when needed, or you can use pay-as-you-go with your bank card. If you use your bank card and you take more than two trips per day, you will only be charged 4.00 BGN and issued (electronically) with a day card that can be used on all modes of transport (Metro included) for the remainder of the day. Do the math, it's cheaper for you.
Another option is to buy a ticket from the driver of the tram, bus, or trolley bus. It costs 2 BGN and is single-use, it must be stamped in the vehicle it was purchased from and cannot be used in subsequent vehicles. A metro ticket is different from tickets for buses, trams, and trolleybuses and can be purchased at every metro station either from a machine or the service desk.
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 an "Ultralight" card which can be used for loading short-term transport documents valid on all forms of public transportation. The card costs 0.80 BGN and then needs to be loaded with your desired short-term travel ticket.
Non-personalized tickets and cards.
|Ticket||Length||Mode of transport||Price BGN||Ticket Type|
|30+ Transfer||30 minutes||All modes of transport||1.60||Electronic|
|60+ Transfer||60 minutes||All modes of transport||2.20||Electronic|
|Single Ticket*||Single-use||Bus, tram, trolleybus||2.00||Paper|
|Daily Pass***||24 hours||All modes of transport||4.00|
|24-hour***||24 hours||All modes of transport||6.00||Electronic|
|72-hour||72 hours||All modes of transport||15.00||Electronic|
|Monthly Pass||1 month||All modes of transport||70.00||Electronic|
|Yearly Pass||1 year||All modes of transport||600.00||Electronic|
|Yearly Pass****||1 year||All modes of transport||600.00||Electronic|
- * Can be purchased from the driver of the vehicle or at Urban Mobility Centres around the city
- **This ticket can be purchased from a machine or from the service desk at every Metro station
- *** We are trying to find the potential difference between these two.
- **** This yearly pass is paid in three installments of 250.00, 200.00, and 150.00
Personalized tickets and cards.
|Ticket||Valid for||Mode of transport||Price BGN|
|Monthly Pass||Everyone||All modes of transport||50.00|
|Monthly Pass||Students||All modes of transport||20.00|
|Monthly Pass||Under 26||All modes of transport||25.00|
|Monthly Pass||Retired||All modes of transport||25.00|
|Monthly Pass||Over 68, or disabled||All modes of transport||10.00|
|Yearly||Everyone||All modes of transport||365.00|
|Yearly*||Everyone||All modes of transport||370.00|
|Yearly||Students||All modes of transport||200.00|
|Yearly||Under 26||All modes of transport||250.00|
- * This yearly pass is paid in three installments of 150.00, 120.00, and 100.00
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 subway is definitely the best and fastest way to move through the city if your origin and destination are close to a metro station. There are currently four metro lines covering Sofia with 47 stations, many of which intersect. The M1 (red line) goes from Slivnitsa to Business Park; The M2 (blue line) goes from Obelya to Vitosha; The M3 (green line) goes from Gorna Banya to Hazdhi Dimitar; and the M4 (yellow line) goes from Sofia Airport to Obelya. You can find the Metro Map and more information here.
Buses, trolleybuses, and trams
The bus/trolley bus/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 trolley bus has a different perforation pattern, so you can’t fool the inspectors if they ask for your ticket.
If you want to have an easier experience, you should always have these apps for improving your day in Sofia.
Moovit ( Android | iOS )
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/trolley bus 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 ( Android | iOS )
Google Maps is definitely the best app. It’s accurate, and it is the best option when you want to walk, use a bike, or find the right exit in a metro station. Locals, however, sometimes see it showing inaccurate vehicle arrival times.
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.
Find here our guide to vehicle rentals and taxi options in Sofia.