How to avoid Sofia transport scam


Hello dear foreigner and welcome to Bulgaria!

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As a Bulgarian, I have experienced many unpleasant scenes in the transport of my beloved capital and I have felt shame many times when I saw foreigners being used for money and being deliberately misled by either bus drivers or ticket control agents.

I have decided to say STOP to all this by writing this article and hopefully contributing to ending this corrupted practice. I will be extremely happy if at least one concerned person reads it and avoids the unfair fine.

So here is what I’m talking about. When you arrive to Sofia airport, you have several ways to get to the city center:

  1. taxi
  2. rented car
  3. public transport
    • metro – if you can, use this one, it’s faster and more secure (no holes on the road). Please continue reading, just in case.
    • bus – RED LIGHT!

Taking public transport means you have to buy a ticket. A ticket costs 1,60 leva and there is a place at the airport where you can buy it. If you use the metro, there is no way you enter without ticket and there is enough information about how and where to buy it and how to use it. Unfortunately, if you decide to take the bus, you don’t usually look for a place for buying tickets inside the airport. Foreigners are more likely to follow the normal logic of things in the world and go to the bus stop. Yes, you can buy a ticket in the bus. IN CASE THE BUS DRIVER HAS ONE. Reality shows that mysteriously, bus drivers HAVE NEVER tickets at this stop and the control agents get on at the next bus stop. No lie, no surprise! They have families to feed, what do you think?! So the moment the driver says “no tickets”, get off the bus and go back at the airport to find that place for tickets sale. But best, just go to the metro! If you see no metro around, it probably means that you’ve arrived to Terminal 1 and you have to get to Terminal 2. There is a free shuttle going between the two terminals regularly. It stops right in front of the exit of the airport.

But let me return to the main topic. Imagine you’ve been lucky and bought a ticket and you are in the bus already. IMMEDIATELY validate it! That means finding a strange metallic perforator, stick your ticket inside and make the “clack” sound, which will make holes in the ticket.

Tram-perforator

Here’s what a perforator looks like

If you don’t do that, you’ll be fined on the next stop, when the control agent comes, please don’t act surprised, I’ve already warned you! The rule is you put well your ticket until the end and then push up the little metallic tongue under. DON’T REPEAT! It may make more holes in your ticket and cause problems. Next thing you need to know is that big suitcases are counted as people in Bulgaria, no, this is not a joke. You take space – you pay! No such rule for chubby people, halleluiah! So, if you have bags bigger than 60/40/40 cm, you have to buy and validate a ticket for each piece. You are allowed to have a baby stroller for free though, ain’t that a relief?

There is an option to buy 10 tickets at once. If you choose this option, you have to use them yourself and always keep the last ticket. The cost is 12 leva, while one journey ticket costs 1,60 lv. You can use the same pack of tickets in case you have luggage. Just DON’T SHARE THEM! Only one person can use the pack.

For several years the transport company of Sofia is trying to implement some changes and we finally have electronic passes which allow passengers to use the metro, trams and trolley buses easier and for cheaper price. In general, it is always cheaper to use a pass. There are passes for one day (4 leva) or 3 days (10 leva) for all transport lines – no matter bus, metro, tram or trolley bus. ATTENTION, having a pass doesn’t allow you to transport baggage bigger than 60/40/40 cm, you’ll still have to pay an extra ticket for each piece. You can have more information about Sofia public transport at the metro stations or in the Tourist Information Center, at the „Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski“ Metro station underpass. Here’s the time table:

  • July-Sept:

Mon – Fri: 8 am – 8 pm
Sat – Sun: 10 am – 6 pm

  • Oct – May:

​Mon – Fri: 9:30 am – 6:30 pm
Sat – Sun: Closed

HERE‘s the official tourist information site that you can use when you plan your visit to Sofia.

Enjoy your stay and please share this information with whomever it may concern. Oh, and if you liked this article, please vote 5 stars on the top so that it reaches more people. Thanks!

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