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World Travel Guide > Guides > Europe > Bulgaria > Sofia

Sofia Weather

19°C

Local time Sofia

Currency

лв

Travel to Sofia

Flying to Sofia

Airlines offering flights to Sofia from the UK include British Airways, Bulgaria Air, easyJet and Wizz Air. There are no direct flights from the USA.

Flight times

From London - 3 hours; New York - 11 hours (including stopover); Los Angeles - 14 hours 10 minutes (including stopover); Toronto - 11 hours 10 minutes (including stopover); Sydney - 22 hours (including stopovers).

Travel by road

Sofia traffic drives on the right and the minimum driving age is 18 years. Speed limits are 120-140kph (75-87mph) on motorways, 90kph (56mph) on country roads and 50kph (31mph) in urban areas. Driving throughout Bulgaria can be slow, as traffic is frequently held up by heavy goods vehicles. Entering and leaving Sofia during weekends is especially busy.

A Green Card is useful, but not compulsory for EU travellers. All driving licences from EU countries are valid for Bulgaria. If travelling from outside the EU, an International Driving Permit is recommended.

To drive on Bulgarian roads outside Sofia, drivers must purchase a vignette, to display in the windscreen. These are available from border crossings, post offices and some petrol stations, valid from one week to one year.

All cars must carry a first-aid kit and fire extinguisher and accidents should be reported to the traffic police, KAT (tel: 166 or 982 2723). The Bulgarian Automobile Touring Association – SBA (tel: +359 2 91146), provides information and deals with breakdowns.

Emergency breakdown services

SBA (tel: 1286 – within Sofia; 146 – outside Sofia).

Routes

The A1 and A2 are the major roads out of Sofia. The A1 heads east toward Plovdiv, while the A2 heads northeast to connect with the E772 toward Veliko Tarnovo, continuing northeast to where it becomes the A2 again, reaching Varna on the Black Sea.

The E79 goes to Sofia from Greece, crossing the border at Kulata. The E80 from Turkey crosses the border at Kapitan Andreevo, while the E79 travels from Romania, crossing the border at Vidin-Kalafat. In addition, the E80 motorway runs to Sofia from the Yugoslav border at Kalotina and the E871 from the Russian border at Gyueshevo.

Coaches

Nearly all the long-distance domestic and international buses leave from Sofia’s modern Tsentralna Avtogara (Central Bus Station), 100 Knyaginya Maria Louisa Boulevard, near the railway station. Buses to all major Bulgarian cities, as well as 90% of towns and villages, also leave from here, including those to Plovdiv, Varna, Ruse, Bourgas, Veliko Ternovo and Sandanski.

Buses to closer destinations in the southeast of Bulgaria (including Samakov and Borovets) leave from the Yug terminal (avtogara Yug), Dragan Tsankov Boulevard, and Ovcha kupel (including Rila Monastery), Ovcha kupel Boulevard 1. Eurolines (tel: +44 871 781 8177, in the UK; www.eurolines.com) runs international coaches, connecting Sofia to cities throughout Europe. These terminate in front of the railway station.

Time to city

From Plovdiv - 2 hours; Veliko Tarnovo - 3 hours; Varna - 5 hours 30 minutes.

Travel by Rail

Services

The Bulgarian State Railway runs cheap and extensive services throughout the country, although trains can be very slow. The monumental, concrete Tsentralna Gara, Sofia's main station, is located at 102 Knyaginya Maria Louisa Boulevard, a 20-minute walk north of the city centre.

Tickets for lines covering the northern half of Bulgaria are sold on the ground floor - all others are sold in the basement. You can buy international tickets at the international ticket counters.

Operators

The Bulgarian State Railway, Balgarski Darzhavni Zheleznitsi (tel: +359 2 932 4190; www.bdz.bg) runs six main routes from Sofia – to Varna or Bourgas on the Black Sea coast, to Plovdiv and beyond on the Turkish border, to Kalotina on the Yugoslavian border, to Kulata on the Greek border and to Ruse on the Romanian border.

There are also daily services to Belgrade, Bucharest  and  Budapest.

Journey times

From Varna - 7 hours 30 minutes; Plovdiv - 3 hours 30 minutes; Belgrade - 9 hours 30 minutes; Bucharest - 11 hours 15 minutes; Budapest - 23 hours.

Transfer

The metro runs within the city, with single trip travel cards available as well as daily passes, three-day passes, monthly passes, and three, six, and twelve- month passes. There are also student discounts and a decreased price for people with disabilities.

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City Highlight: Sofia

A city as beautiful as its name, Sofia boasts onion-domed churches and Soviet-era monuments interspaced with manicured gardens and wide cobblestone avenues plied by rattling trolley buses.

Featured Hotels

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Holiday Inn Sofia

This spectacular contemporary 5-star hotel nestles under Mount Vitosha and is adjacent to Business Park Sofia, Bulgaria's largest business park. With excellent meeting rooms and conference facilities it attracts business visitors, but its proximity to the mountain region and a luxury spa, treatment and fitness centre means plenty of leisure visitors also. The hotel's shuttle bus takes around 20 minutes to the city centre, 11km to the north.

Sheraton Sofia Hotel Balkan

In a prime location, the imposing Sheraton Sofia Hotel Balkan is a landmark in itself, and the city's leading 5-star hotel with Italian marble and ornate chandeliers. The 184 elegant rooms, including 18 suites, were recently refurbished, with classic furniture and tasteful colours plus a vast new ballroom. All rooms have free Wi-Fi internet access, and there is a small fitness centre and sauna.

Scotty's Boutique Hotel

In a central location, opposite the synagogue, Scotty's Boutique Hotel is built in a graceful four-storey renovated house (no elevator). Its rooms are spacious and modern, each one different in décor but all enjoying a quirky and contemporary look. Rooms are uncluttered and bright, with wooden floorboards, most with a private balcony.

Central Hotel Sofia

This modern hotel with a good central location has 70 well-furnished rooms, each with free Wi-Fi Internet access and most with a balcony. Facilities include spa, sauna, meeting rooms and conference halls, and a large restaurant with a terrace. The 'apartment' (more like a suite) has room for up to four people.

Hotel Cheap

An unfortunate name for a hotel that, while great value for money, doesn’t feel stingy or like a place that prioritises savings over services and good quality. Located near the train station, a ten-minute walk from central Sofia, Hotel Cheap’s 18 rooms offer everything you need for a short or long stay. Free Wi-Fi throughout, breakfast is extra.

Sense Hotel

Billed as Sofia’s first upscale design hotel, Sense, which opened in 2013, offers stylish design and a great location. The hotels 71 rooms and suites come with all mod cons, and feature large windows commanding impressive views out over the city. Together with the hotel’s rooftop bar, it makes for a great place to get a feel for the city below.