Good to Know
What we have to look out in Sofia?
The first thing you will need when you reach Sofia is TAXI. You should know that there are many taxi companies here, and each one has its own list. Based on our experience, you can trust “OK Taxi” with phone *8294, yellow with phone 0291119, there will certainly be other reputable companies, as well. You can also install APP TAXIme. You have to be sure that the taximeter is operating, particularly from the airport and public transport in general.
2. Currency exhange
You will need Leva, the currency of Bulgaria. You can exchange to all banks, while the offices which are in every corner are definitely not the most prudent alternative: at banks they hold a commission of around 5 Leva unless you have an account there, then it is less. In many exchange offices, although the price is locked at 1 EUR = 1.95583 BGN, you will find great differences. We believe that the exchange office at the intersection of Vitosha and Gladston street is the best and the fastest in the city, it has all the coins and everything is very “close” to the parity.
Transportation to the city is at a very high level. You can move quickly and easily at very low prices. Here we have the metro, buses, trolleys and “marshrutka” (small buses that make only one route, they stop to get you wherever you are and take you down where you want and the cost is 1 Lev for each journey). The means of transport operate until 00:00 every day. For students there is a card that costs 21 Leva per month and can be used on all means of transport except the “marshrutka”.
4. Coffee bars
The coffee here is “one”: if you go somewhere and you say I want a coffee, they will bring you a coffee that looks like Espresso Lungo but it will definitely not be Espresso Lungo….. You will enjoy coffee in very few parts of the city. I highly recommend you Cafes MEMENTO, with little effort we may find other……
You will find food in every corner of the center. There are many Italian, Greek, Turkish and, of course, Bulgarian restaurants. Dining prices are about 1/2 of Greece and 1/3 of Italy, the portions are about 250g and it is customary for each to have their own salad. Also, every midday we have the “weekday”, lunch, which name is “obedno” menu. Prices here are well below the daily price list. At the center, at Vitosha boulevard, no.14, the restaurant «Back around» offers, apart from “obedno”, a special meal consisting of three dishes and it costs 16 Leva.
Heating in Sofia is provided in three ways: a. with radiators that you arrange when you get hot and when not, b. with liquid gas (here it could be individual or shared) and the third way is the “TETS” (under the city it is circulating hot water and this water warms the apartments). The cost in all three cases is almost the same, and all of them have some advantages and disadvantages as well. It is advisable to avoid heating only with air conditioner! To have a clue, a house of 60 m2 needs about 45 € per month, in cold times, to warm up.
Most of the houses here are furnished. In some cases they have the basics and in some others have all the appliances (dishwashers, toaster, etc.). The prices in the center for one-bedroom apartment range from 400€ to 750€, depending on the location, and the size. Here down town, buildings are old and that means there may not be an elevator, you will also see many houses that do not have a bathtub or a cabin as we are used to. Important is the fact that they do not accept any pets.
The contracts for rent are annual. A contract to be completed, we have to pay a “deposit” (guarantee) and in addition the first month, in some cases we have to pay two deposits: this happens when the house is new (renovated) or it has expensive furniture. CAUTION! The deposit is not the last month but the guarantee for the bills. The contracts at the end of the year are automatically renewed if both parties agree.
Parking in Sofia is not free of charge. In the center, we have the blue zone and around the center the green one. In the first case, the cost is 2 Leva per hour and you can park for up to two hours, while in the second case it is 1 Lev per hour and you can park for up to four hours. You can pay in two ways: a. by sending SMS with your car’s number to 1302 for the blue zone and 1303 for the green zone (the message should be in Roman characters), b. by buying “talons” (parking cards) from the controllers you will see at the point where you park (there are many).
In Bulgaria, the banks are open from 9:00 to 17:00, Monday to Friday. In the malls some banks operate until 22:00 including the weekends, as well. It is very easy to open a bank account: you only need your identity. You may open an account in Euros or in Leva.