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It is very hard to find a tourist map of Sofia. It is also hard to get information on tours etc. The tourist information office (which actually is hard to find) can give general information on what is available, but you have to go elsewhere to actually book or find out prices etc.
Unique Suggestions: Try and have a Sofia map before you arrive in the city.
Written Oct 16, 2010
Don't trust the exchange rates published largely on the board with some of the money changers. When you get inside there is a smaller table for the exchange rate that they actually use and you are a lot worse off. Ignore them and use a bank or get money off an ATM machine as they charge a more reliable bank exchange rate. It's prevalent here in Sofia.
Written Jun 14, 2010
Beware of the exchange offices on Vitosha Street. They are marked clearly with big red signs "CHANGE" and show a correct exchange rate. However, as you walk in, the rate changes and as you pass the money you are about to lose 10-15% of your amount. Official scammers! Threaten to call the police and some thugs will wander nearby. You have been warned!
Unique Suggestions: In weekends, as most banks are closed, you will need to exchange some money. If you don't have the possibility to withdraw cash from an ATM, look 4 times inside the exchange office for any details of the correct exchange rate. Ask the person behind the counter for the exact exchange rate. DO NOT GIVE YOUR MONEY FIRST! The moment you have passed them through the window you will never receive anything back except for the Levas they feel like offering.
Fun Alternatives: Definetely the ATM or a Bank is the Alternative for exchanging in Sofia. If you are in total need of Leva I would exchange small ammounts of money at these exchange rip-offs
Written Jul 14, 2009
Don't exchange any money in the airport!
When I was there in April, 2008 the airport gave me 1.65 on the Euro.
The same day, in the bank, I got 1.95 on the Euro!
Thanks to Linse, http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/26622/
I knew enough not to change more than 20 Euro at the airport.
Unique Suggestions: If you absolutely must change some - like I did - then change the absolute minimum of money that you might need till you can get to a bank.
Fun Alternatives: Use banks only!
The money changers can also fleece you.
Be sure that you have your passport with you.
Written Apr 28, 2008
Located close to Sheraton, Happy Bar and grill (corner Stamboliski bld and Vitosha) ..
At the front they show official exchange rates. But once you hand over your bills you notice that the difference between official and the used rates ( I noticed a difference of 30 %)
When you react: no mercy, they point at an hidden pannel, which you hardly notice with the used rates, u signed the papers and it s over.
I called the police: no mercy... lost some 30 euro this way....
Unique Suggestions: Don t go...
Check everything before signing...
Fun Alternatives: Banks are much better.
in Bank you get 1,955 Lev per Euro, here : 1, 55
No ther comment
Written Jul 2, 2006
If you book via internet be sure to check at least 3-4 different web sites and and least 4-5 hotels.
Sometimes - especially on web sites targeting foraigners hotels ask too much ... so, double check with various offers if the prices are real ...
Unique Suggestions: If you're not sure if the price is real or not - at least check the hotel photos and make sure it looks good :)
Written May 21, 2006
The Trams are nice, and very cheap. The taxies are cheap too, and is a good option if you don?t know the tram or the bus you have to catch. Sometimes, taxi drivers do not speak english, and you can have problems to explain where you want to go.
The buses are very old, but they work well.
Written Dec 1, 2005
As in each big city (although Sofia is not that big) the traffic in Sofia is very very bad... And I am not talking only about traffic jams, which are normal in the peak hours. When driving in Sofia keep in mind that nobody on the road follows the rules. Be ready for many dirty tricks. If you need to park especially in the center look for paid parking places. Don't just park where all others did as for sure they have just broken another rule.
Unique Suggestions: If you need to park in the center of the city try to search for a paid parking place. Paid doesn't always mean "guarded". There are two kinds of parking plots in Sofia center:
1. The so called "Blue Zone" - these are places in the city where you are allowed to park only if you have obtained the so called "Blue parking tickets" (Ask at you hotel where you can buy some. At some Blue zone parkings there are people dressed in signal yellow jackets striding between the cars - these are the people who actually sell the tickets but they are not found everywhere). You can get such a ticket for 0,50 Bulgarian leva (BGN) and it gives you the right to park in the blue zone for 30 mins or you can get one for 1,00 BGN and it is good for an hour. If you would like to park for more than one hour just make sure you use enough tickets. They have to be put under the front screen so the inspectors can see them. Then you have to mark the month/date/time you have parked on all tickets.
2. If you would like to park on a guarded parking plot you can recognize them easily - they always have a barrier at the entrance. However you will have to pay 2,00 - 4,00 BGN per hour.
Fun Alternatives: Here is something that I should NOT say. However I know how useful such an info can be so... If you ever get cought by the traffic police keep in mind that they (99% of them the minimum) are very corrupt. Which mean that for a little "tip" they could fail to see your fault instead of causing you undesirable problems. Don't be surprised when they start saying "and now let's see what we can do..."
Updated Dec 10, 2004
In order to go into the Icon Museum in the St. Alexander Nevski Cathedral Crypt one should pass trough the Icon Shop.
This place, in my opinion, is a typical tourist trap. The icons sold there cost an arm and a leg. The prices might g up to EUR 800 someimes even more.
One can buy icons of the same quality on the street next to the Cathedral for half of the price, even less.
Unique Suggestions: After all, if you had decided to buy an icon from that shop, do not forget to ask if the icon has a certificate it is not "national treasury" in other words you are not exporting a unique piece of art that should stay within Bulgarian borders.
Otherwise, you might have some problems when going trough the Customs.
Fun Alternatives: As an alternative I would suggest to you to buy icons on the street next to the Cathedral.
The other option that I would recommend is the icon shop near Radisson SAS.
Written Aug 27, 2004
Having looked at other people's tips about Sofia a couple of warnings seemed to be common - don't change money at the airport and be careful about the taxis.
Fun Alternatives: A lot of the bureau de change do offer poor rates, however there are two options to get around this. Turn left towards the cafe in the arrivals hall, head up about 3 or 4 steps and you will find OTP Bank (I think) which offers competitive rates. There are also ATMs to be found in the departure terminal and in the customs building next to the arrivals building.
If you are concerned about taxi touts there is now an office of OK Supertrans in the arrivals terminal between the two exits, they will book you a taxi for immediate collection and take you to the centre of town for about 6BGL.
Updated Jul 27, 2004
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