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Choose a reliable taxi
CK taxis cost thrice as much as OK taxi. They even copy the number so make sure you read the sign correctly. Taxi should read OK and not CK.
Unique Suggestions: Read the sign the next time you choose your taxi. And have enough change.
Be careful with the taxi!
People, please pay attention to the taxi you are going to use! This is really a very bad practice in Sofia-to be "robbed" by a taxi driver.
Look carefully at the sticker of the car-it is on the back door window and it's showing the prices! The normal price per kilometer is 0,50 BGN/km (a day price) and 0,70 BGN/km (night price).
The best taxi companies in Sofia are "OK Supertrans" (tel. +359 2 973 21 21), Radio CB Taxi (tel. +359 2 9 12 63), Yellow Taxi (tel. +359 2 91119) and "Taxi for 1 eur" (tel. +359 2 9 622 226).
When you need a taxi from the Airport to the hotel, look carefully at the sticker of the car. If you need a taxi from the Central Bus Station , please take one from the exit of the station. You'll notice there are taxis waiting there, they have a contract with the Bus Station, so they are legal and the price is acceptable (you have to go to the gates of the Bus Station and wait just in front of them for a taxi).
I have observed two interesting attempts to cheat the Sofia public recently.
There is good taxi company called OK Supertransport. Their name appears on their taxis in Cyrillic letters. There is another, cheating company, called OK Supershansport. They use the exact same colors, the same logo, and the same lettering as the good company. The name is exactly the same length in Cyrillic. If you are wandering around Sofia and can't read their alphabet, ask someone to write both names out for you on a piece of paper so you can look at it and compare the names to the names on the taxis.
The second example was also pretty ingenious. Someone painted their car to look exactly like a taxi. It even had the black and white squares under the windows. The only thing missing was the sign on top saying "taxi". Naturally, the inside was missing a meter and a license. This guy could charge whatever he wanted and put all the money directly into his pocket (no taxes). He followed me for several blocks driving at walking speed, calling me to enter his "taxi", but I finally turned off into a side street and he drove off.
Fun Alternatives: The taxis from OK Supertrans are good, and the drivers are knowledgeable, meaning they use the fastest route to get anywhere. However, the trams and busses also go everywhere, and you can walk into a hotel lobby and find a map of Sofia with the public transportation system on it. If you're going west of the city center, the subway line is also excellent. Sofia is working very hard on adding extra stations to the subway, so soon it will cover other directions as well.
Finally, if you're in good health, walking is the best way to see the city. The important tourist sites are all within a few blocks of one another, and not only will you see the city from up close, if you walk enough you can save enough money to enjoy a taxi ride home at the end of a long day of tourism without feeling guilty!
Hotels will offer you airport transfer services often for EUR 15-20 from the centre of Sofia - this is substantially more than it is necessary to pay. The airport transfer from the centre of Sofia to the airport should only cost you about BGN 10 from the arrivals halls - ask before you get into the cab. Heavy traffic might make it slightly more expensive, although not by a substantial amount. In the event that you go to the wrong terminal at the airport, do not ask for another taxi - they will try it on with you - I was quoted EUR 10, then BGN 10 to get between Terminal 2 (new terminal building) and Terminal 1 (old terminal). I walked away - I then spotted a free bus between the terminals.
Unique Suggestions: Take a cab from arrivals to the hotel - it is likely to be substantially cheaper than the hotel-operated airport transfer services - and use the airport transfer only on the way back as a way of spending any excess Leva you have left over.
Fun Alternatives: Alternatively take the 84 bus from the airport to the University (end of the line) which will cost the price of a single bus ticket.
- Budget Travel
Taxi meters can be very bad rates
I took a taxi (called from my hostel) to the bus station for 3L ($2). When I came back from the bus station I jumped into a taxi and was charged 23L($15!). Luckily, I shared the ripoff with 2 other travelers . This is apparently legal for the taxis to charge insane rates, and they even print out a receipt and A BIG SMILE is included. P.S. I know I'm an idiot. This happened to another backpacker and he just refused to pay it all.
- Budget Travel
Some taxis are more equals than others!
Always yellow cabs, but don't trust anonymous cabs. Check the OK TAXI or SUPERTRANS labels on the flank. Those are good. The other ones may not. I've been asked 30 leva from Rodina Hotel to the airport and I negotiated to have the run for 15 leva. No meter at all. The taxi had been called by a receptionist of the hotel. Two days later I called an OK TAXI by myself and, for the same run, I paid 3.58 leva, certified by the meter.
Unique Suggestions: Ask for the price before you get in, then offer half the sum. Then enjoy your ride watching the city, the streets and the people.
Fun Alternatives: BUS AND TRAMS ARE OK! I TRIED THEM.
Cabs in Sofia
The price per km could range to anything from 40 stotinki / 20 cents / to 7 leva / 3,5 euro/ and there is no force on earth that could stand for your rights in that case. Speaking bulgarian or being native doesn't help , as I have been tricked by those clever rubbers several times. The problem is that they look like any other taxi, from color or car condition, the only thing that can save you is to look very carefully for the prices that they are obliged to have displayed at the side and front windows ( in bulgarian of course) . "1280", "91280" and "2121" are the safest cab companies.
Taxi's overcharging foreigners
This is more of a comment, when arriving in Sofia, the taxi drivers tend to charge more to foreigners. If you are bulgarian you are ok. But a foreigner will be charged more to go to any distination.
Unique Suggestions: If you have a bulgarian friend or speak fluent bulgarian then the drivers will think you are bulgarian and not over charge you.
Fun Alternatives: Good rule is the other person who you are with or traveling with knows bulgarian, let them do all the talking. I have done that many times and it works.
- Family Travel
- Budget Travel
- Road Trip
Railstation Taxi Trap
If you arrive in Sofia by train--don't let the little man in the lobby take your bags and shuffle you out to a taxi.. Its a scam. In 2003, we arrived in Sofia by way of the Balkan Express from Istanbul. We were walking through the main lobby of the rail station--trying to get our bearings--when this little man in a jumpsuit appeared out of nowhere and took our bags. He talked nonstop and hustled us out to a waiting taxi. It is a scam between him and the taxi driver--you end up paying much more for the ride as well as his carrying your bags. There are plenty of legitimate taxis parked in front of the rail station--and also, it's not THAT far to the center of the city from the station, so a person could easily walk. In 2004, the same man tried the same thing with us. This time we held on to our bags and ignored him.
never say yes to the offerred price!
In Sofia, there are a loooooot of taxi cabs, i've never seen so many taxi cabs in my life as much as in sofia......i stayed 7 days there and never paid more than 1 euro (2 levas) for a taxi ride! at first the driver will tell you that it costs about 8 euros, but then just mention 2 levas (1 euro) and he will say yes since there's so much competition!
Unique Suggestions: i think that since taxi cabs could be so cheap, one need not take public transport,.
Fun Alternatives: walking! its nice to walk in sofia, but always be careful cause its not that safe.
Airport - taxi service
When I came back from my short vacation in Istanbul I went out of the arrival gate man came to me offering taxi services. I asked him how much he would charge me to Slaveikov square (the city centre), he said BGN 20. That price is ridiculously high. I know that it should not be more than BGN 6-7. I told him so, he offered BGN 15 :) and added that nobody would take me for less. I told him to sod off because I knew he was ***ting me and we stopped there.
A friend of mine did not, he went out with one of these guys who were offering "taxi" services. The guy dragged him all the way to the parking lot shove him to a car that was defiantly not a taxi and drove him to where he wanted to go. The only problem was that my friend paid five times the usual price...
What these guys are counting on is that you might not be familiar with the prices and they take advantage of the situation.
Nevertheless, I would not advise you to try this because who knows, the guy could take you anywhere in you might get into trouble (highly unlikely but still better keep it on the safe side).
Unique Suggestions: Just do not go into this tourist trap.
Fun Alternatives: One option is to use the OK SUPERTRANS taxi services desk. Some other alternatives you can find in my Sofia Airport tip.
I prefer using the OK SUPERTRANS services. It is not that expensive at all.
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