Headed to Bulgaria and looking to find out how to get a pre-paid Bulgarian sim card for your time here? Great news! Sim cards in Bulgaria are easy to get and data is cheap. Here’s everything you need to know to buy a Bulgarian sim card, including which companies to buy from, how much Bulgarian sim cards cost, and what to bring with you.
Bulgarian Sim Card Companies and Mobile Operators
Mobile internet in Bulgaria is cheap and fast. It’s one of my favorite things about the country. Since I work on my laptop and need access to social media 24/7 to run my travel websites, I hate showing up in a country and finding out their data is expensive (Germany) or slow (Greece) or complicated to get (Azerbaijan). But Bulgarian mobile internet is effing amazing.
Here are the companies you can get your Bulgarian prepaid sim card from. I’ve actually used all three companies in the past, and they’re very similar with great coverage. There’s no such thing really as the “best sim card in Bulgaria.” It really comes down to which one is closest to you.
A1 (Formerly M-Tel)
This is the company I use, chiefly because they have a branch in my grocery store so I can refill when I shop. They have two options for prepaid cards.
5 leva (about $3 USD) for 1GB and 100 min of call time (or 5 leva per GB or $3 USD per GB).
10 leva (about $6 USD) for 2GB and 100 min of call time (or 5 leva per GB or $3 USD per GB).
Both packages are good for thirty days and can easily be recharged for the same rates.
I was a Telenor contract customer, and I think they are a bit overpriced for their actual phone plans. Their tourist sim cards have two levels:
10 Leva (about $6 USD) for 3 GB (3.33 leva per GB or about $2 USD)
30 Leva (about $18 USD) for 12 GB (about 1.67 leva per GB or about $1 USD)
These packages are good for two weeks. Theoretically, you can’t reload them, but my guess would be if you came in they would let you. #BalkanLife
I used Vivacom back in 2017, and my fiance still used them until last year. They have great coverage. For tourist sims, the prices are 10 leva ($6) for a package of 4GB of prepaid data and 100 minutes of calling time. This package is good for twenty days. This means that prepaid data at Vivacom is 2.5 leva per GB. (about $1.50 USD).
If you want to add data, you can pay 15 leva for another 3GB of data and 300 more minutes of calling time. This means that the refills are actually 5 leva per GB or DOUBLE the price. Just get another prepaid tourist sim instead of refilling if you go with Vivacom.
Which is the Best Prepaid Sim Card in Bulgaria in 2019?
It really comes down to what you need. A1 lasts the longest. Vivacom is the cheapest per GB. Telenor lets you buy a bulk package that will let you forget about needing more data for a while. It really depends on your needs.
How to Buy and Activate a Bulgarian Sim Card
Bulgaria might be the easiest sim card I’ve bought anywhere in the world (except for Kyrgyzstan, oddly enough). To buy a prepaid card, take your cell phone, cash or credit card, and your charged phone to the closest cell phone provider.
The entire process took less than ten minutes. They didn’t ask to see my passport. All they did was tell me the prices, run my credit card, and set it up for me. Easy as 1-2-3.
For getting a refill, I just go in and tell them my number. At A1 I have the option to add 5 leva or 10 leva worth of credit, which is basically another gig for every 5 leva and a few more international texts. This process takes five minutes.
Seriously, Bulgarian mobile internet is the best.
Getting a Bulgaria Sim Card in Sofia
There are stores literally everywhere here. All three providers have shops on Vitosha Boulevard. I personally go to the A1 inside my local Kaufland grocery store. They are in malls, on all major streets, etc. I would just pick the one closest to your accommodation so you can easily go back if needed.
FAQ about Buying a pre-paid sim card in Bulgaria
Bulgaria Travel Resources
We want you to have the best trip to Bulgaria possible. To help you, we’ve created a number of resources that will be helpful.
If this will be your first time in Bulgaria, check out our Bulgaria Trip Planning guide.
Next, check out our gigantic list of 101 Things to Do in Sofia. We also have Sofia restaurant and bar recommendations. We also have articles for popular day trips from Sofia like Plovdiv and Buzludzha.
Where to Stay in Sofia
Accommodations in Sofia offer great value compared to other cities in Europe. Here is a general range of what we mean by each budget category:
- Budget: A room in a hostel, usually $5-12 USD per night for a dorm bed or under $40 for a double.
- Mid-range: Around $40-80
- Luxury: Around $100 per night or more
Budget: For a hostel, we always recommend Hostel Mostel. I have never stayed at the Sofia location but several of my friends have and have always spoken highly of it. I stayed at the one in Veliko Tarnovo and it was excellent. Perks include a free vegetarian dinner in addition to breakfast included in your stay! Check rates and availability here. If you are traveling in peak season, be sure to book online, as Hostel Mostel is popular and tends to get booked up.
Mid-range: For a trendy new boutique hotel that is shockingly affordable, we recommend R34 Boutique Hotel. The location is fantastic, near the Ivan Vazov National Theater in central Sofia. It has gorgeous, loft-inspired details like exposed brick, giant windows, and streamlined but modern décor. It’s a great bargain, too – check rates, reviews, photos, and availability here.
Luxury: As far as we see it, there’s only one option for the best hotel in town: Sense Hotel. We go to their upscale, beautiful rooftop bar all the time when we have guests in town – it has one of the best views in the entire city and they make fantastic cocktails. With beautiful views over Alexander Nevsky, Sofia’s most iconic landmark, the hotel couldn’t be in a better location. Sense Hotel also boasts a state-of-the-art fitness center, an art gallery in the lobby, an excellent spa with luxe treatments, and an indoor pool. It’s truly the best choice in town. Check rates, reviews, photos, and availability here.
Looking for more hotel options in Sofia? Check out our full Sofia Hotel and Hostel Guide.
Planning a Trip to Bulgaria? Don’t Forget Travel Insurance!
Make sure you always travel to Bulgaria with a valid travel insurance policy. Travel here includes outdoor activities and travel to highly touristed sites. You need to be covered in case you have an accident or fall victim to theft. This is especially true if you’ll be doing any urban exploration looking for street art. Should something happen, travel insurance will help you recover your expenses and continue to enjoy your trip.
For travel insurance, I use World Nomads. I’ve been a happy customer of theirs for almost three years, and I’ve never had an issue when making a claim. I’m happy to refer them to anyone I meet.
Pin this Bulgaria Sim Card Guide for Your Trip
Stephanie has been living in and traveling around the Balkans for the past three years. She’s written for National Geographic Online, appeared on CNN Arabic and in the New York Times, and ridden more Balkan buses than is good for a person.