If you’re landing at Sofia Airport, you’re in luck: there are actually several ways to get from Sofia airport to the city center, and none are that expensive. In fact – the cheapest is less than one euro!
We’ll go over all the ways you can get from the Sofia airport to downtown Sofia, including metro, bus, taxi, and pickup service. Note that there is no Uber in Sofia.
Getting from Sofia Airport to City Center by Metro
It’s quite easy to take the metro from Sofia airport to the center, as there is a metro station right outside of Terminal 2, which is the main terminal at Sofia Airport (confusing, I know).
Terminal 1 is the old airport, and it’s quite far from the other terminal – you definitely wouldn’t want to walk, but instead avail yourself of the free transfer bus between Terminal 1 and 2 which runs every 30 minutes and takes about 15 minutes to drive between the terminals.
Personally, if I fly into Terminal 1, I almost never take the metro because the commute into the city center from the airport becomes almost 1.5 or 2 hours once I factor in the transfer bus plus the metro ride into the center.
You can take the metro all the way to Serdika, which is the main central station of Sofia and also a transfer hub. You can transfer here to another station that is closer to your hotel: NDK and Lavov Most are two places where many hotels are clustered, and some may find that the Sofia University metro is closer to their hotel. When it doubt about what station to depart at, ask your hotel or consult the free transportation app Moovit as Google Maps in Bulgaria is pretty crappy.
You will need Bulgarian leva to pay for the metro (cards are not accepted) so I recommend getting some cash out at the ATM and then breaking a bill somewhere at the airport – buying a bottle of water or espresso or something – to get small coins. A ticket costs 1.60 leva, which is less than one euro (80 euro cents, to be precise!)
The metro from Sofia airport to Serdika takes roughly 20-25 minutes, and if you’re staying in the center and don’t mind walking – especially if your flight arrives at the convenient Terminal 2 – this is the route I would recommend as it’s really quite hassle-free. The signage is clear and easy to follow and the metro is quite easy to understand.
One note, though: the metro only runs from 5:30 am to midnight, so if you’re arriving outside of these times, you’ll need to plan for a taxi or pre-arrange a driver.
Getting from Sofia Airport to the City Center by Bus
While I’ve taken the metro to and from the Sofia airport a handful of times, I’ve yet to take the bus.
Three buses connect Sofia airport to the city center: the 84 and 184, which goes to General Gurko Street in the center, also making stops at Orlov Most and Sofia University along the way. Bus 384 goes to Druzhba, but that is a very residential area that I doubt any tourists will need to visit.
Personally, I don’t see any advantages to taking the bus over the metro. They are the same price and the metro can take you to all the same places faster and more efficiently. However, if you’re dying to see Sofia’s city buses, you can definitely give the 84 or 184 a ride!
Tickets can be bought from the driver (small coins appreciated though they can often make change for a 5 leva note). It will cost the same as the metro, 1.60 leva, and take about 45 minutes to get downtown. It does not run all night, so it’s not an option for arrivals past midnight unless you want to wait for the first bus around 4:30 or 4:50 AM.
Getting from Sofia Airport to the City Center by Taxi
This is my personal favorite way to get to the city center from Sofia airport. It’s highly regulated, it’s cheap, and it’s efficient. Generally I pay about 12 leva to get to the center during the day; at night when the fares are slightly higher, I usually pay about 15. That’s 6 euro to 7.50 euro for an easy, hassle-free ride door to door and not having to worry about schlepping my bag — sold! And if there are a few of you traveling together, it’s literally just a few euros per person.
However, one note of caution: do not go with any random person offering you a taxi! These are surely to be scammers, as the Sofia airport has a regulated system for taxi drivers and there’s a registered taxi line. Here is how you can get a registered taxi hassle-free, step by step!
Before leaving the terminal, find the taxi booth for OK Supertrans (near the rental car booths) and request a ride directly with the office. They will give you a slip of paper with your registration on it. The people at the taxi desk speak good English and they can make sure your address is clearly listed on the registration form, to smooth over any communication gaps with your taxi driver.
There’s a small surcharge (.70 leva, which is 35 euro cents) for booking a taxi ahead of time, but you’re guaranteed to have a registered ride. If there are any issues with the taxi ride, you can call the office and complain, as they’ll have details of both your car number and driver. This makes it much less likely that your taxi driver will try any funny business. I’ve never once had a problem with getting a taxi from the airport like this, even arriving at 2 AM.
You can also request a car that takes credit cards, but even when I’ve done this sometimes I’ve had issues getting a taxi to take my card. I always recommend having cash on you instead to pay for your taxi when possible – there are ATMs in both terminals, so you can easily withdraw cash before getting in your cab.
For a ride into the center, I wouldn’t expect it to be more than 15 leva, maybe 20 leva at night, unless there was some sort of significant delay or re-routing. Be sure to tip your driver – I recommend 1-2 leva at a minimum. I generally tip 2 leva when I have a hassle-free ride, and more on holidays or really late nights.
Getting from Sofia Airport to City Center by Private Transfer
The most hassle-free by a long shot, but also the most expensive, way to get to Sofia Airport to the center is by private transfer.
For about 25 euros, you can pre-book your transfer with a professional, highly-rated transportation company. They will await you with a placard with your name on it, help you with your luggage, and ensure you get to your destination quickly and safely. This is the professional transfer company we recommend.
Personally, I’ve never felt the need to book a private transfer in Sofia, because I’m comfortable with how the taxis work and speak enough Bulgarian to smooth over any communication issues with drivers, but if I was less comfortable this would certainly be an option I’d consider. If you’re a nervous traveler or just prefer to have a smooth arrival option, a transfer is worth its weight in gold when it comes to peace of mind.
»» Check out transfers here ««
Where to Stay in Sofia
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.
More Sofia Travel Resources
Don’t miss our post on the most essential Sofia travel tips, which is a great resource for first-time visitors.
If Sofia is not the only place you’ll visit in Bulgaria, check out our post on the best places to visit in Bulgaria for more inspiration. The most popular cities to visit are Plovdiv and Veliko Tarnovo, and we have posts on things to do in Plovdiv as well as what to do in Veliko Tarnovo.
Planning a Trip to Bulgaria? Don’t Forget Travel Insurance!
We recommend you travel to Bulgaria with a valid travel insurance policy. While Bulgaria is a safe country, traveling anywhere has an inherent risk to it. You need to be covered in case you have an accident or run into any troubles in your travels. Travel insurance will help you recover your expenses and continue to enjoy your trip.
For travel insurance, Stephanie and I use World Nomads. We’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.
Originally from California, Allison has been living in Bulgaria for the last two years and is obsessed with traveling around the Balkans. She has been published in National Geographic, CNN Arabic, Matador Network, and the Huffington Post. She loves befriending dogs, drinking coffee, geeking out about wine, and cooking food from around the world.