How Cheap is Sofia, Bulgaria?

So many people often ask me ‘how cheap is Sofia?’ Well, it’s so cheap and such an enjoyable city that Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria has become quite a hub for digital nomads and travel bloggers.

What are the Advantages of staying in Sofia?

Let’s look at the advantages….it’s close to England, so if you are UK based it is easy to get home. Easy Jet now do regular flights to Sofia, and if you travel outside of school holidays, you can pick up a bargain. It is easy to travel around the city with two metro lines and it has some historical and religious buildings including the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.

How cheap is Sofia?

Do I need a Visa to stay in Sofia?

And, if you are an EU citizen, no worries about the visa situation – you won’t need one! Many countries that are not in the EU are entitled to stay for 3 months without a visa. If you wish to stay longer than this and are not an EU citizen, double check with the Bulgarian government on longer term visa requirements. You can apply for a Visa D (long-term stay visa), but you will first need a freelance activity permit. You will need to apply for this permit through Bulgarian Employment Agency (see https://outandbeyond.com/digital-nomad-bulgaria/)

Remember to convert your Money to Leva!

I was laughing so much in a travel bloggers group because one solo female travel blogger (I won’t embarrass her here!) got Euros to go to Bulgaria! But of course, the Bulgarian currency is not Euros – it’s Leva! You can get Leva from most UK post offices and currency exchanges, although you may have to order it.

However, don’t worry too much as I found it easy to get Bulgarian Leva when I arrived in Sofia – you can use your UK debit card in most cash machines and also my Barclays Debit and Credit cards were accepted in loads of restaurants in Sofia. When you get outside of Sofia to the smaller towns and villages be sure to have plenty of cash on you for those trips.

The current exchange rate is 2.8 leva to the £1 (June 2021). Check on www.xe.com for the current rate.

How Cheap is Sofia?

But, the bottom line is this – it’s damn cheap! If you were to ask me ‘how cheap is Sofia?’ I would answer extremely cheap! The Metro is cheap, food is cheap, accommodation is cheap!

If you are looking for a cheap holiday or a pace to settle for 6 months to a year as a digital nomad, then I highly recommend Sofia, Bulgaria. Because the cost of living is amongst the lowest in Europe, this allows you to work online for a profit and save for your next big trip!

To put you in the picture, I spent £100 in 9 days (back in 2017) including accommodation in a dorm room in a youth hostel and eating out at least once a day. This did not include excursions, as they were sponsored by Rila Shuttle and Traventuria, but it does include public transport.

Looking for a one week road trip itinerary for Bulgaria?

How Cheap is Sofia? Basic Costs of Food and Drink

I looked at the main bulk of my spending and tried to summarise it for you. Please bear in mind that the coffees and pizzas were take out from stalls, and the restaurants where I ate in were Italian style or Bulgarian style standard (nothing fancy).

Coffee/hot chocolate – 0.50-1 leva – about 18p-40p (to go) or up to 2/3 leva in a cafe – about £1.

Pizza Slice – Approx 3 leva (about £1)

Meal in Middle of the Road Restaurant – 15 leva (approx) or around £5 for a lasagne or similar

I looked at the main bulk of my spending and tried to summarise it for you. Please bear in mind that the coffees and pizzas were take out from stalls, and the restaurants where I ate in were Italian style or Bulgarian style standard (nothing fancy).

Coffee/hot chocolate – 0.50-1 leva – about 18p-40p (to go) or up to 2/3 leva in a cafe – about £1.

Hot Chocolate

Croissant/Chocolate Pastry – 0.50 leva – 18p (great for breakfast!)

Pizza from a stall/stand – around 1.80-2.50 leva – about £1-2

Meal out in standard restaurant or pizzeria (main with drink) around 10 leva or about £4

Beer – 1.5-3 leva 70p-£1.30

Accommodation Costs in Sofia

You can get a basic dorm room for around £7 per night, and actually quite a nice hotel room for Dorm in a Youth Hostel – 18 leva – about £6.55 a night, an apartment or room for around £20 a night and a decent hotel room from around £30-60 per night. If you are looking for something more long term then you can rent a 1 bedroomed apartment for around 500-700 Leva depending on the location. That’s somewhere between around £240-350 per month for renting an apartment – excellent value for Europe.

Transport Costs in Sophia

As I’ve mentioned, the Metro in Sophia is extremely cheap and easy to use. There are also a few underground surprises including the Roman ruins underground at Serdica station. There is also an extensive tram network and most journeys cost 1 leva 60 which is around 50p!

Metro – 1.60 leva.

(It was 1 leva per journey when I went a few years back in 2015!)

Metro Ticket Sofia Bulgaria

Taxi within the city centre of Sofia – should not exceed 10-15 leva (between £4-£6)

Bike hire – From 10-15 leva for 3 hours – around £5.

Tips on Cheap living in Sofia

1. Use the Metro – It’s easy – look for the big Blue M. Just 1.60 lv per journey. Put the coins in the machine and out comes your ticket.

2. Shop at the Supermarket for lunches and some evening meals – they have a Carrefour which is on the corner of Petko R. Slaveykov.

3. Go on the Free Sofia Walking Tour. They meet at the Palace at 11am every morning, and it won’t cost you a penny, unless you want to give a small tip.

4. If you are staying for a longer period of time, rent a flat instead of staying in a dorm – it will be cheaper (and offer you cooking facilities).

5. There are some beautiful parks to explore for free – Borissova Gradina and Yuzhen Park, as well as many smaller parks. Daytime only, as incidents have been reported to happen sometimes at night.

Do you have any tips or advice for staying or living in Sofia? Drop me a message below – I’d love to hear your ideas.

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2 thoughts on “How Cheap is Sofia, Bulgaria?”

  1. Hi, I live in Sofia and wanted to ask if you could update the date of when you went there, as the price of the underground is 1.60 leva and the pound to lev ratio hasn’t been over 2.30 for the past year.

    Just wanted to correct information so people don’t seem disappointed when they go :). It is indeed very cheap overall.

    Reply

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