City: SOFIA | Region: South West | Distance to Sofia: 1 km
Place of nature: Vitosha mountain | Sites: National Theatre

What is it like living in Sofia? Where is Sofia? How does the cost of living in Sofia compare with other cities?

Here we offer you a guide to the city to help answer some of the important questions about Sofia.

Where is Sofia?

Sofia is the capital of Bulgaria and the largest city in terms of population. Nearly 1.3 million people call Sofia their home. The city is situated in the west part of Bulgaria close to the border with Serbia.

About Sofia

Sofia is positioned at the foot of Vitosha mountain which provides exciting opportunities for sport and leisure activities during both summer and winter. The city has expanded significantly in the past 30 years. Property investors were met with an ever-increasing demand for newly built flats from young people relocating to Sofia from the rest of the country. The capital is popular with families too, as it offers a wide range of schools, universities, hospitals, theaters, and shopping centers. The top three universities in Bulgaria are all based in Sofia.

The city is also home to the national government, parliament, and the country’s president. A lot of the big international companies have their head offices in Sofia, where they can easily recruit for talent.

Only an hour’s drive from Sofia is the largest water reservoir in Bulgaria, Iskar dam. This is where the city gets its freshwater supply.

Downtown Sofia

Most of the popular tourist sites are walking distance from each other and can all be explored in a day or two. Visitors can take advantage of the subway in Sofia, first open to the public back in 2000, offering fast commute across two main lines connecting the north and south of the city.

The heart of the city starts from Independence Square (ploshtad “Nezavisimost”). Tourists can choose to go south, passing in front of the impressive “Sofia Hotel Balkan” building and walking down to and along Boulevard Vitosha where they will be spoiled for choice of popular restaurants and cafes. Or continue south-east and navigate through the National Assembly building, President of Bulgaria office, National Bank, National Art Gallery, National Theater, Alexander Nevski Cathedral, and reaching to Sofia University.

Sofia weather

The summer months in Sofia tend to be hot with temperatures often going over 30C during the day. The peak of the summer is July and August with plenty of sunshine.  During the autumn months of October and November, the average temperature is lower between 15C and 18C. Winter comes in December and temperatures could drop down to 0C or below freezing. There will be plenty of snowfall in January and February. These are the months when most tourists will head for Vitosha to enjoy the ski slopes.

Cost of living in Sofia

Is it expensive to live in Sofia?

In the most recent 2020 Mercer’s Global Cost of Living Survey, Sofia came in 180th place in the world rankings which compared to 19th place for London and 46th for Dublin. Sofia is the most expensive city in Bulgaria. However, it is still significantly cheaper compared to all other capital cities in Europe. But what does that mean?

In terms of housing, the average cost to rent a one-bedroom apartment in Sofia is currently in the €200 to €300 price range. Similarly, an average mobile phone plan in Sofia will cost you approximately €18 (see A1), while transportation will set you back €30 per month. Finally, the cost of groceries and related household items should be about €240 per month. For more details go to our free and interactive calculator.

What is the average salary in Sofia?

The average salary of a Sofia resident is currently €1000 per month. Making the city one of Bulgaria’s major cities with the most competitive salaries.

Tipping is standard practice in bars/restaurants (typically 5 – 10 percent of the bill). A pint of beer will cost you anywhere from €1 to €2 depending on location and whether it’s a local or imported brand.

Public transport

Public transport in Sofia is varied and it is easily available. The traditional tram and trolleybus services offer a green alternative for commuters. The transport network was enhanced back in 2000 when Sofia was one of the latest European capitals to introduce a subway (underground) service. Passengers are offered the choice of an electronic pass, where they can pre-load money on their cards and simply tap the card on each journey to deduct the correct fare. Alternatively, people can purchase old fashion paper tickets and perforate the ticket on entry. A single trip on any means of public transport is €0.80 and a one-day pass for all services is €2.

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Sofia by Taxi

Cabs in Sofia are metered, so there is no need to negotiate a fare. The usual fare would be made of, a rate for every 1 km €0.40, as well as booking fare €0.30, initial fare, and waiting fare. The average fare for a trip from the airport to the city center is about €5. We would recommend using Yellow Taxi as they offer good value for money service.

If you want to learn more about Plovdiv check out “Plovdiv, ancient and wonderful”.