Despite its, at places, shabby appearance, Sofia is a safe city. Like in any big city, however, taking sensible precautions is advised.
Here are a few tips to enjoying Sofia safely.
In an emergency telephone 112.
Violent crime is rare and, in spite of the media attention the occasional mafia-related crime gets, the days of street fights and shootings that Bulgaria was famous for years ago are now in the past.
Pickpockets and persistent beggars (sometimes working as a team) are the city's major annoyance. Do not stop to engage in conversations and keep your belongings in a safe place.
Be especially careful in crowded markets and on public transportation. Do not carry large sums of money on you.
SAFETY FOR WOMEN
Sofia is a safe city for women, especially the central part of town. In fact, you will see quite a few women walking alone at night. Of course we recommend that you don't!
Read more on safety of women travelers in Sofia.
OTHER DANGERS IN SOFIA
Poorly-paved streets with open holes, missing manhole covers and icy pavements are, at least statistically speaking, the biggest safety concern. Watch your step!
Aggressive driving and hectic traffic is also an issue. Drivers in Sofia began stopping at pedestrian crossings only recently and still somewhat sporadically. Be very careful when crossing the street, especially at night!
Most of the street dogs (especially in the central part of town) are friendly, but in remote neighborhoods and at night, the danger of dog attack increases. Several deaths have been reported over the years.
Read more on street dogs in Sofia.
As everywhere large football crowds can become aggressive, so avoid the area of the stadium after a football match.
Political protests have become a part of daily life in the city in the last two years. So far they have proven peaceful.
The incidence of racially and ethnically motivated violence have been on the rise for several years, not without of the blessing of several right-wing parties. Violence peaked at the end of 2013 with several attacks reported each month!
Things have quieted down since then, but, still, we would recommend staying on well-lit streets and avoiding the area around Ladies’ market at night: most of the attacks took place in that part of town, frequented by immigrants and skinheads alike.
TRAVEL SAFETY TIPS FOR SOFIA
Do not walk alone at night and if you must, stay on well-lit streets.
Exchange money at banks or exchange bureaus. Make sure you read all the small print before exchanging. Never exchange money on the street!
- Use only ATM's in well-lit areas and, even better, ATM's attached to bank offices.
- Pickpocketing often occurs on public transportation and crowded market places. Do not carry large sums, do not flash valuables, and have your belonging close to you at all times.
- Do not leave purses, phones, cameras or wallets on the table while dining at sidewalk restaurants and cafes.
- Do not leave any valuables inside a parked car. Do not leave anything that might look like it is of value.
- Car remote control jamming is on the rise. The little devises prevent you from locking your car, so always double check if your vehicle is locked before walking away.
- Drive with locked car doors while in cities.
- Watch your step! The pavement in some areas of the city are in a poor condition.