If you're considering driving to Sofia or around Sofia, here is what you need to know about parking your car, including information on parking rules, parking fines and parking garages in Sofia.
Parking and driving in Sofia can be difficult. Finding a parking spot in central Sofia on a working day is a challenge even for the locals.
If you arrived to Sofia with a car you might consider leaving it at a parking garage for the entire duration of your stay. If you plan on renting a car, don't pick it up before you are ready to leave Sofia for the countryside. Sofia is easy to walk, taxis are cheap and driving is not a necessity.
Up for the challenge anyways? Here is some important parking information.
SOFIA STREET PARKING
Sofia's central part is divided into blue and green street parking zones. Parking there is limited to 2 and 4 hours accordingly.
BLUE ZONE SHORT-TERM PARKING
Look for the blue zone parking signs in central Sofia.
Mon-Fri: 8 am - 7 pm
Sat: 8 am - 2 pm
Time Limit: 2 hours
Cost: 2 lv. per hour
Allows curbside parking for up to 2 hours at designated spots in the heart of the city center.
GREEN ZONE SHORT-TERM PARKING
Mon-Fri: 8 am - 7 pm
Time Limit: 4 hours
Cost: 1 lv. per hour
Allows curbside parking for up to 4 hours in areas close to the city center.
Important! Every once in a while a Saturday is declared a working day and parking has to be paid all day in both Blue and Green zones.
HOW TO PAY FOR STREET PARKING
Signs in English show how to pay for Blue and Green Zone parking.
Pay by phone
Pay by phone is available only on phones with a SIM card issued by any Bulgarian mobile operator.
Send an SMS containing your car's license plate number (no space) to 1302 for Blue Zone or 1303 for Green Zone and wait for the confirmation SMS.
Each text message takes care of one hour of parking but you can send two (for blue zone) or up to four (for green zone) texts at once. Five minutes before the time is up, you will receive an SMS reminding you to send another or move your vehicle.
You won’t need to create an account nor register a credit or debit card as the charge will post directly on your cell phone bill.
Pay by a Parking Voucher
Talon za parkirane / талон за паркиране
"Pay & Display" scheme, where you'll need to purchase a voucher and display it on the dashboard of your vehicle is the other option of paying for short term parking. Vouchers can be purchased from one of the attendants wearing neon green jackets you will see walking around, or from any of the kiosks run by the Municipal Urban Mobility Center.
SOFIA PARKING TIPS
Here are a few tips that will help you avoid parking fines in Sofia.
Some of the curbside parking spaces are reserved for nearby offices. They are marked by a sign in Bulgarian that can be several spots back! If parked on such a spot, your car will be towed and stored at the nearest municipal parking lot.
Watch out for the following sign:
Reserved parking spot sign indicating that the next 2 parking spaces are reserved and paid for by a nearby office or store.
Some of the parking spots in the Blue and Green Zones are reserved for diplomatic cars or offices (such are marked by a sign in Bulgarian that can be 5 to 10 spots back!) If parked on such a spot, your car will be towed and stored at the nearest municipal parking lot.
Your car will be towed if you park in a disabled spot. Disabled spots are very hard to miss. They are painted in blue and marked by a wheel chair sign.
Every once in a while a Saturday is declared a working day and parking has to be paid all day in both Blue and Green zones.
If you are late or forgetful, expect to find your vehicle locked by a wheel clamp.
Call the number on the ticket and wait for the mobile crew to come and unlock it. It will cost you 30 lv plus 1 lv per hour.
Vehicles locked by a wheel clamp are towed away at the end of the business day.
IF YOUR CAR IS TOWED AWAY
Sorry, it happens!
Call +359 700 1323 to inquire where the car has been moved to. Sofia Municipality runs 3 parking lots where towed vehicles are kept. They are called nakazatelen parking / наказателен паркинг in Bulgarian.
Expect to pay 60 lv. for the "service" plus extra for the ticket.
PARKING GARAGES AND PARKING LOTS IN SOFIA
Numerous private parking garages and lots are scattered around the city.
They tend to be 2 to 3 times more expensive than street parking and are usually very small so spots are not always available. However they are a great option if you are staying in the city centre and want to leave your car overnight.
SOFIA PARK AND RIDE
Sofia municipality runs 5 underground parking garages connected to several key metro stations with over 2000 parking spaces allowing easy access to Sofia’s city center.
The so called buffer parking garages or buferen parking/ буферен паркинг, also known as “Park and Ride” remain largely underutilized (read “empty”!) and finding a space there should not be a problem.
Cars can be left there overnight but bear in mind that you will not have access to your vehicle between midnight and 5 am when the garages are closed.
Park and Ride Rates
With a metro ticket
0-2 hours: free
2 hours and more: 0.5 lv per hour
Without a metro ticket
0.5 lv per hour
For holders of a monthly public transit pass
free from 5 am to midnight and 0.5 lv per hour from midnight to 5 am.