Dirt cheap and often reeking of cigarette smoke, Sofia's close to 4800 yellow taxis are literally everywhere.
Generally, a taxi ride in Sofia is best described as an array of unpleasantries - there is the smell, the rude and reckless drivers and the possibility of being overcharged.
All have been a major source of pain for both tourists and locals for years, yet changes in the taxi business have been slow; taxi drivers are a loud and united source of potential civic discontent few local officials are willing to confront head on.
Regardless, taxis remain a cheap and easy way to get around the city.
Here is all the information you will need to help you travel around Sofia by taxi.
SOFIA TAXI FARES
Most taxi companies in Sofia operate under very similar rates.
Order by phone: 0.70 lv
Initial fare: 0.70 lv
Each km (6am-10pm): 0.79 lv
Each km (10 pm – 6am): 0.90 lv
Each 1 minute of waiting time: 0.22 lv
A taxi ride within the city center will costs around 6 lv (€ 3) and fares within the city limits rarely exceed 15 lv (€ 7.5).
Hail a cab from the street or order one by phone or via a smartphone app for a surcharge of under 1 lv.
SOFIA TAXI COMPANIES
OK Supertrans taxi in Sofia
With a large fleet OK Supertrans taxis are easy to come by. They are the only taxis authorized to pick up passengers from Sofia Airport and the Central Bus Station.
To order call +359 2 973 21 21 or dial 1 TAXI (1 8294) from a mobile phone with a Bulgarian SIM card.
With a new fleet of over 800 cars and growing, Yellow taxis are a good option. Their mobile app also makes for the company's growing popularity.
To order call +359 2 91119 or +359 2 4911108 or dial 1219 from a mobile phone with a Bulgarian SIM card.
All Green Taxis are hybrids and the rates are about 30% higher than the standard “Yellow” rate.
To order call +359 2 810 810 or +359 878 810 810
TAXI APPS IN SOFIA
TaxiMe and TaxiStars are free applications for taxi services in Sofia that work with selected drivers of all companies and dispatch newer, supposedly non-smoking vehicles, who charge the standard taxi rates in Sofia.
Yellow Taxi Company also operates a popular mobile app for just the company's drivers.
English and Bulgarian versions of the apps are available.
Download Taxi Apps for Sofia here:
Download Yellow Taxi App for iOS
Download Yello Taxi App for Android
UBER /LYFT IN SOFIA
After a brief period of operations in Sofia around 2016, Uber was banned by the Bulgarian government under the official claim that passengers' safety is not guaranteed and, no doubt under the pressure of the very powerful taxi company lobby.
Uber was never cheaper than taxis in Sofia, but cars were cleaner and drivers more pleasant.
Currently Lyft does not operate in Sofia.
'FAKE' TAXIS IN SOFIA
The so called "fake taxis" are not as big of a problem as they used to be just a few years ago but still be on the lookout.
"Fake" taxis are intentionally made to closely resemble the cars of legitimate companies with OK Supertrans being the most commonly coppied look. Watch out for cars with names like "OK Superchance", "OH Citytrans" and so on.
A "fake" taxi resembling OK Supertrans cab but charging twice the rate is waiting next to Sofia Central Railway Station.
Fake taxis usually wait around popular tourist spots such as hotels, shopping malls and, until several years ago, the airport. Cases of tourists paying up to 10 times the regular fare have been reported.
Recent regulations have put a cap on taxi tariffs at 1.30 lv/km (6 am-10 pm) and 1.6 lv per km (10 pm – 6 am) or about double the regular fares.
SOFIA TAXI TIPS
All taxis in Sofia are metered. If a driver propositions you with a fixed rate, you will probably end up paying extra. A taxi ride within the city should rarely exceed 10 lv.
Drivers often refuse to take passengers on short trips. This is less of a problem if you hail a cab from the street or order one by phone.
All taxis (including “fakes”) are obliged to have their tariffs posted on a sticker on the backseat window and the dashboard (in Bulgarian). If the sticker is not there or you see a tariff over 1 lv, do not get in the cab.
Once you are sure you are in a legitimate taxi, there are only two other ways you can be cheated. The driver can inflate the rate with the help of a small device hidden under the dashboard or take a longer route.
In both cases, you can end up paying up to double the normal rate. However, since taxis in Sofia are cheap and the distances are short, it may be easier to let go.
Call the police if you feel the taxi bill is inflated. Bear in mind that if the taxi has posted its rates on the side window, you will not have a case.
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