Sofia might not be the best place to shop till you drop in the world but you might as well try. The city has it all!
OPENING HOURS IN SOFIA
Shops are usually open between 10 am and 7 or 8 pm, and do not close for a lunch break.
Most shops are open seven days a week but close early on Sunday.
In shopping malls, the stores stay open until 10 pm Monday through Sunday.
Open-air markets close before dark. Saturday is the busiest market day.
Many supermarkets and pharmacies are open 24/7.
Find a list of 24/7 pharmacies in Sofia here.
The Bulgarian lev (plural: leva) is fixed to the euro at 1.985 leva to 1 euro
The Bulgarian lev is the only legal currency in the country.
Some shops in resorts or tourist towns might agree to accept the euro or U.S. dollars, but the exchange rate will not be favorable so have Bulgarian leva on you at all times.
Paying with credit cards is common in bigger cities, but having a reasonable amount of cash at hand is always a good idea.
The Bulgarian currency is fixed to the euro at 1.985 leva to 1 euro.
SIZES AND MEASURMENTS IN BULGARIA
Bulgaria uses the metric system. Food and drinks are sold in metric measurements only. The country uses continental European sizes for shoes and clothes.
BARGAINING IN BULGARIA
Geographical and cultural proximity to Turkey notwithstanding, bargaining is not practiced in Bulgaria and attempts to bargain will be met with puzzlement at best.
Of course, it is okay to politely ask for a discount, but don’t hold your hopes high as most of the shop attendants are not bestowed with such decision-making power. A call to the manager would have to be made.
However, if you are looking into purchasing a piece of art for hundreds or thousands of leva, it is a good idea to ask for the manager. The shop likely does not sell items of such value every day!
SALES AND DISCOUNTS
End of season sale
Sales do not follow agreed upon rules. There are Christmas sales (before or after Christmas), mid-season sales, clearance sales and close out sales or just why-don’t-we-have-a-sale sales.
COUNTERFEIT GOODS IN BULGARIA
Just one look at the number of Prada owners using the public transport will convince you that Sofia is no stranger to counterfeit goods, also known as knock-offs or simply fakes.
So, don't get overly excited if you see what looks like a luxury brand name item sold for a fraction of the cost. Unless you are shopping in the brand stores, you may be buying a knock-off.
Many name brand clothes are sewn in Bulgaria, and factory rejects often leave the factories’ back doors for a shop near you.
As with everywhere, it is a good idea to look for local brands, which have a distinct local character and often a good quality at reasonable prices.