Parking on the streets in Sofia
Like in other big European cities, parking in Sofia may be challenging, especially during business days. The city of Sofia has been built to accommodate circa a million residents, and now more than 2 million live there, with more than half a million cars on the streets daily. Public parking spaces are not enough, and the Sofia municipality is trying to limit the number of vehicles in the city. Sofia has two short-term street paid-parking zones: Blue (the city center) and Green (around the city center). Parking in the two zones can be paid for via SMS. Unfortunately, only customers of Bulgarian mobile phone operators can pay for parking via SMS (yes, you will need a local SIM card for that). You can visit the Sofia Municipality’s Parking resource page and research how to pay for parking from a Bulgarian cell phone number. Parking can also be paid with parking coupons or via any of these user-friendly parking apps – SMS Parking app, Urbo app, or SofiaPlus app. Additionally, you can message the “Urban Mobility Center” chatbot in the Viber mobile application (https://chats.viber.com/cgm-bot).
If you are visiting for the first time, to guarantee a nice time in Sofia, we favor walking and using a taxi or public transport.
If you arrive by car in Sofia and your place of stay does not provide a parking option, we can complement the following paid parking spots in the city:
- around Cathedral Saint Alexander Nevski (paid via apps, SMS, and parking coupons)
- on the main square close to the Bulgarian National Bank (paid via apps, SMS, and parking coupons)
- close to the National Palace of Culture (paid via credit card or cash)
- you can also park in the many malls in the city (paid via credit card or cash)
In addition to the parking spots above, we can recommend Park & Ride (park and take the metro) parking options for the city of Sofia:
More detailed information on Park & Ride (prices, payment methods, lost parking tickets, etc.) can be obtained from the Sofia Urban Mobility Centre’s website.
Parking in the big cities
Parking in big cities (Plovdiv, Varna, Burgas, Ruse, V. Turnovo, Pleven, etc.) is also zoned, and similar parking rules as in Sofia may apply. We recommend you ask for parking instructions or a parking spot provided directly by your place of stay.
Parking in resorts
Parking in ski and summer resorts can also be zoned, and similar parking rules as in the cities may apply. We recommend you ask for parking instructions or a parking spot provided directly by your place of stay. Most of the resorts provide large public parking spaces as well.
If you forget to pay
What happens if you forget to pay for parking or if you forget to extend the parking time up to the allowed time limit? A tow truck can remove your car if parked illegally, especially in high-season cities and resorts. If your vehicle gets towed away, it is best to find a police officer or, better, a local taxi driver who can drive you to the place where your car is. After paying the fine, you can go again.
If you forgot to pay, a yellow clamp could be placed on the wheel (front wheel, driver’s side). Please check under the wiper. There must be a notification left with a number to call. A representative of the mobility service will come. Owners of improperly parked vehicles are obliged to pay a fine of BGN 20. You are free to go after you pay the fine.
If you, by mistake, park in the wrong spot
A fine of up to BGN 200 can be charged when the driver parks in a space designated for vehicles serving individuals with permanent disabilities or for vehicles adapted and operated by individuals with permanent disabilities; in public parks, gardens, children’s playgrounds, areas exclusively reserved for pedestrians, and sidewalks in settlements.
You can pay for the fines via Sofia Plus application, which works with Android and iOS.