How to Distinguish Real from Scam Sofia Taxi Cabs

I highly recommend using taxi cabs in Sofia. Why? Because Sofia taxi rates are low and taxi is much more comfortable than the public transport (which I hate). Your taxi bill for one-way trip for the longest distance in Sofia should not exceed 10 BGN (5 euros, $7). Usually to ride a taxi to a restaurant in city center will cost 3-5 BGN (2.5 euros, $3). But if you catch the wrong Sofia taxi, it could cost 25 euros. (You can calculate how much anything costs in euro by dividing the price in BGN on 2).

Normal rates for Sofia taxi cabs:

  • 0.50 BGN (0.25 euros) – initial fare
  • 0.50 BGN per kilometer during the day and 0.60 BGN during the night (after 10 p.m.)
  • 0.15 BGN per minute idle time – traffic or stopped

My definition for a scam taxi cab is that this is a cab with rates 2 or more times higher then these written above.

The bad news is that you can’t recognize real from scam taxi cabs, because it requires reading in Bulgarian of tariffs written in small letters. But don’t worry only 10% of all cabs are scam and most of them are standalone.

The good news is that all reputable taxi companies have a phone number to order. My recommendation is always to order a taxi in Sofia by phone. Here is another difficulty; it is possible that the dispatcher girl on the line doesn’t speak English and the other problem is that taxi companies ring you back when the taxi cab arrives, but if you call from an international mobile phone they will be reluctant to call you.

My recommendation is to ask somebody from the hotel, or waiters in the restaurant or anybody local to call for a taxi and to explain to the driver where you want to go. Don’t be afraid to ask for such favour it is normal practice even for local people to ask service staff to call a taxi.

If you have a local SIM card from a local mobile operator then you can call for a taxi by yourself. You have to tell where you are at the moment and where you want to go (Usually the name of the street and number are enough, for example Vitosha 32, we say numbers after the name of the street). You will be called back by the taxi company in 10-20 minutes, when the taxi cab arrives at the given address.

O’kay taxi
+359 2 973 21 21

CV taxi
+359 2 9 12 63

Be prepared to pay cash (you can not pay by credit car taxi fees) and have small change (5, 10 or no more than 20 BGN bills), because taxi drivers always have no change. It is practice to round the fee, for example 2,30 BGN is rounded to 3.00 BGN.

If you are on the street and you want to catch a taxi, you can stop one by hailing. You can recognize busy from free taxi cab depending on the light on the upper corner of the windscreen – red for a busy and green for a free taxi. Don’t be afraid from scam taxi, you can easily protect yourself by using my tricks. On the board at driver’s right side there is a taximeter device that displays the fee at every moment. If the fee gets beyond 2-3 BGN in the first two minutes of your ride at the cab – this means that this is a scam taxi. Politely ask the driver to stop, pay him what is displayed at the taximeter’s screen and leave the taxi. You will lose small amount of money (maybe 1-2 euros) and you can catch another taxi. The probability to catch again scam taxi is very small.

Scam Sofia taxi cabs can be found at places where foreigners arrive:

  • airport has contract with O’kay taxi and the probability for scam is almost zero. Sometimes even reputable company can offer fixed price to demanded destination instead of tariff per kilometer. Don’t worry difference between fixed tariff and tariff per kilometer is 1-2 euros
  • stations (be very careful on central railway station)
  • places far from the city, where you have no alternatives

You can’t complain against scam taxi cabs, because actually the tariff is always written somewhere (with very small letters) and in fact it is your fault that you haven’t read it. Every taxi company can set up its own tariffs – there are over 20 Sofia taxi companies.

Usual Sofia taxi fees

  • from the Sofia airport to the city center – 10 BGN (5 euros)
  • from one place in the city center to another place in the city center – under 5 BGN (2.5 euros)

Taxi cabs in Sofia and Bulgaria are different car makes – you can see anything from brand new to 15 years old cars, painted in yellow and used for a taxi. So, don’t expect new, convenient and identical taxi cabs – you can see almost everything in Sofia – and maybe this is one of the things that make Sofia what it is – freedom, variety and adventure!

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