Have you ever considered visiting Sofia by car? A lot of people do and that is why this time we are focusing on everything you need to know about parking in Sofia.
In Sofia the company responsible for all the transport and parking is called the Urban Mobility Centre aka UMC. They are the ones providing parking premises, passes, tokens and basically everything connected with parking in the city as well as impounds your vehicle. If you don’t want to get there it is always better to pay for the parking. There are two types of short term paid parking zones in the center – a Green one and a Blue one. They are active only during the day and the municipality of Sofia has given detailed information about the reach of those zones and provided a map.
Here you can find a virtual map with all the available municipal parking in real time. And a highly recommended website and an app for all the parking places in the country is this one.
There are a total of 4 P&R parking places in order to reduce the traffic in the city where people can leave their car and use the metro.
The P&R are located at:
You can use these parking places with or without using the metro system. The prices for parking are calculated based on each hour that is started. Here you can find more information.
If you are looking for free parking places there are everywhere around the city outside of the green and blue zones. The closest one to the city center is just opposite of the Central Train Station at 116, “Bratya Miladinovi”str.
If you require it there is certain number of fixed parking places for vehicles transporting people with disabilities throughout the city. One should look for this sign
If you own an electric vehicle this is good news for you. You can park electric vehicles free of charge if they have a sticker by “UMC” EAD.
One has several ways to pay for parking in the city of Sofia. Here we will go through the options available.
These coupons can be bought from ticket offices of UMC, retail outlets or inspectors. They come in two shapes and sizes. They are easy to use, one just has to scratch out the exact hour and minute as well as the day, month and year and which zone would like to use. Last, but not least the coupons are valid for both of the zones, but the difference is the length of stay and price. The options are:
½ hour in BLUE ZONE or 1 hour in GREEN at the cost of 1 BGN
1 hour in BLUE ZONE or 2 hours in GREEN at the cost of 2 BGN
This option is the most practical, but apologies to the digital nomads, because it is only working with a Bulgarian mobile number.
One should send a SMS to number 1302 for “Blue zone” or number 1303 for “Green zone” with the License Plate Number as the text of the message. Keep in mind that with SMS one can only pay per hour, but not for ½ hour. A maximum of 4 SMS can be sent. Furthermore, the system accepts any combination of 4 to 9 symbols as a license plate number and the text should be in English (the Latin alphabet), without spaces and the content of the SMS must literally reproduce the license plate of the relevant vehicle.
For instance: if you have the car plate number CB1234HP:
The correct input is: CB1234HP
A wrong input is: SV1234NR
Once successfully sent an automatic system answer should confirm the payment, hour and zone: “You have successfully paid the parking fee for СB1234НP until 01:32 pm in Blue zone”. 5 minutes before the hour runs out, a notification is sent to the number informing that there are less than 5 minutes left. To save time and effort, one can also send multiple messages one after the other (maximum 4 are accepted), which will add them up and always be followed by an automatic notification for successful payment.
Another option is to download this app that is very user friendly, it is useful for other cities too and can be programed to send messages for you.
Businesses in Bulgaria can purchase subscription for parking. Usually it is an added service to the business so if you go to the bank there is a place to leave your car. Useful tip: don’t park and leave your car at these business subscriptions, you can’t pay for it and your vehicle can be impounded. In most of the cases there is a time limit during which you can use it and the total number of parking lots under the subscription. Another tip is that out of the working hours these parking lots are considered as normal ones. That means that you can use them on a Sunday or during the night.
If you are a resident of Sofia or plan to become one, residents can pay an annual subscription for parking in both of the zones. In this case, a special vignette sticker is put on the windscreen. If you get a hold on a vehicle with such a sticker you can leave it in the zone subscribed for.
Just like the subscription for resident parking, people with permanent disabilities are eligible to receive another special vignette that gives them the chance to park for free at the parking lots for people with disabilities up to 4 hours.
Here you have two options: either your vehicle has been put a car clamp or it has been impounded.
This is a bit better than your car being impounded, because only a clamp is put on it. In this case you will have to call the number on the notification left under the wiper (usually they leave it there). A representative of the UMC will come and remove it. You will have to pay a fine plus the time that your vehicle spent at the location.
It is not your memory playing games with you. You parked your car at that location you liked, it is just … gone. The first thing to do is to make sure your car was not stolen by checking here. You have to enter the plate number of the car and see if it was impounded and where it was taken. Then you have to go to that parking and pay the fine plus the time your vehicle spent there and voila.
We hope that you find this article interesting. Let us know in the comments if there is anything you want to know more about.
Make sure to check out our Ultimate Sofia Travel Guide if you are visiting Sofia for the first time.
You don’t want to drive a car in Sofia? Don’t worry! We’ve got you covered with our full Sofia Public Transport Guide.
i love this article! i love the parking system as well because it is functional and quite clear in what is allowed and not allowed.
Perhaps you can add here some information about online vignets, the green insurance sticker and the yearly tax/technical control sticker as well?
Jean Marc Van Belle
Жан Марк Ван Белл
The parking system is awful in Sofia! We are foreigners and have rental car. Looked up and down the street of our accommodation and see no signs about parking. It is a residential neighborhood. Wake up to find a wheel boot on the car! Then nobody answer the phone for 30 minutes. We only parked for 1 hour and got Wheel boot! Absolutely absurd you need scratch off coupons and the city doesn’t just have parking meters like the rest of the world.