Earth > Europe > Southern Europe > Balkans > Bulgaria > Sofia
|<map lat='42.69858589169842' lng='23.37066650390625' zoom='10' view='3'/>|
|Licence plate:||C, CA, CO|
|Major roads:||A1, A2, A5|
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Hitching in and around
Sofia has a ring road. Drivers transiting between Serbia and points further east in Bulgaria will go around the north of the city. If you are dropped off on the ring road, you can walk a few hundred metres to a bus stop and take a bus to the city centre.
Take metro to the last stop of line 1 (red) called Tsarigradsko mall/congress centre, that is already on the big bd tsarigradsko to Plovdiv. You have Metro (shop, mall) on your right, keep walking 1 km, you will reach a traffic light that is perfect to hitch, never waited more than 5 minutes. Perfect stop.
Take metro and get to stop called Младост 1 (Mladost 1). Walk north along Yerusalim street until you get to the main road Tsarigradsko Shose. You should see Carrefour shopping centre around. Then take bus number 5 direction Lozen and go with it until it leaves main road on a cloverleaf junction. Get off on the next stop and go back to the junction. You will stand on a motorway junction with directions north, east to Plovdiv and west to Sofia. Go down the ramp to direction Plovdiv and you will see some shops and bars where people stop next to the motorway. Try standing on the hard shoulder to get a lift or ask people there. Nearly all traffic there goes to Plovdiv or even further east
West towards Serbia
Take the metro to the stop Slivnitsa (Сливница). Take bus 54 towards Bozhurishe or walk northwest along the avenue Slivnitsa for 2 km until you meet the Sofia ring road. You can hitch 200 metres after the intersection with the ring road already. Good spot but there is still a lot of local traffic. There are not so many cars going to Serbia from here so it is a good idea to take shorter rides as there are a lot of villages on the way where it is possible to hitch.
- update 2013: Fede strongly advise not to hitch straight after the intersection with the ring road! It took him 3 hours of useless wait before understand that one extra stop on the bus (i.e. 2 stops after you see the ringroad) was leading to a very better spot, with a petrol station (Lukoil), 3 lanes, so much more space to stop and less people staying in the city. It is a bad stop because cars don't have any space to stop, you are not very visible and though of course all the traffic going to Serbia pass by there most of the car are still staying inside the city.Konik doesn't think so, there is a place to stop some 50 m after the ring, cars go slowly and basically all traffic going to Serbia goes through this spot.
This road enters Serbia at the Kalotina-Dimitrovgrad border crossing. Try to get a lift straight to the border, as otherwise you may be stuck for a while at inconvenient spots.
Southwest towards Skopje
Take tram number 19 in the direction Knyazhevo all the way to the last stop. You will recognize the last stop because it turns off the road to make a tight loop and doubles back on its route. As you hop off the tram, to the left of the water fountains in front of you is a short staircase that leads into a small park. 50 m from the stairs, directly through the park, you will find a bus station where you can catch bus number 59 that will take you all the way out of the city to nice spots to hitch from along the road that goes towards Pernik.
For the first nice spot along this direction heed the following: after about 8 minutes on the bus be on the look out for a gas station on the left side of the road. Get off as soon as you see this gas station as there is a nice place about 400 meters up the road where cars and lorries can safely pull off for you.
It is possible to ride on a bit farther if you miss this stop. The bus pulls off the main road about 3km later and goes into rural neighborhood where you must get off less you wish to be lost in the countryside. If you find yourself here walk in the same direction as you are destined on a small road that runs parallel with the highway until you cross under it. On the left just after the bridge is a small foot path that will lead you up onto the bridge, over the railway, and onto the highway where right here you can find another space for cars to pull off the road safely for you.
[Update: as of September 2012, tram #19 is apparently not working anymore. Tram #5, anyway, goes all the way on Bulevard Tsar Boris III to the city limits, and you can hitch on that road directly.]
North towards Veliko Tarnovo, Bucharest, Varna
Take tram 22 in direction east, get off at the last stop. The road parallel to the tramline runs directly out of the city, its possible to hitch anywhere from here but I would suggest a better place after the ring road which isolates only the traffic running to the A2 motorway. 7 km up the road is a Shell petrol station, the last stop for gas before the motorway, you can either walk the 7 km straight up the road or if you look to the left you will see a carpark in front of a car dealership. This is the bus station, take either the 117, 90 or 12, all will run directly up the road and stop more or less in front of the Shell petrol station. You can choose either the petrol station or just up the road is also ideal for hitching. An even better option is to take the 90 and persist with it until you reach the end of a road village called Gorni Bogrov (Bulgarian: Горни Богров), where you can hitch-hike from the bus station directly with great success since it has a lot of room for stopping and cars drive slow.
South towards Blagoevgrad, Thessaloniki
Take tram 5 to the last stop - the tram originates behind the court building (Съдебна палата) in the center of Sofia. Walk another 5-10 minutes in the same direction of the tram until it is clear you are out of that neighborhood where all the traffic is heading out of the city. A good place to stop is at or just after the last stop light so the drivers are already stopped and have time to see you. Or don't mess with the walking, take the bus #58 and go till it leaves the road for the village of Vladaya/Владая. If you are lucky a trucker will pick you up going all the way to Thessaloniki and on to Italy, otherwise the first 20 km are tricky (lot or cars going short distances) but after you pass Pernik you'll get a ride all the way to Blagoevgrad in no time.
If you're in a car continuing in the direction of Belgrade you can get off where they turn right, where it says something like "transit Belgrado". If you walk a bit further you will find a bus stop for bus #5.
Transport between north and south
If you just want to get through the city as hitching from the direction of the Serbian Nis to Greece to the south or opposite there's a quite useful bus to take. The number is 111 and goes around the ring on the west outskirts of the city. On the north, the end stop is just around some DIY shopping center, need to cross these to get to the ring. On the south the end is not the road to Greece, so be aware to get off in time.
- Inspectors on the busses may ask for a ticket for bigger baggages (your backpack will be considered like that). If you don't have ticket for baggage they most probably will fine you and expect for cash payment at the moment, threatening you with a fine of 200lev (100E) at the border. Of course it is not true and you can let them write down your name without paying any money.
- Ticket costs 1 lev (0.50 EUR)
- You can easily find tickets to use on the buses and trams if you look in the bins next to the bus stop. The tickets get validated by hole punching and it's really easy to find tickets with the same holes that the bus you will take. Just stamp a normal piece of paper and compare the holes on it with the ones on tickets which you find. Blackriding is also doable as controllers are not SO frequent. They do happen though.
Sofia has lots of very nice parks where it's not really hard wild camp. Borisova gradina, near the stadium (metro stop kliment ohridski SU or Stadion vasil levski) is the most central one, and could be visited by people at night. Zapaden Park (western part of city, metro stop Vardar or Zapaden Park) is so much bigger and less transited, really perfect for camping, not so many dogs around either.
There are several very good spot to busk in Sofia. Any exit of the underground stops in the city centre (NDK, Serdika, Kliment Ohridski Sofia University, Stadion Vasil Levski) are very good as also the main pedestrian, commercial streets, Vitosha bd and Graf Ignatiev st. In summer time and during the weekends parks (Ndk, Borisova Gradina) are also a very good alternative when there is good weather. Some spot are particularly sensitive to police interventions so try to avoid them unless you really need it, like inside the underground (where you need an extra special permission) except Kliment Ohridski stop where (next to McDo and bookshop) is one of the most profitable place, especailly in the early morning (up to 40lev/h); or bd Vitosha (in the non pedestrian part) where the locals living there easily complain and call police. Don't play between 2 and 4 pm since is the "resting time" and is implicit for bulgarian not to disturb "public calm". Perfect to rest between lunch break (12 - 2pm) and after work session (4.30 - 7 pm)
Law - Police
Officially, you need a permit to sell any kind of merchandise in the streets, and music or street spectacles are of course considered as something you are selling to people since you get money from it. Though it is almost impossible to get the permission since there are so many request and the municipality doesn't issue any until the old ones expire, therefore most of people, busk, juggle sell flowers or whatsoever without any kind of authorisation and just disappear when authorities arrive. Depending on the spots almost nobody cares about it and you can play without. Police may come to annoy and stop you but since they don't speak english and don't love to mess with foreigner they'll probably let you go easily.
Fede waited more than 2 months busking "illegally", insisting at the local offices and hoping to get a permit, then discovered that almost none (really few) of the other local busker had it and gave up his hope on the law. Though found it a really good job and way of living as he could sustain himself in the city for more than 2 months with a wage so much higher than the average bulgarian, affording rent, bills, good food, etc