Sofia can’t be defined simply as either ‘green’ or ‘heavily-jammed’. There are daily traffic jams that might keep you in one spot for a half an hour, but there are also green spaces and beautiful parks where the city hustle feels miles away. Renting a bike is one of the best ways to explore both sides of Sofia. Here’s what you should know before heading out.
Sofia has limited bike lanes on some of the main boulevards, such as Lomsko Road, Bulgaria Boulevard and Evlogi i Hristo Georgievi Boulevard. Beware that they don’t really connect, so you will have to ride mostly on the road along with the cars. There are one-way and two-way lanes, so make sure to check the signs.
Unfortunately, Bulgarian drivers don’t score high on tolerance, and cyclists should bear this in mind, as the culture is still in its beginning stages. This means that if you’re used to cycling in a tolerant atmosphere, you might find it a little frustrating to get used to the Bulgarian way.
If you don’t have your own bike on your trip, there are several places you can rent one in Sofia. Most hostels and hotels will assist you, or they might provide their own bikes. If not, try Sofia Bike or Drag Bike Rental.
One of the best tours you can take in Sofia is the Sofia Green Tour. The friendly and knowledgeable guides will take you on a bike trip around the best parks and will organise a mountain bike tour, so you can discover the dirt roads of Vitosha Mountain or the Stara Planina Mountains. Three mountain bike levels are available to satiate your adventure thirst. From April to October, you can just show up, but be sure to make a booking between November and March.
Some people still ride their bikes on the street against the traffic flow, which is illegal and dangerous. Don’t do it. According to local laws, you are required to wear a helmet, though you’ll notice few people do. Your bike should have a bell, white light at the front and a white or red light in back. If you ride at night, or anywhere outside a larger city, you are also required to wear a yellow traffic vest. Additionally, bikes are often stolen, so never leave yours unlocked.