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Currency exchange in Bulgaria.

One of the questions that first arise when traveling to Bulgaria is where I change money because although Bulgaria belongs to the European Union, has not yet adopted the euro as a currency, has its own currency, the “Lev” (“takes” in plural) and the official abbreviation for Lev is “BGN”.

currency lev

Coins and banknotes “lev”

The exchange of the lev for the euro is easy to calculate because it is 1,96 BGN for each Euro, therefore it can be approximated to multiply by 2 if we want to spend euros it takes to divide by 2 if it is the opposite.

In Spain you can change money before traveling to Bulgaria but this means making a special request to our bank, wait for the money, etc, and they are tedious procedures, In addition, when doing so, the bank applies a commission that we can avoid if we change directly in Bulgaria, But there the dilemma begins, where do I change money in Bulgaria? ?…

Where to change euros to lev: Schedule, places…

When you get off the plane in the Sofia airport you're going to have 2 possibilities, exchange offices and bank offices, In the exchange offices they will apply a less favorable exchange than in the bank offices, therefore we recommend you change at the airport banks, although the exchange offices are faster and at the bank sometimes you have to wait, that is up to each one, but we talk about the fact that approximately the exchange office is a 5% more expensive than the bank office, for example, if we change 100 €, we are losing approximately 5 € at the exchange office compared to doing it at the bank!! Another issue that we have to take into account is that the exchange office has longer hours than the bank, in fact, the airport banks have the same hours as those in the city, that is to say, they usually close around 16:30 oh 17:30, so if we arrive later we will only find the exchange office open, and what's worse, if you arrive at dawn, as it happens with several flights of the low cost companies, you will find both closed, both the bank and the exchange office.

 

cambio dinero en Bulgaria

One of the banks at Sofia airport and its ATM

Our recommendation is the following: If you arrive during the opening hours of the banks, it is best to change at the banks (by the way, They close on Saturdays and Sundays all day, except those inside the big shopping centers that do open on weekends) . Make a calculation of what you are going to spend in the following days and change as you get off the plane at the first airport bank that you see open. For the money exchange a good time is lost, between waiting turn, that the cashier counts the money he receives and delivers, that you sign a paper that you do not understand because it is in Bulgarian except the figures that must reflect what you deliver and what you receive…therefore it is not a good idea to have to go through a bank every day to change small amounts each day of your trip, It would be a waste of time. At the end of the trip, if you have excess, you do the opposite operation and resolved, If you do it again in a bank you will only lose in the operation 0,005 cents for every Euro they give you back, which is despicable.

If when you arrive in Sofia the bank is closed you can change a small amount at the exchange office, just enough to take a taxi and get to the hotel and the next day in the morning go through a bank to do the main money exchange. Calculate that the taxi between Sofia airport and central Sofia can cost between 6-7 euros, that is to say, 12-14 takes. And don't spare the taxi driver the pennies, give it a round number, if the counter marks 12,20 takes, dale 13,00 takes, although most of the time taxi drivers like waiters, They already award themselves the tip and return the change after they keep a few cents without asking, do not be surprised, it's your usual policy… after all the taxi is very cheap compared to the expenses they have (fuel costs the same as in Spain), therefore it can be understood…

If you arrive at dawn, your only option is to go to the ATM in the airport bank office, It also takes out a small amount as we recommended in the previous paragraph because although it depends on your bank, In general, they apply a high commission for withdrawing abroad and also because they make the currency exchange automatically and they charge you the same as the exchange office does. Please note that the default ATM language is Bulgarian, so you will have to switch to english to understand something, and an important detail, to withdraw from your checking account and not on credit or other formulas, in english language, select withdraw money by giving the option “withdraw” from the cashier and not others…

Now let's put ourselves in the worst case: What happens if you arrive at dawn and the next day is Saturday or Sunday? Well, you will find the bank offices of the city closed… but don't despair, luckily the banks inside the big shopping centers are open on Saturdays and Sundays!!! regular hours until 16:30 oh 17:30 hours depending on the bank in question. There are shopping malls in the city center of Sofia, you can check its location in advance and you don't have to travel to the outskirts. By the way there they call them “Mall” like the americans and not “shopping center”. Yes, the employees of the airport banks usually speak English but the ones you will find in the city offices assume that they only speak Bulgarian, so to make the money exchange you will have to make yourself understood as much as possible…

 

Centro comercial en el centro de Sofía

Shopping center in the center of Sofia

 

There are also currency exchange offices scattered throughout Sofia that are open every day including weekends., although the commission is higher than the banks, I recommend using them if it is the only option…

Change levies to euros.

When returning to Spain, remember to return without “takes” since it will be very cumbersome to change them in Spain and above all spend the coins that they will not even change in Spain… You may find all this operation about where I change money in Bulgaria tedious, but remember this: thanks to the fact that Bulgaria maintains its own currency, among other reasons, this helps to keep prices low for your purchases!!

If you have difficulties with the language and do not handle English well, we recommend hiring one of our local Spanish-speaking guides, they will help you not only with money exchange procedures, but with others such as registration in hotels, airport-hotel transfers, and of course as a tour guide around the country, after all, vacations are to be enjoyed, not to stress with banal procedures, truth?…

You can contact us and we will offer you a package of tourist services tailored to your needs with a Spanish-speaking guide.. info@senderismoeuropa.com

11 comments

  1. Martha Reply at

    Hello good Morning,

    Next week i'm leaving 4 days to Bulgaria. Looking for information on how to change currency at the airport I came across your page…and it is being very useful to me.

    But I have a question. Let's see if you can solve it for me.

    I have pounds and dollars (both in currency and in banknote) that I have left over from other trips …and I'm not sure if the coin (1 pound etc) They admit her to change there at the airport.

    Please, Could you tell me if they will accept it or not?

    Thank you very much in advance and greetings,

    • Luis Carro Reply at

      Hello, Martha, yes, pounds and dollars are common currency, and at Sofia airport (both T1 and T2) there is a currency exchange office and bank offices that can also change pounds and dollars. Just check their opening hours to the public if you arrive during non-business hours…

  2. Olga Reply at

    Very useful information

  3. Carlos paniagua Reply at

    Hi there, I arrive on Thursday at T2, about the 16 45, The bus I need to take leaves at 18 30, It will give me time to change, take the taxi and the bus, or I can pay that in euros even if I lose 1 The 2 euros? All the best

    • Luis Carro Reply at

      From the airport to the bus station you arrive in 20 minutes by taxi. We believe that it will give you time to change money. The taxi may accept euros but the bus ticket that you buy at the station must be paid by cam or card, in euros no.

  4. CORAL Reply at

    Good Morning.

    I would like to know where to change EUROS TO BGN in Spain (LEV) because we arrived on Saturday and the banks are closed.
    Where can we make the change in Spain ? Thank you.

    All the best. Coral

    • Luis Carro Reply at

      In Spain you will have to request it from your bank and it will take a while to have it, apart from an important commission. Even if you arrive on Saturday, please remember what we say in the article: ” you will find open banks in the shopping malls of Sofia” and there are also some exchange offices open on weekends in Sofia.

  5. matias Reply at

    Hi there!
    The truth is that the information shared is very useful but I would like to ask you what would you recommend us. We arrived at Sofia airport at 2 am and according to your publication we would only have the ATM to withdraw levies not?
    Likewise, taxi drivers accept euros, true?

    Thank you very much.
    regards

    • Luis Carro Reply at

      Hi Matias, effectively, at dawn there is only the ATM to withdraw cam. Taxi drivers generally accept euros but better ask them before getting into the taxi, but I warn you that later, at the time of paying, the change of what the taximeter marks in lev to euros is calculated by them “in their own way”…

  6. Nidia Reply at

    Hello I wanted to know if a Bulgarian banknote in lev can still be exchanged in euros here in Spain….

    • Luis Reply at

      Yes, Nidia, usually, if you go to a bank office in Spain they should be able to change it. Although the ideal is to change to euros in Bulgaria before returning because in Spain the commission of the banks will be higher…

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