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The main shopping areas in Sofia are on Vitosha Boulevard (now pedestrians and closed for vehicles), Graf Ignatiev Str., Rakovski Str. and Pirotska Str.

TzUM (Central Departments sotre) operates as a Western-style shopping mall, with privately rented boutiques and cafes on three levels. The Tsentralni Hali (Central Food Halls), on Maria Luisa Boulevard have been refurbished to form a spotlessly clean and well-organized bazaar and are open daily 07:00-24:00 h.

Souvenirs, such as reproduction icons, Russian dolls, jewellery, ceramics, wooden items, embroidered tablecloths and lace are for sale at stalls in front of Alexander Nevski church. Also worth investigating for souvenirs are the shops in the subway between TzUM and the Sheraton Hotel. There is a large book market at Slaveykov Square, near the National Theatre and Rakovski Str.

Luxury goods to take home include Bulgarian wines, notably the full-bodied red, Melnik, and 'rakiya' – favourites being 'grozdova' made from grapes and 'slivova' from plum. These are available in shops throughout the city.

Most shops are open 09:00-19:00 on weekdays and until 13:00 on Saturday. Some shops are also open on Saturday afternoon and even Sunday.

VAT in Bulgaria is 20 %.

Cost of Living

  • 0.50 l bottle of mineral water: 0.50 BGN
  • 0.33 l bottle of beer: 0.90 BGN
  • Financial Times Newspaper: 4.00 BGN
  • 36-exposure color film: 4 BGN
  • Bus ticket: 0.70 BGN
  • Taxi: 0.49 - 0.56 BGN per km
  • Three-course meal with wine/beer: 15-20 BGN
  • Cinema/Theatre ticket: 5-10 BGN
    • 1 Bulgarian Lev (BGN) = EUR 0.52
    • 1 Bulgarian Lev (BGN) = GBP 0.35
    • 1 Bulgarian Lev (BGN) = USD 0.60
    • 1 Bulgarian Lev (BGN) = JPY 73.00

Currency conversion rates as of August 2006

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