Guide to Driving in Bulgaria

It’s not necessarily a pleasant experience to make your way around Bulgaria with a car. The road condition is poor even in large cities like Sofia. There are numerous bumps, cracks and potholes that can lead to flat tires. It can be a real headache to stay focused on the road, making sure that you don’t run into major holes. Traffic is on the right in this country and overtakes are on the left. In unmarked intersection you must give way to vehicles coming from your right. Motorways usually have a toll system and they accept only local money, which is the Bulgarian Leva. Locals are not the most polite drivers you’ll ever see; they often switch lanes without signaling their intention or attempt dangerous maneuvers. Some cities have trams as a public transportation. In this situation you have to allow passengers to embark and disembark from the tram in case that there’s no refuge. We have to warn you that several cases in which random local drivers pretended to be cops and robbed tourists were reported this year. Do not stop unless the car matches the police car description below.

All the police cars in Bulgaria look the same; a white base and some blue stripes. The word on the side doors is in their language but on the hood you should be able to see ‘POLICE’ letters. In terms of documents things are simple: you need an identification card, the car’s insurance policy and your domestic license. If you could get an international driver’s permit that would be great, but it’s not mandatory. Remember to equip the vehicle with winter tires because there’s a high possibility of ice forming on the surface of the road. A pair of snow chains in the trunk is definitely recommended.

Essential Driving Information

  • Seatbelt must be worn by all passengers of a vehicle according to Bulgarian law. Otherwise fines range from €100 to €300.
  • The use of a mobile device is considered illegal unless it has a hands-free system attached to it.
  • Between November and March drivers must circulate with the dipped beam on, regardless the weather or the day period.
  • The vignette rule applies when driving outside built-up areas. You can purchase such a vignette from petrol stations.
  • Some road signs are displayed using the Cyrillic alphabet; however, most of them are in Latin alphabet.
Speed Limits
Town/City: 50kmh (30mph)
Main Road: 90kmh (55mph)
Motorway: 120kmh (75mph)
Emergency Phone Numbers
Police: 166
Ambulance: 150
Firefighters: 160
Other: 112
General Information (as of 2014)
Min Driving Age: 18
Alcohol Limit: 0.05%
Petrol Price: €1.28/litre
Diesel Price: €1.30/litre
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