Exploring a foreign country by car can be an exciting adventure, giving you the freedom to discover hidden gems and experience the local culture on your own terms. If Bulgaria is your chosen destination, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the country’s driving rules and regulations to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip. This guide will provide you with comprehensive information on driving in Bulgaria as a foreigner renting a car.
A short guide on driving in Bulgaria
In Bulgaria, you drive on the right-hand side of the road. This may be different from what you’re used to in countries where you drive on the left, so stay alert and follow the flow of traffic.
Speed limits in Bulgaria are strictly enforced. In urban areas the limit is generally 50 km/h (31 mph), while on motorways it can range from 90 km/h (56 mph) to 130 km/h (81 mph). Pay attention to road signs indicating speed limits and obey them to avoid fines.
Traffic lights in Bulgaria follow the standard red, amber and green pattern. Be careful and obey traffic signals to ensure a safe driving experience.
Roundabouts are common in Bulgaria and vehicles inside the roundabout have the right of way. Yield to those already in the roundabout and clearly signal your intentions when entering or exiting.
Right of way
The general rule in Bulgaria is to give way to traffic on your right unless otherwise indicated. At intersections without signs or signals, give way to vehicles approaching from the right.
Seat belt use
The use of seatbelts is mandatory for all vehicle occupants, both front and rear seat passengers. Failure to wear a seat belt may result in a fine.
Children under 12 years of age or less than 150 cm in height must be seated in an appropriate child safety seat. It is the driver’s responsibility to ensure that children are safely restrained.
Use of headlights
The use of headlights is mandatory at all times, even during the day. Make sure your headlights are on while driving, regardless of the weather or time of day.
Using a hand-held mobile device while driving is strictly prohibited in Bulgaria. If you must use your phone, pull over to a safe place.
The legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for drivers in Bulgaria is 0.05%. However, it’s advisable to avoid all alcohol consumption before driving to ensure your safety and to obey the law.
While Bulgaria’s major highways and roads are generally well maintained, some rural roads may be in varying conditions. Drive with caution, especially on more minor roads.
As of my last knowledge update in September 2021, Bulgaria did not have a widespread toll system. However, there may be certain sections or bridges where you’ll need to pay a toll. Check with your rental car company or local sources for the latest toll information.
Gasoline stations are readily available throughout Bulgaria, even in more remote areas. Unleaded gasoline (95 and 98 octane) and diesel are commonly available.
When driving in Bulgaria, make sure you have a valid driver’s license, passport, vehicle registration and insurance documents with you at all times.
In case of emergency, dial 112 for police, medical or fire services. This number is valid throughout the European Union.
Driving in Bulgaria can be a rewarding experience, allowing you to explore the country’s stunning scenery and cultural treasures at your own pace. By following these guidelines and staying informed of any updates, you’ll be well prepared to navigate Bulgaria’s roads confidently and safely. Remember that local regulations may change, so always check for the latest information before you travel. Have a safe trip!
FAQs about driving in Bulgaria
Can I use my foreign driving license in Bulgaria?
Yes, you can use your valid foreign driver’s license to drive in Bulgaria for up to 12 months. However, if your license is not in English or another widely recognized language, it’s recommended that you have an International Driving Permit (IDP) in addition to your license.
Are there any special requirements for winter driving?
From November 1st to March 31st winter tires are mandatory in Bulgaria. Your rental car should be equipped with winter tires, but it’s advisable to confirm this when picking up the vehicle.
What should I know about parking in Bulgaria?
In urban areas, parking is often regulated and paid for during certain hours. Look for parking meters or designated parking areas. Some cities also have “blue zone” parking areas where you need to show a parking card with the time of your arrival.
Are there special rules for driving in mountainous areas?
When driving in mountainous regions, be prepared for narrow and winding roads. Pay attention to road signs indicating steep gradients and use lower gears to control your speed on downhill stretches. Be careful in winter as there may be icy conditions.
What should I do if I encounter an emergency vehicle?
If an emergency vehicle with flashing lights approaches from behind, pull over to the right and let it pass. In Bulgaria it’s mandatory to give way to emergency vehicles.
Is it common for drivers to use dashcams in Bulgaria?
Yes, the use of dashcams has become increasingly common among Bulgarian drivers. They can provide valuable evidence in case of accidents or disputes.
How do I navigate road signs that are in the Cyrillic alphabet?
While some road signs in Bulgaria are in both Cyrillic and Latin script, it’s helpful to familiarize yourself with the Cyrillic alphabet to understand common road signs. You can also use navigation apps that provide bilingual directions.
What’s the protocol in case of a minor accident?
In the event of a minor accident, move your vehicle to a safe place if possible and call the police (dial 112). Exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver. Taking photographs of the accident scene and vehicle damage may be useful for insurance claims.