Bulgaria by car – what should I know?

Bulgaria is one of the best road trip destinations for us. I have prepared this guide for everyone who is planning to travel to Bulgaria by car. It will help you prepare for the trip. What documents are necessary for a trip like that? What should you know and how should you prepare? Check out our driving guide for Bulgaria.

Mandatory documents

If you want to enter Bulgaria by car, you will need:

identity document. As Polish citizen you can take your identity card or passport

driving license. Polish driving license is accepted in Bulgaria

registration document of the car with valid vehicle inspection

insurance. (Polish OC insurance is accepted in Bulgaria)

– if the owner of the car is not travelling with you, you need to present a notarial document that confirms lending of the vehicle. The documents must be either issued or translated to English, Bulgarian, German or French

Car equipment

Obligatory equipment

– a warning triangle

– first-aid kit and rubber gloves

– high-visibility jacket

– fire extinguisher

Recommended equipment

– set of spare bulbs

Lights

Driving with passing beam is obligatory during the whole day and night.

Roads and fees

We had a really good experience with Bulgarian roads. Of course, we have seen roads of bad quality, but you can find those everywhere, can’t you? In general we were satisfied with the roads’ quality.

If it comes to the fees, you need to buy a vignette in order to use motorways and expressways. From January 1st there are e-vignettes and you cannot buy a vignette as a sticker anymore. I have described the topic of the vignettes, their prices and information about where to buy them here.

Apart from that, some of the border crossings between Bulgaria and Romania are paid. The ones located on Danube, which usage requires either taking a ferry or driving through a bridge are paid:

Giurgiu – Ruse (bridge) Romania-Bulgaria – passenger car 6 euro
Ruse – Giurgiu (bridge) Bulgaria-Romania – passenger car 2 euro
Vidin – Kalafat (bridge) – passenger car 6 euro
Silistra – Kalarash (ferry) – passenger car 7 euro
Oriahovo – Beket (ferry) – passenger car 12 euro
Nikopol – Turnu Magurele (ferry) – passenger car 12 euro
Svishtov – Zimnicea (ferry) – passenger car (up to 5 seats) 4 euro

On the way back from Bulgaria we used Vidin-Kalafat border crossing. We could pay with cash or card, both in euros and lev without any problems.

Road quality

The quality of the roads in Bulgaria is really good. We couldn’t complain about it and if you are travelling there for the first time, you don’t have to worry about it. It’s very comfortable to travel by car in Bulgaria.

Speed limits

Speed limits for cars are as follows:

– built-up area 50km/h

– outside the built-up area 90km/h

– expressways 120km/h

– motorways 140km/h

Parking

Parking around city centers is paid. In cities like Sofia, there are several parking zones which differs in time for which we can leave the car there and the price for an hour of parking. As always, in big cities, I recommend you sleep in hostels that offer a free car park and then visit the city on foot.

Sleeping in the car


Prices of accommodation in Bulgaria were low so we didn’t sleep in the car at all. We chose cheap hostels instead. This time I cannot tell you how it is to sleep in the car in this country.

Fuel prices

During our trip the fuel prices in Bulgaria were lower than in Poland. In May 2019 the prices were as follows:

Diesel – 2.09-2.32 lev (1.07-1.19 euro)
Gasoline 95 – 2.07-2.22 lev (1.06-1.14 euro)
Gas – 0.92-0.94 lev (0.47-0.48 euro)

Safety on the road

As always everyone warned us that driving in Bulgaria is awful, the roads are a disaster, it’s dangerous and it’s not a good idea to go there by your own car. Obviously, all those opinions were much exaggerated. We had much better experience driving in Bulgaria than in Romania or Serbia. The roads were fine apart from those few places where we were passing by really small towns and villages. We can’t complain about safety either. When you are driving in Bulgaria, you should comply with basic road safety rules. Keep also in mind that there are many radars on Bulgarian roads.

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