Traveling by car gives you the opportunity to manage your time, flexibly build a travel schedule, and visit places that cannot be reached on foot or with a guided tour. You can get ready for the road literally in one day.
In the summer season, sea countries are especially popular for such trips, and Bulgaria is one of them. However, it is not only about the sea coast – Bulgaria has extraordinary people and culture.
So even if you arrive by plane, it is recommended to rent a car and start a unique adventure across this picturesque land. But traveling by car is a much more challenging option than by air or by rail. So here are some tips to take into account when planning your car trip.
Car rental requirements
There are two types of rental services in the country – local and international. And their requirements differ slightly. Here are the main criteria you need to match to be able to rent a car:
- Driver’s age. You should be at least 23 if you are taking a car from a local agency and 25 if it is an international service.
- Driver’s permit. You can provide a driving license issued by any country in a local agency. International rental services will demand an international driver’s permit.
- ID document. You will need to submit your passport when signing the lease agreement.
Car rental cost
As Bulgaria is a sea country, the prices largely depend on the season. If you arrive during the summer, be ready to pay extra. The main factors that influence the rental cost:
- car model
- engine size
- type of gearbox
- lease duration
A short-term lease is very expensive. Thus, 1-2 days may cost more than a weekly rental. The average rental price is €20 per day for cheap car models. The SUV is €45, and the luxury models start at €170.
An insurance policy is mandatory when renting a car in the country. You may use the coverage of your personal auto if it extends to a rental car.
You may buy a policy from the rental company. Alternatively, you can get a car hire excess insurance policy from a third party like CarInsuRent.com to cover your vehicle against any common damages.
In any case, you will need to check what deductible you need to pay and whether it is worth buying an additional policy to protect yourself from paying it.
Roads in Bulgaria
You will have to pay for the use of Bulgarian roads and buy an electronic vignette. For a passenger car, a 7-day vignette will cost €8, monthly permission – €15, and an annual – €50.
You can buy a vignette on the official website and at the entrance to the country at special terminals and points of sale. Driving without a vignette may cost you €150.
The country has certain speed restrictions to follow:
- 50 km/h within towns
- 90 km/h outside towns
- 120 km/h on expressways
- 140 km/h on motorways
Violation of these rules will result in fines from €2 for exceeding the speed by 10km and to €100 for exceeding the speed by 50 km.
Every car should be equipped with the following items:
- First aid kit
- Warning triangle
- Fire extinguisher
- A reflective vest in case of a sudden stop
- The use of anti-radars is prohibited
- Winter tires are optional, and studded tires are prohibited
Of course, there are some standard things everyone knows – seatbelts are required for all passengers in the car. The blood alcohol limit in the country is only 0.05%, with a serious fine for exceeding the norm. The headlights should be on during night and daytime.
Parking in Bulgaria
In most places, this service is paid. Though, it can be a struggle to find a free spot in large cities and resorts during the high season. Payment is hourly, approximately €0.5-1 euro per hour – this information is specified on a parking sign. You can process payment in several channels – via cash or bank card in a parking machine.
Do not forget to attach the coupon to your windshield. For violation of parking rules, you will pay a fine. Likewise, an improperly parked car can be evacuated or blocked.
Knowing the above tips, you can freely plan your road trip to Bulgaria. But there is one more important thing to mention as many people often find it quite confusing.
Body language becomes very important for foreigners, so try to remember that Bulgarians nod their heads for NO and shake for YES. It will help you avoid many disconcerting situations and better understand people’s answers.