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08 Jul 2015
Adam Bate’s guide to driving in Bulgaria


For sunshine, snow and spectacular views – head to the Balkans.

Forest in Bulgaria

Often overlooked, this country in the Balkans in the south east of Europe has a lot to offer the keen tourist.

Bordering five other countries, Bulgaria has the diverse delights of the Black Sea, the Alpine mountains and the Mediterranean.

Hit the road

Of more than 60,000 miles of roads in Bulgaria, 92% are paved, but less than 0.5% is motorway.

Bulgaria’s strong European connections and location means there are plenty of construction projects planned, but overall there’s not too much to worry about when hitting the road.

Star drive

Mountain in Bulgaria

Bulgaria’s star drive is the 8-mile long Shipka Pass which was once the scene of a series of battles between the Russians and the Ottoman Empire in the late 1800.

The Shipka Pass is 13km north of Shipka in the Balkan Mountains, connecting the towns of Gabrovo and Kazanlak.

A challenging route, but you’ll be rewarded with a spectacular view over the valleys below.

Best of the rest

Bulgaria offers activities all year round for the adventurous tourist – it just depends whether you want sunshine and surf or fresh powder and snow.

There are numerous beach resorts along the Black Sea, including the well-named Sunny Beach and Golden Sands.

But if the cold weather suits you best, locations such as Borovetz and Pamporovo offer good quality snow and stunning views.

Laws of the land

  • The minimum age for drivers is 18
  • It's recommended that you carry your International Driving Permit with you at all times
  • You must drive with dipped headlights
  • Children under 12 aren’t allowed in the front seat

On one-way streets, you can only park on the left – otherwise you might end up with a fine.

Local knowledge

Motorway in Bulgaria

When driving in Bulgaria, you'll need to have the following:

  • Driving licence
  • Original registration and ownership documents (including logbook) if you own the car
  • Original contract documents if you've hired a car
  • Evidence of insurance
  • Fire extinguisher
  • First-aid kit
  • Red warning triangle
  • Reflective vest

You’ll need a local road tax vignette to drive in Bulgaria - you can buy it at the border, post offices, petrol stations and DZI bank offices.

Don’t be surprised if you’re made to drive through a disinfectant wash as you enter the country. Have some change at the ready as you’ll have to pay for the privilege.

The drink drive limit is a low 0.05%, so be careful if you're driving the morning after a couple of drinks on your trip.

Find more information about travelling to Bulgaria by visiting

Bulgarian speed limits

Road types Speed limit
Residential areas 50 km/h
Built-up areas 50 km/h
Outside built-up areas 90 km/h
Motorways 130 km/h

Planning on driving to another country? Take a look at our section on driving abroad.

Beat the humdrum of your daily commute with a virtual drive along one of the most beautiful roads in the world.

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