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Transport & Driving

Bulgaria - Transport & Driving


Rail travel is cheap, but slower than travelling by bus, so it is probably only worth considering the train if you want to travel on one of the two major routes: Sofia-Varna and Sofia-Bourgas. There are some overnight trains.


Buses are the fastest and cheapest way to get around. Buses run frequently between all the larger cities, and there are also minibus services from Varna and Bourgas along the coast to all the Black Sea tourist resorts. Bus drivers are likely to speak only Bulgarian, though, so be aware of this. Signs and timetables will be written in the Cyrillic alphabet, so try to familiarise yourself with it.


Bulgaria hosts an annual long-distance bicycle ride, and its paved roads are well suited to cross country cycling. There are many roadside cafes to stop for refreshment, plus roadside springs, providing clean, cold water. Again, it is worth learning the Cyrillic alphabet in order to understand road signs.

Cars and Driving

Wearing seatbelts is compulsory.

Drive on the right and overtake on the left.

The speed limits are 120 km/h on motorways, 90km/h outside populated areas and 50 km/h within them. There are petrol stations about every 30-50 km. Roads are generally poorly maintained, especially in rural areas.

On-the-spot fines are in operation for offences such as speeding, drink driving and not producing the correct documentation. In case of breakdown, dial 146 for the Road Assistance Service. Driving at night is not recommended - hazards include poor lighting and road markings, potholes, horse-drawn carts (!) and vehicles driving without lights.

Signs on international motorways are in Cyrillic and Roman letters.

Car insurance is compulsory, it can be arranged before you arrive or at the border if you enter the country by car. Foreign driving licences are valid in Bulgaria, so you can use your existing licence providing you also have an International Driving Permit (IDP). Valid for 12 months, the IDP is recognised internationally and allows you to drive without further bureaucracy (with a valid licence) - more information at: http://www.theaa.com/getaway/idp/ Those staying in Bulgaria for over 12 months will need to replace their existing licence with a Bulgarian licence.

Added 16/7/05 by Bisser - Maybe it would be useful to add some info about travel by air: Sofia-Varna , 2 daily flights operated by Hemus Air.

Added 13/12/05 by Diana - I am not sure of the exact terminology, but when driving on the motorways you are required to have a toll permit, which I think costs about 4 lev for one week. The permits are available weekly, monthly and yearly. You can purchase these permits from all major petrol stations and you affix them in the right hand side of the windscreen. On the main road from Sofia to Bourgas, there are regular Police inspections, where they slow the traffic down to ensure you have paid this form of tax. If you do not have one you will face an on the spot fine.

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