When writing an article, I was guided by my impressions and sensations from trips along Bulgarian roads. I really hope, that I can help you to determine for yourself the quality level of a road surface and the level of danger of serpentines in this Balkan country.
We suggest to read the text, primarily, those tourists, who are going to travel to Bulgaria by car, to rent a car, to visit different cities and resorts by public transport or plan to go on excursions around the country.
Bulgarian roads: their quality and possible problems
Some tourists prefer to visit Bulgaria by their own car, many of them rent a car directly in the country, that allows to see the sights on their own, without depending on a tour group. Both categories of tourists are united not only by transport, but also by knowledge of traffic rules in Bulgaria.
And also there are tourists, who do not like, for whatever reason, difficult serpentines. They are ready to do anything to ease the discomfort and the constricting sense of danger.
When we arrived home, many of our friends began actively inquire us about the quality of a road surface and about possible problems, in order to see for themselves the beauty of Bulgaria in the near future. Therefore, we propose completely understand all queries and nuances, that concern roads of the country.
Possible complexities on Bulgarian roads
On public roads, that connect various cities of Bulgaria, you are unlikely to find significant difficulties. But on independently paved roads you can expect a congestion of freight transport and a low quality road surface.
The whole point is that most of roads for residents of other countries in Bulgaria are paid. To avoid a forfeit and unpleasant discussions with local police, you will need to buy a special sticker (“vignette”), that is affixed to a vehicle windscreen. You can buy it at border crossing points or at some filling stations. The validity period of vignette is different: 7 days (5 €), a month (13 €) and a year (34 €). Indicated in parentheses cost is palpitant only for cars with a weight 3.5 tonnes. Toll roads are indicated by a special road sign with the inscription “винетка”.
The only exception are motorcyclists. They can ride on the roads of Bulgaria entirely for free.
Purchased vignette does not release you from an additional payment for driving on bridges over the Danube. It concerns cities: Ruse (Bulgaria) – Giurgiu (Romania) and Vidin (Bulgaria) – Calafat (Romania). Fare is 2 € and 6 € respectively. Also, a separate fee is for a ferry crossing between Bulgarian and Romanian cities: Silistra – Calarasi (2 € for a motorcycle and 7 € for a car weighing up to 3.5 tonnes), Nikopol – Turnu Magurele (2 € for a motorcycle and 12 € for a car weighing up to 3.5 tonnes), Oryahovo – Bechet (2 € for a motorcycle and 12 € for a car weighing up to 3.5 tonnes) and Svishtov – Zimnicea (3 € for a motorcycle and 4 € for a car weighing up to 3.5 tonnes).
Roads, that do not require the presence of a vignette, are marked by signs Д11 and Д12. To free roads are also concern: ringways and beltways.
Moving along mountain serpentines of the country should be very careful. After all, an excessive vigilance never harm. We note, that those tourists, who do not intend to go deep into the country, may well relax. The only serpentine, which you can get caught in your way – on the interval of the road between Varna and Obzor. The positive is the fact, that it is not as bad, as serpentines in Montenegro. We recommend to those who suffer from motion sickness, try to distract from a road (all the same, on both sides of it flashes forest), to take appropriate tablets or a simple mint gum. The length of the serpentine is not too big, after its termination transport moves out to more flat ground.
Are the roads of Bulgaria qualitative?
The quality of Bulgarian roads can hardly be called ideal, but slight irregularities and holes can be seen not often. Along the slopes there are special landslide protection systems, are laid and operate weatherings. We did not notice any particular big problems on the roads, along which we traveled between seaside towns. So I was greatly surprised to read an article on the Internet about a shocking coverage of Bulgarian roads with lots of holes and bumps. I admit, that some of roadbeds in the country are already rather worn out (but not to such a state!), and possibly tourists have chosen some kind of bypass old and free road. Those, who have been in the depths of the country, if not difficult, share your comments on the matter. We will be very grateful.
Most of Bulgaria’s roads are single sideband in each direction, which is not very nice, especially when you have to trudge behind a slow vehicle.
Basic traffic rules in Bulgaria
Basic traffic rules in Bulgaria practically do not differ from European. We strongly recommend you to behave on roads of the country culturally and abide all necessary traffic rules. Frequently, foreign drivers, when seeing as police calmly reacts to small disturbances of local population, relax and begin to violate themselves. Please note: what is forgiven to locals, can cost you a fine.
Maximum speed in Bulgaria for cars and motorcycles:
- within the living area – 50 km/h;
- outside the living area – 90 km/h for cars without a trailer; up to 80 km/h for motorcycles and up to 70 km/h for vehicles with a trailer;
- on a road – up to 120 km/h for cars without a trailer; up to 90 km/h for motorcycles and vehicles with a trailer;
- on a highway – 140 km/h for cars without a trailer; up to 100 km/h for motorcycles and vehicles with a trailer.
Minimally permitted speed on a highway is 50 km/h. For vehicles, that have snow chains maximally permitted speed should not exceed 50 km/h. Within a pedestrian zone is permitted speed to 20 km/h.
Another important aspect: on Bulgarian roads can often be seen special devices, that fix your movement speed and show it on a display. All this is recorded and for exceeding a speed you will pay prescribed fine.
Alcohol and all kinds of alcoholic drinks
In Bulgaria, it allowed to drive with a blood alcohol level up to 0,49 ‰. However, we do not recommend to drive after drinking even a little for your own safety.
Availability of dipped beam
According to the laws of Bulgaria, all drivers should drive with enabled dipped beam during all year 24 hours a day. Its absence is strictly punishable by law.
The rules of transportation of children
All, without exception, children of age to 3 years have to travel in special chairs on back seats. Elder children – from 3 to 12 and shorter than 150 sm may only be on back seats with the presence of special restraint systems.
Seat belts definitely must have not only passengers on front seats of a vehicle, but also those, who travel on back seats.
For your convenience and comfort, we provide emergency phone numbers:
- European emergency number – 112;
- Police – 166;
- Ambulance – 150;
- Fire Service – 160.
Petrol prices in Bulgaria in 2017 (approximately)
Judging by the fact, that in all buses and minibuses of Bulgarian coast is said, that ticket prices did not rise since 2008, we dare to assume, that the price of gasoline has not changed much since that time. We represent you real prices for gasoline and fuel, which we saw in the country’s filling stations in 2015:
- 95 gasoline and diesel fuel are for one price – 2,19 levs/l;
- gas is much cheaper and will cost you 0,98 levs/l.
Are serpentines in Bulgaria dangerous?
If you want to visit only seaside cities of Bulgaria, it is not necessary to be afraid of serpentines. The only mountain road near Varna is completely not dangerous, and on both sides of it you will see a magnificent forest. However, not get involved in its contemplation, because the frequent flashing of trees in conditions of serpentine can have a negative impact and you will suffer from motion sickness.
A road from Varna to Veliko Tarnovo will be a bit complicated, but anyway will bring you a lot of fun. You will drive through large and difficult mountain passes, admire mountain gorges, rivers and magnificent nature. To Veliko Turnovo are offered organized excursions, so if you are not confident in your driving abilities, we recommend to go to the city in this way.
Another mountain road will be opened to you, if you choose to travel from Plovdiv to Bansko. In winter during a bad weather is not recommended to choose this route, as some roads may be closed.
The rail connection in Bulgaria is quite good-developed. Trains run both within the country to all major cities and to Greece, Turkey, Romania, Serbia. You can travel also to Macedonia, though it will be more difficult (you will have to first visit Serbia or Greece).
A popular direction in Bulgaria is considered to be a branch, that connects Sofia (the capital of the country) with coastal towns.
A nice addition to the whole are discounts for train tickets. To learn more about all possible directions, prices and bonus system, we recommend to visit the official website of Bulgarian railway.
Useful links and interesting information:
- Where and for how much you can rent a car in Bulgaria?
- The list of cities and resorts, where you can have a good rest in Bulgaria.
- A detailed schedule of transport in the country’s cities.
- The list of excursions in Bulgaria and their prices.