Bulgaria is so close to Switzerland, nature-wise. People are different, making all the differences flourish and further evolve. If you are visiting Bulgaria from der Schweiz here, we tried to summarise the most important information you should know about Bulgaria and exploring the country by car, no matter if you rent it or if you drive your vehicle.
We tried to preserve our sense of humor and make your experience glamorous and worry-free. If you are visiting Bulgaria from Switzerland for a road trip, below you can find more information and suggestions.
Bulgaria is situated South of Switzerland. There are two conceptually distinct ways to reach Bulgaria from Switzerland.
One travels South via Slovenia, Croatia, and Serbia and reaches Bulgaria from the North. This is the quicker and the most straightforward route.
Alternatively, Bulgaria can be reached via Italy and Greece from the South. This route is more picturesque, will require more time, and is a pleasant experience on its own. You can conclude the round trip if you like to explore more countries.
Are you planning to travel by car on holiday? Driving makes your journey more flexible and independent, and sometimes it is more practical, too, as there are no waiting times at airports. While on a road trip, you can experience different countries, cultures, and traditions. To ensure that your holidays are worry-free, we recommend the following precise checklist of things you should be aware of if your journey to Bulgaria starts from Switzerland.
Yes, cars are dirty, and they will also remain dirty after the rain. It takes about 2 hours in Sofia to get your car as dirty and dusty as if you had not washed it in Zurich for a month. This is correct. This is partly because of the humus (turf) structure and partly because of the infrastructure design. In any case, a car in Sofia will be dirtier than one in Schwitz.
Cars may stop behind the stop line, which does not mean they would not want to join the traffic. In the German part of Switzerland, we always stop at the spot line exactly there. In Bulgaria, most drivers will stop slightly behind the stop line. You can try to make an eye-contact and see if they want to proceed and join the traffic.
Speaking about the eye-contact — making eye contact is not an obligatory social convention in Bulgaria when you drive. Most city drivers will not wave to you to express “Thank you.”. They will take advantage if you allow them to join the traffic. This is not impolite, Sofia has 2 million inhabitants, and they barely meet each other the second time.
Yes, in Sofia, there are trams. Some of the trams are bought from the municipality of Zurich. Same way, trams have the right of way, be cautious of the trams if you drive in Sofia.
Road signs may not always be well lit up, and some still display directions only in Cyrillic. Unfortunately, duplicate road signs in the Latin alphabet will take longer than expected.
Speeding may be frequent, but please understand that most drivers are experienced and believe they can manage risky situations. That does not allow you or make you free to brake the speed rules as well. Speeding drivers take responsibility for their acts.
Parking when shopping is free. You may find this concept strange, but you don’t pay for parking your car when you are expected to spend money. Of course, only for a limited period, typically 2 to 4 hours at malls, supermarkets, and stores.
Road infrastructure is not nearly as good as Switzerland’s, and this is no surprise. Highways are usually worry-free, but secondary and minor roads can cause surprises. Like in Switzerland, you can expect slow-moving tractors and agri-vehicles on rural roads. Unline in Switzerland, you can expect bad rural roads with varying quality. Drive carefully, and drive slowly.
There is “concierge” service at petrol stations, which is customary-normality. A petrol station concierge will approach you, asking what kind of fuel do you need and how much to fill. If you don’t feel comfortable, you can fill the reservoir yourself. Don’t be stressed, the concierge service at petrol stations is paid for it.
When visiting Bulgaria from Switzerland for a road trip, nature, mountains, and lakes may look very familiar to you. And it is true! However, don’t expect nicely maintained roads, sharply reflecting road signs, mountain lifts, and well-maintained hiking routes and weggs.