Driving Tips for Bulgaria


We Asked People Who Hit The Road Every Day To Provide Their Top 10 Driving Tips for Bulgaria

Here are particular driving tips for Bulgaria shared by many company drivers who have thousands of kilometers driven in Bulgaria over the last ten years. We selected only those ten tips that will enable you to start traveling the road safely. It is difficult to steer a parked car, so get moving!

Bulgaria is a crossroad

Bulgaria is a crossroad for many commercial truck drivers that move goods between Asia and Europe. Expect heavy trucks on the highways, and acknowledge that drivers may be tired.

Bulgarian Drivers

You don’t need to worry about Bulgarian drivers. The stereotype of the crazy southern European driver cutting corners, speeding all the time, and making funny gestures to other drivers comes mainly from the movies. Many Hollywood movies painted a picture of Southern Europeans being careless persons behaving like Mexicans with good medical insurance driving a car he doesn’t care about. This is a bit exaggerated.

Most of the drivers in Bulgaria are not bad at all, but driving habits are probably different from those you’re used to in your home country. For instance, Bulgarian drivers tend to be less patient, and if you don’t hit the gas the moment the light turns yellow to green, they may flash you, or you can get honked at. You will get a similar reaction if you wait too long for pedestrians to cross, and if you stop at the moment, the green light turns yellow. Not all drivers use turn signals.

Young drivers should have a proper “Y” sign (to indicate a Learner or young driver status) attached and visible on their car. But as they say – the first decade of driving is the most hazardous, and the sign may not be there. City transport and large-truck drivers are the most experienced professional drivers, and they will not cause any problems.

And finally, many Bulgarians are proud of their cars, and cars in the South are often a status symbol. Every driver in Bulgaria wishes to be the driver of his car and not just a driver of another vehicle.

Driving On The Highway

Some Bulgarian drivers tend to ignore marked lanes. They may change lanes quickly and without using a turn signal. Generally, drivers in Bulgaria are aware of the surroundings and the situation and move into a lane to allow you to overtake them if you flash them or signal them. But not always. It does not mean they don’t see you if they don’t move. Instead, they don’t like you to overtake them. It is generally against the rules, and it is not recommended to flash your headlights or sound your horn to make contact with another driver.

On the highways and expressways, you can expect drivers from around Europe with different driving habits. You expect some of them to be very tired. For instance, during summer holidays (expect that in July and August between the cities of Sofia and Plovdiv, and Stara Zagora), many Turkish people commute from Western Europe to Turkey and back. Drive cautiously, as they may be moving slower than expected without leaving the left lane, and they can be nervous. You can easily recognize the German (DE), Belgium (B), and Dutch (NL) plates. Still, not every foreign car from these countries has a tired Turkish driver behind the wheel.

Speeding on the highway used to be popular in the past. These days there are many speed traps and mobile cameras, and bile speed checks and heavy speeding are rare. If a high-speed driver flashes you with headlights and follows you far too closely, you need to move out of their way, which we recommend you do, and continue to drive safely.

Driving In Rural Areas

Traveling in Bulgaria by car is the best way to get around the countryside, especially if you want to visit remote places and national parks. It is beautiful, and it is highly recommended. You should know a few things about driving in rural areas, though. In some rural areas, roads can be bumpy and in bad condition. Note that Google and other map and navigation services may show a road as the main road, but in reality, road conditions may be poor. Sometimes, animals might cross the road at unmarked places without a proper sign for it. In rural areas, it is possible to have agricultural machines moving too slowly on the road and without warning signs for oversized vehicles.

We recommend planning the countryside road trip for the bright and sunny part of the day, allowing you to have more visibility on the road and what is coming ahead.

More Driving Tips

Traffic Signals & Traffic Signs

In the cities, most Bulgarians don’t usually stop when the green light turns yellow. Be aware of the proximity of the car behind you before you decide to brake suddenly. We recommend leaving a distance and stopping at the yellow light.

Stop signs (and lines) are sometimes positioned so that you will have no visibility if you stop the sign (or the line), and many local drivers will not do so. Be vigilant of this, stop at the stop sign and stop line, and move slowly forward to see the traffic and the traffic to notice you.

Use Hazard Lights When Parking

It is typical for Souther Europeans to use the hazard lights to indicate their intention to park (in reverse or parallel). It may be confusing for some of you, as you don’t know if the car in front of you is parking or if it is making an emergency stop. It is a local thing to use the hazard lights in Bulgaria to indicate that the vehicle may cause a temporary obstruction. We recommend you always do the same.

Don’t Leave Documents In The Car

Not leaving any valuables and documents in the car is highly recommended, especially vehicle-related and personal documents. Car break-ins are rare, but burglars expect a car with a foreign plate to be less protected than a car with a local plate. For your safety, and no matter what plate is on your car, take valuables and document with you when leaving the car.

Zebra Crossings & Pedestrians

It is an interpretation and localization of the European rules (not official, but a well-socialized belief in Bulgaria) that pedestrians have the right to cross at any time at a zebra crossing, regardless of the traffic situation and if cars can stop safely or not. In the cities, a pedestrian is no longer just a man who missed the payments on his car. Beware of pedestrians who may cross the street suddenly, and don’t expect them to try to establish eye contact first. In cities, where sidewalks can be narrow, sudden crossings may be hazardous. We recommend you drive slowly close to marked zebra crossings in areas where sidewalks are narrower, even though the allowed speed in urban areas is 50 km/h.

Cyclists (bikers) & People on E-Scooters

Be aware of bike drivers who neglect the traffic rules. It is common in Sofia to see bikes driving in the opposite direction of the traffic, which can be an especially dangerous practice on one-way streets. When we turn left to join a one-way street, we don’t expect incoming traffic from the left-hand side, right? We find this practice bizarre and dangerous. We recommend you look at both sides when making a left turn, and don’t allow your feelings to drive the car; you’re bound to get in an accident!

It is permitted to drive an e-scooter on the main roads in the cities, and scooters of any kind are not permitted on intra-city except expressways. It is common to see people on e-mopeds and scooters around the cities’ pedestrian alleys and parks. Ad hoc scooter parking or leaving a scooter close to the traffic lane is becoming very popular these days. Be aware of the fact that people on scooters are part of the traffic in the city.

Driving In The Winter

Bulgaria has a continental climate, many mountains, and mountain passes. Winter weather can change quickly in the mountains and high-altitude plains. You should pay extra attention when driving in the winter based on the road conditions and air temperature. Winter tires with at least 4 mm of tread are mandatory when driving during the winter (between 15th November and 1st March) in Bulgaria. Snow chains are permitted and may be required based on road conditions. Mandatory use of snow chains will be signposted.

Remember that faster can be fatal in the winter, and slower is safe.

Traffic Police Inspections

When you drive around the country, you may come across police traffic checks. This is normal. Traffic police may set up road checkpoints to check for driver’s licenses and identifications, make car inspections, etc. A police officer can indicate if they want you to stop for inspection. If you are stopped, you may be asked to provide your ID, driver’s license, and vehicle document. It is a normal process, and there is nothing to worry about.

Police cars may be parked alongside the road, and they may be checking speed or just being there to calm the traffic. The best car safety device, they say, is a rear-view mirror with a cop in it.

Driving Briefs & Reviews

Road Trips

Top 3 amazing road trips

Road trips in Bulgaria are an opportunity to discover the country’s beauty and create unforgettable memories.

Beautiful Mountains

Beautiful Mountains


The Discovery

This 9-day road trip itinerary is an exciting way for first-time visitors to explore the country and experience the diversity of its scenery, from bustling cities to quaint villages and even the sea.

Southeastern Road Trip

Embark on this road trip in Bulgaria to discover historical places, monasteries, and the natural beauty of the Rila and Pirin mountains, experience the charming atmosphere of small towns and villages and get an authentic experience of southwestern Bulgaria.

Southwestern Road Trip

Explore the stunning natural beauty of the southeastern coast of Bulgaria, where sandy beaches, rocky cliffs, and charming fishing villages coexist and offer a variety of activities for visitors to enjoy, from sunbathing and swimming to water sports.

Learn more

Visiting from North America, the Netherlands, or Switzerland?

Driving in Bulgaria has specifics, and we took a customized approach to explain them depending on the country of origin, with a sense of humor, and to make your driving experience worry-free.

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