About Bulgaria (BG)
If there could be an undiscovered travel destination in Europe, the front-runner would be the country of Bulgaria (BG), situated on western edge of the Black Sea, and bordered by Romania, Serbia, North Macedonia, Greece, and Turkey. Home to pristine sandy beaches, generous mountain ranges, and modern cities amidst ancient historical ruins, many of the key merchant routes from Asia to Europe ran through Bulgaria, but its bounty of natural attractions has generally been overlooked by modern Western tourism. Although the country is slowly gaining traction with international travelers, Bulgaria remains one of the best-kept secrets in Europe.
Getting around Bulgaria is far more efficient for visitors who rent a car. Unfortunately, it’s probably best if you’ve got a few years of driving under your belt. While major attractions and destinations are well connected by roadways, a number of issues persist in making it somewhat of a navigational challenge. Road conditions are wildly variable, some traffic signs are Cyrillic only — or not present at all — and local drivers aren’t known for hospitality. Your car must be equipped with a vignette, which is necessary for all roads, not just the tollways. Minor traffic accidents are common, so there’s a better than average chance that your cheap car rental has already sustained some superficial damage. With the exception of new highways, potholes are the rule, not the exception. Thus, careful drivers tend to stay well below the posted limits. You’ll get where you’re going — it will just take a lot longer than expected.
Choosing your car
Cheap car rentals in Bulgaria can be reserved with are Budget, Sixt, Europcar, Hertz Enterprise, and Thrifty. Choose from minicars, compact hatchbacks, economy, standard, and intermediate sedans, premium and luxury 4-door cars, estate wagons, SUVs, and 7-12 seater minivans.
Tips and advice
Bulgaria is considered very safe for travelers, but don’t get sucked in by the sleepy atmosphere and let your guard down. Never leave personal objects in your car hire, especially in the capital of Sofia, where you should always park in covered lots.
In the past, Bulgaria had a problem with robbers posing as fake police officers and stopping vehicles in rural areas. All police cars are clearly marked “POLICE” and fleets generally consist of one make and model car, i.e white Opel sedans.
If you’re involved in a traffic accident, you must report the incident to the police immediately; otherwise, your car hire insurance policy may not be honored.
Bulgaria’s two major cities, Sophia and Varna located on opposite sides on the country, and linked by A2. While there are other routes across the country, A2 is by far the safest option. Note that the dangers mostly lie in poor road conditions and driving through varied elevations.
Driving into one of the bordering countries is generally not an issue, but be advised that travel into Kosovo is restricted and not recommended.
If traveling to Romania, be aware that some crossings are ferry boat only, and your car hire may not be eligible to board ferries. Check with your provider before heading out of the country.