Driving Safely in Bulgaria: Tips for Careful Travelers

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and travel: The situation around the world is changing dramatically. Various governments have changed their travel warnings to restrict travel during this time. To understand how this may impact cover under your policy, please go to our FAQs and select your country of residence.

For the latest travel warnings and alerts around the world, read about lockdowns and border restrictions.

Our travel safety expert shares his tips for safe driving on Bulgaria's roads.


Evening over Sofia city Photo © iStock/ADonsky

Bulgarian drivers are quite aggressive, which can make driving intimidating. The cars are as unsafe as the drivers, often old and lacking in maintenance.

Poor roads in Bulgaria

Infrastructure is poor, and roads throughout the country are largely unfinished; you could run into loose gravel and potholes on major roadways, and hitting either of these at full speed can be disastrous.

Traffic signs and lane markings are scarce and make it very difficult to anticipate dangers.

Animals and livestock roam the roads in remote areas, and driving in winter and at night is very risky and should be avoided.

Car crime in Bulgaria

Carjacking is possible, and you might encounter fake police officers along the Black Sea coast, or near Dupnitsa and Kyustendil on the roadway to Greece and Macedonia.

Avoid your itch to flip off, yell at, or otherwise confront aggressive or angry drivers. People like guns in Bulgaria, and aren't afraid to use them. Road rage incidents sometimes end very unhappily.

You will come under more scrutiny as a foreign driver, so be extra careful with traffic rules and regulations and do not drive or park anywhere you should not.

If you want to avoid getting pulled over by a "real" cop, follow the speed limit and make sure you have the right paperwork - a license, registration and Bulgarian car insurance.

It's also a good idea to obtain an International Driver's Permit before you leave as it is a requirement in Bulgaria.

Every driver must possess a highway permit, called a "vignette" obtainable at post offices, ports, border points, gas stations and DZI bank offices.

Bulgarian drivers aren't too keen on pedestrians, so be extra, extra careful crossing the street no matter where you are in the country.

Get a travel insurance quote for Bulgaria

You can buy at home or while traveling, and claim online from anywhere in the world. With 150+ adventure activities covered and 24/7 emergency assistance.

Related articles

Travel Insurance

Simple and flexible travel insurance

You can buy at home or while traveling, and claim online from anywhere in the world. With 150+ adventure activities covered and 24/7 emergency assistance.

Get a quote


  • Ross said

    That is very exaggerated and dramatic description of what driving in Bulgaria actually is, so much that is borderline lying. How it actually is. Firat Bulgaria has really, really low gun violence. And "people" don't like guns at all. So you shouldn't be worried about gun violence, both in the streets and behind the wheel. Drivers are somewhat aggressive when it comet to speed, but I doubt you will ever have an encounter with an physically aggressive driver during your stay. If you, thats mostly very unlucky on you, as the chances of it happening are pretty much the same as on the US roads as an example, if not even lower. I've been driving everyday and I've been living here for 22 years, but thats the first time I'm ever hearing about fake cops. That is definitely not a common thing and it's not even worth saying it to be avoided as even if you're looking for them, I doubt you will ever find them in the first place. All in all, driving in Bulgaria is not rocket science. We have the EU standard signs, which makes things easier. Just use your common sense and don't drive recklessly and you should be good.

  • George said

    Best advice: avoid Bulgaria! If you can't do that because you have to drive to Greece or Turkey, try follow some of the following rules: buy the vignette from the border crossing point and keep the receipt for a while (not only while you are on Bulgaria's territory), obey to the speed limitations no matter how crazy they are, be informed that only traffic police can fine you for traffic related offenses and those type of officers drive white cars and wear white-topped hats and bodycams. If you suspect that something is dubious, you could phone 112 to call for help. Calling 166 (police number) doesn't seems to help.
    Take breaks only in places having CCTV monitoring and try to fill the tank in petrol stations operated by big companies such as OMV, Lukoil.
    Bulgaria is no man's land and everyone will try to rip you off the money at any occasion! Be aware!

Add a Comment