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Driving in Bulgaria

Key rules, regulations and things to know

Driving: Drive on the right and overtake on the left.

Speed limits: 130 km/h (80 mph) on motorways - 90 km/h (56 mph) on other roads outside built-up areas - 50 km/h (31 mph) in built-up areas. The toll roads in Bulgaria are well surfaced, other roads can be rough, so it is advised that you drive slower on these to avoid an accident or damage the vehicle that you are driving.

Driving Age: The minimum driving age is 18yrs Minimum Driving Ages European Countries - Here Check with your car rental company about the minimum and maximum age to hire a car

Driving licence: Citizens of other EU countries and Switzerland are allowed to drive with their valid national driving licences. Citizens of non-EU countries may drive in Bulgaria with their valid national driving licences for one year

Seat Belts: It is the law to wear a seat belt including in the back seats if belts are fitted Children under the age of 12 and/or less than 150cm tall may not travel in the front seat and must use appropriate restraints.

Driver of motorbikes must wear safety helmets.

Mobile Phones: Mobile phones may only be used with a hands free system. Don't risk using one as you can receive a heavy fine in most countries and more important cause a serious accident.

Road Signs: Road signs are in the Latin as well as the Cyrillic alphabet

Drink and Driving: The blood/alcohol limit in Bulgaria is 0.05 alcohol per 100ml blood. More information Here

Headlights: Dipped headlights are recommended to be used during daylight hours all year round and they must be used in the winter months - 1st November - 1st March.

Snowchains: Snow chains should be carried in the car in the winter from 1st November to 31st March. The road signs will indicate when snow chains are compulsory or not. The use of snow tyres is not legally required.

Warning / Emergency Equipment: All vehicles must carry a warning triangle, reflective vest, fire extinguisher and a first aid kit.

Parking: You must par a vehicle on the left only in a one-way street. Parking in larger towns is on a pay basis. Restricted parking zones are marked as either Blue or Green zones and are paid for on a Pay and Display principle. In Sofia the capital, a Blue zone charge fee can be paid to a parking warden or by sending a text message to 1302. Payment is by the hour. After sending the text message, the subscriber gets a confirmation that the payment is successful. Five minutes before the pre-paid hour elapses, the subscriber receives a notification that they need to renew their payment.

In most other towns parking in Green and Blue zones is payable either at a parking meter or to a parking warden that will be present on the spot, following the Pay and Display principle. Unless designated by signs, parking is free of charge in other areas. In central urban areas in Bulgaria, paid car parks are common.

Disabled Parking: Cars parking in disabled parking spaces must display the blue disabled parking card. Places for disabled people are marked with a wheelchair sign.

Part Source: Anglo-Info | Economy Car Hire / zest car rental

Union des Automobilistes Bulgares (UAB) - To enter the site, click on the image above left

Bulgaria offers a mixture of spectacular mountain ranges and golden beaches stretching along the Black Sea coastline. There is an array of beach and ski resorts to keep you entertained, with Bulgaria been cited as a great value ski destination. The nightlife throughout Bulgaria is also renowned for being lively.

Bulgaria offers a fantastic combination of sun, sea, sand and culture. There are plenty of walks to indulge in and allow you to immerse yourself in the stunning scenery of this diverse country.

Things to See and Do

Seek out some of Bulgaria's festivals which are an important part of Bulgarian rural life. Bulgaria is rich in the folklore traditions of folk dances, music, national costumes and traditional rituals.

Hit the slopes at the major ski resorts of Bansko, Borovets, or Pamporovo

Enjoy the mountainous scenery of the Rila Mountains. Visit the city of Sofia, it is a modern and lively capital with over 300 bars, restaurants, discos, and cafes.

Enjoy sun, sea and sand at one of the Black Sea coastal resorts which include Sunny Beach and Golden Sands

Go on a mountaineering or climbing trip which can be arranged in the areas of Vratsa, Veliko Tarnovo, Trojan, Maliovitza and Roussenski Lom. There are plenty of caves and rock formations and ancient cave paintings to explore.

Go horse riding in the Danube Valley, the Balkan, Rila and Stara Planina Mountains and the Valley of Roses. Try Mountain biking in the Rhodopi Mountains, there are some good trails and scenery here.

Visit the ancient Bailusheva pine forests, limestone rocks in Pirin National Park, the seven lakes and the 10th century monastery in Rila National Park.

Source: Economy Car Hire / zest car rental

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FACT FILE — Bulgaria

Bulgaria is situated in south-eastern Europe, in the north-eastern part of the Balkan Peninsula. It has a territory of 110 911 square kilometres which is 22% of the Balkan Peninsula. Its length is 520 km and its width is 330 km. The overall length of its borders is 2245 km. Bulgaria borders to the north on Rumania (the frontier line runs along the Danube river and continues on land to the north-east), to the south — on Greece and Turkey, to the west — on Serbia and Macedonia (former Yugoslavia) and to the east — on the Black Sea.

The Official Name is Republic of Bulgaria and the Capital City is Sofia.

Other major towns and cities include Stara Zagora, Varna, Rusie, Kurdzhali, Blagoevgrad, Pleven and Burgas.

There are 9 provinces (oblasti, singular—oblast); Burgas, Grad Sofia, Khaskovo, Lovech, Montana, Plovdiv, Ruse, Sofia, Varna

Bulgaria became a member of the EU on the 1st January 2007

The Climate: Summers on the Black Sea coast are hot, inland warm summers and cold winters (with snow) are commonplace. The climate in Northern Bulgaria is moderate continental, while the climate in Southern Bulgaria is intermediate continental tending to Mediterranean.

Marked by four distinct seasons, Bulgaria enjoys a generally favourable climate that is one of the country's best features. Although located at the same latitude as southern New England, Bulgaria's climate is noticeably more temperate. Summers are typically hot and dry, but rarely oppressive, with moderate relative humidity. Winters are cold but not bitterly so. In the south and Black Sea coastal regions, Mediterranean influences temper the harsher continental climate of the interior.

The country's mountains climate effects also help in determining regional variations of weather.In the capital, Sofia, daytime high temperatures average 82°F/28°C in July-August; 37°F/3°C in January, and reflect the ameliorating effects of nearby Mt. Vitosha. The wettest months are April-May and November in the interior; June, October and December along the coast. In mid-summer, the coast enjoys prodigious sunshine.

Religions: Bulgarian Orthodox, Muslim, other.

Population: 8,155,000

Currency: The unit of currency in Bulgaria is the lev w hich is made up of 100 stotinki. Currency Conversion Here

Electricity: The voltage is 230 Volts with standard European 2 pin plugs.

Telephone Country Code: + 359

Landforms: The Balkan Mountains run through the central part of the country, the Rhodope Mountains through the southwestern part (near the border with Greece), with fertile lowlands covering the north and southeast. The Danube River forms the northern border with Romania

Sea resorts

Albena The major resort north of Varna, Albena occupies a pretty stretch of coast just north of Varna and south of Cape Kavarna.

Sunny Beach: Sunny Beach is a resort center, which is situated in the southern part of the Bulgarian seaside, 6 km north of Nessebar and 42 km north-east of Bourgas. It is located in the close proximity of the arched Nessebar bay.

Golden Sands: Golden Sands Resort is situated in the north part of the Black Sea, 17 km from Varna.

Nessebar: Nessebar — the pearl of the South coast of the Black Sea, is one of the most ancient towns in Europe. The town, founded 3000 years ago by the Thracians by the name of Messemvria, is situated at a little rocky peninsula.

Sozopol Situated 34 kilometers south of Bourgas upon a small peninsula, Sozopol is the oldest town at the Bulgarian seaside. Founded in the year 610 B.C. by the Greeks.

Sveti Konstantin: Sveti Konstantin Resort is situated in the North part of the Bulgarian seaside , 8 km from the town of Varna.

Ski resorts

Bansko The town of Bansko is situated at the Glazne river at the northeastern bottom of the Pirin Mountains, 160 km south of Sofia, 60 km southeast of Blagoevgrad. Bansko is one of the biggest mountain resorts in Bulgaria with a long winter to take advantage of its modern, well developed skiing and sport facilities.

Pamporovo: Pamporovo, the second major Bulgarian mountain resort, is located 1650 m above sea level in the Western Rhodopes, 16km from Smolyan, among evergreen spruce forests, picturesque meadows, strange rock formations and beautiful mountain peaks. Due to the Mediterranean influence the climate is mild with bracing air and the good snow-cover provides excellent skiing conditions from mid-December to mid-April.

Borotets: The oldest Bulgarian resort, Borovets, is hidden among the aromatic pine woods covering the northern slopes of Mount Musala in Rila mountains, 12 km south of Samokov and 72 km of Sofia.

Vitosha: A wooded mass of granite 19km long by 17 km wide, Mount Vitosha, whose foothills begin some 7 km from the centre of the Bulgarian capital, is very much a part of the city and is the source of its pure water and fresh breezes. Vitosha is the cradle of hiking tourism in Bulgaria and every year thousands of hikers climb its highest peak.

Spa resorts

Bankya: Bankya is a world-wide known health resort. It is situated in the beautiful valley at the green foothills of the Lyulin mountain, 17 km far from Sofia, at an altitude of 630-640 m.

Devin: Devin is a renowned spa and holiday resort. It is situated amid scenic hills in the heart of the Rhodopes at an altitude of 710 — 780 m.

Hissarya: The well-known spa of Augusta (the ancient name of Hissarya) is situated in the centre of Bulgaria, in the southern folds of the Sredna Gora Mountain, 42 km north of Plovdiv (the second biggest town in the country) and 160 km east of Sofia (the capital). It is close to the famous Valley of Roses.

Pavel Banya: Situated on the right bank of the Tundja river, Pavel Banya is an unquestionable leader in the top chart of the Bulgarian resorts.

Sandanski: Situated at an altitude of 224 m in the valley of the Sandanska Bistritsa River, at the foot of the magnificent south-western slopes of the Pirin Mountain, the town of Sandanski is famous for the beauty of its scenery and a wealth of resources for spa and climatic treatment. This is the warmest and sunniest town in Bulgaria with the least temperature variations throughout the year.

Varna is Bulgaria's third largest city with a population of 370,000. It is the main port for both naval and commercial shipping and the city that is beside the beach has a pleasant atmosphere with many pedestrianised areas. It is on the same latitude as Nice, Monaco and Cannes. Connections are now improved from the UK with British Airways having an all year round service. There are new golf courses being built and a €25million grant has been awarded by the EU for the development of a marina.

Source jmlvillas.com - (some of this information has been provided by jmlvillas.com clients)


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Emergency Telephone number: pan-EU Emergency 112 Can be used in all EU Countries and it can be dialled from a locked mobile or a mobile with no sim card. We have driving guides for those countries marked in red below (plus other non EU member European countries).

Austria - Belgium - Bulgaria - Cyprus - Czech Republic - Denmark - Estonia - Finland - France - Germany - Greece - Hungary - Ireland - Italy - Latvia - Lithuania - Luxembourg - Malta- Netherlands - Poland - Portugal - Romania - Slovakia - Slovenia - Spain - Sweden

Drink Drive Laws - Examples of what can be drunk at present

It is not a lot and in some countries even to drink the glass on the right would be breaking the law if you drove afterwards in others a sip would be too much see "Wine" below

"Wine - even a sip will send you over the limit and invalidate your insurance in Parkistan, Cuba, Indonesia, Romania, Jordan and Nigeria, according to Rhinocarhire.com which produces a comprehensive guide." The A to Z of car hire - The Independent - August 2010

See this guide for further information

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Emergency Telephone Numbers in Europe:

Emergency Telephone number: pan-EU Emergency 112 Can be used in all EU Countries and it can be dialled from a locked mobile or a mobile with no sim card.

Driving abroad - British Government website. Contains general information about driving abroad and gives you the option to search for specific advice by country

Finally, Don’t forget your excess cover and buy it before you set off

Excess charges could cost you up to £1,000 or more. Protect yourself by organising your insurance4carrental car hire insurance before you head to Europe.

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