Safety and security
Although the threat from terrorism in Bulgaria is low, there is still a global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by tourists and expatriates.
We strongly advise you to avoid protests and not to take photographs. Keep up-to-date with local media reports and follow the advice of the local authorities.
Taxi drivers sometimes overcharge travellers, particularly at airports, train and bus stations and from outside hotels. We recommend that you use reputable taxi companies with cars that have meters and clearly-marked rates displayed on a sticker on the passenger side of the windscreen. Check these rates to make sure you’re getting value for money.
At Sofia airport you should use a taxi from OK Supertrans at the official rank by booking at their desk in the arrivals hall.
In tourist resorts such as Sunny Beach use a taxi recommended by your tour operator or accommodation provider.
If you suspect that you’ve been overcharged, you can contact the traffic police (KAT) through the 112 emergency number. Alternatively, you can bring the receipt and details of the driver’s registration to the Sunny Beach JSC resort management company.
If you’re planning to drive in Bulgaria, you should be extremely careful. Road conditions can be dangerous, with roads (and pavements) often poorly maintained, poorly lit and full of potholes. You should avoid driving at night time, especially outside major cities.
Bulgarian driving tends to be aggressive and we recommend that you avoid confrontations with aggressive drivers. There can be a large number of trucks and lorries on the major roadways towards Turkey and Greece. It is not unusual to encounter slow-moving cars and animal-drawn vehicles on the roads. Equally, high-speed driving is common and drivers should remain alert.
Winter driving in Bulgaria can be difficult and you should make sure you’re adequately prepared. Snow chains must be carried from 1 November until 1 March and used when the relevant sign is displayed. Winter tyres are compulsory for vehicles registered in Bulgaria during wintry road conditions.
Legally, you must drive with running lights or dipped beam headlights throughout the year, even during the daytime. It’s compulsory to carry the following equipment in your vehicle: fire extinguisher (not required for 2-wheeled vehicles), a first-aid kit and a warning triangle (not required for 2-wheeled vehicles). A reflective jacket must be used by anyone who steps on to the road in a breakdown or emergency.
If you want to drive:
- Bring your full Irish driving license and make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance.
- If you’re bringing your own car, make sure you have all original registration and ownership documents.
- To travel on the roads between cities in Bulgaria, cars must display a ‘vignette’ or road tax sticker. You can buy these in large filling stations, post offices, DZI bank offices and at the border points and ports.
- Be aware of Bulgaria’s traffic laws, such as speed limits. These are: 50km/h in the cities and towns, 90km/h out of town, and 130 km/h on the highways. For motorcycles, speed limits are 50 km/h in the cities and towns, 80 km/h out of town, and 100 km/h on the highways.
Police checkpoints are common, particularly as you leave a town, and on-the-spot fines can be charged for minor violations. There are, however, reports of police officers attempting extortion through fines.
If you’re hiring a vehicle in Bulgaria, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If you’re allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.
If you are bringing a hired car into Bulgaria, make sure to have the original contract document. The document should state that the car can be brought into Bulgaria.
Check that you have adequate insurance and read the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged).
Wed, 27 Apr 2016 15:48:14 BST