The Road System in Bulgaria
One reason why the road system in Bulgaria should be understood by travellers is that you need a vignette on the national roads. Therefore, it is important to enquire about the structure of the road system before your trip. You can buy an online vignette for Bulgaria beforehand and receive a confirmation by e-mail within minutes.
Many holidaymakers in Bulgaria first travel to the capital city, Sofia, to continue from there to the eastern part, i.e., to the coast of the Black Sea. If you are planning a trip like this, you have a long drive ahead. You will most likely stay on the country’s national roads, but there are also scenic routes that are off the beaten track.
We will give you an overview of the local road system and reveal what special features await motorists on Bulgarian roads.
Bulgaria Motorways – The Network
The interesting thing about the road network in Bulgaria is the story behind it. Most drivers take it for granted that the country has a well-developed road network, but until 1994, this was anything but a matter of course.
At the time, only one motorway existed, leading from the capital city of Sofia to the second-largest city, Plovdiv. Looking at the roads today, it becomes clear what great progress the country has made in recent years. The development since the country’s entry into the EU is especially apparent on the motorways in Bulgaria.
The network of roads and motorways in the country today extends to a length of almost 20,000 kilometres. There are still many sections under construction, but overall, there are many connections and good-quality roads in almost all parts of the country.
The structure of the Bulgarian road system
The motorway in Bulgaria probably plays the most important role for holidaymakers. These roads are also the routes that are subject to tolls. The motorway is followed by the Republic roads, which are divided into first- and second-class sections. We will give you an overview of the Bulgarian system.
The main Bulgaria motorway routes that run across the country are the A1 (name: Trakija) and the A2 (name: Hemus). Both routes start in the capital in the west and end on the Black Sea coast in the east.
The A3, A4, and A6 are motorways that drivers use to reach the country’s border crossings. For example, the A3 (name: Struma) runs from Sofia to the Greek border, while the A4 (name: Mariza) runs from Chirpan to the Turkish border.
The Republic roads are often referred to as the main roads. They are categorized into two parts. The numbering on the road signs indicates to which category the respective road belongs to.
Besides the motorways, the Republic roads also serve as important road sections in Bulgaria. They connect larger and smaller cities with each other and partly run from one national border to the other.
The second-class roads are also sections of roads that are frequented daily by Bulgarians and tourists alike. There are 44 second-class roads in total, which can be found in almost all regions of the country.
The most important are the II-19 and the II-80, which lead to the Greek border. The II-18, which is also known as the Sofia Ring Road and leads like a ring around the capital, is of particular relevance.
When talking about a trip by car through Bulgaria, comments about the country’s bridges are sure to come up. They are also an important part of the road system.
There are two major bridges that connect Bulgaria with Romania: the old Danube Bridge (Giurgiu-Rousse Friendship Bridge) and the Danube Bridge 2 (New Europe Bridge).
Traffic regulations and speed
Since the traffic regulations and speeds in Bulgaria differ to some extent from those elsewhere in Europe, it is important to also mention these two aspects in relation to the road network.
What you are obliged to carry with you and regulations
Travellers driving their vehicles on the Bulgarian motorway should know that the use of a high-visibility vest is mandatory for all occupants in case of an emergency when exiting the vehicle.
Drinking and driving or using a mobile phone while driving are both considered an absolute no-go in Bulgaria. If you do not abide by the rules, you must expect to be fined.
The maximum speed limit on Bulgarian motorways is 130 km/h for car drivers. On some new stretches of road, the speed limit is 140 km/h. If the limit is exceeded, the driver faces hefty fines.