a VirtualTourist member from Germany
How bad are the roads if, for instance we travel by rented cars(Ford Focus, Kia Ceed STW) from the Airport of Bulgaria to Sofia, up to Belogradchik, then to Gabrovo, to Veliko Tarnovo, to the boundary of Rumania in Ruse up to Giurgiu then to Bukarest for a two day trip there then go back down to Bulgaria in Shumen then to Burgas (at the Black Sea) then Kazanluk( Rose Perfume Factory) then back to Sofia. I am accompanied by my Sister who lives in Chicago and my male German friend who speaks perfect(100%) Bulgarian language. This is the Itinerary of our Travel and we paid a part of it already for the month of July to August. It´s a high season so we thought ot booking in advance also with the car. My doubts are the road conditions. Maybe some of you have been to Bulagaria already. Must i be worried? Although it is hard to believe but some sources said kidnapping is a trend esp when you are a traveller, how true is it? It is a pleasure to know the conditions and situations esp. the boundary to Bucarest. Anyway, we book in many good and safe Hotels. Thank you in advance!
It seems nice trip, really :) Well, you have to know that Bulgaria doesn't have very good roads. Of course the main ones are ok (don't think they are black roads) but definitely not as in Germany. Sofia - Belogradchik is a highway half of it, the lest 20 km were not good last year in May but it's not a big deal. Then in north Bulgaria most of the roads are two-lane roads. But if you drive with the limited speed it will be ok. This is the high season in Bulgaria and many people are traveling to and from the sea so the traffic is big, it would be better if you travel early in the morning. The border in Ruse is actually just before the bridge and it is easily passed. Don't forget to buy a vinette in Romania from the first gas station on the right just after the bridge. I doubt you should be afraid of kidnapping but of course it's better not to give a ride to strangers. The traffic is bigger in south Bulgaria but we hope that in July the highway from Sofia to Burgas will be completed (still some km left) so it would be easier to drive. And on your way back from Kazanlak to Sofia why don't you think of a stop in Koprivshtitsa or/and Plovdiv?
To sum up, Bulgaria is not a third-world country but it is the poorest in EU so it matters. Just respect the speed and the law, mind the traffic, always lock the car and don't leave any bags and purses visible in the coupe of the car and don't forget to enjoy your trip!
Great answer Mira. The only thing I'll add is that I wouldn't advise driving in Sofia itself. It's very congested and they drive like crazy.
We drove through Bulgaria for 10 days in August a few years ago and had a great time. Honestly, I did not find the roads to be that bad--off the highways, the roads are small, but you're driving around small villages and there's no reason for them to be any larger! The conditions of the roads as far as paving, signage etc. was much better than I had been led to expect. If you drive intelligently (i.e. not like a race car driver), you'll be fine.
Good that you have one person in the group who can speak and especially read Bulgarian. Reading Cyrilllic is important because road signs, etc. are in that alphabet. I speak Russian, so I could read, but speaking was more of a challenge. There were many places (small villages) where there was no English spoken, but we scraped by and people were really nice anyway.
In all we had a great trip and would absolutely do it again. We rented the car as we were leaving Sofia, then went in a big loop through Rila, Melnik, Bansko, Plovdiv, Shipka, Veliko Tarnovo, and back to Sofia (with a lot of other stops that I can't remember).
Hi my 5 days in a rental car in June 3 years ago was the route much like travelmads - but I went from Sofia through those towns to Varna where I met the guy from the rental car company in Sofia who came to pick it up - at no extra charge. I absolutely loved Bulgaria...I was really surprised that it was as nice as it was and I am really hoping I have time to get back there to see more this year. I have grown up in NZ where we probably had a slow transition of road quality improvement so gravel roads and pot holey roads are probably fairly normal and anything better than that is a joy! and i found the roads in Bulgaria a joy really. I took quite a few side roads and got a lot of excellent photos. The hotel staff in the hotel in Sofia I stayed in were so lovely - one of the lades wrote some place names in Crillac and romanised to help me with some of the road signs - but otherwise I found it prertty good. The food is excellent and i met lovely people. Oh and it was the Rough Guide for Bulgaria that made such a difference I really reckon too!
Who needs a "Rough Guide" when there's so many great VT pages to consult??
I agree VT is great John but 12 years of full on travelling around Europe and Morocco I still swear by the Rough Guide..and the DK Eyewitness guide for special sites and info...and the LP for good places to stay and eat... for getting me to brilliant places that probably even the locals dont know about...then that info can get written in to help VT be a better place :)
I also used the Rough Guide for Bulgaria, among other information sources, and it led us to one of the most wild and unique experiences we've ever had--the Soviet-era monuments at the Shipka pass peak. Unbelievable. I still haven't put up VT tips on the whole trip, and who knows if I'll ever have the time for it, but it was in the Rough Guide!
I´m just arriving home from my night duty, very excited to read right away all your answers. Your answers gave me peace of mind to travel Bulgaria through Bukarest without thinking of danger. Of course I remain very watchful and eyes wide open like an eagle when I go through this travel to be aware of dangers. My male companion can read, write and speak the language bec of Bulgarian ancestors. To Mira, John Julie Angela a very special Thanks for the Tips and advices and to Harmen thank you too for the suggestion of visiting Plovdiv. If it is along the way and time enough then surely i will try to convince my companions. We will travel three weeks so there might be a space in between to have a look of Plodiv. Again Thank you very much. I´m very excited already.
Hi Plovdiv is one of the mustsee towns that usually are in the top sites visited in Bulgaria so Im sure you will get there - roman ampitheatre there too and beautiful wooden houses