Driving To Bulgaria; What Does It Cost?

Driving to bulgaria? What does it cost? We’ve done it three times now and every time I say never again! We’ve had many questions about the cost and how effective it was to drive in comparison to flying. This post explores the different routes we’ve taken and how much it cost.

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Veliko Tarnovo

2018 Route

We drove from West Sussex to Mezdra and took a holiday for a week in Liechtenstein. We chose to take a holiday because Rich was working overseas in China and I didn’t want to do the drive alone with the kids and animals.

Disclaimer:

  1. This is not the most direct or the cheapest route.
  2. This route avoids Serbia – read below as to why.

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Our route to Bulgaria
2018: Our route to Bulgaria

Travelling On The New Motorway Through Serbia

There is a newly built motorway that enables you to travel from Hungary to Bulgaria through Serbia (thus eliminating Romania) BUT and this is a big however, Serbia is not in the EU….

Some people have told me that if you travel through a non-EU country with an EU pet passport that this voids the EU passport. This is not true and I can find no official vet to confirm this however I have heard horror stories of bribery & corruption at the Serbian border involving a pet and some people have told me that British vets will not sign the Serbian health certificate because it isn’t a DEFRA form… DISCLAIMER: All third hand stories not verified!

Supposedly, f you’re travelling with a pet there is an additional requirement of a health certificate, translated into Serbian, and a vet checking the pet at the border and a subsequent fee. DISCLAIMER: We have travelled through Serbia twice since with our dog and three cats, border officials have seen them and we’ve not been questioned or asked for further documentation.

So for this reason we did not drive through Serbia in 2018 – although we have done twice since.

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Our Bear

What do we drive?

We’re currently driving a 2002 Lexus RX300, 4×4 with two adults, three kids, a 50kg dog and a roof box. We’re in eastern Europe until at least December so we are packed full and as the dog takes up the entire boot/trunk we need a roof box.

It has a 75 litre fuel tank and for motorway driving we generally sit on 80mph/130kmh.

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Lexus
What our car looked like when it was new

Crossing At The Eurotunnel

We left West Sussex early on a Saturday morning as we booked a Eurotunnel for 10:30am. There were some slight delays which meant we were able to pop into the dog park at the Eurotunnel terminal which is really good. Even for a dog who doesn’t like other dogs, he had fun!

Eurotunnel – £102

Petrol – £93.73

Total – £195.73

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Driving to Bulgaria, via the Eurotunnel

Driving Through France

We arrived in Calais at roughly 1pm and made our way over to Nancy in the north-east. We’d booked two rooms in an F1 hotel not remembering that the bathrooms are all shared. The rooms are only 9sq/m big and the dog seemed to take up a lot of room!

Peage – €6.10. 3.60. 22.80€

F1 hotel – €75

Petrol – €95.01

Total – €202.51 / £178.74

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Driving to Bulgaria; Staying in the F1 hotel where the dog had visions above himself.

Crossing Switzerland

I dropped Rich off at Zurich airport on the Sunday afternoon as he had business meetings the following week. The kids and I decided that instead of carrying on driving over to eastern Europe, we would wait in Liechtenstein for him to join us on the Friday night.

In hindsight this was an expensive stop-over and there was no reason why I couldn’t have driven further alone.

Vignette – CHF 40

Petrol – CHF 108.75

Total – CHF 148.75 / £113.10

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Driving through Switzerland with our vignette
Driving through Switzerland with our vignette

Liechtenstein

One week’s accommodation in Liechtenstein £537 / €608.50

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Gangalissee
Gangalissee in Liechtenstein

Vignette At The Austrian Border

Driving from Liechtenstein we very briefly crossed the Austrian border before heading up and through Germany, although we later met Austria again.

Vignette – €26.20

Total – €26.20 / £23.12

Traversing Germany

Germany’s drive was long and tedious. It is all autobahn which is a delight really as the roads are in perfect condition and there’s no real speed limit but by this stage the trip was seemingly endless.

We’d limited ourselves to roughly 8 hours of driving per day but it turned into 10 hours because of dog stops.

Toll – €0.70

Petrol – €89.09

Meal at a service station: 58.86€

Total: €148.65 / £131.20

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A car park somewhere in Europe
A car park somewhere in Europe

Oh Hungary

After having our passports checked at the Hungarian border we slipped over the border to our hotel with no drama.

I can really recommend Nimrod Hotel as it’s not far from the main road and has three supermarkets and some restaurants within a few minutes walk.  The surrounding area was also very green and grassy and meant I could walk the dog before he went to bed and before we left the next morning.

Vignette – 2975 / €10 – 10 days

Hotel – 35325

Petrol – 20,740

Tesco shopping for lunch and dinner – 7,437

Breakfast at McDonalds (yes terrible!) – 6,750

Total: 73,227 / £200.14

Driving to Bulgaria

Driving to Bulgaria; a screenshot of one day’s route.

Cutting Through Romania

We had a horrendous drive through Hungary with huge queues and delays. It meant that our 8 hour drive was in fact 11.5 hours. To say we were exhausted was an understatement.

The problem with being in the car all day is despite being exhausted, the dog still needs walking and that is a challenge when you arrive at your destination at 10pm and just want to sleep.

Hotel – 403.19 ron

Meal out – 116 ron

Carrefour shopping – 92 ron

Petrol – 349.20

Total: 960.39 / £181.83

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The Vidin Danube Bridge
The Vidin Danube Bridge

Arriving At The Bulgarian Border

The Bulgarian border at Vidin was very different to the border we crossed last year at Giurgiu (friendship bridge). For starters we waited to have our passports checked and that took about an hour and then we had to buy the vignette which took about 30 minutes.

As you’ve finished with passport control, you’re required to pay €6 for the road toll before pulling over to buy the vignette.

€6 – toll

54 lev – vignette 3 months

Total: £29.66 / €33.59

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Eventually reaching Bulgaria
Eventually reaching Bulgaria

2018 GRAND TOTAL

I haven’t included the week in Liechtenstein in this total. If you want a week in Liechtenstein, obviously add on the difference from above.

£1,053.52

Driving to bulgaria

Driving to Bulgaria; our route 2018

2019 Route

In September 2019 we undertook the drive again but this time from Norwich. We left at 10am on Friday and arrived on Sunday at 3pm! It is a long, boring and hard slog and each time we do it we say ‘never again’.

This time we decided to drive as long as possible for as cheaply as possible. This is because we were towing a high sided trailer, plus had the car and a roof box full of stuff and we weighed approximately 3.5 tonnes! We were forced to drive much slower than we normally would.

The only difference with this route is that we no longer have our beautiful dog and thus didn’t need to stop for pee breaks with him.

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Driving to Bulgaria map route
The route we took to Bulgaria

Crossing At The Eurotunnel

Because of the trailer, the crossing fee was significantly more than we usually pay. Had we not had the trailer we could have saved up to £270 on this crossing fee.

£2.50 dartford crossing

£68 petrol

Eurotunnel – £371

Total: £441.50

We Crossed Through Belgium

Petrol €80.58 /£ 71.67

Food: €25.90 / £ 23.03

Toilet: €0.70 / £ 0.63

Total:  107.18 / £95.33

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Driving to Bulgaria
Driving to Bulgaria

Skirting through The Netherlands

We very briefly traversed a tiny corner of the Netherlands and had to stop for a pee break! We ended up buying food before entering Germany.

Food: €20.40 / £ 18.17

Total: €20.40 / £ 18.17

Germany Seemed Endless

Germany just loomed forever and seemed endless. Getting over to Neuremberg took forever and at one point Rich fell asleep, only to wake asking ‘What country are we in?’…. My response ‘Yeh, still Germany!’…. We stopped for petrol twice

Petrol: €100.01 / £ 89.08

Petrol: €77.73 / £ 69.58

Food €15.46 / £ 13.84

Total: €193.20 / £ 172.50

First Vignette in Austria

Austria sadly didn’t seem to fair any better than Germany. We headed towards Vienna but it seemed a long time getting there.

Finally we crossed the border into Hungary at Neue Teilung

Petrol & Vignette: €108.50 /£99.27

Petrol: €92.16 / £ 82.50

Food €16.84 / £ 15.08

Total: €217.50 / £ 196.85

Hungary Was Terrible Again!

It seemed like all the roads had 60 or 80 km p/h speed limits and endless road works with nobody working them. I just remember the journey being very slow and frustrating.

e-Vignette: 3500 / £9.10

McDonalds: 6220 / £ 16.17

Toll: 22308 / £ 59.88

Total: 32008 / £ 85.15

Four Hours At The Serbian Border

This is the third time we’ve crossed the Serbian border in various places and we’ve always had between a 3-4 hour queue. It is one of the main reasons I think driving thrugh Romania and Timisoara is benefecial.

We arrived at roughly 10pm and after a four hour wait, we had to produce passports and then open the car, roof box and trailer for examination. I was SO worried that they would make us empty the trailer but thankfully they just snooped in the first few boxes. I definitely did not fancy trying to repack it at 2am!

We pulled over at 5am and slept somewhere near Belgrade for about two hours.

Petrol: 8732.86 / £ 66.94

Total: 8732.86 / £ 66.94

Bulgarian Border

We were stopped again at the Bulgarian border and had to open up our trailer and provide the cat’s pet passports. The trailer was opened and again they looked through the first few boxes but as it was packed to the roof, they seemed a little overwhelmed by the amount of boxes we had!

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Our trailer to Bulgaria
Our trailer to Bulgaria

2019 GRAND TOTAL

So, was near constant driving with no hotel stops and only grabbing a few hours in the car worth it? I feel like I am too old now to be sleeping in the car and driving through the night. I very much like my creature comforts and I love my sleep. However had we stopped at hotels we probably wouldn’t have arrived until Tuesday. That would have made it nearly a five day journey and that would have been even more horrendous.

£1,076.44

DISCLAIMER: If you have no trailer you can save up to £270 on the crossing and of course you wouldn’t require as much fuel.

I Used My Revolut Card To Pay For Everything

Revolut is our top international card to use. It’s simple to use, it’s topped up within the app, I can see everything I spend in real time, I get notifications when a payment has gone out and I can add multiple currencies. For us, it’s a win win, I have ultimate control over the card and not the bank!

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Do you want to know some of the costs associated with driving from England to Bulgaria? Here's our cost list for 3 children and a dog.

Don’t Leave Us Just Yet. See what Else We’ve Been Up To In Bulgaria

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