Bulgaria: Hiring A Car
By Michael Coy
The following guide to car rental in Bulgaria offers information on six large rental firms. It's worth bearing in mind that:
"Bulgarian provision for visitors is growing rapidly, and there are many local car hire firms
"The data included here refers to winter 2005-6, and seasonal variations are inevitable
"Though Bulgaria uses the cyrillic alphabet (it's like Russian lettering), street signs in the major cities are also printed in Roman letters (ie, using our alphabet)
This guide gives a brief overview of the big international hire franchises, and introduces one or two of the smaller operators. It will be a matter of personal choice for you: staying with the big boys is probably safer and more reliable - you know what you're getting. On the other hand, the smaller outfits are generally cheaper, and can provide many more service points - certainly inland.
WHERE TO PICK UP YOUR HIRE CAR
Bulgaria has three sizeable international airports, SOFIA, the capital city, VARNA and BOURGAS, which both serve the Black Sea Coast. All three are obvious and convenient pick-up points. Hertz and Europcar have rental desks at all three airports, Avis does not offer Bourgas. Moto Roads and Sixt have pick up/drop off facilities at Sofia and Bourgas.
2.Downtown or Resort Locations
Hertz offers two collection and drop-off points in downtown Sofia: the Boulevard Vasil Levski and Rakovski Street. Europcar has rental desks at the Central Hotel and Kozloduy Street. Avis does not provide downtown locations.
Europcar has rental desks at the Mirage Hotel, and at its "Bourgas Downtown location
HOLIDAY RESORTS CLOSE TO BOURGAS
Europcar has two pick up/drop off points in the resort village of Sveti Vlas, near Nessebar. These are the Briz Complex Resort and the Laguna Hotel.
Hertz offers the Duni Holiday Club as a rental point.
The Iberostar Sunny Beach Hotel is the Hertz pick up/drop off point.
THE MAJOR CAR HIRE OPERATORS
Hertz provides an online booking service for the three smallest vehicles on its list - the Daewoo Matiz (0.8), the Seat Ibiza (1.0) and the Seat Cordoba (1.4). Daily hire prices for these three are (in euros) as of December 2005: 85.40 for the Matiz, 93.40 for the Ibiza and 110.40 for the Cordoba. The six more expensive models, all with air conditioning, do not have online prices quoted. Vehicle types include Audi A4 and A6, Seat Alhambra and Kia Sportage.
The Avis fleet is organised into eight categories. Prices quoted here are for daily hire (in euros), as of December 2005:
A (Opel Corsa 1.0) 93.60
B (Opel Corsa 1.2) 98.40
C (Ford Focus 1.6) 123.60
D (Opel Astra 1.6) price not available
E (Toyota Avensis 1.6) 135.60
F (Opel Vectra 1.8) 147.60
G (Opel Sintra minibus) 159.60
H Landrover Freelander 166.80
This huge hire franchise offers nine classes of vehicle, ranging from "mini up to "luxury". Readers are recommended to explore the website for fuller details.
This American-owned firm provides a bewildering choice of car models - three Opels, three Chevrolets, no less than twelve Renaults, three Mazdas, as well as Fords, Mercedes and 4X4 jeeps.
It has contact points in nine Bulgarian cities, including Plovdiv, Bansko and Borovets, and provides a free transfer service from Sofia Airport to the car hire office. Moto Roads can also offer guided tours and themed vacations. Its per-day rental prices start at 15 euros!
Sara Tours (www.rentacarbulgaria.info)
This new Bulgarian company (launched 2001) provides accommodation and tours, with car rental as just one of its services. Sara permits you to drop off at various points in Sofia free of charge - but prefers you to phone to arrange pick up.
Hire vehicles (almost exclusively Opels) are divided into six classes: Class A has a 1.2 engine size, rising to 1.8 in Class F. Hire periods are also rigidly defined, consisting of 1-3 days, 4-6 days, 7 days. Weekend and monthly hire.
Prices given here (in euros) are daily hire rates as of December 2005:
A (Corsa) 32
B (Astra) 41
C (Meriva) 43
D (Astra 1.6) 46
E (Vectra) 50
F (Zafira) 58
Operating out of both major airports and several other cities such as Duni, Eleni and Plovdiv, Sixt also offers a pick up/drop off facility at five Sofia hotels (the Gurko, the Rila, the Kempinski, the Oborishte and the Princess).
Daily hire prices, in euros (as of December 2005):
VW Polo 60
Renault Clio 67
Renault Megane 78
Renault Megane 90
Opel Vectra 96
Ford Mondeo 102
Chrysler Sebring 108
Audi A6 114
Mercedes E 120
Mercedes Vito 126
About The Author
Michael Coy is a qualified Barrister and teacher in English, History and French. Michael regularly contributes articles to Sunseeker Homes (www.sunseekerhomes.com) the Spanish property information website.