You should keep your eyes open when parking in Bulgaria. Foreign drivers get most fines for illegal parking or overstaying the parking ticket.
There’s always a space in towns and villages where you can park your vehicle free of charge. Just look at road signs attentively.
Good news is that they are never hidden behind the bushes in Bulgaria. All paid parking attributes are in plain view.
In health resorts, such as Sunny Beach (Slanchev Bryag), St Vlas (Sveti Vlas), Golden Sands and others, there are many free parking lots and no tow trucks in the off-season. They seem to go into hibernation for the winter, like bears. In high season, you can find a free parking space only in the suburbs. And you should adhere to parking rules in large regional capitals even in the off-season.
Paid parking bays are marked with blue lines on the road surface. There will be a "P" sign and a poster explaining what the hourly parking rate is and when you may park free of charge.
If you see a short 4-digit number on the sign, it means that you can pay for parking from your phone (you’ll need a local SIM card). Just send an SMS with the licence plate number of your vehicle without any additional details.
An hourly parking rate of 1 lev (€0.5) (for unguarded parking areas) will be charged from your balance, and you will receive a message stating when your paid parking session expires.
Five minutes before the time runs out you will receive one more message remanding that your session is about to expire.
If there is no phone number in the poster below the sign, you should pay for parking at the meter.
There are parking facilities guarded 24/7 in every resort city. These are large outdoor areas near landmarks with the parking rate of 2 leva (€1).
Look around. If you don't see a parking meter, then you will most probably see a blue "P" sign that includes a word "TICKET" and an arrow. Follow it, and you will find the meter.
The minimum duration of paid parking session is a half-hour. The parking rates are stated at the meter. Drop the required number of coins, press the green button, and take your ticket. You should put the ticket under the windscreen.
At some parking facilities, you have to pay to the attendant who will give you a receipt. You need to put the receipt under the windscreen, too.
Paid parking areas are not marked with blue lines on the asphalt in some cities, like Varna, and you can identify them only by parking signs and meters.
Illegally parked vehicles are towed neatly, quickly, and “with zest”, as they say, especially in resort cities in high season.
Where you can’t park:
If in an unfortunate event, your car got towed, you need to find the nearest police officer or, even better, a taxi driver who not only knows where's the tow yard but will also get you there. Pay the fine, and you are a driving tourist again.