If you decide to travel on your own to Romania, here is a short list of tips that might be useful when planning your vacation.
According to the latest Travel Risk Map of International SOS, Romania is one of the safest countries in the world. Nevertheless, you should take care of your belongings. Don’t forget to lock the car, don’t walk around with your bag or backpack opened and dial the emergency phone number 112 in case you need it.
Photo source: International SOS
Getting to Romania
Flying to Romania is the easiest option in most cases. The main airport of the country is a few kilometers outside Bucharest, but you can find direct flights to cities like Timisoara, Oradea, Cluj-Napoca, Sibiu, Iasi and Constanta. Domestic flights are also a good and reasonably priced option if you book your tickets in time.
When to visit
Romania has a temperate continental climate with four seasons. The summers are very hot and the winters are cold, especially in the mountain areas. Spring and autumn months have the highest levels of rain. It snows mainly in January and February, more heavily in the mountain areas.
The best time to visit is late April to early November if you want to see as many landmarks as possible. Winter days are short and many attractions are closed or have a short schedule during this season.
For a complete weather forecast, check www.meteoromania.ro.
Costs and payment methods
Romania is not an expensive country compared to Western or Central Europe. Eating out lunch or dinner will cost you around 15 Euros in an average priced restaurant, with lower prices outside Bucharest.
The national currency is Leu (RON). While in many cases the price for a service is also listed in EUR, you can pay with Romanian currency if you use cash.
For the exact exchange rate, check www.cursbnr.ro.
Photo source: commons.wikimedia.org
Don’t exchange cash at the airport as the rate is very disadvantageous or in exchange offices that don’t mention a zero commission. You’ll find plenty of banks and exchange offices in all cities.
You can pay for most services with your credit card, but you should always have some cash with you.
Driving around Romania
If you ever felt that driving in Italy is a bit noisy and chaotic, Romania will offer you a similar experience. Try to anticipate as much as possible the other drivers’ intentions. Most of them are always in a hurry to overtake you.
Avoid driving in rush hours in big cities. The traffic is crazy at this time and, in almost all cases, the must-see attractions can be easily reached on foot.
While driving in the countryside, especially in the more isolated villages, keep a low speed as most likely you’ll find ducks, geese or even cows returning to their homes in late afternoons. The animals know very well their way and will not change their rhythm even if you rush them. So be patient and enjoy the atmosphere. Take a map and a GPS with you, if you’re planning a road trip around the country.
Public transportation in Romania is safe and budget-friendly, but it might prove a bit of an adventure as the information is rarely translated into English. Don’t be shy if you need help.
The railway network covers the entire country, but the trains are rather slow. While, for example, it’s easy to get from Bucharest to Brasov by train, we wouldn’t recommend planning to travel your entire vacation this way. Check the train schedule before leaving in case you’ll need to make connections between different cities on www.mersultrenurilor.ro.
Photo source: commons.wikimedia.org
Most local airports from Romania are connected by public buses to the city centers. Look for the exact schedule on the airports’ websites. Two express buses depart from Henri Coanda International Airport, Bucharest, 780 that goes to the main train station and 783 that goes to the city center. The buses usually depart every half an hour. If you need to use local transportation in Bucharest, choose the subway as the buses are usually overcrowded.
Taxis and car sharing services
If you’re picking a taxi from the airport or the main train station from Bucharest, Gara de Nord, announce the driver from the beginning that you’ll need a stamped receipt. Don’t accept any rides from taxi drivers who are insistent or harassing. At the airport, only order a taxi from the yellow machines at the Arrivals terminal. At Gara de Nord, only pick up the taxis that are authorized to be there, not the ones outside the barrier area.
We recommend using Uber or other car sharing services available instead of taking a cab. You can find Uber in Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca and Brasov.
Don’t start a hike without proper mountain equipment, maps or useful information on water sources, on the trail, weather forecast or information about the camping sites. In case you get lost or need medical help, call the mountain rescue service at 0725826668.
If you love cycling and plan to do it in Romania, you should know that this activity is more popular than ever even for locals. Still, the cycling infrastructure does not keep up. Few cities have proper biking trails and Bucharest is not one of them. The best and safest option is to plan a cycling tour in the regions of Romania that have a proper network of marked biking routes.
Choosing a tour guide
If you’re planning to hire a tour guide or to use the services of a local travel agency for city tours or one day tours, be sure you book only a licensed company. According to the Romanian law, it’s mandatory to publish on the travel agency’s website the tourism license and the insurance policy. The same goes for tour guides, double check they have the necessary permit for it.