Ten Things You Should Know About Romania Before Visiting

Diana Condrea
Diana Condrea
Diana is a tourism consultant, tour guide, travel writer and amateur photographer, focusing on sustainable tourism practices and destinations. You can find Diana Condrea on Twitter and Google+

If you’re planning to visit Romania, check our tours on www.uncover-romania-tours.com

Romania is no longer the country everyone avoids, and, although much more exotic than its neighbor Hungary or nearby Croatia, it’s a destination that makes huge steps in leaving its undeserved bad rep behind.

If you’re planning a vacation to Romania, but you’re overwhelmed by all the forum posts you must read to find answers to basic questions, here are 10 things you should know about Romania before visiting. Simple facts that will make your planning easier and your experience smoother.

For more travel planning resources, check out this page.

Entry and visas for Romania

If you’re a citizen of the EU, US, Canada and 57 other countries, you don’t need a visa to enter Romania. Double check the requirements and apply at least two months before in case you need a visa.

Check here whether you need or not to apply for it.

Safety

Despite stereotypical images of dangerous Eastern Europe, we can assure you about Romania that is a safe country even for solo female travelers. You should take the same precaution measures as anywhere else. Stay away from taxi drivers that approach you on the street, keep your bags closed and don’t use large bills in very crowded places.

safety map

SOS International Travel Risk Map

RON versus EUR

We know it’s confusing when you get to Romania and want to pay in EUR, but you’re told you can only pay in RON. Especially because on most travel-related websites prices are listed in EUR and you make EUR payments for most services you buy for your trip even if the seller is a Romanian company.

The explanation is simple. The EUR is much more reliable for commercial and financial planning than the national currency RON. Plus, Romania is not part of the Eurozone yet. While you can pay in most places by credit card, have some RON in cash on you for everyday expenses.

Public transportation versus renting a car

Renting a car is what we recommend if you’re planning to travel across the country. While Romania’s train network looks excellent on paper, the reality is that except a few lines, the trains are slow and not very comfortable.

Buses are also an option, but they mainly serve the main destinations and you might find yourself lost in translation trying to navigate the complicated system of routes, changing schedules and phone reservations.

The only downside about renting a car is that many Romanian drivers don’t respect speed limits and always seem to be in a hurry to overtake every car on the road. Always keep a safe distance from the car in front and don’t plan for daily long drives. It always takes more than Google Maps estimates.

Domestic flights versus driving

Romania is a medium-sized country, the 12th largest in Europe, lacking a solid highway infrastructure. Long story short, it will take a lot of hours driving from Bucharest to Cluj-Napoca, from Bucharest to Satu Mare, from Bucharest to Oradea or Iasi, not to mention crossing the country from West to East.

airport

Photo source https://pixabay.com

Unless you’re planning your itinerary with many stops along the way, we suggest taking full advantage of the low-cost domestic flights options that take less than one hour in any direction.

Check here the available air travel options.

Skip the queue and ticket discounts

Peles Castle, Bran Castle and the Parliament are crowded and popular attractions with long and frustrating queues especially if you’re on a schedule. You can book your tickets online at Bran Castle, you can reserve your tickets at Peles via email or phone and you can only visit the Parliament if you book your visit 24 hours before by phone. You can also reserve online the tickets for Casa Ceausescu and for the Bear Sanctuary from Zarnesti which is highly recommended given the limited number of visitors per day.

In most cases, students pay 50% less for the tickets if they show a valid student card. Discounts apply also to seniors based on an ID, the minimum age is usually 65.

Tourist traps

Bran Castle has nothing to do with Dracula nor was he born in a house from Sighisoara whose owners charge money with this false claim. The legend of Dracula has a limited common ground with the real historical figure of Vlad the Impaler who most likely never set foot in Bran Castle, back then a fortress from a separate territory. Don’t go to Bran on shabby Dracula tours, the castle is not at all gloomy and scary. The only Dracula related things are China imported souvenirs sold in the bazaar outside the castle.

This is not to say you shouldn’t visit Bran Castle, it’s just that the castle and its history deserve much more than the Dracula related interest.

Bran Castle

Bran Castle

Guest houses versus hotels

When we organize our own tours or stays in Romania, we usually prefer smaller and locally owned guest houses. First, because in cities like Brasov, Sibiu and Sighisoara, this means you’ll be accommodated right in the old town, most likely in a historical building with lots of charm and conveniently close to everything there is to see. Second, because the customer service is excellent, and third because usually, breakfast is very very good. Still, don’t forget to thoroughly check customer reviews before booking.

Casa Richter

Richter Guest House, Sighisoara

Hotels are a great option especially for the capital where the best of them are located downtown while booking an apartment is probably the ideal choice for families.

Check here our selection of hotels, guest houses and apartments you can book for your stay in Romania.

Vegetarians and vegans versus meat-eaters

Romania is a meat-eaters’ paradise because its gastronomy is very generous to meat as the main ingredient in most recipes. This makes it a bit challenging for vegetarians and an adventure for raw vegans who have even fewer options.

Don’t despair, there are plenty of side dishes to combine and Romania’s farmer markets are a treat if you enjoy fresh cheese and vegetables.

cheese pie

Romanian cheese pie

Photo source https://pixabay.com

Independent travel versus guided tours

Romania is a safe and welcoming destination, much more European than you imagine before getting here. You’ll have no problem traveling on your own, especially if you’re comfortable driving, organizing your itinerary and booking all the services you need by yourself. Plus, in Bucharest and bigger cities, locals often speak English as a second language.

If you prefer a less complicated planning effort and if you wish to go beyond Trip Advisor’s recommended attractions, we suggest you book a guided tour. A private or a small-sized group tour comes with the great advantage of offering much more interesting facts and stories than a guidebook ever could, and a personalized experience based on solid know-how.

Check our tips to choosing the best tours to Romania.

What other things do you need to know about Romania before visiting? Have you been to Romania and have other insights to share? Please do so in the comment sections below.

If you’re planning to visit Romania, check our tours on www.uncover-romania-tours.com

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