Romania is a country in Southeastern Europe bordered by Hungary, Moldova, Ukraine, Serbia, Bulgaria and the Black Sea. Romania is largely known for its Transylvania region which is the home of Dracula’s castle (Bran Castle), encased by the Carpathian Mountains. But Romania offers so much more than this. From preserved medieval towns such as Sighişoara and fortified churches and castles such as Peleș, to bustling cities and the capital of Bucharest that never sleeps. The Romanian landscape is one third mountainous and one-third forested, with the remainder made up of hills and plains. The hiking possibilities are limitless, especially around the Carpathian Mountains and they are gob-smackingly beautiful. If you head towards the Black Sea in the height of Summer, you will find busy beaches and beautiful resorts. On top of all of this, the Romanians are friendly, welcoming and exceptional hosts.
This little country packs a lot in - from beach days or city breaks to hiking and wild camping, Romania has it all and at a cheap price too!
Helpful Phrases For Romania
Salut! - Hello (informal)
Ciao - Bye (informal)
Mersi! - Thanks (informal)
Te rog (informal)/ Vă rog (formal) - Please
Îmi pare rău! - Sorry
Scuze! - Excuse me
da/nu - yes/no
Nu vorbesc românește - I don’t speak any Romanian
Mă numesc … - My name is…
Unde este toaleta? - Where is the toilet?
Climate in Romania
Whilst the climate varies across Romania, from temperate regions to the harsher extremes of the continental interior, Romania is typically European in its climate and governed by four distinct seasons, Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn. There is a rapid transition from winter to summer, with a longer autumn and dry/warm weather from September to late November.
The average temperature in the south is around 11°C (50°F) and around 8°C (40°F) in the north, although variations of elevation apply. In Brasov, for example, temperatures can drop to as low as -35°C (-31°F). Average annual rainfall is higher across the Carpathian mountains and some of the more northern regions.
The best time to visit Romania is between May and September, where you will enjoy lots of sunshine and comfortable temperatures. However, the country is really beautiful towards the winter months of October-December, although much colder and you will have the chance to explore the Christmas Markets of Bucharest.
Currency in Romania
The Romanian Leu is the currency of Romania (RON) although at some higher end places, Euros are accepted. At the time of writing the conversion rate from Romania Leu to pounds and dollars is as follows:
1 Leu = £0.18 / $1.23 USD
Leu isn’t readily available outside of Romania so you are unlikely to get a good rate if you are changing currency before your trip. The best thing to do is to withdraw money as soon as you arrive which you can do in Bucharest airport. ATMs offer good rates although you will be charged a small fee (slightly more with the airport ATMs). Alternatively you could go to one of the major banks and exchange bureaus, which are widely available in Bucharest and other larger cities.
There are plenty of ATMs in Romania’s cities and towns. The main banks you will see are:
Banca Comerciala Romana (BCR)
ATM scams are rife in Romania, so only use ATMs that are attached to banks or in larger shopping centres with good security. Most of the ATMs listed above will charge, but there are some that offer free withdrawals to customers who bank with partner institution. Do your homework beforehand and try and avoid these unnecessary fees. Most bank owned ATMs also charge lower fees than other ATMs. Avoid Euronext if you can - their fees are extortionate. Also, always choose to pay in the local currency rather than your home currency and this includes when withdrawing money as well as paying for things over the counter. This will avoid extreme charges and poor exchange rates.
If you are exploring Romania for its stunning Carpathian Mountains and smaller villages, cards will not be accepted here. Take plenty of cash with you, the more rural you go, the less likely you are to find ATMs.
Visa, MasterCard and AmEx are accepted in the larger hotels, with car rental companies and in larger shops and restaurants in the major cities and Bucharest. However, in most places, only chip and pin cards are accepted.
Go Travel and Talk Top Tip: Always let you bank know beforehand that you are travelling abroad and where you are going. This will hopefully prevent them from freezing your card which they will do if they think it has been stolen.
Getting Around Romania: Bus | Taxi | Train
Bus, Tram, Maxitaxi and Trolleybus and Metro (Bucharest only):
Romanian cities generally have good public transport systems. With a mix of buses, trams, trolleybuses and in some cases Maxitaxis (vans for between 10-20 people). Bucharest is the only Romanian city with an underground metro and it is very easy to navigate but there are plenty of people on hand to help. If you are using the metro a lot, we suggest buying a weekly pass. You can buy tickets for the bus or tram at newsagents or street kiosks marked 'bilete' or 'casa de bilete' before boarding and validate the ticket when you get on using the machines on-board. For Maxtaxis, you buy your ticket from the driver on-board. Tickets are between 1 and 3 Lei per person.
Public Buses and European Coaches:
The mode of transport most used by backpackers are buses. Unfortunately, there appears to be little logic behind how the bus system runs. The routes change frequently, there isn’t always a bus timetable and towns and cities will sometimes have multiple bus stations (autogara) and Maxitaxi stops, which makes it very confusing! The website Autigari.ro is super helpful for up to date national timetable that is relatively easy to use and understand; listing routes, times, fares and departure points. Once you’ve found that bus station, you can buy your tickets at the station or directly from the driver. Make sure you have smaller change on you for the journey - fares vary according to demand and number of competing bus companies, but roughly, work on 4-5 lei for every 20km travelled.
You can jump on a bus and travel around cities, towns and across other European countries, with most international buses stopping in the capital city of Bucharest. For these international journeys the green FlixBus coaches are becoming increasingly popular for their seamless service and budget friendly prices. Within the country, buses travel from cities, through towns and out into the rural areas. You can buy your ticket from the driver or at the bus station beforehand if you are coming from a major town/city.
Another way to travel is by train. Although Romania’s passenger rail network has been cut back considerably in recent years, they remain reliable, albeit a little slow. The national rail system is run by Căile Ferate Române (CFR); there is an online timetable. You will need to buy your tickets beforehand from the kiosks or online.
Romania has three different types of passenger trains that travel at different speeds with varying classes and prices.
InterRegional - Listed as IR on timetables - they are cheaper and nearly as fast as the IC trains but not as modern / comfortable.
Regional - listed as R on timetables, they are the oldest and slowest trains in the system - but the cheapest.
Taxis are everywhere, especially in the larger towns and cities, so they are easily accessible. However, we strongly suggest pre-booking your taxis whilst in Romania. You can do this with the UBER app. If you pick one up outside the airport or train/bus stations, you will be charged an extortionate amount - we fell victim to this. Taxi drivers often don’t put the meter on and instead cover them up and charge a set fee that is way over what you should pay. If you cannot agree on a price beforehand or they refuse to use the meter, do not get in.
Romania is quite a large country, so if you are planning on exploring all of it and you are short on time, it may be worth thinking about internal flights. To keep your carbon emissions low, try to limit this as much as possible, but in some cases, a train journey can be upwards of 9 hours if you are travelling from north to south or vice versa. Romania's main airport is Bucharest Henri Coanda Airport also known as OTP airport (Otopeni). This is the largest airport in Romania with a huge amount of connecting flights taking you to other places in Romania.
Travel Insurance for Romania
You can buy and claim online, even after you've left home. Travel insurance from WorldNomads.com is available to people from 140 countries and it is the only travel insurance we will ever use! It is designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities.
WorldNomads.com is backed by a suite of strong and specialist travel insurers who provide you with great cover, 24 hour emergency assistance and the highest levels of support. The WorldNomads.com prices are some of the most competitive online and if you need to change plans, you can buy more cover or claim online while you are still away. You can even buy a World Nomads policy if you're already travelling. They also offer travel safety advice and tips online through the World Nomads Travel Safety Hub and World Nomad members can learn the local lingo through a series of iPod & iPhone Language Guides and can stay in touch with family and friends with an online travel journal. You can find out more about why travel insurance is important for your trip.
Medical Considerations For Romania
Whilst I did not have any vaccinations for Romania, check the World Health Organisation website.
If you are from the UK and would like more information, check out Fit for Travel.
What To Pack For Romania
- Long sleeved tops and long comfortable walking trousers if you are hiking
- Dresses / shorts / light clothes for the beach
- Warm clothes for cooler cities & hiking - scarf, hat, gloves, jumpers, jackets
- Swimwear / beach items
- Waterproof clothing
- Walking boots / trainers / sandals
- Bug spray and sunscreen
- Battery pack / electronics
- First aid kit
- Packing Cubes
- Zip lock bags for traveling with leftover food items / prevent liquid items from spilling
Safety Advice For Romania
We felt really safe in Romania, but it is always good to remain cautious.
- Always keep your valuables hidden or locked away. Don’t wander around with your expensive Iphone or leave your Ipad in full view especially when travelling on long bus journeys.
- Always keep your valuables in your small backpack and wear it on your front, with your big backpack on your back.
- Be careful of scammers trying to befriend you at bus stations - always keep an eye on your valuables.
- If you are travelling on buses, do not store your little backpack overhead, keep it on you at all times. For extra security, put your passport, money and phone in a money belt around your waist, under your clothes.
- When travelling on buses, always padlock your big bag.
- Do not walk around at night on your own, always take a taxi - especially in Bucharest.
- Never leave your drink unattended at night. EVER.
- Always ask your hostel about the area and for safety advice.
- Keep your two bank/credit cards separate, so if anything does happen, you have a second source of money.
- Have at least one photocopy of your passport, so if you lose your passport, you still have a copy of it
- Bring a second form of identification with you (drivers license).
Budget For Romania
This is completely subjective and dependent on what you do whilst exploring Romania. Transport is relatively cheap and there are plenty of budget friendly hostels in the major towns and cities and good guest houses in the more rural areas. However, if you are visiting castles and the main tourist attractions, eating out at fancy restaurants and exploring off the beaten path in areas difficult to get public transport to, your expenditure soon adds up.
I budgeted €50 ($65) per day for everything including hostels, transport, activities but on some days I spent much less.