Romania travel guide
Romania is a surprising and mesmerising destination; with seven UNESCO-listed monuments, magnificent landscapes, as well as a vivid culture, Romania will leave visitors wanting more.
The country has slowly emerged from the effects of being one of the most repressed countries under communism, but it is rapidly regaining its identity as a popular tourist destination and has plenty to offer the international traveller. Exploring Romania is certainly rewarding, with the place names alone evoking a certain charm - who could resist finding out more about mysterious Transylvania, so often the literary home of mythical monsters.
The country's geography is diverse: from mountains, rolling hills and rural farmlands to white sandy beaches and resorts along the Black Sea Coast. Dotting the natural landscape are rustic villages where local people live much as they have done for the past 100 years. There is an abundance of religious architecture - including the exquisitely painted monasteries of Bucovina - and there are ancient churches and cities bursting with historic buildings. The capital city, Bucharest, is re-inventing itself and its damaged architecture is slowly being restored to its original glory. It has elegant restaurants, a revitalised nightlife and cultural attractions that are becoming integral to its new image.
A visit to Romania will leave few impassive, offering a refreshingly different culture to elsewhere in Europe. The mix of quaint medieval towns and castles, drab cities striving for Western modernism, and the diverse rural landscape seemingly untouched by modern history, offers a fascinating kaleidoscope. Romania appeals to visitors because it is so different: it has one foot firmly placed in the past while the other one is stretching forward in an effort to keep up with the progress of the modern world.
The Leu (RON) is the official currency, which is divided into 100 bani. Money can be exchanged at banks, international airports, hotels or authorised exchange offices (casa de schimb or birou de schimb valutar). ATMs are available at large banks, airports and shopping centres in cities. American Express, MasterCard and Visa are accepted in the main cities. It is recommended to travel with some cash in case of difficulty using credit cards.
Language : Romanian is the official language, but English will be understood in Bucharest and other tourist areas.
Electricity : Electrical current is 230 volts, 50Hz. Two-pin European-style plugs are standard.
Entry Requirements :
United States nationals require a passport valid for three months beyond period of intended stay, but no visa for stays of up to 90 days.
UK nationals with passports endorsed 'British Citizen' require passports valid for period of intended stay, but no visa. British passports with other endorsements require either validity for period of intended stay, or three months validity beyond period of travel; all British passport holders are entitled to visits of at least 90 days visa-free. UK nationals who are not British citizens are advised to check the specific requirements applicable to their status.
Canadian nationals require a passport valid for three months beyond period of intended stay, but no visa for stays of up to 90 days.
Australian nationals require a passport valid for three months beyond period of intended stay, but no visa for stays of up to 90 days.
South Africans require a passport valid for three months beyond period of intended stay and a visa to enter Romania. Holders of a valid Schengen visa, or holders of a short stay visa issued by Bulgaria, Croatia or Cyprus do not require a visa to enter Romania for a stay of up 90 days. South African temporary passports are not accepted by the Romanian government.
Irish nationals require a passport valid for period of intended stay, but no visa for a stay of up to 90 days.
New Zealand nationals require a passport valid for three months beyond period of intended stay, but no visa for stays of up to 90 days.
Passport/Visa Note :
Visitors must hold all documents required for further travel, onward or return tickets, sufficient funds for the period of stay, and proof of reserved accommodation. It is highly recommended that passports have at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.
Travel Health :
Medical facilities in Bucharest are good, but poor in the smaller towns and basic medical supplies are often in short supply. There is a reciprocal health agreement with the UK and most EU countries, whose citizens are entitled to free or low-cost emergency medical treatment on presentation of a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), but travel health insurance is strongly advised. There have been a number of Hepatitis A cases in Romania and visitors are advised to seek medical advice about inoculations before travelling. Tap water is safe to drink, although bottled water is widely available. Stray dogs carry rabies and should be avoided.
Tipping is becoming increasingly common in Romania, and is now expected in all restaurants and bars. A service charge is often included in restaurant bills but a further 5 to 10 percent tip is expected. Though it is not always necessary to tip them, taxi drivers can be rewarded for good service.
Safety Information :
Visitors should take normal safety precautions in Romania; keep valuables safe and be aware of pickpockets and scam artists in major cities. Corruption is rife and visitors should be cautious of policemen demanding fines for spurious offences, or asking to see documents as a way of stealing cash; if approached in this way visitors should offer to go with them to the nearest police station before handing over any money or documents. Valuables, including passports, should not be left in hotel rooms, or near the window of a hotel room when you are there.
Local Customs :
Homosexuality, although legal, is frowned upon. A small and still largely closeted gay scene exists in the Romania's largest cities, particularly in Bucharest, which has a few gay clubs. Photography at airports is forbidden.
Business can be quite bureaucratic and old-fashioned. The country adheres to an imbedded hierarchical structure and often it is the eldest who receive the most respect in business and social meetings. It is important to address each person according to their title followed by their surname; 'Domnul' for Mr. and 'Doamna' for Mrs. Romanians prefer a face-to-face approach and like to strengthen personal relationships. Appointments should be made in advance and confirmed. Although the visitor is expected to be punctual the host may be late to arrive. Meetings are often quite formal and a general 'Western' set of old-world manners applies. Business suits are appropriate for meetings. Romanians dislike an overt display of achievement or exaggerated conversation. Business hours are generally 9pm to 5pm Monday to Friday with an hour taken at lunch.
The direct dialling country code for Romania is +40, and the outgoing code is 00, followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the UK). There are numerous area codes applying to cities, towns and villages, for example (0)21 for Bucharest. The country is well covered with GSM 900/1800 and 3G mobile phone networks. Internet cafes are available in cities and larger towns.
Duty Free :
Travellers to Romania do not have to pay duty on either 200 cigarettes, 40 cigars or 200g of tobacco. 2 litres of liquor, 4 litres of beer or wine and gifts to the value of US$1000 are also duty free. Valuable goods, such as jewellery, art, electrical items and foreign currency should be declared on entry.
Henri Coanda International Airport
Location: The airport is situated 10 miles (16km) north of Bucharest.
Time: Local time is GMT +2 (GMT +3 from last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October).
Contacts: Tel: + 40 (0)21 204 1000, +40 (0)21 201 4000
Transfer between terminals: The two terminal buildings are connected by a corridor; it takes five minutes to walk between the terminals.
Getting to the city: Express bus services, 783 or 780, leave every 15 minutes for the city centre and main railway station respectively. Taxis are also available 24 hours to take passengers anywhere in Bucharest or to any other region in the country. Passengers should avoid cabs that do not display the price and have no meters.
Car rental: Car rental companies include Budget, Europcar and Hertz.
Airport Taxis: Bucharest has two types of taxi. Smaller taxis cost about RON 1.5 per km and the larger taxis charge about RON 3.5 per km. The trip between the airport and Bucharest can take up to an hour in heavy traffic. Visitors are advised to only make use of official taxis with working meters and the prices displayed.
Facilities: There are banks, bars and restaurants at the airport. Other facilities include a bureaux de change, left luggage, a hairdresser, duty-free shops and a post office. Disabled facilities are good; those who need a wheelchair or have other special requirements should contact their airline in advance.
Parking: Long and short-term parking is available.
Departure tax: None.
Cluj International Airport
Location: The airport is located five miles (8km) from the city centre of Cluj.
Time: GMT +2 (GMT +3 between the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October).
Getting to the city: A bus service is available from the airport to the city centre along two lines: Line 8 departing roughly every ten minutes between 5am and 10.40pm on weekdays, and every 30 minutes from 5.30am to 10.30pm on weekends; and Line 5 operating between 5.50am and 9pm daily. The journey takes about 30 minutes. Several local hotels offer shuttle transfers for guests.
Car rental: Car rental companies at the airport include PHP, Sixt, Europcar, Avis, Rodna, Autonom, Olimpo and Hertz.
Airport Taxis: Taxis are available outside the arrivals terminal at the airport taxi rank. Meters run at about RON 2.50 per kilometre, with slightly higher rates at night. Use only marked taxis with prices clearly displayed.
Facilities: Airport facilities include ATMs, a bank, currency exchange services, luggage wrapping services, a business lounge, cafes, a restaurant, and a hairdresser.
Parking: Parking is available at the airport and costs about RON 7 for one hour, RON 14 for two hours, and RON 45 for 5-24 hours.
Timișoara Traian Vuia International Airport
Location: The airport is located seven miles (12km) from Timișoara city centre.
Time: GMT +2 (GMT +3 between the last Sunday in March and the last Sunday in October).
Transfer between terminals: The terminals are connected.
Getting to the city: Buses are available from the airport to the city centre via the Express Number Four (E4) bus. The price for a one-way ticket is RON 2.50. Taxis are also available.
Car rental: Car hire companies represented at the airport include Avis, Budget, Europcar, Bavaria, Hertz, Thirfty, Sixt, City Car, Autonom and Api Rent.
Airport Taxis: Taxis are available outside of both terminals to transport travellers to their required destination.
Facilities: Airport facilities include restaurants, cafes, VIP lounges, a bank, a post office, an ATM, shopping (including duty-free shops), facilities for people with disabilities, wifi and a mother and child area.
Parking: The airport offers both short-term (P1) and long-term (P2) parking. The first 10 minutes of parking costs RON 2. Thereafter, parking costs RON 2.50 for 30 minutes, RON 5 for one hour, RON 10 for two hours and RON 120 for 24 hours. There are special long-term parking rates as well and these are available at the airport on request.
Iași International Airport
Location: The airport is located five miles (8km) from Iași city centre.
Time: GMT +2 (GMT +3 from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October).
Transfer between terminals: Terminals are within walking distance.
Getting to the city: Bus route 50 takes passengers from outside the terminal to Iasi city centre (Union Square). Buses are timed according to incoming flights.
Car rental: There are a number of car rental companies represented at the airport.
Airport Taxis: There are authorised taxis at the airport, identified by the logo displayed on the vehicle. Travellers should insist that taxi drivers run their meters. A typical fare to the city centre should cost around RON 20.
Facilities: Airport facilities include medical services, restaurants, a ticket office, and information desk.
Parking: Parking is charged at RON 3 per hour for the first five hours, and RON 1 per hour thereafter.
Sibiu International Airport
Location: The airport is located four miles (6km) from Sibiu city centre.
Time: GMT +2 (GMT +3 from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October).
Getting to the city: There is a bus station near the airport entrance, allowing connections with various areas of the city. Passengers can take routes 11, 112, 116, 117, and 118. Tickets can be bought from the dispenser near the station.
Car rental: Car rental companies represented at the airport include Avis, Europcar, and Sixt.
Airport Taxis: There is a taxi station in front of the terminal where taxis are readily available. It is recommended to only use licensed taxis with working meters. A typical fare to the city centre costs RON 10-15.
Facilities: Airport facilities include an information desk, ATMs, a diaper-changing room, first aid services, currency exchange services, cafes, vending machines and shops.
Parking: Parking costs about RON 6 for the first hour, RON 4 per hour for the next two hours, RON 3 per hour for the fourth and fifth hours, and RON 1 per hour from 6-24 hours.
Romania has a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. Spring and autumn are cool and pleasant, making May and June, and September and October the best months to visit. Summers are hot from July to August and winters are harsh and very cold between December and March, with snow falling throughout most of the country. Spring and summer are the wettest seasons, but rain can be expected throughout the year.
Romanian Tourist Office, Bucharest: +40 (0)21 314 9957 or
United States Embassy, Bucharest: +40 (0)21 200 3300.
British Embassy, Bucharest: +40 (0)21 201 7200.
Canadian Embassy, Bucharest: +40 (0)21 307 5000.
Australian Embassy, Belgrade, Serbia (also responsible for Romania): +381 (11) 330 3400.
South African Embassy, Bucharest: +40 (0)21 313 3725.
Irish Embassy, Bucharest: +40 (0)21 310 2131.
New Zealand Embassy, Brussels, Belgium (also responsible for Romania): +32 (0)2 550 1221.
Embassy of Romania, Washington DC: +1 202 332 4846.
Foreign Embassies in Romania
Embassy of Romania, London, United Kingdom: +44 (0)20 7937 9666.
Embassy of Romania, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 789 3709.
Embassy of Romania, Canberra, Australia: +61 (0)2 6286 2343.
Embassy of Romania, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 (0)12 460 6941.
Embassy of Romania, Dublin, Ireland: +353 (0)1 668 1085.
Consulate of Romania, Wellington, New Zealand: +64 (0)4 476 6883.
Romania Emergency Numbers
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