Top events in Romania

April
20

Established in 2005 to celebrate art house cinema, this fesitval uncovers new talents and promotes young filmmakers already known both...

April
23

Three-day celebration of electronic music.

May
01

Traditional German beer, sausages, cheese, cakes, wines and bread are among the attractions of this four day fair.

Peles Palace, Romania
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Peles Palace, Romania

© www.123rf.com / Ksenia Kozlovskaya

Romania Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

238,391 sq km (92,043 sq miles).

Population

21.6 million (2014).

Population density

91.4 per sq km.

Capital

Bucharest.

Government

Democratic Republic since 1991.

Head of state

President Traian Băsescu since 2012.

Head of government

Prime Minister Victor Ponta since 2012.

Electricity

230 volts AC, 50Hz. Plugs are of the two-pin type.

There aren’t many countries in Europe where farmers still drive horse-drawn wagons and covered markets dominate over shopping malls, but then Romania isn’t quite like other places. While other Eastern Bloc members have seen their cities spruced up and populated with boutique hotels, international restaurants and quaint attractions, this traditional country still clings to its dog-eared charm. Yes, you’ll find the usual smattering of resorts towns clustered around the Black Sea Coast, but outside the tourism hotspots Romania dances to the same rhythm it’s tapped out for a hundred years.

The capital, Bucharest, was once dubbed ‘Little Paris’ in homage to its elegant architecture and cultural sophistication. An egotistic campaign by communist dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu destroyed much of the historic centre and turned vast swathes of Bucharest into a concrete jungle, but this is still a lively and attractive city. It’s also by far the largest in Romania, with a population of around 2 million to second city Cluj-Napoca’s 320,000.

But it isn’t the cities that have shaped Romania’s national character. The country is still defined by its small, rural communities – many of whom depend solely on their livestock and their crops for survival. From the isolated villages clinging to crags high in the Carpathian Mountains to the Saxon towns of Transylvania, a tour of Romania’s backcountry will uncover a treasure chest of cultural gems.

It is, of course, practically illegal to mention Transylvania without paying lip service to the legend of Dracula. The Romanians are well aware of the interest Bram Stoker’s demonic vampire inspires in foreigners, and the castle at Bran (supposedly the spot that inspired Stoker’s story) has been transformed into one of the country’s top tourist attractions. Perhaps more interesting are the local legends weaved around the Carpathians: the spring that supposedly brings eternal youth; the caves that transport those who enter them to faraway places; the grottos where candles refuse to be lit.

Romania’s natural beauty is also remarkable. From the bubbling mud volcanoes of the Buzău County to the sweeping sandy beaches of the Black Sea Coast, there’s a range of geographical diversity here that will take your breath away. The forests covering the Carpathian Mountains shelter Europe's last remaining healthy population of brown bears, wolves and lynxes, while racoon dogs and rare muskrats gather around the rivers. The Danube Delta, a biosphere reserve and UNESCO World Heritage site, is a haven for birds and other wildlife.  

Visitors will find Romania's history of Roman, Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian rule has left a mosaic of cultural intrigue. Whether you’re exploring the Painted Monasteries of Bucovina, discovering the country’s collection of fortified castles or attending a medieval festival in one of Transylvania’s ancient Saxon citadels, the country offers a chance to immerse yourself in a way of life that has barely changed in centuries. That isn’t to say, of course, that the Romanians don’t appreciate their creature comforts. The natural spas sprinkled across the country purport to cure everything from rheumatism to heart disease, and make a luxurious finale to any Romanian adventure.

Travel Advice

Last updated: 28 March 2015

The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.


Crime

Maintain at least the same level of personal security awareness as in the UK. There is a risk of petty theft in large towns, especially Bucharest. Pickpockets and bag snatchers operate in crowded areas, particularly near exchange shops and hotels, on public transport (especially to the airport), in the main railway stations and inside airport terminals.

Organised attacks by groups, often including children, occur. The most common method is of distraction while several people, often the children, attempt to snatch watches and jewellery from pockets or from around the neck and wrist.

There have been reports of a scam involving thieves who present themselves as plain-clothes policemen. They flash a badge and ask to see passports and wallets. They count the money and give the documents back, but when they return the wallet, some of the money is missing.

Valuables including passports have been stolen from hotel rooms. Use the hotel safe and carry a photocopy of the information pages of your passport as ID.

There have been reports of credit or debit cards being ‘copied’ when used for payment in some bars and restaurants.

Road travel

You will need to pay a road toll ‘Ro vignette’ to use the national roads. You can buy the vignette (sticker) at border points and at most petrol stations. Failure to display the sticker may lead to a heavy fine.

Observe the speed limit at all times. Make sure your vehicle is roadworthy and you have with you all documentation, including evidence of insurance.

It is illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol. Don’t drink any alcohol if you are driving.

In winter, equip your car for extreme conditions. Road conditions are variable and secondary roads can be in a bad state of repair. Driving standards can be poor. Look out for double parked cars, people suddenly braking to avoid a pothole, horse-drawn carts, livestock and stray dogs, particularly in rural areas, running in front of the vehicle.

Carry the following equipment: first aid kit, fire extinguisher, red warning triangles and a fluorescent jacket.

If your vehicle is damaged before you arrive in Romania, ask a Romanian Customs or Police Officer to write a report on the damage so that you have no problems when leaving. If any damage occurs inside the country, a report must be obtained at the scene of the accident.

In 2012 there were 2,042 road deaths in Romania (source: DfT). This equates to 9.6 road deaths per 100,000 of population and compares to the UK average of 2.8 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2012.

See the European Commission,AA and RAC guides to driving in Romania.

Taxis

Yellow taxis in Bucharest should list prices on the side of the vehicle and display a company name. There are frequent reports of foreign visitors being overcharged by taxi drivers.

Rail travel

Thieves operate on trains, so make sure all valuables are safe.

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