Getting around Bucharest
The metro, open from 0500 to 2330, is the best way to get around the city centre. This service, run by Metrorex (tel: +40 21 319 3601; www.metrorex.ro), has four metro lines (M1, M2, M3 and M4) and over 50 stations, and is generally reliable though can be very crowded. Stations are indicated by white signs with a blue 'M', although these are not always as visible as they should be and platforms are poorly marked. Inside, you can buy tickets at counters indicated by a 'Casa' sign.
There are several types of ticket: single-trip, two-journey, 10-journey, 1-day, unlimited weekly and a monthly pass. Metro maps are posted near the ticket gate entrance. You need to insert tickets into a machine on top of the ticket gate, which records the entrance time on the ticket. Keep your ticket throughout the journey, as transport police sometimes check and impose fines on those without. The final destination is indicated on the front of the train.
Buses (autobus), trams (tramvai) and trolleybuses (troilebuz) operate as one system, running 0500 to 2400. RATB (tel: +40 21 314 7130; www.ratb.ro) provides this service. Tickets are interchangeable for all three forms of transport (except express buses). The express bus system is more useful for reaching destinations outside the city centre, as only a few express buses actually pass through the centre itself. You can buy transport maps from yellow kiosks near bus and tram stops.
You can also buy tickets at kiosks but these must be stamped in the orange ticket machine on-board (there's a fine if you're caught without a validated ticket). ACTIV smartcards are preloadable, with the fare deducted each time you board. Passes for one day, one week, 15 days and one month are also available. This system is more crowded and confusing than the metro and pickpockets can be a problem during the peak hours.
Taxis have a terrible reputation in Bucharest for overcharging foreigners but ride-sharing services (such as Uber) are a good alternative. If you need to book a taxi, use the ride-sharing app on your smartphone or call reputable taxi companies including Cobalcescu (tel: +40 21 9451), CrisTaxi (tel: +40 21 9466) and Meridian (tel: +40 21 9444). On the street, you should stick to the yellow taxis that indicate the journey's cost on their meters. There is no additional charge for luggage in yellow taxis. A supplement is charged at night however. It is customary to round up the amount owed as the tip. Drivers rarely give change and keep whatever excess they receive. Visitors should note that the current number of zeros on Lei notes can make meter reading tricky.
Another form of transport is the maxitaxi. These drive along Piata Romana to Piata Unirii and from the Opera Romana to Bulevardul Carol I, every 10 minutes from 0600 to 2100, but it can be difficult understanding the routes without some local assistance. You can hail them with a wave of the hand.
Driving around Bucharest can be confusing. Streets are not always clearly marked and are full of unexpected potholes. In addition to this, Romanians drive fast and not all that carefully. However, it can be a useful way of getting around, especially to the city's outskirts.
Most Romanian drivers simply park on the side roads (or pavements) for free. There are no parking meters, and towing almost never occurs, but in some central streets there are roaming parking attendants. Some hotels have parking areas that you can use.
Car hire, targeted at business visitors, can be expensive. Major companies include Avis (tel: +40 21 204 1957; www.avis.com), Budget (tel: +40 21 204 1667; www.budget.ro) and Hertz (tel: +40 21 204 1278; www.hertz.com.ro). Romanian car hire operators, such as ESA (tel: +40 744 631 983; www.esa.ro), tend to be much cheaper than the bigger chains.
Drivers must be at least 21 years of age and must hold a valid passport, international insurance policy and a valid driving licence that is at least one year old. Some of these companies also offer cars with drivers.
There are several bicycle rental shops acorss the city including La Pedale at the entrance to Herastrau from Piata Charles de Gaulle. Bike-sharing apps are also available.