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Traveling to Romania for the first time? Here’s everything you need to know

Traveling to Romania for the first time? Here’s everything you need to know

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Romania is a fish-shaped country in Eastern Europe, dotted with medieval castles and living museums of small villages where a peaceful, archaic way of life is well-preserved. The country is also home to the heaviest building in the world, Europe’s largest mammal, has the highest concentration of bears in the old continent, and of course- vampires. I’m just joking about the last one… Or am I? Nevertheless, if you are looking for a different experience, traveling to Romania is definitely a must. Here are some important things you should know as a first time visitor.

Being part of Eastern Europe, Romania is located in the part of Europe that doesn’t usually attract a lot of tourists for some reason. However, Eastern European countries are just as beautiful as their western neighbors. They just don’t do a really good job in marketing their destinations. Romania is an ex-communist country and the only one in Europe where the communist leader was killed by his own people.

Today, Romania is the 9th largest country in Europe. As a former eastern bloc member, the country is still developing and that brings a lot of perks for travelers who are thinking of visiting Romania. So if you’re wondering how to travel Romania, keep reading; our Romania travel guide covers everything you need to know before traveling to Romania! 

First of all: it’s really cheap

 

The average wage in Romania is only 500 Euros! Also, the only (a bit more) expensive city is the capital Bucharest, which is a home to 2.2 million people. A reasonable budget for visiting Romania is around 30-40 euros per day (with accommodation) but you can easily manage with even less! You can find hostels starting from 10 euros per night and hotels or private accommodations starting at 20 euros per night. The most expensive meal I had while visiting Romania was $12 and the cheapest was around $2.5. And beer is even cheaper! However, keep in mind that everything is a bit more expensive in Bucharest.

Travel requirements for visiting Romania

If you come from Europe or the Americas, you probably don’t need a visa to enter. Check this official list from the Foreign Affairs Ministry of 105 countries that need a pre-approved visa letter.

Currency: the Romanian  Lei

1 Euro equals 4.7 Romanian Lei and you will find notes of 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, 200, and 500 which are plastic and almost indestructible. Pretty cool, right? However, most prices in Romania are displayed and calculated in Euros but you cannot use euros when paying in cash. Some shop owners might offer you an in-house exchange rate but be careful! Always double-check the exchange rate before you agree to do this. You can pay with your credit cards pretty much everywhere in the big cities but in the remote areas, cash is king.

Getting around Romania

traveling to Romania

Like most Eastern European countries, the roads aren’t great in Romania and traveling between major cities can often take long hours. The railway, even though not 100% reliable, is a great choice since there are train stations in every city and even in small villages. I would say the best choice for shorter distances is the train and for longer distances, the best way to go by bus. However, if you want to get off the beaten track, I would suggest you to rent a car. You can use this link to get up to 15% on car rentals in Romania.

When traveling to Romania, it’s recommended to have travel insurance before getting here. If you’re traveling to Romania and thinking about which travel insurance plan to choose, you can compare travel insurance from the world’s leading travel insurance carriers and save a lot of time while planning your trip.

Looking for a cheap flight to Romania? Use this special Qatar Airways offer and save up to 50%.

Is traveling to Romania safe? And why are Romanians considered to be Gypsies?

First of all, visiting Romania is pretty safe, just like all other countries in Europe. A lot of people might tell you to be very careful when traveling to Romania because there are a lot of thieves. I must say I never had that impression of Romania and I met a lot of solo travelers here, including girls. These stereotypes probably come because of the many misconceptions other Europeans have for Romanians. One of these misconceptions is that Romanian people.

And that’s true. Romania does have a significant Gypsy minority but the only reason for this is that they didn’t historically oppress this ethnic group like many other countries in Europe. The gypsy people are the real definition of Nomadic people and there are groups of them in most parts of Europe. However, in Nazi Germany, killing a Gypsy wasn’t considered a crime and in the SSSR, gypsy women were sterilized. In Romania, none of these things happened, which contributed to Romania having the number of Gypsy people it has today.

Additionally, recently the Gypsy community in Europe condemned the word Gypsy and requested to be referred to as Romani people. Obviously, today this creates a lot of confusion with the ethnic Romanian people but the two are culturally distinct.

Transylvania and Romania’s vampire history

traveling to Romania

Traveling to Romania can’t be complete without venturing into the most popular part of the country; Transylvania. One of the most famous things about Romania are the vampire stories surrounding the Bran Castle, commonly known as Dracula’s Castle. Yes, Count Dracula was a real person that lived in the Transylvania region in Romania. If there was a place where a ‘vampire’ ruled over a country, it was Romania. It was here that the vampire legend was born. If you would like to read some scary stories from the region and from around the continent, check out my post about the most haunted places in Europe as well as the best Halloween destinations in the world (Transylvania is on the list).

Transylvania also hides stunning remote landscapes and you will also find a lot of other medieval castles built in geographically unreachable locations. Some of these places are inhabited and have preserved their authentic way of life by keeping a low profile away from civilization. This makes Romania a great destination for slow tourism and Transylvania’s hidden charm was the main reason that even Prince Charles fell in love with Romania.

Related: everything you need to know before traveling to Serbia

Other places to visit in Romania

traveling to Romania

Transylvania is amazing but visiting Romania offers much more than just castles in remote locations. Romania’s cities have a different charm, partially communist, and partially western. You obviously must visit Romania’s capital, Bucharest, Cluj, Brasov, Timisoara, and my personal favorite: Sibiu, the European Capital of Culture.

Additionally, Romania has access to the Black Sea and a few cute coastal towns, plenty of lush forests and hills, and of course the Carpathian Mountains with more than 100 peaks over 2,300 meters. Finally, there’s an array of natural parks and animal reserves in the Danube Delta natural biosphere, filled with bears and buffalos.

Related: everything you need to know before traveling to Bulgaria

The best time to visit

In my opinion, the best time of the year to visit Romania is autumn. Romania is filled with lush forests and during autumn, when you’re traveling around the countryside you will experience a stunning array of gold, brown and red colors covering the woodlands and mountains. Alternatively, if you want to explore the Black Sea Coast, the best time to visit Romania is the summer. And if you want to explore the beautiful Romanian mountains the best time to visit is the winter.

A few interesting facts about Romaniabucharest romania facts

1. Romania is home to the heaviest building in the world.

traveling to Romania

The parliament in Bucharest contains 700,000 tons of steel and bronze, a million square feet of marble, 3,500 tons of crystal, and 900,000 square meters of wood. This massive building has 1,100 rooms and an annual heating bill of $6 million

2. Romania has the 6th fastest internet connectivity in the world.

This makes Romania the perfect place for digital nomads. Wi-Fi is available in most public spaces and the cellular network is very good across the country.

3. It’s home to Europe’s largest mammal.

europe bison

The European bison is up to 3 meters long and 610 kg. This animal was nearly hunted to extinction in the past. However, it was recently reintroduced to several countries in Eastern Europe, most notably Romania.

4. A countless number of UNESCO protected churches.

The most popular ones are probably the Eight Churches of Northern Moldova, famous for their stunning frescoes. That’s why they’re also known as the Sistine Chapel of Romania. Another fabulous piece of architecture is the Eight wooden churches of Maramures, including Sapanta Peri, the tallest wooden church in the world

5. The most beautiful bookshop I’ve seen in my life!

Cărturești Carousel in Bucharest

by Mihai Petre CC by SA 4.0

Cărturești Carousel in Bucharest was opened in 2015 in a restored 19th-century building. The Carousel contains over 10,000 books and it also has a stunning top floor bistro.

6. The world’s most colorful graveyard?

The Merry Cemetery in Săpânța

by Andrei Stroe CC by SA 3.0

I know cemeteries aren’t supposed to be a colorful and happy place. However, that’s not the case with The Merry Cemetery in Sapanta. This graveyard is famous for its colorful tombstones, featuring picturesque scenes from their lives. The graveyard gained enough popularity to become an open-air museum today, and a national tourist attraction.

That’s briefly the story of Romania and I hope this article will make your trip a whole lot easier. Are you planning a trip to Romania soon and have some more questions? Feel free to reach out in the comments.

Helpful resources for traveling to Romania

Get up to 15% off on car rentals in Romania by using this link.

Looking for travel insurance for your upcoming Romania trip? Compare travel insurance carriers and their offers before booking.

In order to get the best deal for flying to Romania, save up to 50% with Qatar Airways.

Use my Booking discount codes to get special accommodation deals in Europe and save up to 15%. 

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Robert

Friday 26th of June 2020

Wow! This is the first article about Romania where I can read something about the European bison, which is indeed, Europe's largest mammal. As a local, I thank you for this! A lot of foreign tourists are coming here (well, used to come, before the pandemic :) ) if they are interested in bear viewing in Romania. The most popular are the bear watching tours, where guests can see the brown bears in the wild, in their natural habitat, from inside specially built bear hides which are 100% safe. You mentioned in a comment above that you came to Romania for the beautiful nature. Have you tried any of the bear watching tours? I also recommend the wildlife tracking tours, especially those in Putna Vrancea Natural Park, one of the wildest areas in Romania. And speaking about the bison, they are being reintroduced in the wild forests of Piatra Craiului mountains, around lake Pecineagu. So that's another area one can visit.

passport symphony

Saturday 4th of July 2020

Thank you, Robert, I really appreciate your comment. I did take a bear watching tour during my last visit but would surely love to do it again when visiting Romania. And I agree the forests of Piatra Craiului are beautiful.

Cezarina

Friday 17th of April 2020

Thank you for sharing this well-written and well-documented article with the world. Romania is still an unknown destination for many travellers. What motivated you to visit it?

Safe travels!

Passport Symphony

Thursday 14th of May 2020

Thank you for your comment, Cezarina. My main reasons for traveling to Romania were the beautiful nature and historical heritage.

Elita Allen

Monday 13th of April 2020

I love the country of Romania a lot, thanks for your beautiful travel guide. I loved the photos here.

Passport Symphony

Sunday 19th of April 2020

Thank you, Elita, I'm glad you liked the article

Radu

Wednesday 11th of December 2019

Romania has a special charm. Here you'll find a lifestyle that died hundreds of years ago in Europe. I suggest you to look for hidden gems because there are a lot. The food is very tasty and the accommodations very chic. You can find traditional houses, manors or castles where you can stay over the night. Tree houses, glampings, beach houses (yes, Romania has also beaches at the Black Sea) are other attractions you can find in this country. And finally, prices are cheaper than in other similar destinations.

Passport Symphony

Wednesday 11th of December 2019

You said it right Radu. Romania is an exception country in Europe.

stephany

Monday 10th of June 2019

Last year I made a nice trip with a group of friends in Romania. I had a wonderful culinary experience in Bucharest, Brasov and Sibiu. I swear I'm in love with this country! We had such a pleasant time and we found great places to eat. You must try the Eclairs of the French Revolution (Bucharest) and Covrigi.

Passport Symphony

Saturday 15th of June 2019

Thank you for your comment, Stephany. I'm glad to hear you had a nice time in Romania. I actually visited the French Revolution and loved the sweets :)