How to stay safe when visiting Bucharest

Is Bucharest safe? Let's find out!

How to stay safe when visiting Bucharest

Bucharest, the buzzing capital of Romania, is an eclectic city of contrasts that combines its rich and tumultuous history with a fast-paced, buzzing vibe typical of big European capitals. Tourists are often captivated by the hustle and bustle - or scared by it and decide to spend little or no time at all.

Which is such a shame and they're missing out... But the unspoken truth is most tourists think Bucharest is not a safe city or one that's not worth visiting. This is a misconceptions based on:

  1. old stories posted online (that you'll find about all cities!)
  2. travel bloggers who visit Romania for 3 days and come up with "expert opinions"
  3. Bucharest (and Romania's) poor official tourist promotion and infrastructure


So in this article we'll give you the real, up-to-date overview of how safe is Bucharest to visit. We'll examine the safety concerns, risks and scams for tourists in Bucharest and give you important info and valuable local tips to make sure you have a safe and enjoyable trip here.

  • Check our tourist guide on what to do in Bucharest with 50+ ideas of things to do, major attractions, tours and places to go out!

We're locals who live in Bucharest and know reality on the ground as it is - and want to share that with you. Even if our city is rough on the edges and has many things that could be better, in fact it's a very safe city and it's unfair to generalise and use past problems to describe it today.

That's why we want to help you visit Romania, have a good time and see how friendly everyone is. We also know Romania is safe for your holiday, even if harder to believe from the outside.

Things - and people - change! So let's dive in this practical guide on how safe Bucharest is today:


Why does Bucharest have a bad reputation for tourism?

First, let's get things straight. In the late 90s and early 00s, Bucharest (like Belgrade, Sofia and Budapest) earned a reputation for tourist-focused scams.

The context for this is simple: the city was kind of like the Wild West as it emerged from the firm grip of Romania's communist regime. Corruption was flourishing, everyone was hustling to make money and because the country was not open to foreign tourism before - no one knew how to do it right!

In front of the Palace of Parliament, Ceausescu's masterpiece
Communist Walking Tour: History, Megalomania & Hidden Sights

Start from: Revolution Square next to the Rebirth Memorial (The patatoe)

See details


Most scams that damaged the Bucharest's safety reputation were about:

  1. taxi drivers at Bucharest airport or North Train Station who 'helpfully' offered their overpriced services to unsuspecting tourists
  2. taxi drivers in the city who overcharged tourists (and locals!) by manipulating the fare meter
  3. unofficial tourist guides who used all sorts of deceptive tactics to charge unreasonably high prices
  4. people making false promises over the phone or email regarding their accommodation or services
  5. small thefts in the Old Town area, the hotspot for Bucharest nightlife and where most tourists go out


This fuelled the perception that Bucharest is not a safe city for tourists. Coupled with the inexistent strategy to promote tourism in the city by local authorities, this gave Bucharest a bad reputation.

But Romania's capital has significantly changed raised its level of safety since the early 2010s. Authorities have taken many actions to address these worries, including tighter controls on taxi services and more police presence in popular tourist locations such as the Old Town area.

These actions, along with an increased focus on tourism and a determination to improve the experience of tourists, have contributed to a visible and significant improvement in Bucharest's safety.

There is also a very low probability that locals or tourists are victims of violent crimes in Bucharest. The city has a pretty chill vibe :)


Bucharest safety rank in the world

Numbeo ranks cities safety index based on the probability of being mugged, assaulted, insulted or being subjected to armed attacks, among others. The greater the number = the safer the city.

Bucharest scores 71. Let's put that into perspective and look at how safe are other tourist cities in Europe:

  • London's safety index is 46
  • Paris scores 42
  • Rome’s index is 47
  • if you visit Cluj the 2nd largest Romanian city, the score is 76
  • Budapest (from neighbouring Hungary) scored 65 while Sofia (Bulgaria) 58


So you can clearly see that Bucharest is much safer than major capitals in Western Europe! Don't believe us? Check our suggestions for what to visit in Romania and come over to see for yourself :)


General safety tips for tourists in Bucharest

Now let’s dive deeper into how safe Bucharest is for tourists. Quite simply - if you’re an informed traveller using your common sense, who stays aware of your surroundings and follows the local tips we prepared for you in this article - you'll be 100% safe!

You should know there have been no terrorist incidents, ethnic or religious conflicts in Romania's capital. Violence in the streets (like what you see in France during protests) rarely happens and usually involves rival football fans.

Most protests in Bucharest are usually peaceful and against our corrupt politicians, or strikes from unhappy citizens. There are no gun issues, mass shootings and violent crime incidents are very rare.

The typical tourist scams in Romania's capital are similar to those you've probably heard about in other major tourist cities and they're harmless:

  1. stay away from anyone ‘offering’ their services or 'special' products
  2. asking for help in an unusual way: needing money on the spot, your phone, you to go somewhere, etc
  3. very crowded areas when you feel someone is too close to you (although Romanians have a nasty habit of getting to close to you in a queue which goes back to our communist past when people had to queue for everything...)
  4. rude taxi drivers or ones who don't speak English
  5. drunk people especially in the Old Town area


So, you see, there’s nothing in particular seasoned travellers should be worried about. Very rarely you might encounter other types of incidents, but we’ll do our best to discuss them in the following sections.

  • Know the emergency services number

Romania's country code is +40 and the universal emergency number is 112.

There is always police patrolling the city center, squares and boulevards (Unirii, Universtate, Romana, Victoriei) and tourist hot-spots or local events. Police officers are very helpful and most of them speak English so don't be reluctant to contact them if you need help or find yourself in a state of emergency.

  • Keep an eye on your belongings

Never leave your belongings unattended, especially in crowded places or on public transportation, to reduce the chance of theft or pick-pocketing. Keep your stuff close to you and if possible, use anti-theft bags or secure pockets to keep your most important items - like wallet, passport or phone.

You know the saying even if the rate of thefts is low, it's never zero - I think this is true everywhere!

  • Avoid flashing valuables

Avoid displaying expensive items or wearing extravagant jewellery to avoid drawing unwanted attention. Instead, choose to be discreet to blend in with the people around you and reduce your risk of becoming a victim of theft or scams.

If you’re out to enjoy the nightlife, make sure you are well put together without going overboard.


  • Be mindful of your cash

Just like wearing ostentatious jewellery, displaying large sums of money in public increases the possibility of becoming a target for theft. There are notes for 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, 200 and 500 Lei. 500 Lei = 100 Euro.

So your wallet can quickly get stuffed with lots of notes that you don't really need. We recommend to carry only the amount of cash essential to cover your daily needs (tips, small purchases or if you're planning to go in rural areas or hiking in Romania).

Using credit or debit cards or paying with your phone is very easy and widespread in Bucharest (like the other bigger cities in Romania), so also the safest option.

  • Stay aware of your surroundings

Just like in any other city, staying safe in Romania's capital requires maintaining a state of awareness. Be conscious of your surroundings, particularly when you're in crowded areas, popular tourist destinations, or when using public transportation.

Follow your gut and stay away from people or situations that make you feel uncomfortable. Learning some Romanian phrases such as Ajutor! (help!) may be useful too.

  • Walk on well-lit and main streets

Bucharest has a lot of safe locations to explore, but it's best to stay on well-lit streets and main roads, especially after dark. Avoid empty side streets if you can. Travelling with someone or in a group can provide an added sense of security, particularly during nighttime.

There are a few neighbourhoods that have a bad reputation and even those are only considered potentially dangerous only in a few particular areas. But they're on the outskirts of the city and have nothing touristy about them so most tourists never venture out there anyway.


Street crime in Bucharest

It's important to be aware of street crimes when exploring Romania's capital - but it mostly consists of non-violent events like bag and phone snatching. You can drastically lower your chance of being a victim of street crime by understanding how these crimes operate by applying the following safety precautions:

  • Pick-pocketing in crowded areas

Pick-pocketing is the most common method used for street crimes. It usually takes place in crowded places like pubs, clubs, large events or when using public transport. To reduce the risk of being targeted:

  1. keep your possessions protected and within sight at all times.
  2. think about carrying a cross-body bag with zippers and interior pockets to store your valuables
  3. avoid carrying valuables in easily accessible pockets.

The Old Town area and North Train Station are examples of places where unsuspecting tourists have higher chances of being targeted.

  • Avoid bag and phone snatching

Bag and phone snatching the most frequent street crimes to be aware of. Thieves go after people who are carrying exposed phones or unsecured bags. To prevent being a target of these incidents:

  1. when in crowded locations, keep your bag or backpack closed tightly and held in front of you. We recommend opting for anti-theft models of bags when travelling.
  2. use caution when using your phone in crowded or dimly lit environments in which it could be easily stolen
  3. stay alert in busy areas
  4. keep your bag close when sitting outdoor at a cafe or restaurant


Most safety issues can be avoided by staying staying alert and securing your valuables in advance. Some extra precaution measures you can take before traveling to Bucharest - or anywhere else in Western Europe or in the world:

  • keep printed copies of important documents, such as passports, IDs, driver licences, visas with you, and leave the original at your accommodation
  • keep unnecessary debit cards and big sums of cash in a secure location, such as a hotel safe.
  • use a money belt or hidden pouch to conceal your valuables


  • Threats posed by animals

Rest assured, the city is more bark than bite :) Stray dogs used to be a topic of concern more than 10 years ago. Bucharest has made significant progress in addressing the issue of stray dogs and improving safety in relation to them. So, once again, tourists don't need to worry about this.

Although you may see see a stray dog, efforts have been made to reduce their numbers and minimise potential risks. Neutering, vaccination, capture and adoption campaigns have been organised by local authorities and local non-profits in an effort to reduce the number of stray dogs and to ensure everyone's safety.


Typical tourist scams in Bucharest

Safety in Bucharest safety has improved a lot over the years but it's good for tourists to be aware of typical scams and deceptive tactics. Here's a list of the most well-known tourist scams in Bucharest:

Taxi scams: some taxi drivers might try to increase the costs of the ride by manipulating meters, taking longer routes to get to the destination. The most common method though is them saying they don’t have change to give you back if you're paying with a large note.

Fake guides: If someone spontaneously approaches you on the street, offering their services as a tour guide, you’d better be suspicious. Chances are you will be charged much more than if you’d book from an official tour operator or the quality of the tour will be very low and unsatisfactory. It's best to research and book your guides in advance.

Currency exchange scams: there are lots of exchange houses that accept all major international currencies. It's best to use the ones on the main streets in the city center areas. They typically display their rates and most have a 0% exchange fee.

You can also withdraw Romanian cash (RON / or popularly Lei) from any ATM belonging to reputable banks (BCR, BRD, Banca Transilvania, ING). Avoid Euronet ATMs which have huge fees for withdrawals.

  • Local tip: exchange houses in the airport typically have bad rates compared with what you can get in the city. To get some Romanian Lei for the taxi fare or other small expenses, we recommend you change 20 Euro at most when arriving in the airport or at the train station

Fake police officers or fake bus ticket controllers: Although a very rare occurrence, people posing as police officials may approach tourists and demand identification or claim to be doing random checks. Ask for proper identification when being approached, and if you have any concerns, think about asking for help from uniformed police officers or contacting the closest police station.

The same is true for people who board buses, trolleys or trams and claim to be authorised controllers. They would demand sums of money from travellers without a validated ticket, pocketing all the money. So if you encounter bus ticket controllers in Bucharest and they demand money from you, ask to see a badge of identification and if you are still suspicious, alert the authorities.

The gift scheme: This is frequent especially in the Old Town area. Usually a woman or a child will approach the table where you’re sitting (or sometimes directly on the street) and will hand you a rose, a bracelet or something similar. Some people reach their hand instinctively to take what they’re offered.

Once you touch “the gift”, the scammer will demand a sum of money that is often way more than the real price. If you’re really interested in the item they are trying to give you (although we recommend you ignore them and look for the desired items somewhere else), make sure you ask for its price beforehand.

Restaurants and bar scams: Romania's capital is well-known for its good food, trendy bars and amazing food. Rarely, especially if outside of city center areas, some establishments may 'mistake' prices, have hidden charges or incorrect billing. This is not always a scam and sometimes it can be an honest mistake! Nonetheless, it's a good idea to check menu prices in advance and the bill, and discuss any inconsistencies with the staff.

To avoid falling victim to these scams, it is crucial to stay informed, exercise caution, and use common sense. Trust your gut, read our local tips on how to stay safe, and be aware of your possessions. It's best to report any suspicious incidents to the local authorities if you come across them.

Safety when going out in Bucharest


Visitors may enjoy a lively and vibrant experience thanks to Bucharest's nightlife and entertainment alternatives. While the city is renowned for its vibrant atmosphere, it's crucial to put safety first when taking part in the nightlife.

Here are some key points to keep in mind:

Occasional conflicts: There may occasionally be incidents between drunk people and security staff in busy nightlife locations. If you stay out of it, these situations are often small-scale and do not constitute a serious safety risk.

Drugs and drink spiking: Bucharest doesn't have a significant drug issue and instances of drink-spiking or drug-assisted violence are quite rare. Still, to be cautious and aware of your surroundings is always a good idea, especially when it comes to your drinking.

Be careful while receiving drinks from strangers and never leave your drink unattended. Seek assistance right away and think about calling the police if you feel sick after ingesting your drink or believe it has been tampered with.

Thefts in crowded places: for tourists and locals alike it's crucial to be aware of your possessions when in crowded areas like clubs and pubs where there are a lot of things going on. Keep a constant eye on your bags, wallets, and phones when in such settings.

Additionally, it's important to exercise caution when going to places like Therme Bucharest, a popular outdoor pool and SPA complex, where people might leave their items unattended. To keep your belongings safe, think about using lockers or special storage rooms.

Safety advice for solo female travellers in Bucharest

If you're a woman travelling alone in Bucharest you will generally feel safe - except for the occasional odd and long stares. As you will see, locals in Bucharest are very careful about appearances when going out and lots of uncomfortable stares might turn out to be in fact ‘checking you out’ looks of admiration or curiosity.

There may be some 'cat calling' - but that's where it stops. And here once again the advice is quite predictable if you're a solo female traveler:

  1. stay away from groups of men who consumed alcohol
  2. avoid side streets at night
  3. ask for help if someone is pushing the limits
  4. keep your friends and family informed of your whereabouts


It's common for Romanian men to approach beautiful women and offer a drink to start a conversation. If you're not interested, politely and firmly decline. Always follow your gut and leave any circumstance that makes you feel uneasy.

Never be afraid to seek help from staff, local authorities or strangers on the street if you need help. Trust your instincts and prioritise your safety above all else.

The best places to explore Bucharest's nightlife scene are those that are crowded. Avoid dimly lit or empty streets and stick to popular areas. If possible, try to travel with a group.

Please keep in mind that these safety recommendations are provided to help you make informed choices and responsibly enjoy Bucharest's nightlife. You may explore the city's diverse entertainment options while staying safe by exercising caution, being aware of your surroundings, and trusting your instincts.

Cyber safety

Tourists should take necessary precautions to ensure the safety of digital data when visiting Bucharest. Just like in any unfamiliar destination, it's important to be mindful of potential cyber threats.

Stay away from unsecured public WiFi networks since they are susceptible to hacking and data leaks. Instead, think about encrypting your internet connection and ensuring secure browsing by using a reliable virtual private network (VPN).

When giving personal information online, especially on unreliable websites or across unsafe methods, exercise caution.
For your accounts, use strong, unique passwords, and whenever possible, use two-factor authentication.

To protect your finances, make sure nobody can see your card's PIN when withdrawing money from ATMs. Also, make sure that the ATM card slot has no modifications or card cloning devices.

Safety in Bucharest public transport

In terms of safety and convenience, public transport in Bucharest has gone a long way offering a variety of options for locals and tourists alike to experience the city. By far the best way to navigate the city is using the extensive network of metro stations.

Check our complete guide on Bucharest public transport to find out more important info on that topic.

  • Using taxis in Bucharest

Bucharest is a large city and when you need to get a taxi using a ride hailing app like Uber or Bolt is the best choice and safest option because you can see the driver's profile and pay using your bank card.

Authorised metered cab or taxis have typical signs: company name & logo, authorisation number, fare written clearly on the side of the car and have a fare meter. Before getting in you can ask if your driver speaks English and make sure the meter is working.

Paying by card for the taxi ride is not possible so you must have cash on you. Some drivers may say at the end of the ride they don't have change to give you back so ideally you should have some small notes too. It's also common to leave a small tip of 3-5 lei after your taxi ride.

1 Euro = 5 Lei so don't get worked up about small amounts because most distances in Bucharest are covered within a 20 - 40 Lei fare.

Also, to avoid any unnecessary detours put your destination in Google Maps and see if the driver deviates a lot from the suggested route. During rush hours most drivers prefer taking side streets or have an app like Waze for best routes. If in doubt, ask the driver a few questions to clear the air.

Traffic jams and aggressive driving. Locals in Bucharest have a reputation for their sometimes aggressive driving behaviour. While this may seem intimidating, it's typically harmless. Accidents do occur from time to time, but it's rarely something serious. Usually the cars bump into each other lightly and an accident with casualties is also rare.

If you're in a car during rush hours, don't worry: The traffic is probably so jammed that the cars drive at very low speeds, so the chance of a serious crash is almost non-existent :)

If you're wondering what’s the best and most secure means of transportation in Bucharest? Generally, the metro is considered to be the safest option. The Bucharest Metro is reliable, well-maintained, and covers the city center and main tourist sights with convenient metro stations nearby.



Emergency and healthcare services

When exploring a new city like Bucharest, it's crucial to be aware of the emergency and healthcare services available to ensure your safety and well-being. Although we hope you won't require them, being well-informed and prepared can give you peace of mind. The following are some crucial services you should be familiar with:

Emergency contact numbers:
The following phone numbers should be kept handy in case of emergencies:
General Emergency: In all emergency circumstances, dial 112 for quick assistance.
Police: Call 112 to report any crimes, thefts, or safety issues.
Ambulance: For medical crises requiring immediate medical attention or transportation to the hospital, dial 112.
Hospitals and medical facilities:
Numerous healthcare centres and hospitals in Bucharest offer reliable medical care. Several renowned hospitals are:
Bucharest Emergency University Hospital: Centrally located, provides a broad range of medical disciplines and emergency care services.
The Floreasca Emergency Hospital is renowned for its emergency care and specialised medical units.
Colțea Clinical Hospital: Founded in the 18th century, it offers both emergency services and specialised medical care.

Travel insurance:
It is strongly recommended to buy travel insurance that covers medical emergencies before travelling to Bucharest (or any other location). Make sure your insurance covers medical costs, emergency medical evacuation, and, if necessary, repatriation to your home country. While travelling, keep a duplicate of your insurance information easily accessible.

Pharmacies and medication:
Bucharest is home to a large number of conveniently located pharmacies, or farmacie in Romanian. You'll see lots of green cross signs everywhere. If you need over-the-counter medication or advice, they're a good place to go.

Always practice prevention if you plan to travel safely. By taking the required security precautions, maintaining good hygiene, and being aware of your surroundings, you can reduce your risk of suffering an accident or health problems. However, should you require emergency or healthcare services, knowing the contact information and being prepared will ensure a swift response and appropriate care.

Conclusion

So, all in all, is Bucharest safe for tourists like you? We, as locals, can tell you that it is a very safe city, but you don't need to trust us blindly.

If you check crime statistics and numbers you'll see that while in other parts of the continent or of the world criminality has gone up in the last years, in Bucharest has gone down. Here's what travel bloggers have to say about safety in Bucharest:

Now that you know this, what's stopping you to pack your bags come visit Romania and Bucharest?

Hope to see you here soon!

Your Romanian Friend

Marius

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