If you're looking for more info to plan your trip in Romania and travelling while in the country, you’ll find it here. We want to make travel planning and navigating Romania as easy as possible during your visit, so that you can enjoy the beauty of our country with as little stress and hassle as possible.
Before we get into details, you should be aware that our transportation infrastructure is not as developed as in other Western European countries: trains are sometimes unreliable and take a long time while driving on national roads can be a challenge and require extra care due to busy traffic and one-lane roads - with very few highway sections. Sometimes it’s easier to let someone else take you to your destination (preferably someone used to navigating Romania), especially when considering medium-long distances (300 km< ).
So, we’ve put together a small guide with info, useful tips, transport companies and apps for you to use while you’re planning your trip in Romania. The main criteria we used were time, costs, overall experience and convenience. Here’s the rundown:
1 Internal flights for long distance travel
If you’re thinking of going from one part of the country to another, for example from Bucharest to Timisoara, Oradea, Cluj, Suceava or Iasi, you should consider catching an internal flight. Why? Because the 450 km distance between Bucharest and Cluj usually takes about 6-7h by car and 8-10h by train.
By plane the same distance takes around 35 minutes. There are 3 low cost companies (WizzAir, RyanAir and BlueAir) and the national airline Tarom operating various internal flights and connecting major cities in Romania. For prices ranging from €10-50 (bought 2-3 weeks in advance), it’s worth saving your time and energy and spending it on actually visiting the country.
All Romanian cities have only one airport, usually named after the city, so there’s no risk of confusion. Check the websites of the above airlines for more info.
2 Travelling by train in Romania: slow scenery, decent service
First of all, we think that one of the best things about a train ride in Romania is the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful countryside landscapes, especially on routes around the Carpathians (e.g. Bucharest-Brasov). Even if it is slower, your time will be spent admiring some great views, maybe with a camera or book in your hands.
The downside is that our railway infrastructure has not seen any major developments or improvements in 10+ years, being operated by the same state-owned company Romanian Railway Company (CFR) which basically runs a monopoly in the country. Trains go slow (60 - 120 km/h) while some routes take much, much longer because they take a detour (Cluj-Napoca - Timisoara goes through Oradea) while others go very, very slow (Bucharest-Sibiu takes about 5 hours).
However, using the train can get you from one city to almost anywhere in Romania safely, in decently clean conditions and for reasonably cheap prices (Bucharest – Brasov train or Bucharest – Constanta for €10 one way). The only problem is that in certain cases train schedules can become unreliable: on long distance trains (like Bucharest - Oradea), during very hot summers or snowy winters, 1h delays are very common. Also, due to the pretty big internal migration going on in the country, around major holidays or days off trains usually get packed with students and commuters, on top of regular travellers. But observing the locals on trains is a priceless travel experience that cannot be described in words - you'll see for yourself why!
For more information on routes and planning, you can check the official website of CFR which offers pretty accurate and detailed info. You can also buy tickets online, but you need to print them as ticket inspectors come and personally check passengers’ tickets on the train. There’s also a smartphone app called ‘TrenulMeu’ which accurately shows you the train schedule.
And just so you can see more Romanian trains and landscapes, see some clips below:
3 Renting a car and driving on Romanian roads
If you want to hit the roads of Romania, you can rent a car from almost every airport or main city. Major international companies like Hertz or Avis operate in the country, but there also some local ones which have a larger network of pick-up and drop-off points, info and know-how to offer, like Autonom. Prices are similar to what you see in other European countries and the displacement fee for pick-up in one point and drop-off in another still applies. Renting a decent, medium-sized car in Romania is generally more expensive because of high insurance and maintenance costs rental companies have. And if you're looking for a car with an automatic gear shift box, expect even higher prices.
Again, we want to stress the fact that the roads infrastructure in our country is not exactly great. Romanians notoriously complain about this all the time and with every occasion, for three reasons:
- there are only 700 km of highway which are in fact disconnected sections spread across different parts of the country of not much help. That leaves us with a large number of European roads (marked E with green), national roads (DN with red) or local ones (marked with blue) to navigate the country where speed limits apply (110 and 100 km); most roads are one-lane which means they are very busy with all kinds of vehicles and drivers, especially on routes connecting major cities (Pitesti - Sibiu, Cluj-Napoca-Sibiu, Sibiu-Brasov);
- on your way driving you will pass many localities and small villages where the speed limit goes down to 50 km. You will see that many Romanian drivers don't usually observe this rule. This can earn you a traffic ticket or increased stress, because in some villages you encounter all types of unexpected things (horse carts, vehicles parked inconveniently, bikers, etc);
- finally, in some parts of the country, especially mountainous areas or less circulated areas (including areas where most major attractions are located!) road conditions can become bad, bumpy, with lots of potholes or even lacking pavement altogether. This can either be a challenge or an adventure, depending on what type of driver you are.
But then again, you shouldn't be discouraged. Despite these difficulties, driving on some routes or regions in our country can be a beautiful experience: picturesque landscapes, local life sights and maximum freedom. And visiting some regions or sights, like Maramures, Bukovina or South-Eastern Transylvania can only be done by car, as there is no public transport between most villages. Also consider using the app Waze to guide you on our roads.
4 Busses, minivans and coach travel
There’s always the option of letting someone else worry about traffic and road conditions in Romania. This website is a comprehensive portal for all coach routes inside Romania, departure times, prices, operating companies and other details you should know. It is also available in 6 languages so it’s pretty useful for planning your trip.
Depending on your chosen route, you will either go on a big bus or minivan, with prices ranging from 20-50 Lei. Be sure to tell the driver if you need to get off at a specific point on his route before departure. Another option you should consider is using BlaBlaCar to a ride with someone going in a similar direction.
There you have it – our local guide and insights to help you plan your visit and navigate Romania, based on our experience. We will be posting more info on each transport option soon, along with the most beautiful routes or scenic drives to take. Subscribe to our newsletter if you want to know more!
Until then, we hope you’ll find this info useful and wish you safe travels!
Your Romanian Friend