Sofia Adventures

Romania is a popular (but still off-beat) vacation spot in Europe. From the hauntingly beautiful towns of Transylvania to the illustrious Romanian royal castles to the quirky capital of Bucharest, there’s enough to do here to fill up multiple travel itineraries. While it’s a fairly easy country to travel, there are a few things you definitely need to know before you get here.

Step 1:  Check to See if You Need a Visa

Passport Camera and Map - Pixabay

Before heading to Romania, see if you need a visa!

Romania is a member of the European Union, but it is not yet a full participant in the Schengen Zone. The bad news? This means that you need to check visa requirements here on an individual country-by-country basis. The good news? Any days spent in Romanis do not count against your total Schengen Zone days. This makes Romania a popular place for backpackers to come to hang out when they’re out of Schengen days.

At present, this is the list of countries who do not need a visa to stay for 90 days or less in a 6-month period, but again, please double check at things may change! You can check up-to-date visa information for traveling to Romania here

Albania, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Grenada, Guatemala, Holy See, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Macao, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norh Macedonia, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Poland, Portuga, San Marino, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, Uruguay, USA, Venezuela

Substitute Visas

If you hold a valid multi-entry visa to the Schengen Zone, you can enter Romania for 90 days out of a six-month window as long as your visa will be valid beyond the length of your stay. 

How to Get a Romanian Visa

If you do need a visa, you may luck out and be able to apply for an eVisa. Check if your passport qualifies here. 

Step 2. Book Your Tickets

Romania - Bucharest - Train Station

I usually travel to Romania by bus or train, but if you’re coming from outside of the region your best option is to fly.

Most people who fly into Romania by heading to Bucharest’s Otopeni Airport; however, there are a few other international airports in the country that may be more convienant if you have a more Transylvania-centric itinerary. 

Unless you’re intent on starting your trip in a particular city, it would be smart to check the prices into Bucharest, Cluj, and Sibiu. Those looking for a Romanian Black Sea vacation should look for flights into Constanta. However, there are even more international airports in the country that have ongoing commercial flights (some of them through budget airlines) so you may want to use Skyscanner’s “Everywhere” feature to see all the flights into the country. (You will probably have to click each Romanian city individually if they don’t auto-populate).  

We usually use a combination of Skyscanner and Google Flights when we are searching for flights. Use Skyscanner’s “Everywhere” feature, which is helpful for determining which of the two cities to fly into. 

If you know exactly which airport you need to fly from and into, then use Google Flights which has a nicer interface and updates with the correct prices faster, so there are no disappointments when you click through unlike Skyscanner sometimes has. 

Many travelers visit Romania as part of a larger Balkan backpacking trip. Most of these travelers will arrive by bus or train. If you will be taking a bus or train trip, read our guide on surviving a Balkan bus trip (and pack snacks).

Step 3. Plan Your Itinerary

Romania - Transylvania - Corvin Castle Pixabay

If you love castles, make sure Transylvania is on your itinerary.

For the purpose of this article, we’re going to assume that you are only visiting Romania. If you are planning a multi-country Balkan trip, we have a whole post all about Balkan itineraries for you to read!

If you have four days or less, I would suggest visiting Bucharest as a city break. 

With four days or more, you’ll have enough time to explore more of the country from your Bucharest base, so you can pick one or two of the best Bucharest day trips. 

If you have a week, you can combine Bucharest (3 days) with Transylvania. Here are our Transylvania itinerary suggestions, which you could do part of (3-4 days) or the entire thing (7-10 days) 

Another alternative would be to see Bucharest (3 days), Bucovina (2 days) and head south to Transylvania (3 or more days). 

Romania is not a country that you can cover in two weeks (or even a month) so you will want to pick which regions to see ahead of time. Note that travel time between cities can be long if you’re using public transportation. 

For more places to visit in Romania, here are lists of our favorite Romanian cities and Romanian castles. 

Step 4. Plan Your Activities

Romania - Peles - Pixabay

If you want to visit Peles Castle, you’ll need to plan ahead of time!

Once you’ve determined what cities are on your itinerary, it’s time to plan your activities!

We have several guides for activities in and near Bucharest:

 

If you want to do any city tours or day trips, we recommend booking in advance, as sometimes tours book out especially in the peak season (May to September). We personally use and recommend GetYourGuide when searching for tours in Romania and the Balkans in general. We like that they have a best-price guarantee and that they tell you the name of the tour companies they partner with (unlike Viator), so you can research it and be sure it’s worth your money! 

Step 5. Budget Your Trip

Romania - Bucharest - Cafe - Pixabay

Once you know your budget, you know how much you can spend in delightfully Instagrammable Bucharest cafes

Romania is definitely a budget-friendly destination, but we prefer to spend a little more money and see how much nicer of a trip that extra few bucks a day goes. 

The budget traveler can easily travel to Romania on $45 dollars per day. Of this, $15 will go towards a bed in a hostel dorm. The other $30 dollars will go to cooking meals in a shared kitchen, eating street foot, budget-friendly and free activities, Romanian souvenirs, and public transportation. 

Mid-Range travelers can have a fantastic time in Romania for $60-$80 dollars per day. This means staying in a cheap but wonderfully private room, eating out at a mix of local restaurants and higher-end restaurants, going out for drinks at the local bars, taking taxis, and indulging in a few guided tours. The range mostly has to do with whether you’re traveling solo or with someone, since it will obviously cost more for a private room if you’re the only one paying for it. You can find private and double rooms in most parts of Romania for about $20-$30 dollars.

Luxury travelers will find they can have a baller time for $100-$150 dollars a day. You’ll find five-star hotels in Bucharest for around $100 dollars a night, so if you’re splitting the cost with someone your money goes very far. You can eat at the nicest restaurants, go on as many guided tours as you want, and shop for fabulous souvenirs and I still think it would be hard to spend above this range. 

Step 6. Book Your Accommodations

Romania - Bucharest - Hotel Cismigiu

You can stay at Bucharest’s Haunted Cismigiu Hotel!

Once you’ve sorted out what you want to spend per night on accommodations, it’s time to get booking! We use Booking.com because we like that they have free cancellation if you end up changing your plans and they have the widest selection and best prices.

We’re in the process of creating comprehensive guides on where to stay in different Romanian cities, but for now, we recommend checking out Booking.com as early as possible. While Romania is underrated by international travelers, many of the best places can book early during the high season because Romanians know where to go.

Step 7. Research Any Vaccinations You May Need

Romania - Bucovina - A Sheet in a Car

Wondering what vaccines to get before riding in cars with sheep?

TL;DR – if you’re a frequent traveler who is usually up-to-date on their vaccines, you’ll be fine in Romania.

There’s really nothing that special that you need for Romania. The CDC recommends being up-to-date on all your standard vaccines, which you should be anyway. This includes MMR, tetanus, chickenpox, polio – the usual. You may want to consider getting vaccinated for hepatitis A if you’re not already vaccinated against it, as it can be spread by contaminated food or water. This is unlikely to happen as Romania’s water is clean and safe to drink in nearly all cities, but being vaccinated against hepatitis A is a good idea anyway for future travel.

The CDC also suggests possibly being vaccinated against hepatitis B if you, for example, want to get a medical procedure done or get a tattoo, and also possibly getting vaccinated against rabies. I think most travelers can safely skip both. Allison got bit by a cat in Ukraine last year and had to get post-exposure shots. While it was a pain in the ass (not literally, anymore – the shots are now done in the arm, luckily!), it is 100% effective if the protocol is followed. And since you have to get post-exposure shots regardless of being vaccinated, it is not that much more of a burden in the extremely unlikely chance of an animal attack.

Step 8: Learn a Few Common Romanian Words and Phrases

Romania - Bucovina

Having a few common Romanian phrases handy, like “Sir, can I borrow your axe,” will make your trip to Romania even more pleasant!

While English is common in the cities, it’s less common in the smaller towns and villages. It’s always nice to know a few Romanian phrases before you come here:

Good day (more formal) = Bună!

Please = Vă rog

Thank you = Mulțumesc

Goodbye = La revedere

Excuse me = Scuzaţi-Mă!

OK, Good = Bine!

Yes = Da

No = Nu

I don’t understand = Nu înțeleg

Do you speak English? = Vorbesti engleza?

 

Unlike Romania’s Balkan neighbors, Romanian is a Romance language. Those unfamiliar with Romanian might think they’re sitting in the middle of Portugal instead of the northern Balkans! 
 
The good news about Romanian is that it’s one of the only Balkan countries that utilizes the Latin alphabet as its primary written alphabet. You’ll notice some of these letters have diacritical marks that change the the pronunciation of the Latin letters:
 

Ă ă  /  A a / pronounced as a schwa [ə]

  â /  A a / no English equivalent 

Î  î  / I i / no Enligsh equivalent 

Ș  ș / Sh sh 

Ț  ț / Ts ts 

Step 9. Pack Your Bags

Romania - Bucharest - Umbrella Alley Instagram

Instagrammers make sure to pack something to match Bucharest’s Rainbow Alley.

What you should pack depends greatly on the time of year. We have some packing lists that we’ll add soon to help you plan for your trip to Romania, but for now, here are five things we don’t recommend you visit without!

  1. A Lonely Planet guidebook, to help you plan when on the ground
  2. Your swimsuit for enjoying a trip to Therme
  3. An unlocked smartphone, so you can buy a cheap Romanian SIM card and stay connected
  4. Wet wipes and hand sanitizer, in case of a poorly stocked bathroom
  5. Comfortable walking and/or hiking shoes, so you can make the most of Romania’s cities and national parks

Step 10. Prepare For Your Arrival

Romania - Bucharest - Continental Hotel

Your cozy bed is waiting for you after a long day of being in transit.

You’re nearly done planning your trip to Romania, but don’t miss this last crucial step – planning what you do when you arrive!

Firstly, money – you’ll either want to withdraw cash from the ATM at the airport/bus station or exchange your money. We recommend withdrawing cash instead, as you will get a better exchange rate at money-changers in the city. However, if you plan to use the ATM, you should probably call your bank to advise them of your travel. The last thing you want to happen is for your bank to deny your card when you arrive! I always advise carrying at least $50 USD/Euros as a backup in case of any card problems.

Once you’re in Romania, you’ll use local currency since the country is not on the Euro. Check out our Balkan Currency Guide for an overview of how money works in Romania and what to tip in the country.

For taxis in Romania, we recommend using Uber. Local taxis can be a bit scrupulous when it comes to newly-arrived tourists. Have it downloaded ahead of time for ease. 

If you have no data and can’t find wifi and don’t want to risk grabbing a random taxi, you can walk to a hotel or restaurant and ask them to call a taxi for  you. 

Step 11: Don’t Forget Travel Insurance!

We put this last so it’s fresh on your mind: travel insurance is essential for Romania and for travel in general! Allison and I have both been paying customers of World Nomads for the last three years. We love the peace of mind it gives us in case of emergencies, accidents, illnesses, theft, or trip cancellation or disruption.

While Romania is perfectly safe to travel around, there’s always a risk inherent in everyday travel, so it’s better to play it safe. The saying goes “if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel” is true!

Get a travel insurance quote for your trip here.

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Planning a Trip to Romania: An 11-Step Checklist

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