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Practical information Romania

Amy Adejokun
Amy Adejokun Section editor

Romania : Travel Information before you go!

Area

92,043 sq mi

Flights

3hrs 15mins. Bucharest is 1,307 mi away from London.

Population

22,600,000

Airports

Otopeni international airport is 10 miles away from Bucharest's city centre (roughly a 30 minute drive), on the way to Ploesti. It has a tourist information desk which provides visas, open 24/7, a bureau de change and a cash machine, lockers, a bar-restaurant and various car rental stands. The no. 783 bus, which runs every 15 minutes, will take you into town. By taxi, take a vehicle with a metre, otherwise, you will have to fiercely negotiate the fare. Allow roughly 5.

Security

Safety in Romania is good and crime little developed. Nevertheless, in Bucharest and other cities, you will still have to be aware of pickpockets and car thieves. Vehicles should preferably be parked in guarded car parks. Make sure the doors are properly locked and do not leave objects and bags visible from the outside. We also recommend not walking in the streets with all of your money, travel documents and passport, and not to leave any valuables lying around in hotel rooms.

Languages

Romanian is the official language. Hungarian and German are also spoken in border areas. French is widely used (spoken or understood by 30% of the population), and English is often used within the tourism industry.

Required travel documents for

Since 1st January 2001, a visa is no longer necessary for stays of less than three months for European Union citizens. Beyond three months, you can get a visa if you have a valid passport at the Romanian embassy or directly upon arrival in the country, in Bucharest airport or at frontier posts. Documents to show: passport only.

Religion

Orthodox Christians (70%), Catholics (6%), Protestants (6%), and Sunni Muslims (0.3%).

Currency

Romania's currency is the Leu (plural: Lei). Credit cards (Visa, American Express and MasterCard) are accepted in banks and most hotels, restaurants and shops. There are also numerous cash machines where you can withdraw money. There is no need to bring dollars, because pounds (in cash or travellers cheques) are widely accepted. Avoid changing your money in hotels if possible, as the exchange rates are not very good. In the main cities, many private foreign exchange offices and banks display their rates in the window. Just compare them, and go for the best deal. Last but not least, NEVER exchange money on the black market, because you are sure to be ripped off. Banks are open during the week from 9:00am to 12:00pm, but private foreign exchange offices remain open until 6:00pm in the evening as well as on weekends.

Local transportation

There are numerous taxis available and they are cheap for rides within cities, and except for a few private vehicles touting for clients outside the airport, are now equipped with metres. In Bucharest, allow 1.50 for the average ride, almost half as much in the rest of the country. Bucharest has an easy-to-use underground train, practical and low-cost, to travel anywhere in the city, as well as a network of buses and trolleybuses.
Coach services are mostly used for small town services and link up remote villages that are not accessible by train. Buses are very slow, overcrowded, offer a bumby ride and polluting. Coach stations are usually located next to railway stations, meaning they are quite far from the city centre (roughly 1 mile), which is not very handy for travellers who do not have a lot of time to spend.
The national train company network is very dense and trains run very often. The trains are not very clean, comfortable or fast, but they are very low cost. On main lines, you will be able to take ?rapid', ?accelerat' and ?IC' trains. For local services, the ?cursas' and ?personal' trains. You need to buy your tickets approximately one hour before departure, or in advance from the rail agencies in town. For a picturesque ride, some local steam trains still travel alongside forests and lost valleys in the Carpathians, Maramures or Bucovine areas. Quite an experience.
Driving is most certainly the best way to travel in Romania. It allows you to get to the most remote areas, stop wherever you like and save time. On the whole, the condition of main roads is quite good, but secondary roads are full of potholes and obstructed with horse and ox carts, tractors and pushy lorries, geese gaggles and stray dogs. The suburbs are not easily accessible and you often have to stop to ask for directions. Avoid driving at night, because of the many hidden obstacles. Service stations and tyre repairs (Vulcanizare) are almost everywhere, and petrol is cheap. Car rental agencies (Avis, Hertz, Europcar, ACR), are gathered around Otopeni airport outside Bucharest. They also have agencies in the capital's major hotels. Prices are exhorbitant though, costing roughly 60 pounds a day for an economy class vehicle with unlimited mileage. The other solution would be to hire the services of a chauffer-driven taxi or a privately-owned car, but this is hardly cheaper. If you are driving your own vehicle, an international driver's licence, a log book and insurance card are compulsory.
To travel by plane, the national company Tarom ensures domestic air links between the main cities, but there are not any flights at the weekend and flights leave in all different directions from Bucharest. This system makes it compulsory to fly via Bucharest to get to another city. Domestic flights leave from Baneasa airport, not far from Otopeni.

Health

No particular vaccine is required but it is recommended to be up to date with the following: tetanus, polio, diphtheria, typhoid fever and hepatitis A and B. Sanitary conditions are fairly good for foreign travellers. Tap water is drinkable, but it is preferable to consume mineral water and in bottles. Be careful of mosquitoes during summer, in particular in the Danube delta, (pack a mosquito repellent cream).

Electricity

Voltage of 220 V.

Tourist numbers

6 million international tourists visited Romania in 2006. Among the European visitors, the majority came from Austria, Italy and Germany.

Taxes and tips

Government taxes (10%) are not included in the rates shown by hotels and restaurants, and appear when it is time to pay the bill. In restaurants, a tip of about 10% of the bill's total is usually left but it is not required to do so.

Telephone

To call Romania from the UK: 00 + 40 + regional code (Bucharest 1, Brasov 68, Sighisoara 65, Sibiu 69, Cluj Napoca 64, Timisoara 56, Baia Mare 62, Suceava 30, Constanta 41) + number. To call from a province to another, dial 0 before the regional code, then the number.
To call the UK from Romania: 00 + 44 + regional code (without the initial 0) + number.

Romania : Useful addresses in the country

Before leaving

Romanian Embassy
Consulate Section
Arundel House
4 Palace Green
London
W8 4QD
Tel: 020 7937 9668
Fax: 020 7937 8069

Romanian National Tourist Office
22 New Cavendish Street
London
W1G 8TT
Fax: 020 7224 3692

At the destination

British Embassy
24 Jules Michelet
010463 Bucharest
Tel: (40) (21) 2017200
Fax: (40) (21) 2017317
Romanian Tourist Office
Bulevardul Magheru 7
Bucharest
Tel: 312 25 98.