Country Guide – Romania
The below guide has been written based on our experiences in Romania and will hopefully give you an idea of what it’s like to travel there. However, things do change, so before you set off it’s worth checking for up to date travel information from the Foreign Office website, and the latest driving regulations on the AA website. At the bottom of the guide we’ve added links to our daily updates while we were in Romania, so you can live the adventure with us.
Country – Romania
Capital city – Bucharest, 1526 miles from Dover
Currency – Romania New Leu (pronounced ‘lew’ singular and ‘lei’ plural) also known as the RON. 100 bani = one Leu. When we visited five lei were worth around £1 so we doubled the price then divided by ten to get a rough comparison when shopping.
Languages – Romanian is the only official language, although many younger people speak some English and older people German.
Visa requirements – Member of the EU so visas not required for EU citizens staying less than 3 months.
Borders – Not part of Schengen zone so passports are checked at the borders.
Telephone country code – 40
Emergency numbers – 112 (EU wide helpline) for Police, Fire and Ambulance
Time zone – Romania is two hours ahead of the UK.
Duration – 14 days
Route – Drove north from Ruse in Bulgaria to Bucharest. Then went north to Prejmer and Brasov before heading south west to the bottom of theTransfăgărășanPass. Travelled over the pass and to Sibiu, then north to Sighisoara, Bistrita and out into Ukraine at Siret. See Map.
Miles driven – 728
Average daily spend – €33.36
Average spend on overnight stops – €4.17 (10 nights wild/free camping, 4 paid nights on campsites)
On average diesel was around 5.90 Lei (€1.33) a litre, prices dropped further at the weekends at several stations.
We did not fill up with LPG while in the country, but it was very widely available and priced around 2.45 Lei (€0.55) a litre.
We only ate out a couple of times, but a most restaurants had menus in English. The first was in a tourist hotel by the Transfăgărășan pass and where we thought the food quality very poor – reheated frozen stuff – but cheap. We also are out in a restaurant in the centre of Sibiu which was recommend by Lonely Planet and the service and food was perfect and the prices still cheap.
- 75 Lei (€16.85) :Transfagrasen Pass hotel – 1 x starter, 2 x main, 1 x soft drink, 1 x large wine
- 101 Lei (€22.70) : Sibiu restaurant – 1 x starter, 2 x main course, 1 x side dish and a litre of wine
- 5 Lei (€1.12) : 2 x cans of pop from kiosk in Bucharest
- 2.5 Lei (€0.56) : Pastry snack in Bucharest from hole in wall shop
- 17 Lei (€3.82) : Top of TransfăgărășanPass – 2 x corn on the cob, 1 x sausage, 1 large loaf of bread
- 8 Lei (€1.80) Large beer, 6 Lei (€1.35) Large wine in Sibiu main square cafe
- 30 Lei (€6.74) : Large beer, 7 Up, Large Pizza in Sighisoara cafe
Supermarkets – supermarkets used were Kaufland, Lidl and Penny XXL.
There are plenty of large supermarkets on the outskirts of towns, and smaller markets in every town centre. We never struggled to get anything in Romania and we even managed to pick up quite a lot of cheap beer!
- Loaf of bread 1.49 Lei (€0.34)
- 1 Litre UHT Milk 2.99 Lei (€0.67)
- Six Eggs 2.99 Lei (€0.67)
- 2 Litre of still water 0.89 Lei (€0.20)
- 250g Ball of Mozzarella Cheese 3.49 Lei (€0.78)
- 100g Bar of chocolate 1.19 Lei (€0.27)
- 4 x Chocolate Puddings 1.89 Lei (€0.43)
- 1 Litre Box of cheapest wine 8.32 Lei (€1.86)
- 500ml Bottle of Beer 1.49 Lei (€0.34)
Unleaded and diesel were widely available with many fuel stations. We weren’t in the country long enough to track and price movements, however we did notice that prices dropped at the weekend at several stations. Most stations had signs stating they take Visa cards, but we always paid in cash.
Tolls / Vignette
A vignette is required for the majority of the roads, they are marked with a sign at the side of them and we couldn’t see a way across the country without using them. It can be bought from small booths positioned just after the border or petrol stations. It cost us €17 for a month (you can pay in Euro or Lei) and costs went up if your vehicle was over 3.5t. The vignette was a piece of A4 paper with our details on it, so when it is handed over check carefully that everything is correct. There was also a toll of €2 to cross the bridge from Ruse in Bulgaria into Romania.
Road regulations – the ones we know of!
Traffic drives on the right and overtakes on the left, so you need to ensure your headlights are deflected either with stick on adapters or duct tape. You must carry a high visibility jacket for each person, a first aid kit, warning triangle and a fire extinguisher.
The use of dipped headlights during daylight hours in compulsory outside of built up areas and the use of your horn in built-up areas it is prohibited between 10pm and 6am – unless it is to prevent an accident. Winter tyres must be used between 1 November and 31 March if there is snow or ice. Fines issued for driving offences must be paid at a post office and if paid within 48 hours they may be halved.
As you drive along you’ll see yellow diamond-shaped signs, these mean that you are on the priority road and others must give way to you. If you see one with a black line through it, you no longer have priority, traffic from the right does – this is usually on approaches to roundabouts. If we’re not entirely sure who has priority we just take our time and give way to anyone who looks like they aren’t stopping.
Distances are all in kilometres, and so are speed limited. As you enter a town the urban speed limit of 50kph applies, unless otherwise stated, until you are out of the town. Seatbelts must be worn by driver and all passengers in front and rear seats, children under 12 are not allowed in the front seats.
The roads in Romania are mainly in a poor condition. There are quite a few miles of smooth EU funded tarmac, but even some of those now have pot-holes in them. Motorways swap between smooth tarmac and a bumpy patchwork without any warning.
Smaller roads (some of them still on the main route) can be very badly pot-holed. Keep your speed down as pot-holes can appear anywhere, and also watch the car in front of you – if it’s local it will undoubtedly swerve to avoid them and give you a bit of warning.
Standard of driving
The standard of driving that we saw was OK. People were generally courteous and would thank us when we indicated that it was safe for them to overtake us. We went slowly due to the random pot holes, so we were overtaken a lot. On some of the dual carriageway roads people would sometimes drive in the centre lane as it was often the smoothest.
Traffic on the roads was not limited to cars and lorries, there were also a good few horse and carriages, especially in the countryside. These tended to stick to the edge of the road, leaving as much space as possible for us (and others) to pass.
We didn’t use any aires or service points and were unable to find any listed on any database we have.
We stayed on two campsites in Romania. One just outside Bucharest, which was more like an aire for motorhomes as the parking was in a car park area surrounded by wooden bunglaows, but it did have easy access into the city by bus. The other was in Sighisoara and was once again more like an aire, with a small fenced in area to park and the use of the showers and toilets at the local swimming pool which was part of the site. Both sites were clean and of a reasonable standard.
Free / wild camping
We free/wild camped most of the time when we were in Romania. When we stopped at an attraction, such as Peles Castle, the Transfagasen pass or the painted monestaries, where we had to pay to park we would check with the attendant if it was OK to sleep there too – it always was. We had no problems whatsoever, other than curious glances.
Contact with home
Our mobile phone generally found a signal in Romania. Call charges were around 30p to make and 10p to receive (per minute). Text messages are free to receive and around 10p to send.
We used our EuropaSIM on most days and always got a good signal – even in the mountains. We also found open wifi in quite a few of the places we stopped and at the campsites.
We went into the post office in Sighisoara and found several counters and a short queue. Once a window became free I waved the postcards and bought stamps for home.
Read our daily updates
The link below takes you to our first day in Romania. At the bottom of each daily update there is a link to take you forward to the next day or back to the previous.
Romania – July 2013