Welcome to Rediscover Romania
Essential Information for Visitors
Romania is situated in the south-eastern part of Central Europe and shares borders with Hungary to the northwest, Serbia to the southwest, Bulgaria to the south, the Black Sea to the southeast, Ukraine to the north and the Republic of Moldova to the east.
Romania's territory features splendid mountains, beautiful rolling hills, rich with orchards and vineyards, fertile plains, largely devoted to agriculture and numerous rivers and lakes. The Carpathian Mountains traverse the centre of the country, forests cover over one quarter of the country and the fauna is one of the richest in Europe including bears, deer, lynx, chamois and wolves. The legendary Danube River ends its eight-country journey at the Black Sea, after forming one of the largest and most bio-diverse wetlands in the world, the Danube Delta.
Mountains: 31% of Romania's territory
Areas covered by rivers and lakes: 3.7%
Highest mountain: Mt. Moldoveanu - 2544 m
The Carpathian Mountains
Although not as high as the Alps, the Carpathian Mountains extend over 600 miles in Romania, in the shape of an arc. They are divided into three major ranges: the Eastern (Oriental) Carpathians, the Southern Carpathians (also known as the Transylvanian Alps), and the Western Carpathians. Each of these ranges feature a variety of landscapes, due to the different types of terrain (glacial, karst and volcanic). Romania’s mountains are a great destination for numerous outdoor activities including: climbing, hiking, biking and rafting. Some of the most popular ski resorts are Poiana Brasov, Sinaia, Predeal, Vatra Dornei, Lake Balea and Paltinis.
The Danube Delta
Danube River ends its journey of almost 1864 miles through Europe in south-eastern Romania. Here the river divides into 3 branches (Chilia, Sulina, Sfântu Gheorghe) forming the Danube Delta. It is the newest land in the country, with beaches expanding almost 65 feet into the sea every year.
Overall, the delta is a triangular swampy area of marshes, floating reed islands and sandbanks. It is a UNESCO Biosphere Reservation as well as a protected wetland and natural habitat for rare species of plants and animals.
The Black Sea
The Romanian Black Sea Coast stretches a little over 150 miles.
The Black Sea is a continental sea, with a low tide and salinity and water temperatures of 25˚C in the summertime. Its wide, sandy beaches facing east and south-east become a major tourist attraction from May until September.
98% of the Romania’s rivers spring from the Carpathian Mountains. The upper streams are usually more spectacular, featuring numerous gorges, caves and precipices. The main rivers in Romania are Mures (473 miles on Romania's territory), Prut (461 miles on Romania's territory), Olt (382 miles), Siret (347 miles on Romania's territory), Ialomita (259 miles), Somes (233 miles on Romania's territory) and Arges (217 miles). In the east, river waters are collected by Siret and Prut rivers. In the south, waters flow directly into the Danube and in the west most of them are collected by Tisa River.
Europe’s second longest river, the Danube, flows through southern Romania forming part of the country’s frontier with Serbia, Bulgaria and Ukraine. Its blue waters run along 621 miles, from Bazias to the Black Sea. Virtually all of the country's rivers are tributaries to the Danube, either directly or indirectly. The Danube is an important water route for domestic shipping, as well as international trade and tourist cruises. The main port, both for trade and tourism, is Constanta, linked to the Danube by a canal build in 1984. Tulcea, Galati, Calarasi, Giurgiu and Drobeta are other important river ports. The nearest Danube river port to Bucharest is Giurgiu. Older plans for construction of a 40 mile canal connecting Bucharest with the Danube River are now being re-considered by the Romanian Government.
There are around 3,500 lakes in Romania, most of them small or medium.
The largest are the lagoons and coastal lakes on the Black Sea shore, such as Razim (164 sq. miles) and Sinoe (66 sq. miles), or lakes along the Danube bank - Oltina (8.5 sq. miles); Brates (8.1 sq. miles).
Formed at the end of the last Ice Age, the glacial lakes in the Carpathian Mountains are small, but spectacular. Worth mentioning are the glacial lakes in the Retezat Mountains: Zanoaga, the deepest lake in the country (95 feet) and Bucura, the largest (24.7 acres) as well as the lakes located in the Transylvanian Alps (Balea, Capra, Caltun, Podragu). Lake St. Ana, located in Ciomatu Mare Massif, near Tusnad is the only volcanic lake in Romania, sheltered in a perfectly preserved crater and surrounded by vast fir-tree forests. The lake is solely fed by rain. Therefore, its waters are nearly as pure as distilled water. The Red Lake (elevation 3,215 feet), located in the Hasmas Massif, near Bicaz Gorges, is unique in shape and landscape. It is a natural dam lake created in 1837 after a major landslide. The name “Lacul Rosu” (Red Lake) comes from the reddish alluvia deposited by its main tributary.
Flora and fauna
Due to its varied terrain and climate Romania has a diverse flora and fauna. Over 3,700 species of plants and 730 species of animals can be found in Romania. Oak, beech, elm, ash, maple and linden made up 71 percent of Romania’s forests while conifers (fir, spruce, pine and larch) account for the remaining 29 percent.
Soil and mineral resources
More than 58.000 square miles - almost two-thirds of the country's territory - are suitable for agriculture. Arable land accounts for about 40 percent, pastures for 19 percent, and vineyards and orchards represent some 5 percent of the total land area.
Significant oil reserves are concentrated at the foothills of southern and eastern Carpathians. Oil reserves have also been discovered a few miles away from the Black Sea coast. Large deposits of natural gas are located in the Transylvanian Plateau.
There are important iron ore deposits in Poiana Rusca Mountains, Banat and Dobrogea regions, as well as in Harghita Mountains (Eastern Carpathians). Most of the non-ferrous metal reserves are concentrated in the northwest, particularly in Maramures and Apuseni Mountains. Some of the largest gold deposits in Europe are also located in Apuseni. Large amounts of pure salt are located at: Slanic, Tîrgu Ocna, Ocna Mures, Praid and Cacica.
American and Canadian citizens as well as citizens of Australia, New Zealand and most European countries do not need an entry visa to visit Romania (for stays up to 90 days). However, a valid passport is required and your passport has to be valid for at least six months from the date of entry into Romania. Citizens of the countries of the European Union can also enter Romania with their National Identity Card. U.S. / Canadian/ Australian/ New Zealand and all European Driver licenses are valid for driving in Romania for 90 days from the date of entry into Romania. Citizens of any other country should check the visa regulations that apply to them with the nearest Romanian Consulate.
There is no Entry or Departure Tax.
We strongly recommend that you obtain a sufficient and reliable travel insurance policy. Always check the conditions and exclusions of your policy, for example, most policies will not cover drink or drug-related incidents and you must take reasonable care of your possessions or your policy will not cover you.
No immunizations or unusual health precautions are necessary or required. Romania has no infectious risks and there are no poisonous insects. There is no malaria in Romania. During the summer months there are mosquitoes in the Danube Delta and some low-lying regions. For your comfort take some mosquito repellent when travelling during summer season.
However, we strongly recommend that you contact your doctor’s surgery or a specialist travel clinic for up-to-date information, advice and the necessary vaccinations. For a visit of less than one month, almost certainly you will be advised to have immunisations against the following: Diphtheria and Tetanus, Hepatitis A and B, Polio and Typhoid.
Tap water is safe to drink but if you are in doubt buy bottled water. Romania is home to more that 1/3 of the natural mineral springs in Europe. Bottled water is inexpensive and widely available. Some Romanian bottled waters are rated the best in the world for purity and taste and are exported to many foreign countries.
Romania has good medical facilities and Romanian doctors are known for their high standard of medical education. Your embassy in Romania can probably provide a list of preferred physicians or medical facilities.
Romanian Customs regulations are in line with those of most European countries. A traveller can enter and leave Romania with up to 10,000 Euros in cash or traveller's cheques. Amounts over 10,000 Euros have to be declared at Customs. Items that must be declared at customs also include: art objects, historic artefacts, weapons, ammunition, explosive materials, toxic and hazardous substances.
Tobacco: 200 cigarettes (one carton) or 40 cigars
Liquor: 4 litres of wine or 2 litres of liquor or two litres of wine and one litre of liquor.
A reasonable quantity of gifts; Medicines for own use
Customs officers do not usually check the luggage of individual travellers or tour groups. However, you must know that, as in any other country, custom officers have the authority to check passports and to conduct enforcement examinations without a warrant, ranging from a single luggage examination to a personal search.
Romania is a year-round tourist destination. However, from end of April to the beginning of July and the end of August to end of October are the most popular sightseeing periods, with generally mild and pleasant temperatures. Summers can be hot especially in Southern Romania, including Bucharest but along the Black Sea Coast, sea breezes offer moderate temperatures. The mountain resorts and higher elevation areas are warm and pleasant during summer. Winters can be very cold, especially in the mountains and snow is common throughout the country from December to mid March. Skiers and snowboarders can usually enjoy their favorite sport in the Carpathian Mountain resorts from December until mid-April.
Money and Budget Guide
Romania's currency is Leu (plural "Lei" - pronunciation: lay).
Banknote denominations: 1, 5, 10, 50, 100 and 500 lei
Coins: 1, 5, 10 and 50 bani pieces. (pronunciation: bahnee)
1 leu = 100 bani
Foreign currencies may be exchanged at banks or authorized exchange offices (called: "casa de schimb" or "birou de schimb valutar"). International airports and larger hotels also offer currency exchange services.
Romanian currency cannot be purchased or sold outside of Romania's national borders. Make sure that, before leaving Romania, you convert your leftover Lei into the currency of your choice.
ATM machines are available at main banks and at airports and shopping centres. There are very, very few ATMs in remote areas or villages. ATMs that have symbols for international networks such as STAR and PLUS will accept US/ Canadian banking cards.
Major credit cards including American Express, Mastercard and Visa are accepted in large hotels, car rental companies and stores in the main cities. However, credit cards are unlikely to prove useful in small towns or away from tourist areas.
As a general rule we advise against taking travellers’ cheques as these can be difficult to change. Travellers' Cheques can be cashed in large banks, some hotels and selected exchange offices but most of them charge considerable commissions. Do not count on cashing such cheques outside Bucharest and a few other major cities. For travel around the country it is a good idea to carry cash. Small stores and restaurants might accept Euros or U.S. Dollars in small denominations ($ 1, 5, 10 and 20) but the exchange rate offered will not be the best. Street handicraft vendors prefer Romanian currency.
Currency exchange Tips
Cash can be easily exchanged at any bank or Currency Exchange Office (Casa de Schimb). Please note that exchange rates offered by the exchange offices at the airport are quite bad (10% to 25% less than the official rate).
Taxi drivers serving the airport will probably accept Euros or US Dollars but most stores in Romania will only accept Lei.
Entrance fees to historic buildings and attractions are rarely more than £ 3.
A three-course dinner, for two, with wine and tip starts around £ 20-25 and can go up to £ 125 or more in some of the more upscale restaurants in Bucharest. Dinner in restaurants is often accompanied by live music.
Note: Although some stores, merchants or taxi drivers may accept payments in Euros or US$ the National Bank of Romania regulations stipulate that payments for goods and services purchased in Romania should be made with Romanian money ( LEI ). Note: Prices in luxury hotels and upscale restaurants in Bucharest can be as high as those in Western Europe.
You should always ask permission before taking anyone's photograph and respect their decision if they say no. In more remote areas women and older people often do not want to be photographed. Some people may also ask for some money – sometimes a little, sometimes a lot - in return for a photo. Taking photos of military installations, state buildings, and airports can lead to problems with local authorities. If you are unsure about whether it is acceptable to take a photo, please ask your tour leader or guide.
Romania's electrical current is 230 V; 50 cycles and sockets take the standard continental European dual round-pronged plugs.
International direct dialling service is available throughout Romania. Most public telephones require the use of a calling / telephone card. It is very easy to rent or buy a cellular telephone in Romania.
Dialing within Romania:
0 + three digit area code + six digit telephone number when dialling anywhere in the countryside
0 + 21 + seven digit telephone number or 0 + 31 + seven digit telephone number when dialling in Bucharest.
Three digit telephone numbers are local toll-free numbers for emergencies or businesses.
International dialling from Romania:
00 + country code + area code + telephone number
Romania has several Internet access providers offering advanced services such as Internet messaging via mobile telephone, Internet paging, international roaming and more. A number of Internet retail outlets and cyber-cafes in almost every town offer convenient Internet access. An increasing number of hotels offer data ports with high-speed modem connections for guests to access the Internet and retrieve e-mail in the comfort of their rooms.
Access for people with disabilities to Romania's tourist attractions has improved in recent years, and it remains a priority. However, it is advisable to check with all service providers prior to your visit, ensuring that they are able to meet your particular needs. Advance notice and reservations will also help ensure that you receive the best possible assistance.
There are not too many public WCs so your best bet might be large hotels, department stores or fast-food restaurants. Use of some WCs may be subject to a small fee. Carrying a packet of tissues with you is always a good idea. Bathroom signs will indicate "Femei" (for women) or "Barbati" (for men).
It sometimes looks like almost every adult in Romania smokes. Unfortunately, some of those who do smoke have little consciousness of non-smokers' rights. However, the Romanian Government recently approved legislation that bans smoking in every public place but as in many countries in Eastern Europe some smokers might ignore smoking laws. Currently smoking is not allowed on planes, on buses and on most trains. Luxury hotels have designated no-smoking floors and most restaurants must have no-smoking sections. Smoking is also prohibited in public places such as hospitals, concert halls, and theatres.
Safety and Emergencies
Although violent crime against tourists is almost non-existent visitors should take customary steps to safeguard their valuables. Leave your valuables and passport in hotel safety deposit boxes or use a money belt kept out of sight. Be aware of pickpockets and scam artists in major cities. Do not attempt to exchange money on the street; you will likely be short-changed or receive a pile of worthless bills. Beware of conmen masquerading as plainclothes police; they may pretend to check your papers or accuse you of exchanging currency on the black market. In fact they might try to steal your cash. Real plainclothes police officers might only ask to check personal documents but never your credit cards or your cash. Not having your passport with you will not be a problem. The officer will come with you to your hotel to see your passport if he really has to check it.
General emergency phone number: 112
Emergency Contacts in Bucharest
Embassy of the United Kingdom – (021) 312 03 03
US Embassy (021) 210 40 42
Embassy of Canada (021) 222 98 45
Embassy of Australia - (021) 320 98 02
Banks: are usually open 9:00 am to 1:00 pm, Monday to Friday.
Shopping: Special purchases include embroideries, ceramics, pottery, porcelain, crystal, glassware, silverware, carpets, rugs, fabrics, wool jumpers, woodcarvings, glass paintings and more. Antiques ("Antichitati") and Consigned Goods stores ("Consignatia") deserve shoppers' attention. Normal shopping hours are 9:00 am to 6:00 pm.
Sales tax for goods and services:
VAT / Value Added Tax (or in Romanian: T V A - Taxa pe Valoare Adaugata )
A sales tax (TVA) of 24 % is added to all retail sales, hotel stays and meals served in restaurants. It is usually included in the prices posted in stores, hotels and restaurants. Like in many countries hotels charge an additional tax (0.5% to 5% depending on the class of hotel).
Cultural and environmental guidelines
You may come across beggars while on tour. Every traveller has different perspectives on this and ultimately the choice is up to you. Many sources recommend that you watch to see if local people give, and then follow their lead with genuine beggars. We do not recommend giving money, sweets, pens etc to children as this can encourage a begging mentality and can lead to children choosing to beg rather than go to school. Please make sure that you take any rubbish back to the hotel with you where they can be properly disposed of – this includes cigarette butts as well.
When visiting churches or monasteries it is respectful to dress appropriately – this means long sleeved shirts and trousers or long skirts. Please do not buy any products made from endangered species – this is not sustainable and hastens the species’ decline.
Customs & Etiquette
Romanians are friendly and open and foreigners are usually made very welcome. Chatting with visitors is very common for Romanians and they will find a way to communicate with you even if they cannot speak your language. Older people particularly appreciate old-fashioned politeness. It is respectful to use Mrs. or Mr. when using the name of a person that you just meet. Handshaking is the most common form of greeting. When a Romanian man is introduced to a woman, he will probably kiss her hand, strictly avoiding her eyes.
If one refuses what a host offers to eat or drink, this will often be taken as a polite refusal by a guest who really means to say "yes". If you want to refuse the offer find a polite excuse and say it firmly or ask for a replacement. It is common to linger once the meal (lunch or dinner) is over. When visiting someone at home bring a small gift. Most common gifts include flowers or chocolate (for women only), a bottle of wine or liquor. The number of flowers that one offers must always be odd. Other well-appreciate gifts include Western cosmetics (i.e. eau de toilette or after-shave) and clothing. All gifts should be wrapped, but many Romanians might not unwrap their gifts in your presence.
In Romania as in many Latin countries life is lived at a more relaxed pace. Normal European courtesies should be followed on social occasions. It is not considered impolite to ask a person's age, politics, income or religion, so don't take such questions amiss.
Food and drink
Romanian food is often centred around meat – pork, beef, lamb or chicken – and the many good cheeses that are produced in the region. Cabbage and vine leaves stuffed with meat and herbs are quite popular, and stews are fairly ubiquitous. You can expect to eat lots of local produce while you are here - simple yet flavoursome local dishes made with what is seasonally available, with a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, especially in summer.
Restaurants in small towns are usually social places where people go to have drinks and discuss politics or business. Meat might be unavoidable in such restaurants and menus are usually based on pork, beef or chicken. In small towns locals do not usually eat in restaurants because, traditionally, Romanian women cook almost every day. Homemade dishes are a world apart, so if invited to have lunch or dinner with a Romanian family, do not miss the opportunity.
As in most countries independent restaurants tend to be better than hotel restaurants so do not hesitate to visit smaller, privately owned restaurants. In some regions of Romania, and especially in Transylvania, some dishes may be prepared with more fat than you might usually use. Instead of having a heavy (meat) dish for lunch, try some delicious Romanian cheese and vegetables, especially during the warm summers. Salads are usually a side order, which comes with most mains, especially steaks.
Prices listed on restaurant menus are per serving and include all taxes and service charge. However, some restaurants might post prices per 50 g or 100 g while the actual serving can be up to 300 grams. If not stated clearly on the menu, check with the waiter and make sure that you are specific when you order. A three course meal in Romania will cost around €8-10, depending on where you eat – good restaurants in the capital are likely to cost more. A bottle of beer costs from €1-3, while a bottle of wine is from €4-10.
Typically, each food item (except bread) is ordered (and charged for) individually, right down to the butter. If you don't want bread, say so or it will be brought to your table and added to your bill. Most restaurants only serve wine by the bottle. When serving the wine the waiter will usually ask you if you would like a little bit of sparkling mineral water to be added to your wine. Wine mixed with mineral water ("sprit") is very popular during summer. Hot wine — with sugar and cinnamon — ("vin fiert") is "the recommended drink" for cold winter days. For something stronger try hot plum brandy ("tuica fiarta") — hot plum brandy with sugar and peppercorn. Your glass of water or soft drink will not be served with ice unless specifically requested. Restaurants do not usually have a non-smoking section.
If your local guide has been helpful then you could think about tipping. This amount can obviously be left to you. When tipping a driver, a guide or hotel staff a few Euros will always be gratefully received. Taxi drivers do not expect tips but courteous service can be rewarded.
Examples (guidance only): Hotel maid - 4 Lei / day or 25 Lei for a week or longer.
Hotel Concierge - tipping for the answer to a simple question is not necessary but 10 Lei to 15 Lei is suitable for help making reservations or getting tickets to a show.
Restaurants - although service is included a 5% to 10% tip will be appreciated.
Appropriate gratuities for Hairdressers and / or Massage Therapist are 10% to 15%.
Porter - 2 Lei a bag.
Parking valet - 3 Lei.
Romania uses the metric system of weights and measures. Speed and distance are measured in kilometres; goods in kilograms and litres; temperatures in Celsius.
Romania has a temperate climate, with four distinct seasons.
Spring is pleasant with cool mornings and nights and warm days.
Summer is quite warm, with extended sunny days. The hottest areas in summer are the lowlands in southern and eastern Romania where 40 Celsius is often reached in July and August.
Autumn is dry and cool, with fields and trees producing colourful foliage.
Winters can be cold, especially in the mountains. While not the rule, abundant snowfalls may occur throughout the country, from December to mid-March.
NB. There are significant regional differences of the climate between different regions of Romania.
Population is around 22 million with an ethnic breakdown of 89% Romanian, 7.5% Hungarian, 1.9% Gypsy, German, Ukrainian, Armenian, Croatian, Serbian and Turkish. More than 55% of Romania's population lives in towns and cities. Bucharest — the capital of Romania has a population of more than 2.2 million.
Foreign visitors consider Romanians among the friendliest and most hospitable people on earth. Romanians are by nature fun loving, warm, hospitable, playful, with an innate sense of humour. Romania is associated with big names in arts and sports:
* Constantin Brancusi — one of the most acclaimed modern sculptors.
* Angela Gheorghiu - one of the world's greatest opera sopranos.
* Ilie Nastase — twice ranked as the world's number one men's player in the early 1970s, Ilie Nastase won two Grand Slam singles titles during his illustrious career - the US Open in 1972 and the French Open in 1973. Nastase was runner-up at Wimbledon in 1972 and 1976 and, in all, he won 57 career singles titles and 51 doubles titles. Nastase is still one of crowd's favorites at the U.S. Open.
* Nadia Comaneci — Olympic champion gymnast, the first in the world to score a perfect 10.
Other world renowned Romanian artists include the writer Eugen Ionesco, pan flute virtuoso Gheorghe Zamfir, piano player Radu Lupu and musician George Enescu.
Main religions in Romania
Eastern Orthodox 78%
Greek Catholic 10%
Roman Catholic 5%
Unitarian, Jewish, other
January 1 / 2 - New Year
Monday following Orthodox Easter: March, April or early May (date varies)
May 1: Labour Day
Rusaliile: (Christian Orthodox Religious Holiday - celebrated 50 days after Easter)
August 15: Saint Mary's Day
December 1: National Day
December 25 / 26: Christmas
Romanian (limba română) is the official language of Romania. The name Romania, and its derivatives, come from the Latin word 'Romanus', a legacy of Roman rulers who took control of ancient Dacia in 106 AD. Romanian retains a number of features of old Latin and also contains many words taken from the surrounding Slavic languages, as well as from French, Old Church Slavonic, German, Greek and Turkish. Literacy rate in Romania is 98%.
Romanian is actually easier for English speakers to understand than you might think. If you’ve studied other Romance languages, such as Italian, Spanish, French or Portuguese, you may feel at home sooner than you think. Romanian is a phonetic language, so words are pronounced as they are spelled. A foreigner trying to learn or speak Romanian can expect positive reactions from native speakers. Most Romanians will certainly appreciate the fact that you are making an effort to speak their language.
• Around 80% of Romanians speak at least one foreign language
• 25% of Romanians speak at least 2 foreign languages
• Romania has over 100 universities, and the country annually produces some 30,000 engineering graduates; 8,000 earn their degrees in IT science.
Other languages used in Romania
English has quickly overtaken French as the country’s second language, especially with young people. French and German can also be useful. In the past, Romania had a sizable German minority; nowadays the number of native German speakers is declining. However, the German language is still widely used in Transylvania.
Hungarian is used in Eastern Transylvania and in some cities like Miercurea-Ciuc, Târgu-Mureş, Oradea, Cluj-Napoca, Satu-Mare and in the Covasna and Harghita counties. Other Romance languages (especially Spanish and Italian) are also studied by most people in schools and are therefore spoken with a pretty good level of fluency.
The Romanian alphabet has 31 letters, similar to the ones in the English alphabet, with the exception of five special letters called 'diacritics': ă (like the 'a' in English word 'musical'), ş (pronounced as 'sh'), ţ (pronounced 'ts'), â, î (no English equivalent).
as in father
No English equivalent
as in tell
[e] as in pick
as in leisure
as in shoe
[ts] as in fits
as in check
[dsi] as in gin
[dse] as in gender
[ki] as in skill
[ke] as in chemistry
[gi] as in give
[ge] as in guess
IMPORTANT NOTES – PLEASE READ
Please note that the information provided is correct at the time of writing but may change. It is intended as a guide only. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health contact your local healthcare provider. In addition we strongly advise you to check the information and any travel advice provided by your government. For British citizens you should visit the Foreign Office website www.fco.gov.uk Furthermore, you should be aware that any travel warnings or advisories may affect the validity of your travel insurance. Therefore, at the time of booking your tour it is essential you check any restrictions on cover with your insurance provider.