Romania’s currency is the LEU.
Euros are often accepted other Foreign currencies are usually not accepted; some hotels and tourist shops do take major international currencies (Euros, GBP CHF DKK SEK NOK USD etc.), but the exchange rates they offer are frequently lower than the normal rates.
- 1 euro (EUR) is about 4.7 lei (Romanian currency) to 5 lei. Other way put – 1 leu is about 0.22 euro to 0.30 euro.
The safest way to get your lei is to have your money exchanged at a bank. In almost all the cities and towns of Romania you can find at least a bank. Never change your money in an unofficial way, like on the street with help from strangers regardless of what they tell you.
Besides banks, you can also have your money changed at exchange offices. Many are genuine and commission free. However, if you want to out any doubt that you could enter a scheme of some sort, choose a trusted bank.
ATMs are widespread, unless you have particularly high transaction fees, ATMs are usually the best and easiest way to deal with currency exchange; Romanian banks don’t generally charge fees to use their ATMs but check with your own bank before you travel to know if/how much they charge for international cash withdrawals.
Visa, is the most widely accepted credit card in Bucharest, followed by MasterCard , and Maestro.
Note that in the past year, in Bucharest, many of the card users have opted for a contact-less card, (many places have adapted with an contact-less POS) , so if you want to purchase something you can just swipe your card and pay the price (for a contact-less transaction you can only pay 100 lei)
Restaurants Tip 10% of the bill to reward good service.
Taxis Drivers won’t expect a tip, but it’s fine to round the fare up to reward special service.
Hotels Tip cleaning staff 3 to 5 lei per night or 20 lei per week to reward good service. In luxury hotels, tip doormen and concierges 5 to 10 lei for special assistance as warranted.
Personal services Tip hairdressers and other services around 10%.
Yep. Let’s get this one out of the way first. The Transylvania region, in the centre of the country, was home to Vlad Dracula otherwise known as Vlad the Impaler (a name that gives a better clue to the blood thirsty nature of this historical villain) on whom 19th century novelist Bram Stoker’s fictional character Count Dracula is based.
Yes you can visit the impaler’s real home, which is Poienari Cidadel in Wallachia but it is now a ruin and difficult to get to by public transport. You could visit Bran Castle, near Brașov, which looks the part.
Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, right? In Romania, Christmas and mid-winter celebrations last from 20th of December to 7th of January.
Even though Romanians celebrate St. Nicholas (Sfântul Nicolae) on the 6th of December, this is not part of the Christmas celebrations!
We can say that the start of Winter Holidays is on the 20th of December when people celebrate St. Ignatius’s Day (Ziua de Ignat). It is traditional that if the family keep pigs, one is sacrificed on this day and the meat is used in the Christmas meals.
On the evening of Christmas Eve (in Romanian is called ‘Ajunul Crăciunului‘), people decorate the Christmas Tree, which is kept until 7th of January when officially Winter Holidays are over. The fir tree is the most important arbor for Romanians – it’s present in many stages of a person’s life: the christening, the wedding, a new house, the funeral, and in many other festive days.
Romanian Christmas Carols are not just simple songs, their messages are full of good wishes – prosperity, health, and luck. Children go house to house on the day and evening of Christmas to proclaim the Birth of the Lord. Many years ago, the little ones used to dress in a popular port, specific to each area. But even though they don’t dress the same nowadays, they are still welcomed with joy and rewarded with fruit, sweets, traditional sponge cake (cozonac), and sometimes money for singing well. Adults can also go carol singing on Christmas Day evening and night.
In many parts of Romania, it is also traditional that someone dresses up as a goat (in Romanian called ‘Capra’), with a multicolored mask, and goes around with the carol singers. The goat makes a spectacular show, jumping and dancing around to drive away the evil spirits.
Romanian cuisine is greatly influenced by Balkan cooking, including Christmas dishes – a variety of goodies that will make you lick your fingers: Roast Gammon and Pork Chops, Ciorbă de perișoare – a sour soup with meatballs, Sarmale – cabbage leaves stuffed with minced meat, served with polenta (mămăligă), sponge cake, Romanian doughnuts (gogoși), and cheese pie (plăcintă cu brânză).
New Year’s Eve is also very important, with many customs, by far Plugușorul being the most popular. Young boys parade through the streets on New Year’s Eve with the Plugușor and it is believed to help people have good crops during the following year.
On New Year’s Day, in the morning, children wish people a Happy New Year while carrying around a special bouquet called a Sorcova. Traditionally, it was made of flowered twigs from one or more fruit trees like apple, pear, cherry or plum, but nowadays often a single twig of an apple or pear tree is used and it’s decorated with flowers made from colored paper.
Not if you are a citizen of the EU, USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand and you plan to stay no more than 90 days either in a single visit, or multiple visits over six months.
The Romania Tourism guide advises that for stays of longer than 90 days, visitors must apply for a temporary residence permit eVisa.MAE.ro before arriving, or at least 30 days before the 90 days runs out.
It also advises that while Romania is not part of the Schengen agreement some airlines have refused to board passengers with less than three months, beyond their intended departure date, on their passport.
Tourist agency Romania.travel advises that the majority of European airlines – including the Romanian national carrier Tarom – offer flights from most European cities in Western and Central Europe to Bucharest, Cluj, Iasi, Sibiu and Timisoara. Bucharest Henri Coandă International Airport is 17km north of Bucharest.
Low-cost airlines (such Air Berlin, Blue Air, Carpat Air, Niki and Wizz Air) also connect some European cities with Arad, Bacau, Bucharest, Cluj, Craiova, Oradea, Sibiu, Targu Mures and Timisoara.
Sky Team Alliance members (Delta, KLM, and Air France) offer connections from major North American airports to Bucharest.
By train from Europe it can take between six hours (Budapest to Timisoara) to 46 hours (London to Bucharest). Most train tickets allow several stopovers and first and second-class sleepers are available for overnight trains, and journeys over 10 hours.
If you are for the first time in Bucharest and you don’t know how to get around the city it means that you need some transport tips. There are a few ways to visit the capital of Romania and you need to figure out what works better for you.
Here are some suggestions for a safe and efficient visit.
If you come visit Bucharest for a shorter time, the bike is a very good option. For I’Velo you can buy a special card (which costs 7 RON) and a 1-day ticket for 10 RON. I’Velo is the first automated bike-sharing service in Bucharest and once you have a subscription, you can pick up the bicycle from Universitate and drop it off at Victoriei, Romană or at any other I’Velo automated station.
Anyway, if you choose this way of transportation, remember to be safe and follow the rules – the traffic can be aggressive downtown.
Bus, trams, trolleybuses
Bucharest has hundreds of bus, trams and trolleybus routes, serving every part of the city. Unfortunately, most services are very crowded, especially in the morning and in the afternoon. Buses and trams run at infrequent intervals from very early in the morning to around 11 PM. After this hour, the night buses take over.
If you want to get to the Otopeni airport there are two routes: 780 (which you can take from Gara de Nord) and 783 (from Unirii Square).
Bucharest Trolleybus Route Map
In order to ride Bucharest’s buses, trolleybuses or trams, you need to buy a card in advance. They are available at the RATB kiosks which can be found next to major bus stops. The card cost 1, 60 RON and it needs to be loaded with journeys (one costs 1, 30 RON) or with an unlimited pass, valid for one day on all buses, trolleybuses, and trams (8 RON).
The quickest way to get around Bucharest is definitely by metro. Even though Romanians keep complaining about how dirty and crowded the subway can be, it’s still the fastest way to get around. Anyway, try to avoid riding the metro in the morning or evening rush hours.
Tickets can be bought in each station (at the machines or at the kiosks). A ticket with 2 journeys costs 5 RON, with 10 journeys costs 20 RON. If you want, you can buy a daily pass for 8 RON or a weekly pass for 5 RON.
Enjoy your time in Bucharest!
Romania uses the metric system of weights and measures. Speed and distance are measured in kilometres; goods in kilograms and litres; temperatures in Celsius – Centigrade.
1 centimetre = 0.4 inches
1 inch = 2.54 cm
1 metre = 3.3 feet = 1.1 yards = 100 centimetres
1 foot = 0.3 metres
1 kilometre = 0.62 miles = 1,000 metres
1 mile = 1.61 km
Weight & Volume conversion
100 grams = 3.5 oz
1 oz = 28.35 grams
1 kilogram = 2.2 lbs = 1,000 grams
1 lb = 454 grams
100 millilitres = 3.4 fl.oz
1 fl. oz. = 28.4 millilitres
1 liter = 1/4 gallon = 1,000 millilitres
1 gallon = 3.78 litres
Temperature conversion °C to °F
(°C multiply by 9, divide by 5, and add 32 or double °C and add 30)
Kilometres divided by 1.6 = miles
Approximately 90 percent of Romania’s population practices the Eastern Orthodox Christian religion. Therefore, many of the holidays in this country are based on religious doctrine and cultural observances.
According to Romania’s Labour Code, fourteen official holidays are recognized throughout the year. In addition to public holidays, Romania also recognizes religious observances. These observances are not public holidays, and time off is discretionary according to an employment contract or trade union collective bargaining agreement.
Some of the country’s observances include Orthodox Easter Sunday, Orthodox Pentecost, Orthodox Ascension Day, Flag Day, National Anthem Day and seasonal observances.
- 1 Jan – New Year’s Day
- 2 Jan – New Year Holiday
- 24 Jan – Union of the Romanian Principalities
- 16 Apr – Orthodox Easter Sunday
- 17 Apr – Orthodox Easter Monday
- 1 May – Labor Day
- 1 Jun- Children’s Day
- 4 Jun – Orthodox Whit Sunday
- 5 Jun – Orthodox Whit Monday
- 15 Aug – Assumption Day
- 30 Nov – Feast of Saint Andrew
- 1 Dec – Great Union Day
- 25 Dec – Christmas Day
- 26 Dec – 2nd Day of Christmas
Romanian (limba română) is the official language of Romania.
The name Romania, and its derivatives, come from the Latin word ‘Romanus’ (citizen of Rome),
a legacy of the Roman Empire who took control of ancient Dacia (today Romania) in 106 A.D.
Romanian retains a significant number of features of old Latin and also contains words taken from the surrounding Slavic languages, as well as from French, German, Greek and Turkish.
Romanian is actually easier for English speakers to understand than it is assumed. If you’ve studied other Romance language, 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 Romanian will certainly appreciate the fact that you are making an effort to speak their language.
Other languages used in Romania
English has quickly overtaken French as the country’s second language, especially with the young people. Communicating in English in large towns in cities should not be a problem.
French and German can also be useful.
In the past, Romania had a sizable German minority population;
nowadays the number of native German speakers is declining
but German is still used by communities in southern Transylvania and in Banat (Western Romania).
Hungarian is widely used in Covasna and Harghita counties, in Eastern Transylvania.
15% to 35% of the population of some larger cities in Central and Western Romania (Târgu-Mureş, Oradea, Cluj-Napoca, Satu-Mare) speaks Hungarian.
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’),
ș (pronounced as ‘sh’),
ț (pronounced ‘ts’),
â and î (have the same reading, without an English equivalent).
Certain letters (and letter combinations) are pronounced differently than they are in English.
|ă||as in father|
|î, â||No English equivalent|
|e||as in tell|
|i||[e] as in pick|
|j||as in leisure|
|ş||as in shoe|
|ţ||[ts] as in fits|
|ce||as in check|
|gi||[dsi] as in gin|
|ge||[dse] as in gender|
|chi||[ki] as in skill|
|che||[ke] as in chemistry|
|ghi||[gi] as in give|
|ghe||[ge] as in guess|
Useful Words / Phrases
|Salutations||Formule de salut|
|Good morning.||Bună dimineaţa.||Boo-nuh di-mi-na-tsa|
|Hello/Good day.||Bună ziua.||Boo-nuh zee-wa.|
|Good evening.||Bună seara.||Boo-nuh sea-ra.|
|Good-bye.||La revedere.||La rev-eh-de-ray|
|Good night.||Noapte bună.||Nwap-te boo-nuh|
|My name is . . .||Numele meu este …||Noo-me-le meu yes-te …|
|What is your name?||Cum vă numiţi?||Koom vuh noo-mits?|
|How are you?||Ce mai faceţi?||Che may fa-chets|
|I’m fine, thanks.||Bine, mulţumesc.||Bee-nay, mool-tsoo-mesk|
|Do you speak English?|
. . . Romanian?
. . . româneşte?
. . . ro-mi-nesh-te
|Yes, a little.|
|Please speak slowly.||Vă rog, vorbiţi mai rar.||Vuh rog, vor-bits may rar|
|How do you say . . . ?||Cum se spune . . . ?||Koom se spoo-ne . . . ?|
|Do you understand?||Înţelegeţi?||In-tse-le-jets|
|I don’t understand.||Nu înţeleg.||Noo in-tse-leg|
|Please repeat it.||Vă rog, repetaţi.||Vuh rog, re-pe-tats|
|I’m sorry.||Îmi pare rău.||Im pa-re rau|
|Where are you staying?||Unde staţi?||Oon-de stats?|
|I’m at the … hotel.||Stau la Hotelul …||Stau la ho-te-lool …|
|Good / Very good.||Bine / Foarte bine.||Boon / Fwar-tay boo-na|
|May I ?||Se poate?||Se pwa-te?|
|You’re welcome||Cu plăcere||Koo pluh-che-re|
|I don’t know.||Nu ştiu.||Noo shtee-u|
|I would like…||Aş vrea…||Osh vray-a|
|…and / or……||şi / sau…||shee / sow|
|I have / We have||Am / Avem…||Ahm / Ah-vum|
|What are you doing?||Ce faceţi?||Che fa-chets|
|I beg your pardon?||Poftiţi?||Pof-tits|
|Excuse me…||Scuzaţi-mă. . .||Skoo-za-tsi ma|
|DAYS OF THE WEEK||ZILELE SĂPTĂMÂNII|
|twenty-one||douăzeci şi unu||do-wuh-zech‘ shi oo-noo|
|twenty-two||douăzeci şi doi||do-wuh-zech’ shi doy|
|one hundred||o sută||o soo-tuh|
|two hundred||două sute||do-wuh soo-te|
|MONTHS OF THE YEAR||LUNILE ANULUI|
|Where is the|
. . . metro station?
. . . train station
. . . bus stop
. . . ticket office
. . . information desk
. . . exit to the street
|Unde e . . . ?|
staţia de metrou
. . . gara
. . . staţia de autobuz
. . . casa de bilete
. . . biroul de informaţii
. . . ieşirea spre stradă
|Oon-de ye . . . ?|
. . . sta-tsya de me-troh
. . . ga-ra
. . . sta-tsya de a-oo-to-booz
. . . ka-sa de bi-le-te?
. . . bi-ro-ool de in-for-ma-tsiy
. . . ye-shi-rea spre stra-duh
|How much is a|
. . . one-way
. . . round-trip
. . . first-class
. . . second-class
un bilet ?
. . . dus
. . . dus – întors
. . . la clasa întâi
. . . la clasa a doua
oon bi-let ?
. . . doos
. . . doos shi în-tors
. . . la kla-sa yn-tyi
. . . la kla-sa a do-wa
|Is there a special . . . rate?|
. . . college students
. . . senior-citizens
|Există tarif redus pentru. . .?|
. . . studenţi
. . . pensionari
|E-xis-tuh ta-rif re-doos|
pen-tru . . .?
. . . stoo-dents‘
. . . pen-syo-nar‘
|Fumători sau |
|IMPORTANT SIGNS||SEMNE IMPORTANTE|
|Emergency Exit||Ieşire de incendiu||Ye-shi-re de in-chen-dyu|
|Speed Limit||Limită de viteză||Li-mi-tuh de vi-te-zuh|
|Reduce Speed||Reduceţi viteza||Re-doo-chets’ vi-te-za|
|No Parking||Parcare interzisă||Par-ka-re in-ter-zi-suh|
|No Standing||Staţionarea interzisă||Sta-tsyo-na-rea in-ter-zi-suh|
|One Way Street||Stradă cu sens unic||Stra-duh koo sens oo-nik|
|Right Turn||Curbă la dreapta||Koor-buh la dreap-ta|
|Left Turn||Curbă la stânga||Koor-buh la stîn-ga|
|Dangerous Curve||Curbă periculoasă||Koor-buh pe-ri-koo-lwa-suh|
|Sharp Turn||Viraj brusc||Vi-razh broosk|
|Keep Right||Staţi pe dreapta||Stats‘ pe dreap-ta|
|Keep Left||Staţi pe stânga||Stats‘ pe stîn-ga|
|Automobiles Prohibited||Interzis pentru automobile||In-ter-zis pen-troo a-oo-to-mo-bi-le|
|Vehicles Prohibited||Interzis pentru vehicule||In-ter-zis pen-troo ve-hi-ko-le|
|No Entry||Intrarea interzisă||In-tra-rea in-ter-zi-suh|
|No Admittance||Intrarea oprită||In-tra-rea o-pri-tuh|
|Overpass||Pasaj superior||Pa-sazh soo-pe-ri-or de ni-vel|
|Underpass||Pasaj subteran||Pa-sazh in-fe-ri-or de ni-vel|
|This Way||Pe aici||Peh a-ich‘|
|Railroad||Cale ferată||Ka-le fe-ra-tuh|
|Railroad Crossing||Trecere peste calea ferată||Tre-che-re pes-te ka-lea fe-ra-tuh|
|First Aid Station||Post de prim ajutor||Post de prim a-zhoo-tor|
|No Smoking||Fumatul interzis||Foo-ma-tool in-ter-zis|
International direct dialing 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 #
when dialing anywhere in the countryside or
0 + 21 + seven digit telephone # or 0 + 31 + seven digit telephone #
when dialing a number Bucharest.
Three digit telephone numbers are local toll-free numbers for emergencies or businesses.
International dialing from Romania:
00 + country code + area code + telephone #
Dialing from a foreign country directly to Bucharest:
International Access Code +40 (country code) + 21 + seven digit telephone #
Dialing from a foreign country directly to any other city in Romania:
International Access Code + 40 (country code) + three digit area code + six digit phone #
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.
VAT / Value Added Tax (or in Romanian: T V A – Taxa pe Valoare Adăugată )
A sales tax (TVA) of 19% is added to most retail sales .
The TVA is usually included in the prices posted in stores, hotels and restaurants.
VAT Refund – VAT refund offices (Birou de Restituire TVA) can be found at a limited number of border crossing points and shops.
To claim you Sales Tax Refund please make sure that:
- Your purchases were made at a store which can issue a legal invoice/ receipt (factura fiscala) as well as a tax refund form (formular de restituire TVA),
- The total value of your purchases is higher than 250 Lei (approx. $80 US),
- Your purchases were made 90 days or less before your date of departure from Romania,
- You have the original receipts and store identified VAT Refund forms validated by the Customs Office (Birou Vamal).
All refunds will be made in Romanian currency “Lei”
Eastern Europe guide suggests Mămăligă, a cornmeal mush boiled or fried and sometimes topped with sour cream or cheese, or the sour soup Ciorbă which is a mainstay of the Romanian diet (and a ‘powerful’ hangover remedy). Other dishes mentioned include: Sarmale, spiced pork wrapped in cabbage or grape leaves; Covrigi, oven baked pretzels served from windows all around town; and fiery plum brandy Țuică sold in water bottles at roadside rest stops. Pálinka is a double distilled version, sometimes called strong țuică.
Ticks are common in Romania’s grasslands and open areas. Tick-borne encephalitis is a rare but debilitating virus that attacks parts of the brain. LP says if you’re planning on hiking and camping consider a vaccination.
While rabies is rare, it is still a concern. If bitten by a homeless dog, seek medical attention within 72 hours (most main hospitals will have a rabies clinic).
You can get a free European Health Insurance Card that entitles you to free national medical care but you still need travel insurance.