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Romania Country Information
Travel in Romania is rewarding yet habitually challenging as much of its charisma lies in the more remote regions, and optimistic plans are often frustratingly slowed down by practical realities. Despite this, Romania is rapidly regaining its identity as a popular tourist destination and has plenty to offer the international traveller.

The charms of Transylvania lure people with the imagery of haunted forests, medieval towns, vampires, turreted cliff-top castles, and the legends of Dracula. In addition to its medieval castles and enchanting historic towns, the region also offers the dramatic alpine scenery of the Carpathian Mountains with spectacular skiing and undisturbed hiking opportunities.

A visit to Romania will leave few impassive, offering a refreshingly different culture to elsewhere in Europe. The mix of quaint medieval towns and castles, drab cities striving for Western modernism, and the diverse rural landscape seemingly untouched by modern history, offers a fascinating kaleidoscope of opportunities to explore. Romania appeals to visitors because it is so different. It has one foot firmly placed in the past while the other one is stretching forward in an effort to keep up with the progress of the modern world.

The Basics
Time: Local time is GMT +2 (GMT +3 between the last Sunday in March to the Saturday before the last Sunday in October).

Electricity: Electrical current is 220 volts, 50Hz. Two-pin European-style plugs are standard.

Money: The Leu (RON) is the official currency, which is divided into 100 bani. Money may be exchanged at banks, international airports, hotels or authorised exchange offices called 'casa de schimb' or 'birou de schimb valutar'. ATMs are available at large banks, airports and shopping centres in cities. American Express, MasterCard and Visa are accepted in the main cities. Travellers cheques, preferably in Euros, can be cashed in large banks, some hotels and certain exchange offices in Bucharest but commission is high. It is recommended to travel with some Euros in cash in case of difficulty using credit cards or travellers cheques. US Dollars are also accepted fairly widely.

Language: Romanian is the official language, but English will be understood in Bucharest and other tourist areas.

Travel Health: Medical facilities in Bucharest are good, but poor in the smaller towns and basic medical supplies are often in short supply. There is a reciprocal health agreement with the UK and most EU countries, whose citizens are entitled to free or low-cost emergency medical treatment on presentation of a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), but health insurance is strongly advised. There have been a number of Hepatitis A cases in Romania and visitors are advised to seek medical advice about inoculations before travelling. Visitors should drink only bottled water. Stray dogs carry rabies and should be avoided. Cases of Avian bird flu have been reported in the country, but no human incidences have been reported. The risk for travellers is very low, but visitors should avoid any contact with domestic, caged or wild birds and ensure that eggs and poultry dishes are well cooked.

Tipping: Tipping is not common in Romania, except in large hotels and restaurants frequented by tourists. A service charge is included in restaurant bills but a further 5 to 10% tip is expected. Though it is not always necessary to tip them, taxi drivers can be rewarded for good service.

Safety Information: Visitors should take normal safety precautions in Romania; keep valuables safe and be aware of pickpockets and scam artists in major cities. Corruption is rife and visitors should be cautious of policemen demanding fines for spurious offences, or asking to see documents as a way of stealing cash; if approached in this way visitors should offer to go with them to the nearest police station before handing over any money or documents. Valuables, including passports, should not be left in hotel rooms.

Local Customs: Homosexuality, although legal, is frowned upon. A small and still largely closeted gay scene exists in the Romania's largest cities, particularly in Bucharest, which has a few gay clubs. Photography at airports is forbidden.

Business: Business can be quite bureaucratic and old-fashioned. The country adheres to an imbedded hierarchical structure and often it is the eldest who receive the most respect in business and social meetings. It is important to address each person according to their title followed by their surname; 'Domnul' for Mr. and 'Doamna' for Mrs. Romanians prefer a face-to-face approach and like to strengthen personal relationships. Appointments should be made in advance and confirmed. Although the visitor is expected to be punctual the host may be late to arrive. Meetings are often quite formal and a general 'Western' set of old-world manners applies. Business suits are appropriate for meetings. Romanians dislike an overt display of achievement or exaggerated conversation. Business hours are generally 9pm to 5pm Monday to Friday with an hour taken at lunch.

Communications: The direct dialling country code for Romania is +40, and the outgoing code is 00, followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the UK). There are numerous area codes applying to cities, towns and villages, for example (0)21 for Bucharest. The country is well covered with GSM 900/1800 mobile phone networks. Email and Internet are widely available in the cities and larger towns.

Duty Free: Travellers to Romania do not have to pay duty on either 200 cigarettes, 40 cigars or 200g of tobacco. 2 litres of liquor, 4 litres of beer or wine and gifts to the value of US$1000 are also duty free. Valuable goods, such as jewellery, art, electrical items and foreign currency should be declared on entry.

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Visa and Entry Information

  • Entry requirements for Americans: United States nationals require a valid passport, but no visa for stays of up to 90 days.
  • Entry requirements for UK nationals: UK nationals require a valid passport but no visa for stays of up to 90 days.
  • Entry requirements for Canadians: Canadian nationals require a valid passport, but no visa for stays of up to 90 days.
  • Entry requirements for Australians: Australian nationals require a valid passport, but no visa for stays of up to 90 days.
  • Entry requirements for South Africans: South Africans require a valid passport and a visa to enter Romania.
  • Entry requirements for New Zealanders: New Zealand nationals require a valid passport, but no visa for stays of up to 90 days.
  • Entry requirements for Irish nationals: Irish nationals require a valid passport, but no visa is needed.

Passport/Visa Note: All passports must be valid for period of intended stay. Visitors must hold all documents required for further travel, onward or return tickets, sufficient funds for period of stay, and proof of reserved accommodation.

Weather and Climate in Romania
Romania has a typical continental climate, experiencing four obvious seasons with very cold winters, warm summers, and mild, bright spring and autumn weather. Most of the country is covered in snow in winter, between December and March, and swept by icy prevailing winds from the north, which ensures temperatures are often below freezing. In summertime rain showers can be expected, and temperatures are warm.

A continental climate ensures that Bucharest experiences hot, dry summers and cold winters when temperatures often drop well below freezing. The city lies on the Romanian Plain, and this brings chilly winter winds. Summer temperatures are usually pleasantly warm with occasional heat waves, and humidity is low, but there can be occasional rainstorms. The rainiest seasons in Bucharest are spring and autumn.

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Romania Attractions

  • Palace of Parliament - Built by Communist Party leader, Nicolae Ceausescu, the colossal Palace of Parliament is the second largest building in the world after the Pentagon.
  • The Village Museum - One of Bucharest's finest sights is the Village Museum, situated within the Herastrau Park alongside a lake.
  • Stavropoleos Church - The tiny but remarkable Stavropoleos Church was built in 1724, designed by a Wallachian prince renowned for his religious architectural accomplishments, and is one of the oldest churches in Bucharest.
  • Peles Castle - Considered to be one of the most beautiful castles in Europe, Peles Castle was the summer residence for Romania's kings. Built by King Carol I in 1883 the castle is a masterpiece of German-Renaissance architecture with an exquisite exterior, and is surrounded by fir forests and the towering peaks of the Carpathian range.
  • Sighisoara - Sighisoara is one of the seven fortified towns founded by the Saxons in the hills of Transylvania, and is a beautifully preserved medieval town that is renowned as the birthplace of 'Dracula', or Vlad The Impaler.

Airports in Romania

Henri Coanda/Otopeni International Airport (OTP)

  • Location: The airport is situated 10 miles (16km) north of Bucharest.
  • Time: Local time is GMT +2 (GMT +3 from last Sunday in March to second last Saturday in September).
  • Contacts: Tel: + 40 (0)21 204 1000.
  • Transfer between terminals: A free bus links the two terminals.
  • Getting to the city: An express bus service 783 leaves every 15 minutes for the city centre; the journey takes around 40 minutes. Taxis and Sky Services minibuses are also available 24 hours to take passengers anywhere in Bucharest or to any other region in the country. Passengers should avoid cabs that do not display the price and have no meters.
  • Car rental: Car rental companies include Budget, Europcar and Hertz.
  • Facilities: There are banks, bars and restaurants at the airport. Other facilities include a bureau de change, left luggage, a hairdresser, business facilities (fax and internet), duty-free shops and a post office. Disabled facilities are good; those who need a wheelchair or have other special requirements should contact their airline in advance.
  • Parking: Parking is available.
  • Departure Tax: None.

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Driving Information

Drinking and driving:
Strictly forbidden. Nil percentage of alcohol allowed in drivers' blood. Driving Licence can be suspended for a maximum of 90 days or prison sentence for offenders.

Driving licence:
Minimum age at which a UK licence holder may drive a temporarily imported car and / or motorcycle (for up to 90 days) 18.

Driving licences issued in the UK that do not incorporate a photograph must be accompanied by an International Driving Permit (IDP).

Fines:
Police can impose fines and collect them on the spot, a receipt must be obtained. A vehicle which is illegally parked may be clamped and removed.

Fuel:
Lead replacement petrol (95 & 98 octane), unleaded petrol, Diesel and LPG available.

Petrol in a can permitted (must be empty when leaving Romania).

Tax is payable on petrol and diesel in the vehicle tank when leaving Romania.

Credit cards are accepted at many stations; check with your card issuer for usage in Romania before travel. Payment is usually made in local currency.

Driving Distances:
Please click here http://www.viamichelin.com/ for driving distances


Lights:
Forbidden to drive at night if vehicle lighting faulty. Additional headlamps prohibited.Dipped headlights must be used outside built up areas during the day.

Motorcycles:
Use of dipped headlights during the day compulsory. Wearing of crash helmets is compulsory for driver and passenger of machines 50cc and over.

Motor Insurance:
Green Card / third party insurance compulsory. Drivers of vehicles registered abroad who are not in possession of a valid green card must take out short term insurance at the frontier.

Passengers / Children in cars:
Child under 12 cannot travel as a front seat passenger.

Seat belts:
Compulsory for front / rear seat occupants to wear seat belts, if fitted.

Speed limits:
Standard legal limits, which may be varied by signs, for private vehicles without trailers: In built-up areas 31 mph (50 km/h), outside built-up areas 55 mph (90 km/h), 62mph (100 km/h) on dual carriageways and 80mph (130km/h) on Motorways. No minimum speed on motorways.

A 10 km/h reduction of the standard speed limit applies if towing.

A driver who has held a license for less than 1 year is restricted to a speed limit of 20 km/h below the indicated speed.

The speed limit for mopeds is 45 km/h inside and outside built up areas.

Compulsory equipment:

  • First aid kit
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Red warning triangle - not required for two wheeled vehicles.

Other rules / requirements:

It is against the law to drive a dirty car.

If a temporarily imported vehicle is damaged before arrival in Romania, the importer must ask a Romanian Customs or Police Officer to write a report on the damage so that he can export the vehicle without problems. If any damage occurs inside the country a report must be obtained at the scene of the accident. Damaged vehicles may only be taken out of the country on production of this evidence.

" Claxonarea interzisa" – use of horn prohibited. The use of the horn is prohibited between 2200hrs & 0600hrs in built up areas. .

Spiked tyres prohibited.

The use of snow chains is recommended for winter journeys to the mountains and may be compulsory in case of heavy snow.

" Rovinieta" - a road tax is levied on all motor vehicles both residents and visitors. Road tax ‘stickers’ known as "rovinieta" are available from border crossing points, Petrol Stations and Post Offices in Romania. The cost depends on the vehicle emissions category and period of use in Romania.

Foreign drivers failing to purchase a "rovinieta" during their stay may incur a fine between €3000 and €4000 when leaving the country. Proof of insurance and the cars registration document is required when purchasing the "rovinieta".

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