Romania doesn’t lie on the typical Europe tourist trail. With 9.3 million visitors a year, it is only the 17th most visited country in Europe & Central Asia (World Bank Tourism; 2015). And the number of Australians visiting Romania in that same time period? Roughly 2,000, making it our 105th most popular holiday destination (Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade; 2015-16).
Pretty underwhelming huh?
So it’s a bit harder to find someone who’s been there and done that, trust me! But fortunately for you, I recently visited Romania and am prepared to pass on my very limited tips and tricks to make your trip to a success!
The Romanian language
The Romanian language is actually relatively easy to read for anyone who has studied italian, French or Spanish, because well, it’s also a Romance language (Romania=Romantic duh). This was a welcome surprise for me, given its Slavic-centric location. English is spoken by a lot of people in the big towns, and Romania as a whole is ranked 17th in the (non-English speaking) world for language proficiency, just a few points down from Germany (EF English Proficiency Index 2016).
Taxi scams are rife. I knew this going in, but when I arrived in Brasov, it was late and I had no way to get to my hostel by myself. And so what should have been a 10 Lei trip ended with me being charged 276 Lei, a hostile confrontation on my part, a trip to an ATM and finally, a 60 Lei compromise. When I arrived at my hostel, the lovely Angi at Hostel Mara Brasov, who was the loveliest person I’ve ever met, told me that they’ll even try to pull this on locals. Try and arrive during the day and know what bus to take/direction to walk before you arrive. Otherwise just try to stand your ground.
I found the standard of train travel to vary across the couple of different trains I took. From Bucharest to Brasov, a fairly common route, the train was delightful; plush seats, curtained windows, and charging outlets. By the time I was travelling from Sibiu to Cluj Napoca, my assigned seat was next to a cracked window and burning hot radiator. And the train stations don’t necessarily reflect the standard of their respective towns, which make you feel like you’re pulling up in a rundown village. So don’t be mistaken, it may very well be your stop, so pay attention. Overall though, train travel was a really safe and affordable way to get around, you can buy tickets online or at the train stations from ticket machines.
Romania is a beautiful and welcoming country that has a lot to offer visitors, from the wild Carpathian mountains, to medieval towns and fortresses. A member of the EU, it’s tourist infrastructure is well equipped to take you through its fantastic cities and countryside. I highly recommend putting Romania on your Europe itinerary!
Where in the world surprised you? Let me know in the comments!