Quick facts about Romania
Located at the crossroads of Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe, Romania is the 12th largest country in Europe by surface with a rich and diverse geography and incredible natural sights. It ranks 6th by population (approx. 19 mil) composed of 85% Romanians and other ethnic minorities such as Hungarians, Germans, Italians, Turks. Romania is a NATO member since 2004 and part of the European Union since 2007.
The capital or Romania is Bucharest with approx. 2,2 mil inhabitants in the city and more than 2.4 million in the metropolitan area. The second largest city is Cluj-Napoca (0,5 mil) followed by Timisoara, Iasi and Constanta. The local time in Romania is Eastern European Time (EET) +02:00 GMT
There are many reasons why it’s worth visiting Romania.
Romania’s characteristics are unique in Europe, the country enjoying the embrace of the Carpathians, with completely wild areas, the unique beauty of the Danube Delta and the sandy beaches of the Black Sea, as well as the vast plains with their small natural and cultural treasures. People enrich this national treasure through traditions still unchanged and trough their warm and kind-hearted hospitality.
The cultural objectives, many integrated in the UNESCO World Heritage, are a testimony of a unique history. The stories and legends of these places will surely fascinate you and the deep spirituality of the Romanians will impress you.
Top tourist attractions include medieval castles and some impressive castles (the famous Bran Castle or Peles Castle) mixed with communist sights (the huge Palace of Parliament), lots of natural parks in the wild Carpathian Mountains, unique sights such as Turda Salt Mine or Hoia Baciu Forest, the UNESCO Danube Delta biosphere or the famous Transfagarasan Highway.
Romanian history is like Game of Thrones but without the fantasy part: at the intersection of Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian and Russian (later Soviet) empires, our history is full of twists and turns. Always caught between wars, invasions and foreign domination (hence the numerous castles and fortifications!), our history is a testimony of our nation’s resilience, clarity and determination to unite the 3 historical provinces (Transylvania, Wallachia and Moldova) into an independent state which only happened in 1918.
As for Romanian culture and people, you’ll see Romanians are very friendly and hospitable with a taste for enjoying life, food and people. Our Latin blood and cultural affinity mixes with Balkan society and Eastern appreciation for beauty and traditional values.
Bucharest, Romania’s capital, is the country’s largest city and its cultural, commercial and financial centre, a vibrant city full of charm, bohemian lifestyle, beautiful historical buildings. It is situated between the Carpathians Mountains and the Danube, also known as the City of Joy. The first time when appeared mentioned in official documents, was in the year 1459. Since the beginning, the city underwent continuous transformations, even some painful ones, during the communist era. But today, it is the most important artistic and cultural centre. In the period between the two World Wars, the city has thrived, under the careful watch of the Monarchy, the intellectual elite and the French architects, becoming known as “The Little Paris” or “The Paris of the East”.
The capital is very proud of its museums, old monuments and monumental buildings. Looking around, one can discover the beautiful neighborhoods of the city, the protected natural areas or the beauty of the Dâmbovița River, but also the cultural diversity of a typical European metropolis.
You are invited to discover the culture, history and art of Romania’s capital!
Conditions for entry & visa requirements.
Citizens of European Union countries do not require a visa to enter Romania. Citizens from all other countries of the world may be subject to getting a visa. Check the conditions of entry from our Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the list of countries for which a visa is (or not!) required. Some nationalities (e.g. US, British, Canadian) don’t need a visa when entering Romania if they stay under 90 days.
You can apply for a visa online on the Ministry’s (only) official website. Holders of a Schengen visa with multiple entries (and slots still available and valid!) are not required to apply for a Romanian visa.
Romanian currency, exchange houses and card payments
The Romanian currency is Leu (RON) or Lei in plural and can be found in notes of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500, all plastic and almost indestructible! 1 Leu is divided into “bani” which are coins of 50, 10 and smaller-don’t-matter coins. Although some prices in Romania are also displayed or calculated in Euros using Euros for cash payments is NOT accepted and if someone offers you an ‘in-house’ exchange rate – you should check official rates before accepting.
1 Euro is about 5 Lei (4.9 Lei) and 1 USD is about 4,6 Lei – check official exchange rates published by the Romanian National Bank here);
Paying by card is very common and safe in Romania in all shops, restaurants, hotels or tourist attractions (but not taxis!), especially in major cities. Bank cards issued by VISA, MasterCard and Maestro are widely accepted everywhere, but American Express cards don’t always work. If you’re using a credit card from a non-EU bank, make sure it’s authorized for international payments.
There are plenty of ATMs in Romania (bancomat) to withdraw money from. The most common banks with safe & secure ATMs are BCR (Erste), First Bank, BRD (Societe General), Banca Transilvania (local), Raiffeisen or ING. For fees, check with your local bank.
If you want to bring some cash with you when travelling to Romania we recommend Euros, US dollars, UK pounds or Swiss francs which are the most easy-to-convert currencies. When you arrive don’t use exchange offices located in airports for more than 15-20 € / $ / £ for taxi fare as they usually have bad rates. Exchange bureaus (schimb valutar) are very popular and numerous in Romanian cities and you’ll find plenty of them on the street, easily recognisable by their yellow or white street boards indicating rates offered. Rates at exchange bureaus are usually better than at banks and 90% of them have a 0-exchange fee for small amounts
Shopping in Romania is very popular and most cities have at least one shopping mall. They’re usually huge, impressive and with lots of shops and food places. In Bucharest go to AFI Palace, Promenada Mall, Baneasa Shopping City or ParkLake.
Weather and climate
Romania has a temperate continental climate which used to be codename for standard weather. But in recent years, perhaps due to the climate changing, the transition periods between seasons are getting shorter, Summers (June-September) are hotter with averages of 24 to 26 C, with high temperatures going up to 36 – 38 C during hot summer days, and less rainy. Winters (December-January) are still cold but less snowy in the cities, more so in the mountainous areas. Spring (March-May) and Autumn (Sept-Nov) are unpredictable as ever: cold in the mornings and evenings (8-18 C), warm and sunny during the day (18-26 C).
Emergencies and health services
In Romania the emergency number is 112 and an operator will ask if you want to talk to the police, fire or medical services. There are no particular health concerns you should be aware of before travelling to Romania – other than the now familiar Covid-19 situation! No special insects or food issues around here either.
As regards medical services most hospitals are public and state-owned so they will take care of walk-ins or emergencies – and settle insurance matters after.
Personal safety and social norms
So is Romania safe for foreign tourists? Yes, and even though you may have heard/read stories about the Balkans and Eastern Europe, just do what you normally do when visiting a foreign country: don’t look for trouble, beware of pickpockets or suspicious people, ignore drunkards and people pushing their services to tourists (like taxi drivers in North Train Station), be careful at night and don’t disrespect people, traditions or clearly stated rules.
All Romanians like to complain about politics, the economy and transport infrastructure, and love talking about sports, family, the beauty of our country and its food – so pick any of these topics to start a conversation 🙂