Are you planning to visit Romania? Then you’ve come to the right place to find out all you need to know before visiting Romania.
I lived for the most part of my life in Bucharest, my parents live in Bucharest and all my friends live in Bucharest. As a local, I can tell you a bit more about Bucharest and about Romania in general, the ‘dos & don’ts’ in Romania and some tips to help you get by easier and experience Romania to the fullest.
If you are looking or things to do in Bucharest then check out my post about Awesome places to visit in Bucharest, Best rooftops of Bucharest, The hidden delta of Bucharest and, if you are a vegan, Best vegan restaurants in Bucharest.
Let’s start with the basics. I usually try to dig some of the general facts about a country whenever I travel there for the first time.
Interesting Facts about Romania (and everything you need to know)
Here are some interesting and practical facts (you might need to know about Romania. It’s a basic introduction to Romania and I included all you need to know before visiting Romania.
Language: What language is spoken in Romania?
In Romania, we speak Romanian, one of the 5 Romance languages evolved from Latin, besides Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and French.
The Romanian alphabet has 31 letters and used the 26 Latin letters. The extra 5 letters are actually alterations of 5 of the letters: Ăă, Ââ, Îî, Șș, Țț. (some casual written text don’t use these and replace them with the original letters, but native Romanians can read that anyway).
Not to worry, you don’t need a translator to Romanian. In large cities, most locals speak English. I would say it would we difficult for a foreigner to get on his own someplace where nobody speaks his language. In any case, use Google translate if you do. You will have a network connection on your phone mostly everywhere.
Currency: What is the currency in Romania?
In Romania, the currency is Leu românesc (Romanian Leu; on exchanges it is abbreviated as RON) (1 leu, 2 lei).
1 Euro = 4.78 RON
1 USD = 4.30 RON (January 2020)
The exchange rate varies on a daily basis and from one exchange to another. The best rates are in individual exchange offices (you can find them scattered all around big cities).
The worst exchanges are the ones from the airport and banks. Don’t exchange at the airport, unless you really need cash, but you probably don’t need it.
If you just arrived in Romania, you can order an Uber to take you to the city centre or take the bus.
In Bucharest, you can pay by card almost everywhere, but tips are left in cash.
Capital city: What is the capital of Romania? (and how to pronounce it)
Romania’s capital city is Bucharest. The Romanian version of the name is București. The Romanian pronunciation is something like “Bu-ku-resh-t-e” (I made this up, and other websites will say something else, but this is close enough). Wiki says București [bukuˈreʃtʲ]
Driving in Romania
Driving in Romania is somehow stressful. I don’t want to scare anyone, but drivers with less driving experience can feel overwhelmed and stressed. Some of my foreign friends said that the traffic in Bucharest looks terrible and that they would never try to drive here.
As long as you follow the rules, you will be fine. But try to watch out for others as well, because it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Tourism in Romania
The lands of Romania are blessed with a large natural diversity. People travel from far away to hike in the Romanian Carpathian mountains or swim in the Black Sea.
On Romanian territory flows the last part of the second-longest European river, the Danube river, which created the best natural delta in Europe.
Scattered all over the country are religious monuments, castles, churches and medieval cities. The rural tourism is on the rise as well.
The number of tourists is increasing each year, and that’s why Bucharest has plenty of restaurants and venues suitable for foreigners.
Neighbouring countries of Romania
Transylvania region in Romania
Let’s start with the obvious question here: “Is Transylvania a country?”
No, Transylvania is a region of Romania. (Traditionally speaking, Romania is formed by 3 big regions: Valahia, Moldova and Transylvania)
Now, let’s talk a bit about Transylvania. It’s a famous place, because of the Dracula stories. This is the place where the concept of vampires was created, and it all comes from the Vlad the Impaler, the Romanian ruler who was so cruel that entire Europe knew stories about him.
If you want to know more about Dracula or experience a visit to Dracula’s Castle, then you have to go to Bran.
Food in Romania
Eastern European cuisines are similar and contain a lot of animal products. That translates into: Romania isn’t a heaven for vegans. Unfortunately, the Romanian cuisine is abundant in stakes, meat, dairy and all sorts of other animal products. As a vegan, I am not too happy about it, nor about the traditions around the holidays that encourage the masses to consume it even more.
On the bright side, most foreigners say that they love the food in Romania.
Bucharest has a very diversified set of restaurants to choose from (Bucharest is starting to embrace the vegan trend), but the rest of Romania offers more traditional food options, with a few exceptions in other larger cities (Cluj, Brasov, Timisoara, Iasi, Constanta).
Culture in Romania
Romanians are rather conservative, especially in rural areas. Older citizens are more religious and churches get full during big holidays.
The mentality of the majority is still rooted deep in the remains of the communist regime.
As for art, Romania has many art museums. I haven’t visited all the museums in Bucharest, but they are all worth it. Most museums are in really beautiful, historical buildings, so chances are you will love the building, even if you will like so much the exhibition (but I think most people will love them all).
A few historical facts about Romania
If you are wondering what’s all you need to know before visiting Romania, some bits of history might come in handy, especially if you want a deeper understanding of the Romania society.
I know you might not be interested in Romanian history lessons, but in case you need context, here are some basic facts about Romania to keep in mind, when talking or travelling to Romania. Of course, the Romanian history is so much more complicated than this, so feel free to refer to the Wiki page if you need more details.
When did Romania first declared its independency?
Romania first became a country in 1859, when the people from 2 different regions of what we call today Romania, chose the same ruler, while under the Ottoman oppression.
Soon after, Romania became a monarchy in 1866 and changed 4 kings until 1947, when the King Mihai I was forced to abdicate. That’s when Romania became the Popular Republic of Romania and the communist party came to power.
Romania under the Communist Regime
In 1967, Ceausescu came to rule the Communist party and the Socialist Republic of Romania. Nicole Ceausescu ruled Romania until December 1989, when the people revolted and killed him and his wife on 25th of December. I was one month old at the time.
Today, Romania is a democratic state, with an elected president.
Till this day, Romania is struggling to establish a healthy market economy and offer a desirable lifestyle to its people. As a Romanian, it is hard to admit it, but Romania still needs some decades to abolish poverty.
Does this cover all you need to know before visiting Romania? Let me know in the comments, or send me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org and I will try my best to help with information and tips, to make sure your next trip to Romania will be your best one yet!
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