About Romania (RO)
Located on the western shore of the Black Sea, Romania (RO) is known for an abundance of natural attractions and its diversity of cultural and historical heritage. Visitors may be surprised by the contrast of opposites, of Old and New World elements, found in medieval villages next door to modern cities. Romania’s reputation as a tourist destination has been built on the Carpathian Mountains, ancient Bronze Age fortresses, epic grasslands, dense forests, and Transylvania and the legend of Count Dracula. Generally speaking the eastern regions of Romania have retained much of its Old World charm, while the west has a decidedly modern look and feel. The capital city of Bucharest continues to be the primary destination for international travelers, and a great entry point for neighboring Bulgaria to the south.
First, the good news. Romania is well connected by a network of national and European expressways leading to major cities. With an abundance of outdoor destinations and historical sites spread out around the country, most visitors will want to rent a car. Now, the bad news. Most secondary routes are in very bad shape, poorly lit, and occupied by drivers who’ve earned a reputation for being the worst in Europe, with the highest rate of traffic fatalities in the region. Meanwhile, outside of urban areas, you’ll be sharing the roads with all and sundry varieties of livestock and wild animals. Driving at night in Romania is regarded as prohibitive. And be especially mindful of pedestrians who’ve been forced into roadways by vehicles parked on sidewalks — a very common problem in developed areas. Otherwise, Romania is a sensationally beautiful place with plenty to see and do. Just be careful and aware.
Choosing your car
Cheap car rentals in Romania can be acquired from National, Europcar, Hertz, Sixt, Thrifty, and Avis. Choose from all vehicle classes: economy, standard, intermediate, and fullsize sedans, 7-12 seater minivans, estate wagons, SUVs, and luxury and premium vehicles.
Tips and advice
Driving into countries that border Romania is generally not a problem, with the glaring exception of Moldova to the northeast, where border control officers are known to ask for money and delay onward travel until you hand over a couple of Euros.
The roads around Transylvania were constructed over medieval routes that are, for the most part, narrow and poorly illuminated.
Your car hire should be equipped with a vignette for accessing expressways and national highways. If not, the vignette can be purchased from fuel stations and toll booths at the entrance to major roadways.
The roads in and around Bucharest are constantly improving, but that also equates to major delays caused by road construction. Meanwhile, minor collisions are almost unavoidable in some areas. Fortunately, these incidents can be resolved between parties involved without calling the police. More than likely, a local driver will plead with you not to call the cops. However, for your own safety, it’s best to report the incident; otherwise, your car hire provider is not obligated to honor your Collision Damage Waiver.
Cheap car rentals are plentiful in Romania, but be advised that deposits are well above the European average, sometimes in excess of 10x your total bill.
Other than major expressways, roads in Romania are exceptionally narrow. Consider renting a minicar or compact vehicle to ease the stress of navigation.