We entered Romania from Bulgaria with mixed feelings, mainly founded on other traveller’s opinions of Romania that they’d shared along the way. Many that we’d met just hadn’t enjoyed this lovely land so had raced through so as not to have to endure it for very long. Our experience has been the polar opposite. Lovely generous warm locals who want to help in any way they can and share their knowledge or food with you. Stunning scenery, modern cities alongside traditional villages, this country has it all. Although it has endured some sad and harsh times in the past you can clearly see that Romanians are embracing the future. An enchanting place that we know we want to see more of another time.
Roads & Vignette (Toll)
Although investment has clearly taken place in the roads Romania still has some way to go. Overall we didn’t find it any worse than Italy, Greece or Bulgaria. The road conditions were mainly fairly good although there were exceptions to this rule and some major roads such as the D18 we avoided after a warning from our friends The Motoroamers who took 4 hours to do just 50 kms.
Roads aside the standard of driving in Romania is what really had us adding to our grey hair count. Think driving like a bat out of hell, overtaking on blind bends, cutting corners – you get the picture. Obviously we do a fair bit of driving and this is some of the worst we’ve seen on our trip. I don’t know how many times we held our breath as yet another crazy driver took his life and ours in his hands. Not only is the style of driving erratic the drivers have very little patience so we were probably seen as a menace!
You need to purchase a vignette to drive on the roads in Romania. We did this on line at http://www.tolltickets.com but they can also be purchased at fuel stations. The cost was 16€ for a month. We received a PDF of our vignette which we could show if necessary although nobody asked!
Although part of the EU Romania still has its own currency which is referred to as Lei or Ron. There are around 5 Lei to the £1 or 4.5 to the €1. There are lots of ATM’s and money exchanges are available in tourist destinations. Banks will also change money. Large supermarkets and fuel stations in major towns all take cards, elsewhere its best to carry cash.
Fuel and Gas
Fuel stations and LPG (known here as GPL) tend to be separate and are located about 100 metres apart. They are both plentiful though. Fuel is around 4.70 – 4.90 a litre (94p-98p a litre) and LPG is around 2.30 a litre (about 46p). As you can appreciate we filled both tanks before we left!
Supermarkets & Shopping
There are some large chains in Romania now,Lidl, Kaufland and Penny Market. We used the first two and found them both to be very well stocked, food is very cheap here. A pack of two large smoked makerel around £2.20, rib eye steak enough for 2 people £2, chicken portions £1.60. There are lots of roadside sellers of fresh fruit and veg too which is always super cheap and fresh.
Campsites and Wild Camping
Wild camping is both permitted and common place in Romania, mainly with tents along the tourist trails. Although we did wild camp our close encounter with a bear made us a little fearful so we opted mainly for small campsites. These are plentiful and can often be on the site of a pensiuni (small guest house), just look out for the signs.
Prices varied from the highest at 80 Lei a night £16 to the cheapest at 56 Lei (£11.20)
Water and Waste
Although we didn’t wild camp anywhere near as much as in other countries there were lots of opportunities to fill up with water either at fuel stations or at spring taps on mountain roads. Campsites don’t always have grey emptying points so expect this to be discharged on pitches or hedges. We found some places to empty black at lorry parks along the motorways just in a toilet block as well as campsites. Unfortunately some campsites we stayed at used the same hose for both filling the tank and washing out the toilet cassette – YUK!
Romainia has some fabulous sites well worth visiting from castles & palaces, to bear sancturys, steam trains and gondolas that take you to the top of the mountain. After Bulgaria attractions felt expensive, but in real terms they were still cheap:
It was around £6 to get into Bran and Peles castle, £11 for the Gondola, £13 for the steam train and £7 for the peoples palace (per person). The castles and palaces charge extra if you want to take photos with your camera almost doubling the price!
We found a large number of Romanians spoke some English and although we always learn the basics of any countries language we felt we didn’t need it as much here as in Bulgaria. We recorded Romanian from the internet onto my phone and played it whilst driving along!
Eating out for us is always a pleasure for us and although our meal in Romania was Lebanese, we did get to try Romanian food too which we really enjoyed. Local food is very cheap we had a very fulfilling meal in Sighisoara for just £10 including drinks.
There are plenty of big bins around in Romania which seem to be emptied regularly although recycling is sometimes limited.
Wifi is widely available in bars, restaurants and campsites. 3G signal can also be hit and miss in more rural areas so if you’re reliant on wifi then you should aim for larger towns and villages.
The Romanian People
We loved the Romanian people who were generous, warm and friendly. We got given apples from a local when parked at the side of the road as well as information of places to visit from a native we met at a campsite who also cooked us Romanian food. If you have the chance to get to know some Romanians take it, they are wonderful warm people.
Romania we will be back
Andi and Paul