Romania, a beautiful, exciting and friendly country yet fairly untouched my mass tourism yet. In this article we explain how to get around Romania by car, best practices and do’s and dont’s on how to travel around Romania by rental car.

In this article we discuss:

  • Upon arrival in Romania
  • Where to rent a car in Romania
  • Driving around Romania
  • A 5-day roadtrip in Romania
  • Where to fly to in Romania

Upon arrival in Romania

Your arrival in Romania will most likely be in the main airport: Bucharest Otopeni/Henri Coanda airport (OTP). This is the main hub in Romania (more on flying to Bucharest later in this article). Romania requires you to pass trough passport control and the usual luggage collection procedures. In both the arrival and departures sections, signage can be a little confusing. To get to the car rental offices, go downstairs immediately upon arrival. You will see escalators and stairs right in front of you.

Where to rent a car in Romania?

There are many car rental offices in Bucharest airport, but car availability on arrival is not guaranteed. It is strongly recommended to book your car ahead. Car rentals in Romania are affordable, yet can get costly on short notice. You can book cars online trough your favourite provider, yet the best way is to compare several companies based on your budget, travel dates and the rental car your prefer. This is also a good way to avoid dodgy companies with questionable insurance terms. Below we have added a tool for your convenience, to quickly book the cheapest deal within minutes.

Driving around Romania.

Depending on where you are from, the roads and traffic in Romania may not be of the same quality you are used to. There are no highways at the time of writing (first one in the country is now under construction near Bucharest). As friendly and hospitable as the people of Romania are, in traffic things may become a little bit more rowdy. Messy junctions, potholes and drivers not taking the traffic rules and etiquette too seriously. If you, however just drive calmly and do not follow the local examples, you will be completely fine. Also from our own experience we can say, that driving is no more dangerous than anywhere else, even at night in remote areas, Romania is a safe country. We do however recommend two things in order to stay more safe:

  • Rent a big car if you can afford it: this will both mitigate the pothole/road quality issue, and will give you the upper hand in traffic.
  • Take out a cheap and easy travel insurance, to stay on the safe side may something happen.

A few useful travel-tips

Safe, secure and easy car-rentals for your destination in Romania or elsewhere: Use rentalcars.com
Payments abroad: Read our article on the cheapest and easiest foreign currency transfers
Travel safe: Get your travel insurance for the best rate and within minutes from EKTA.com
Not renting a car? Extend your comfort to an airport transfer directly to your hotel booked ahead

A 5-day road-trip around Romania by rental car.

Romania is a massive country, and depending on how much time you have to spend there is a lot to see. However for the sake of convenience we can advise a simple “5 days in Romania by rental car” example, with a total driving time of around 6 hours spread over 5 days:

Day 1:

Arrival, Thermals and Snagov

Arrival in Bucharest airport. Pick up your pre-booked rental car. You will probably be tired, and need a good rest. So, how about a spa retreat before getting into exploring the country? We strongly recommend a few hours retreat in Therme Bucharest, which can be pre-booked trough their website. It is an amazing retreat with natural wells, in a tropical atmosphere. With several baths and sauna’s, you will start your Romania roadtrip completely fit and energetic.

How to travel Romania by rental car: 5 golden tips 1

Day 1 stay: Snagov Lakeview residences, 12min from the airport and 8min from the Thermal baths. Affordable, clean and spacious apartments with a beautiful view on Snagov Lake. Fully equipped and friendly owners. Nearby restaurants and supermarkets are available.

Day 2:

Staying Brasov, bran Castle

Now that you are completely well-rested and recharged, we are going to head to Brasov. Brasov is a town around two hours drive from Snagov ( strongly depending on traffic). It is a beautiful drive trough the Transylvanian mountains and you can soak up the beautiful views of lush green mountains and see life in the local towns and villages.

In Brasov, we have a few main attractions:

  • The town itself: beautiful medieval town with amazing restaurants and a lively town square.
  • The untouched nature around, several things can be booked such as bear watching (yes Romania has the biggest brown bear population in Europe and you can see them), hikes, and much more.
  • Bran caste: The famous castle of count Dracula, which the Vlad Tepes books are based on. This can be visited on the way or within about a 20 minute drive from Brasov
How to travel Romania by rental car: 5 golden tips 3

As you have a rental car, you will be able to get around easily and visit whatever you would like to do. Note that parking is limited as it is a medieval town, however there are several affordable and secure parking areas in the town center which are easy to find by driving around a bit. Don’t forget to have dinner (and a delicious glass of local wine!) in one of the amazing restaurants in town.

Day 2 stay: Casa Chitic. Right in the old center, great atmosphere, affordable and great reviews from its customers.

Day 3:

Wake up in Brasov, drive to Bucharest

You will wake up after a good sleep, and get ready for a drive back to the most populous town in Romania: Bucharest. You will drive the about 3 hours back and again will have a chance to enjoy the beautiful views of Romania. Arriving in Bucharest, you will emerge yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of a real capital city. Take some time to reach your hotel, and to relax a bit. If you have the energy, head to Old Town for some good food, a few beers or live music! Caru’cu bere is a great restaurant to recommend too, with good food, beer and beautiful interior.

How to travel Romania by rental car: 5 golden tips 4

Day 3 stay: The Marmorosch. A famous hotel in the heart of Bucharest, near all amenities and walking distance to old town. As you are travelling by rental car, this hotel is ideal as it provides private parking (parking on the street is not for free in central Bucharest, so this is a big plus).

Day 4:

Bucharest!

So much to do, and you are done with driving! A nice place to have breakfast is “Bread and Butter”, right in the center. Check tripadvisor or any of the other major travel websites for things to do. Our personal recommendations: Walk around Old Town, have great coffee or a beer in “old habits” (personal favorite), have dinner in Excalibur restaurant, or check on the many beautiful museums and historical (ex-soviet) landmarks in town. There is simply too much to do to mention it all, luckily Bucharest is easy to get around by food, taxi or public transport so you will easily reach anywhere with ease.

Day 5:

Fly back home

Unfortunately, your stay is over. Depending on the time of your flight, you can have some great breakfast in one of the cafes and restaurants in town. Then, head over to the airport and return your rental car. The drive back to Bucharest airport will be between 20 minutes and 1 hour, strongly depending on traffic. Have a safe trip home!

Few points to note: Hotels and BnBs are just a recommendation. Romania has great accommodations for any budget, check booking.com for the ones that suit you best. We also realise the above itinerary is just a very basic example and that there is a lot more to see and do in Romania, therefore feel free to add more days and sights to your trip.

Where do I fly to in Romania?

Romania is a huge country (about the same size as the entire UK, or the state of Oregon, USA) and the main international Airport in Romania is Bucharest Otopeni Airport (OTP), also known as Henri Coanda Airport. Bucharest is easy to reach, but it is likely for you to require a transfer trough one of the main European hubs in order to get to Romania. (if you transfer trough Istanbul New Airport, read our article on how to comfortably spend your time in the lounge here). Below we added a live example for New York-Bucharest flights to see how to best fly to Romania with easy booking trough aviasales.com. As you can see, most connections from the US are trough Istanbul with Turkish Airlines. Staying a few days in Turkey? You may want to read our article on how to get around Turkey easily and safely.

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