Backpacking Romania | Budget, Prices, Itinerary

Romania might not be very touristy but its beauty can hardly pass unnoticed. With majestic mountains, sparkly lakes, and beautiful beaches, Romania has it all in terms of natural beauty.

If you choose to backpack in Romania, be prepared to discover an authentic and fascinating culture and some of the friendliest people around. You will rediscover yourself and have the adventure of a lifetime!

Backpacking Romania

In this guide about backpacking in Romania, I will include all the information you need to know before starting your journey. As a Romanian, I know all about this country’s culture, natural wonders, and tourist attractions and I’m gonna share everything with you!

1. Practical information

  • Currency – RON or LEU ($1 = 4,2 RON)
  • Official language – Romanian
  • Main religion – Orthodox
  • Population – 20 million
  • Capital city – Bucharest
  • Telephone code – +40
  • Emergency number – 112

2. Useful phrases in Romanian

Although most of Romanians speak English, it’s best to be prepared and know some useful phrases. Showing that you know a few Romanian words will impress any local.

  • Hello – Buna
  • Thank you – Multumesc
  • You’re welcome – Cu placere
  • Please – Te rog
  • Sorry – Scuze
  • How are you – Ce faci?
  • Very good – Foarte bine
  • My name is Ana – Numele meu este Ana
  • Nice to meet you – Imi pare bine
  • Where is the toilet? – Unde este toaleta?

3. Romania visa information

If you are traveling to Romania as an EU citizen, you don’t need a visa. However, if you are not an EU citizen, it’s best to consult with your own local authorities to see the documents you need to travel to Romania.

4. Local currency

  • Local currency – RON (it comes in 1, 5,10,50,100, 200 and 500 bills plus 0.1 and 0.5 coins)
  • You can find ATMs almost anywhere in Romania. You don’t need to worry about this.
  • You can only pay in the local currency – RON but if you carry foreign currency, you can exchange it
  • When leaving Romania, make sure to exchange all the local currency in EUR or USD.

5. When to visit Romania

View of Peles Castle, Romania

Romania has 4 completely different seasons: winter, spring, summer, and autumn. I recommend visiting during late spring, summer or early autumn. 

If you’re not dealing well with the heat, avoid backpacking in Romania during summer. The temperatures can be quite extreme and unpleasant.

If you want to avoid tourists, travel during spring or autumn. The cities will be less crowded and the prices will be a bit lower. Also, the temperatures are a lot more bearable. 

6. Backpacking Romania daily budget

It’s no secret that Romania is one of the cheapest countries in Europe. The costs of living in Romania are growing steadily but there’s nothing to worry about. Romania is affordable even for budget backpackers.

Below is the estimated budget for backpacking Romania. I will get into more details below:

  • Accommodation – $15 per room
  • Food – $10 – $15 per day per person (if you choose to eat out)
  • Transport – $5 per person
  • Entrance fees – $5 per person
  • Others – $3 per person
  • TOTAL – $38 – $43 per day per person (if you are traveling as a couple, you can split the cost for accommodation) 

To give you an idea about the prices in Romania, I’ve listed below a few important living costs in Romania:

  • 1 meal at an inexpensive restaurant – $8
  • 1 bottle of water (2 liters) – $0.8
  • 1 loaf of bread – $0.8
  • 1 bus ticket – $0.5

7. Where to go in Romania – the best cities

Below are the most beautiful and touristic cities in Romania. For each of them, I have listed why you should visit them, which are the top tourist attractions and how many days I recommend spending there. 

Backpacking Bucharest

Bucharest Palace of Parliament

Reasons to visit – incredible nightlife, endless shopping opportunities

How many days – 2 days

Places to visit – Old City Center, the Palace of Parliament, National Village Museum, Triumph Arch, Romanian Athenaeum, try the local restaurants.

Best accommodation for backpackers – Pura Vida Skybar & Hostel

Backpacking Brasov

Backpacking Brasov

Reasons to visit – breathtaking nature, relaxed city, beautiful architecture

How many days – 3 days

Places to visit – Old City Center, the Black Church, White and Black Towers, climb Tampa Mountain for the best views, day trip to Dracula Castle.

Best accommodation for backpackers – click here.

Backpacking Sibiu

Backpacking Sibiu

Reasons to visit – beautiful architecture, interesting history

How many days – 2 days

Places to visit – Big Square, Brukenthal Museum, Bridge of lies, Pharmacy Museum, Catholic Basilica, climb the Council Tower.

Best accommodation for backpackers – Pensiunea Todor

Backpacking Sighisoara

Backpacking Sighisoara

Reasons to visit – incredible architecture, learn more about Romania’s past

How many days – 1 day

Places to visit – climb the clock tower, climb the wooden staircase, visit the birthplace of Vlad Tepes aka Dracula

Best accommodation for backpackers – Cosbuc Residence

Backpacking Cluj-Napoca

Backpacking Cluj Napoca

Reasons to visit – modern city, incredible nightlife

How many days – 2 days

Places to visit – Botanical Garden, St. Michael’s Church, visit the Art Museum.

Best accommodation for backpackers – Pension Cluj

8. Transportation – buses, trains & more

Backpacking Romania is pretty easy if you choose to use public transport. The connections are good, the prices are affordable, and both buses and trains are quite comfortable. Find out everything you need to know about transportation in Romania.

Buses in Romania

For those of you who are on a budget, traveling around Romania by bus is one of the best options (you can also choose the train, prices are quite similar). However, there is a downside to it. 

The roads in Romania are not the best and sometimes the traffic is just terrible. The lack of proper highways can transform a 3-hour trip into a 6-hour trip if you’re unlucky. I would recommend choosing the bus only if you are traveling on short distances.

Another problem with buses in Romania is that there is no information in English about the schedule or prices. The best way to book a bus is to ask a Romanian to do it for you.

Trains in Romania

Trains are awesome. They are comfortable, pretty fast and affordable. I would totally encourage you to take the train while backpacking Romania.

You can sit back, relax, and admire the incredible views you’re passing by. Usually, you don’t have to buy train tickets in advance. However, if you’re traveling during a big holiday like Christmas or Easter, make sure to buy your ticket at least 2 days in advance.

Taxis in Romania

Use taxis with caution. Make sure that the driver turns on the meter and open Google Maps just to make sure that the driver takes you to your destination using the shortest route.

Taxi scams are usual, even for Romanian people and especially for tourists. While you have nothing to worry when it comes to  safety, you should worry about paying extra. If you can use the bus instead of a taxi, do it! Alternatively, you can use Uber.

Airplanes in Romania

The main airport in Romania is the Henri Coanda International Airport which is located just outside of Bucharest. If you plan to travel inside Romania, you can take a plane from Bucharest to the following destinations: Cluj-Napoca, Timisoara, and Iasi.

9. Internet in Romania

The easiest way to get access to internet in Romania is to buy a local sim card. Unfortunately, you can’t buy a sim from the airport but you can find one in any city.

I recommend buying a sim card from Vodafone or Orange. These are the two biggest internet providers and they have excellent coverage.

10. Food in Romania

Romanian traditional sarmale

The famous sarmale

The food in Romania is delicious! Don’t hesitate to try the traditional dishes. The locals’ diet mostly consists of meat (pork, chicken, and beef), dairy products, bakery products, and vegetables (potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers).

If you are willing to try some local dishes, I have the perfect recommendations for you:

  • Sarmale cu mamaliga – Sarmale is pork meat mixed with rice, all wrapped up in cabbage or grape leaves. They are served with mamaliga (polenta) and sour cream.
  • Zacusca – This vegetable dip is very popular in Romania. It is made out of tomatoes, carrots, mushrooms, and eggplant. You can eat it simply with bread!
  • Ciorba de fasole – This smoked ham soup with beans is yummy! You can add a bit of raw onion for better taste!
  • Mici cu mustar – Also translated as “small ones”, mici are probably the most popular dish in Romania. Everybody loves them. They are a kind of sausages (beef+pork) without skin which are eaten with mustard and ketchup. Definitely try these!
  • Varza a la Cluj – Shredded cabbage cooked with minced pork meat and served with sour cream. Quite a delicacy! 
  • Papanasi – Papanasi are similar to donuts but they also have cheese in their dough. They are served with jam and sour cream. You definitely have to try papanasi, they are my favorite dessert!
  • Galusti cu prune – These plum dumplings are simply delicious!

11. Romania dress code

Romanians are pretty open people. You can wear pretty much anything (dresses, shorts, t-shirts, pants, skirts). Of course, if you walk around in a bikini, people are gonna look.

My only recommendation would be to wear clothes suitable for each season. Winters can be quite harsh and summers quite hot.

12. Language barrier

As long as you’re visiting touristy places, it will be easy to find locals who speak English. However, if you choose to visit remote villages or areas, it’s best to have a Romanian guide with you. 

13. The people of Romania

Romanians dancing on traditional music

Romanian people are friendly, proud, good listeners and have a weird sense of humor. You can easily make friends with them and will help you with anything they can.

Romanians are also extremely welcoming and happy to see that foreigners visit their country. If you ever get the chance to visit a Romanian’s home, you’ll be welcomed with tons of food and the traditional palinca (alcoholic drink).

>Read more about Romanians here.

14. Is Romania safe?

You don’t have to worry about safety in Romania. However, you should take some precautions that apply to any country. Don’t leave your bag unattended and don’t drink too much. You’ll be just fine.

There have never been terrorist attacks in Romania and theft is rare. If you’re planning to backpack solo, you have nothing to worry about. Romanians are friendly and you can make many friends along the way. If you’re feeling lonely, stay at a hostel or take a group tour. 

I’ve written an entire guide about safety in Romania. Make sure to check it out before visiting this beautiful country!

15. Travel insurance

Traveling without insurance is never a good idea. Accidents can happen in any country, not only in Romania. It’s best to be prepared and avoid paying bills for services that can be covered by insurance.

Even if you’re only traveling for a few days, make sure to buy travel insurance. I recommend checking out the World Nomads insurance. It’s affordable and specially designed for travelers.

16. Tips & tricks

  • Talk with the locals and discover how friendly Romanians are.
  • Don’t leave Romania without eating mici.
  • Visit smaller villages. Here you will discover the authentic Romanian culture.
  • Party like a Romanian.

17. Interesting facts about Romania

There are so many interesting facts about Romania that nobody knows about. Did you know that the first perfect 10 at the Olympics was scored by a Romanian gymnast? Did you know that the story of Dracula was inspired by a Romanian ruler?

Discover many more fascinating facts about Romania in this guide.

I hope that this Romania backpacking guide is useful for your upcoming trip. Backpacking around Romania will be a wonderful experience and I am sure that you will love this country. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask in the comments section below.

May the travel bug bite you!

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Backpacking Romania guide

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2 Comments

  1. September 25, 2019 / 7:43 am

    Hello Aura,

    My name is Greg, I am from Mexico. I loved your blog, very informative. I will be visiting Romania for the first time next month. I am also a travel blogger and writer. working on my first book. I fly into Sofia, then i will hitchhike from there to Sibiu where I will be staying at a friend’s hostel. How is it to cross the border by road or train, is it simple? I am a seasoned traveller but I am always curious the first time I visit a country.

    Hope you send me a reply soon!

    Cheers!

    Greg D.

    • dailytravelpill
      Author
      September 25, 2019 / 8:11 am

      Crossing the border by train or road is easy as long as you have all the documents with you. Sometimes the queues when crossing on road are quite long, especially during holidays and weekends. Just make sure you have all the documents with you and you’ll be fine. Have fun in Romania!

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