Currency and banking
The official currency of Romania is RON (Romanian New Leu). The term Leu (plural Lei) is also used. The fractional coins are named Bani (or Ban for singular). A complete overview of the national currency can be found here.
The rate of this currency is 1 RON = approx. 0.22 EUR or 0.23 USD.
Only the local currency is accepted for all kind of payments. All types of credit cards valid in the European Union are accepted. ATMs are readily available all over the city and they dispense only national currency. Foreign currencies (preferably euros, US dollars or English pounds) can be exchanged in all the banks – open from Monday to Friday between 09:00 and 17:00 – or in exchange offices (some of them open 24h). Whereas most of the exchange offices have 0% commission, some have other practices and, therefore, you should pay attention (the commission is usually displayed next to the currency rates).
Please note that in most small shops and at the local markets only cash payments are accepted.
Telephone and electricity systems
The international code for Romania is 40. In order to make an international call from this country you must dial 00 followed by country code and number. Romania is well covered by mobile phone operators (the main ones are Orange and Vodafone).
Electricity characteristics for Romania are 220 V / 50Hz. Before taking this trip you might want to check if you will need an adapter for your devices. You can check here the similarity / difference regarding the type of plug that you need.
In Romania, driving is done on the right side of the road. Also, you give way to traffic coming from your right. Wearing seat belts is mandatory.
Speed limits on Romanian roads are as follows:
>50 km/h within localities;
>90 km/h on open roads;
>100 km/h on European national roads (E);
>130 km/h on motorways.
112 is a unique number that can be called by all citizens (Romanian and foreign) in any emergency situation.
The service is provided by the Unique National System for Emergency Calls (Sistemul National Unic pentru Apeluri de Urgenta) through all mobile and stationary telephone service providers from Romania
The calls are received by the Special Telecommunications Service (Serviciul de Telecomunicatii Speciale) and redirected to specialized intervention services, such as: ambulance, police and fire fighters. If the event requires simultaneously different intervention services, the call is put in conference mode and, therefore, no additional calls are needed.
Please note that it is forbidden to abuse the use of this service.
Participants to the IFLA Europe 2017 event must have a valid identification document (ID card or passport for participants from EU countries / passport for participants from non-EU countries). Participants originating in EU countries do not require a visa. Participant from other countries should check with the Romanian embassies or consulates in their respective countries. If a visa is required to enter Romania, it is better to obtain it prior to your visit. Visas may be also obtained at the point of customs on arrival, but it may cost more and formalities may take some time. More information about the Romanian visa is available here. You may also check here for your country mission in Romania.
If you need an official invitation, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bucharest – short overview
Location: Southern Romania
Metropolitan area: 1,521 sq.km (587 sq.miles)
Elevation: 55-90 m (190-295 ft.)
Surface: 228 sq.km (88 sq.miles)
Inhabited since: 500 BC
First documented: 1459 AD
Population: 2.2 million (2012)
Source and more information: http://romaniatourism.com/bucharest.html
Bucharest, as well as Romania, is on Eastern European Time zone, the local time being GMT+2.
Bucharest has a continental climate, with hot summers and cold winters. The temperature differences between winter and summer can reach 50 0C.
June has generally a warm weather, with temperatures ranging between 20 and 300C. The minimum temperature ever registered for this period was 12 0C and the maximum 340C. You can check the prediction for the next period here.
Arriving to Bucharest at Otopeni Airport
Otopeni – officially Henri Coanda – is Bucharest's main airport. Placed at approximately 15 km north of the city (on the national road DN1) it has been recently extended and it is a spacious and efficient airport.
After getting off the plane and passing through passport control, you will be directed to the baggage reclaim area. The luggage arrives promptly, but if it fails to do so you can contact the airport representatives.
If in need for local currency is better to avoid the exchange desks that you can find within the airport since they don’t offer decent rates. Instead you can use the ATMs from the arrival area. Here you can also find a press shop and a small café.
In the passage leading to the departure terminal (toward right of the arrivals hall) you can find several car hire desks and few shops (including a drugstore).
To order a taxi, you can look for the multi-language touch screens in the arrivals hall. These are fully automated and very easy to use. You can choose from the full range of Bucharest taxi companies (all have their tariffs clearly displayed). When the taxi company of your choice has informed you (via screen) how long the taxi will take to arrive and what ID number the taxi has, take the ticket which will be printed and go outside to wait for your taxi. Please make sure you get into the correct taxi by checking the company name and ID number with the one on your ticket (the car’s ID number should be visible on the side of the car).
Be advised that you should avoid at all time accepting offers made by taxi drivers in front of the arrivals hall exit as they have very expensive rates.
To get to the city centre you can also use the express line bus 783. You can find the station underneath the arrivals hall, in front of internal arrivals. The schedule during week-days and weekends can be found here for 783 (for the direction toward the city centre). You can purchase a transportation card from the booth placed to the right of the airport exit toward the bus station. Please note that you cannot pay the transportation fare directly to the driver.
Arriving to Bucharest at the North Railway Station
Bucharest’s North Railway Station (Gara de Nord) is the main station of the city and is managing most of the passenger trains. All the international lines to and from Bucharest originate from this railway station.
The railway station has 14 tracks, 8 platforms and several entrances. It is also hosting two ticket offices, plenty of ATMs, a supermarket, fast foods and a left luggage facility (5 RON ~ 1.15 EUR for 24 hours storage).
The main Arrivals / Departures (Sosiri / Plecari) board is placed in the middle of the platforms, opposite the Information Point (Informatii). A short film presenting this area can be found here.
The station is served by the subway, an airport-bound bus (number 780) and many busses, trolleybuses and tramways. The metro station entrance is placed toward your right when looking to the Arrivals / Departure board. Starting from this point you can exit toward the main bus and trolleybus station (the columns entrance / intrarea de la coloane) going by the halls starting on the left and right sides of the Information Point.
To go right to the city centre you can use the metro or a trolleybus. For the Union Square (Piata Unirii) you can use the yellow metro line (M1 between Dristor and Pantelion) in the Dristor direction (exit at Piata Unirii station). To arrive at University Square (Piata Universitatii) you can board trolleybus no. 85 in the Baicului direction (descend at the University / Universitate station).
Please be advised that it is not recommended to accept offers made directly by taxi drivers next to the railway station entrances as they have very high rates. Instead you can use the touchscreen devices placed at the main entrance of the railway station (the columns entrance) to order a taxi free of charge. To board the taxi after your order has been accepted, you have to go to embarkation / disembarkation area placed next to the columns (in front of the railway station main exit).
Aboveground public transportation in Bucharest
This mean of transportation is managed by the Bucharest’s Public Transportation Company (Regia Autonoma de Transport Bucuresti referred in short as RATB).
Please be advised that all fares in regard to aboveground public transportation cannot be paid directly to the driver. Tickets must be purchased from ticket shops belonging to RATB. These are grey booths placed within almost each station. The price of one trip is 1.3 RON (approx. 0.30 EUR) for all means of above ground public transportation, except the extra-urban lines (busses with numbers between 400 and 500) where the fare is 1.5 RON (approx. 0.35 EUR) and the express lines (780, 783 and 784) which have a fee of 3.5 RON (approx. 0.80 EUR) for each trip.
The fares can be purchased by acquiring a card which will hold the amount that you requested. There are three different types of cards:
>the named ACTIVE card (card ACTIV nominal) that is distributed free of charge and for which you must provide a valid ID; the name showed on the ID will be printed on the card; this type of electronic wallet is not transferable to somebody else and, therefore, can be used only by the ID owner; this kind of electronic wallet can be acquired only from designated RATB ticket boots (the ones named Card Issuance and Recharge Centre / Centru de Emitere si Reincarcare Carduri – for which you can find the complete list here), but it can be recharged anywhere; the minimum amount that can be loaded for the first time is 15 RON (approx. 3.35 EUR) and the maximum is 50 RON (approx. 11 EUR); for the next recharging sessions the minimum limit is 3 RON (approx. 0.70 EUR) and the maximum remains the same;
>the un-named ACTIVE card (card ACTIV nenominal) that can be acquired by paying 3.7 RON (approx. 0.85 EUR) from any RATB ticket booth; this card can be transferred between users; the minimum value that can be loaded on this type of electronic wallet is 2.6 RON (approx. 0.60 EUR) and the maximum amount is 50 RON (approx. 11 EUR);
>the MULTIPLE card (cardul MULTIPLU) that is designed for occasional travellers and can be purchased from any RATB ticket boot; it is also un-named and can be transferred between users, but please be aware that it cannot be recharged; you can acquire it by paying 1.6 RON (approx. 0.35 EUR); the only transportation titles that can be loaded on this type of electronic wallet are: 1 day free pass for all aboveground public transportation means except extra-urban and express lines for which you have to pay 8 RON (approx. 1.8 EUR); minimum 2 / maximum 10 fares for all aboveground transportation means.
The payment can be made in cash to all the ticket booths. Only Card Issuance and Recharge Centres (Centrele de Emitere si Reincarcare Carduri) will accept payment through credit card means (VISA or MASTERCARD). The complete list of these centres together with their daily schedule is available here.
You can find here schedules, station names and route maps for each of the aboveground public transportation means belonging to RATB. The map with all the public aboveground transportation routes during the day can be found here. For the night routes a map is provided here and more information can be found here.
Please also note that the numbers 1 to 60 are assigned for tramways, 60 to 100 for trolleybuses, 100 to 400 for busses. As mentioned before, the busses within the range between 400 and 500 have extra-urban routes and different fees. The ones starting with 600 are usually special lines dedicated for students. The lines 780, 783 and 784 are express lines linking important places of Bucharest (e.g. city centre with the airport) and they have higher fares as explained above. The busses with an “N” before their number provide transportation only during the night.
When boarding an aboveground public transportation mean you have to validate your card by the orange device placed next to every entrance. A short film showing this procedure can be found here (see the second film on this page). If you want to pay the fare for a second person you can press the button marked “2” and place the card against the machine again. If you want to check if the fare was validated or the amount still reaming on the card you should press the button marked “1” and then approach it to the device as showed in the film here (see the first film on the page). Not validating the card on using the aboveground public transportation can result in paying a fine in the amount of 50 RON (approx. 11 EUR) in the case of a RATB inspection.
Underground public transportation in Bucharest
The underground public transportation is provided in Bucharest by METROREX (please be advise that their official site is having some problems during this period). The metro trains schedule operates all week between 5:00-23:00 on four lines: yellow line M1 > Pantelimon – Dristor; blue line M2 > Berceni – Pipera; red line M3 > Preciziei – Anghel Saligny; green line M4 > Gara de Nord – Parc Bazilescu (see the metro lines’ map here). Please note that the last metro trains start on 23:00 hour from end line stations.
The transportation titles designed for occasional travellers on metro transportation are:
>card “2 trips” – 5 RON (approx. 1.1 EUR)
>card “10 trips – 20 RON (approx. 4.4 EUR)
>card “Daily pass” – 8 RON (approx. 1.8 EUR)
>card “Weekly pass” – 25 RON (approx. 5.5 EUR)
The access to passengers’ embarking platforms is permitted only after validating the transportation titles by the fare collection system placed at the entrance of each station.
The cards can be purchased from the booths placed inside the metro stations, next to the fare validating systems.
The rules that travellers must follow when using metro transportation can be found here.
Traveling by taxi in Bucharest
In Bucharest, the usual fee for this mean of transportation is 1.39 RON / km (approx. 0.3 EUR / km). You should never pay more than 1.75 RON / km (approx. 0.40 EUR / km) for a taxi ride. On boarding a taxi, there is also a fee for starting the trip – normally in the same amount as the fee / km. When the car is stationing during the trip (e.g. at the red light), the taxi meter will keep charging a fee (usually 13.9 RON / hour – approx. 3 EUR / hour). Be aware that some taxi companies may have different rates for day and night trips. You can find a fare estimation application here.
Taxis can be picked up from street corners or taxi stations where they wait for customers. Be advised that in this case you should pay careful attention to the fee mentioned on the front doors as its writing can be tricky sometime (see an example here, in the fourth picture). On boarding a taxi this way, always make sure the driver turns the meter on otherwise you can expect a considerable trip fee and, therefore, is better to descent the car immediately.
If you have a heated dispute with the taxi driver it is best to call the police via the unique emergency number 112.
Remember that it is better to avoid picking taxis from city’s main areas (e.g. Old Town, North Railway Station, important touristic spots). Instead, you can walk a little farther from these points and find taxis with usual rates.
It is more advisable to order a taxi by phone or trough smartphone applications (StarTaxi or Clever Taxi). You can ask hotel / bar / restaurant staff to call a taxi for you (they usually work with reliable companies). Alternatively, you can ask locals that you’ve met to order a taxi for you as they will always be happy to help you have a safe trip. Also, you should note that almost all the taxi companies have applications both for iPhone and Android that can be downloaded from their websites or via app-stores. Ordering a taxi by phone or apps will ensure that the trip is registered by the taxi company dispatch centre and, thus, the car and the driver can be tracked down in case any problem will arise.
The entrusted taxi companies always have phone numbers clearly displayed on their cars, as well as the logo, very visible price per km and car ID number (usually next to the back door and on the trunk). Also when entering the car, you will clearly see the driver’s licence display in front of the right seat. Some of the most reliable taxi companies from Bucharest are: SPEED TAXI, TAXI LEONE, CRISTAXI, TAXI PELICANUL, AUTO COBALCESCU and TAXI 2000.
Please note that you can pay the taxi fares only in cash. It is better to use small bills, especially at rush hours, because it is possible that the taxi driver will not be able to reimburse you the entire amount of the change for larger bills.
Bucharest CITY TOUR
Bucharest’s Public Transportation Company (Regia Autonoma de Transport Bucuresti) is also providing spring-autumn period the Bucharest City Tour service. This bus line is linking several important touristic attractions and is designed for visitors that want to see the city centre and the northern part of Bucharest. Please be advise that this service can be discontinued during some periods.
The fares are: 25 RON (approx. 5.55 EUR) for adults and 10 RON (approx. 2.2 EUR) for children aged 7 to14. Children under 7 can travel for free. You can purchase your travel card on board of the buses. The ticket is valid for 24 hours starting from the first validation. This allows the tourists to be flexible when choosing the schedule and the places they want to visit.
This tourist bus line can be used daily from 10:00 to 22:00. The time between two buses is approximately 15 minutes. The ride covering the entire route lasts approximately 50 minutes. The last bus leaves from Free Press Square (Piata Presei Libere) to Union Square (Piata Unirii) at 21:00. On the other direction the last buss lives at 21:25.
You can find here a map including the route and all the bus stops.
Please note that, although commendable as an initiative and rather useful for reaching different touristic attractions, this bus line has a major flaw: the cars have the windows covered with advertisement material (you can see some photos here). Thus, for sightseeing, only the upper uncovered platform can be suitably used and this it may make your trip weather dependent.
Restaurants, bars, pubs …
Bucharest has a wide range of restaurants with different cuisine profiles. Mixed, Romanian, Italian, Turkish, Lebanese, Hungarian, Chinese and Greek are among the most common ones. A typical meal for one person (drinks included) will cost around 50 RON (approx. 11.10 EUR). You should note that most restaurants offer happy hours discounts ranging from 15 to 50 RON (approx. 3.35 to 11.10 EUR) depending on location, “trendiness”, etc.
The entire city centre is hosting cafes, tea houses, bars, pubs, clubs, discos and live music venues that can accommodate all moods and tastes. The most effervescent area in this respect is, of course, the Old Town. For popular places it is always better to make reservations in advance, especially during weekends and national holidays.
Most places offer the possibility to pay with your credit card, but it is advisable to check with their staff at the beginning.
For more information regarding this topic you can refer to this document.