Romania, a country that is filled with the most stunning nature, idyllic cities and fairytale like castles, and what better way to explore it then by going on a road trip? A road trip through Romania will not just take you from destination to destination, it will allow you to enjoy the full journey. Awe at the beautiful landscapes, visit castles that are hard to reach by public transport and of course, drive one of the most beautiful highways in the world. But going on a road trip in a foreign country can be quite daunting from time to time, especially when it comes to renting a car, driving in a foreign country and deciding where to go. So, to make it a bit easier for you we have created the ultimate Romania road trip guide that will help you plan the perfect road trip. From how much it costs to rent a car in Romania, to tips on driving in Romania and so much more, this guide has it all. So without further ado, keep on reading to find out everything you need to know on how to plan the perfect Romania road trip…
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Renting a Car in Romania
One of the most important things for a road trip is renting a car. However, renting a car in a foreign country can differ slightly from the process of renting a car in your home country. So, to make it a bit easier for you we have written down all the essential information that you need to know for renting a car in Romania, so that once you get to the rental company you can enjoy your travels in Romania worry free.
Requirements for Renting a Car in Romania
Renting a car is quite easy, as long as you meet the requirements of the rental company of course. And while the rental requirements often differ slightly from company to company and are definitely not limited to the requirements below, we found these general requirements at many of the car rental companies in Romania:
- You must be 21 years or older. If you are between 21 and 25 years old you can often expect to pay a young driver charge on top of the rental fee.
- Your drivers license needs to be held for at least 12 months and it must be currently valid. We saw this requirement stated in the terms of almost every rental company in Romania.
- An international drivers license is required for non-EU citizens at all international rental companies. If you are planning on renting a car with a company like Avis, Hertz or Sixt you will need to have an international drivers license if your drivers license was issued in a non-EU country.
- Not all local rental companies hold this requirement though. If you forgot to bring your international drivers license you will still find smaller local companies willing to rent you a car, it might just be a bit harder and require a bit more research. This is what we ended up doing as Rob’s international drivers license had expired, which took us a lot of extra time and research so be sure your documents are up to date.
- You will need an international drivers license if your drivers license is in a non-roman alphabet such as Greek, Farsi, Arabic, Japanese and so on. This rule applies at both international and local companies.
- You will need a credit card in the driver’s name. Prepaid credit cards and debit cards are almost never accepted at car rental companies in Romania.
- You must have a valid ID such as a passport. Copies are not accepted, so be sure to have your documents ready.
- Want an additional driver? Expect to pay more but also to have the same documents ready for the additional driver. Valid drivers license, valid ID and a valid international drivers license if applicable, are all needed if you are planning on having an additional driver during your road trip.
If you have rented a car before then these requirements are probably fairly straightforward for you as these same rules apply almost everywhere nowadays. However, you will see that many car rental companies will still have additional rules and requirements. So while this provides a base of documents to get ready don’t forget to check the requirements of the car rental company you are planning to use before you are leaving your home country to avoid any issues upon arrival in Romania.
Cost of Renting a Car in Romania
So now that you have checked that you meet all the general requirements for renting a car in Romania you might be wondering how much this is going to cost you. In general smaller cars are widely available at car rental companies which is the most budget friendly option. We rented a 2019 Opel Corsa in September 2019 at a local car rental company and paid €30 per day. The €30 per day included the following:
- Unlimited mileage.
- Road tax.
- 24/7 Road assistance.
- Theft and accident insurance (TP and CDW) with a deductible of €300.
- Delivery and pickup of the vehicle to our apartment in the city centre of Bucharest.
If you are planning on doing a road trip in Romania be sure to check the cost of any additional services your car rental company might charge you. Not only will you be able to factor it into your travel budget, but you will also avoid unnecessary cost. Expect to pay extra for the following:
- Pickup outside of the regular opening hours of the company, which sometimes even includes Sundays.
- GPS, child seats and snow chains.
- Additional driver.
- Roadside Assistance, as this is not always included in the price.
- Reducing your deductible. Deductibles can be as high as €1200 (if not more) in Romania, however many car rental companies offer the option to pay an extra daily fee so you will have a lower or even a €0 deductible instead.
You will find many car rental comparison websites online where cars are priced as low as €5 a day, some even stating that it includes insurance for this price. However, if it seems to good to be true, it really is. The insurance the website offers is often not valid in Romania. This means that upon arrival you are often expected to pay another €20, if not more, a day to include the insurance that is required by Romanian law.
Car Rental Tips
Last, but definitely not least we wanted to share some tips for renting a car in Romania. If you have rented cars abroad before then this might seem obvious to you, but in case you have never rented a car abroad then these tips might help to make sure you don’t get overcharged for your rental:
- Take photos of the car. Before leaving the rental company and signing the rental company inspect the car thoroughly, both inside and out. Look for scratches on the car, check the tires and the rims, and be sure to check the windscreen of the car for any chips or scratches as well. Any damages, even if they are very small, should be marked on the rental agreement as rental companies check the car a lot more thorough when you return the car.
- Get a copy of the rental agreement and the receipt. Before leaving make sure you get a signed copy of the rental agreement that includes the points mentioned above, don’t lose this document, you might need it again later.
- Take a photo of the mileage and fuel gauge before leaving. Car rental companies often require you to return the tank full, however, if it was given to you only with half a tank then this isn’t a fair deal. Take a photo of your dashboard before leaving the rental company so you won’t be charged extra later.
- Return the car washed and with a full tank, or well with how much gas in it as the car was given to you. This is almost always required, and if you do not return the car washed and fuelled up you can expect to receive a bill that is three times as high as you would have paid for doing these services yourself.
- Don’t be late. This might be a given but either picking up the car late, or return it late can cause you not either trouble but it might also cost you a whole day extra if your car is returned late.
- When returning the car make sure you get another signed (end of) rental agreement. Upon returning the car your car will be checked again. Be sure to ask for an end of rental agreement where on a document will be stated exactly which damages occurred (or not occurred) during your rental period. This will protect you from suddenly having money charged to your credit card later for damages that were not made by you. If any damages occurred during the rental period take photos of the damages as well, just to be on the safe side for later.
Those are some of our tips that we stick to every single time when renting a car abroad, not just in Romania. Do you have any other tips or tricks that you stick to when renting a car? Tell us in the comment section down below!
Road Quality and Safety in Romania
So now that you know everything about renting a car, you might be wondering what it is like to actually drive in Romania. Driving in a foreign country can differ largely from driving in your home country, we experienced this not only in Romania, but also in Vietnam, Indonesia and New Zealand. To help you prepare for what it is like driving in Romania, so you can enjoy your travels worry free, we have shared all our tips, tricks and observations below on what road quality and safety in Romania is like!
Road Quality in Romania
We had read absolute horror stories about the road quality in Romania: potholes, dirt roads, not being able to drive over 60 km/h… But honestly, we were pleasantly surprised about the road quality in Romania. While you cannot expect roads like the German Autobahn in Romania, highways in general were of decent quality. The highways often allowed us to easily drive over 100 km/h at many sections where the highways were in excellent condition. You can find a map of the road quality in Romania here as well to get a better idea of what road quality on your planned itinerary will be like.
Besides the beautiful highways that take you along mountains and endless fields of green there were also many roads that were filled with massive potholes, especially when leaving the main roads between and within the cities, so you will still have to be extremely careful when driving in Romania. However, we only found dirt roads in smaller villages or when we stayed further outside of the city closer to the mountains. One thing that was an issue though was that on many county roads there was a lack of road marking and speed signs.
Driving in Romania
Now that you now how to rent a car in Romania and what you can expect of the roads in Romania you might be wondering what driving in Romania is like. Driving abroad can be a complete different experience from driving in your home country: different rules and regulations, but also different driving styles and norms. To give you a better idea of what driving in Romania is like check out some of the most important rules, regulations and extra tips on what to expect when driving in Romania below:
- In Romania they drive on the right side of the road.
- Don’t drink and drive, Romania has a zero tolerance policy.
- You will have to wear your seatbelt at all times.
- The driving style in Romania can be quite aggressive, especially on the highways. You will find many people trying to overtake you and not sticking to the speed limit. We have seen people easily driving over 150 km/h on the highways, so be careful when driving in Romania.
- You will often find traffic police in villages but also on highways doing speed checks, so be sure to stick to the speed limits.
- The emergency number in Romania is 112.
- You are not allowed to use your car horn between 10pm and 6am in Romania, instead you will have to use your lights instead. In some cities and towns (including Bucharest) use of horns are forbidden at all times.
- Expect to find many congestions on national and county roads, so schedule some extra time in your itinerary.
If you are looking for more info and tips on driving in Romania check out this website here that we found during our road trip research. This is one of the few resources on the rules and regulations of driving in Romania that was available in English, so while not an official website of Romania it might give you an idea of what rules and regulations you can expect.
Parking in Romania – While parking spots are not hard to find in Romania, expect to pay almost everywhere for parking, especially near city centres and near popular sights and castles. Parking is often less then 1$ an hour, however, it does often have to be paid in cash so be sure to keep some small cash at hand.
Sharing the Road & Wildlife in Romania
Another slight point of road safety in Romania we wanted discuss was sharing the road, and we don’t just mean sharing the road with other drivers. One of the things that surprised us the most was the amount of people we saw walking on highways and national roads, roads where cars drive over 100 km/h from time to time. People were not just simply walking on the side of the road but we sometimes even saw people crossing highways. Besides this also keep your eye out for horse drawn carriages, which are quite common in Romania, people on bicycles and for sheep herders with life stock. Basically we just wanted to tell you to stay alert and keep your eyes open when driving in Romania to avoid any accidents.
Besides people be careful of wildlife in Romania crossing the road unexpectedly as well. There have been many blogs that we read that people came across brown bears on the road, and while we didn’t see any brown bears we did see many deer in Romania along the side of the roads. So keep your eyes open, not only to see this beautiful wild life, but also to stay safe on the road while driving.
Planning a Road Trip Through Romania
Now that you know everything about renting a car and are fully prepared to drive in Romania you might still have a couple of questions left when it comes down to the actual planning of your road trip through Romania. Don’t worry, we got you covered. Keep on reading to find some practical information such as when to go on your road trip, how much will it cost, and how many days should I rent my car for?
Best time to go on a Road Trip in Romania
Summer (June to mid September) – High season is one of the seasons we try to avoid everywhere we travel. However, sometimes it doesn’t always work out. We traveled Romania during the high season and can honestly admit that we could not recommend this if you have the option of going at a different time. Expect warm weather (we had highs of 38 degrees), busy cities and long waiting lines at castles. Besides this expect higher prices at accommodation and sights, not the best option for budget travellers.
Spring & Fall (April/May & Mid-September/October) – Mid September the children go back to school, meaning that the long lines will disappear and that during week days you will find that cities are emptier and the long waiting lines for sights disappear. On top of that during fall you will be greeted with the most beautiful fall foliage and in spring with the trees blossoming, if we would do another road trip then these months would be our preferred choice.
Winter (November to March) – Winter in Romania sounds like a fairytale, especially with some of the most beautiful colourful cities covered in a layer of snow. However, driving in the snow can be quite difficult, especially when going through the mountains. As winter is low season many sights have very limited opening hours so be sure to take that into consideration.
How many days do you need for a Romania Road Trip?
We rented our car for a total of 9 days, which was plenty to see all the main sights and have some break days (or for us work days) in between. After driving our route we established that for people that don’t work on the road, 7 days would have been more then enough for that route, but it will include sightseeing every single day, and driving every single day. If you like to take it a bit slower, plan for 10 days, and if you have limited time we would say that 5 days, although short, is enough to see the major highlights of Transylvania. Be sure to plan in some extra time before and after your trip to explore Bucharest as well.
Money & Budget for a Romania Road Trip
Going on a road trip in Romania is a lot more affordable then many destinations in Western Europe, however, costs add up quickly. From fuel, parking, groceries, accommodation to sights, it all costs money. To give you a bit of a better idea of how much we spent during our 9 day road trip in Romania check out the table below:
|Food & Drinks||$134.88|
As you can see the largest part of our budget went to car, food & drinks, and accommodation. However, as we are traveling on a budget we still tried to keep our costs as low as possible, so your cost might end up a lot higher (or a lot lower) then our given expenses. To keep our costs low we stayed at budget Airbnbs and pensions that had a kitchen so we could cook our own food. Moreover, we were selective of the sights and castles we wanted to see to keep our budget slightly down as well. So if you are planning on seeing all the castles, visit museums and ride the cable cars then be sure to plan for a higher budget for activities and sights.
Supermarkets in Romania – If you are on a budget then you might want to stick to cooking your own food as eating out can add costs up quickly. Near the bigger cities you will find plenty of supermarkets that have a large variety of breads (including pizza snacks, croissants), fruits and veggies, meats, dairy and so much more. If you are not sure where to look use Google Maps to see if any Carrefour, Kaufland, Lidl or Mega Image is in your vicinity, these are the four most common supermarkets you will find near and in the cities.
Romania Road Trip Route & Map
Now that we have discussed all the logistics, let’s talk about the actual route and itinerary for your road trip! Romania is a large country, and there is so much to see: from the Danube Delta to black sea, there is something for everyone’s liking here. We opted to go for the more classic road trip: the castles and fairytale-like cities of Transylvania. Our route took us through the most gorgeous fields of green, mountains, medieval castles, beautiful cities and the most beautiful highway we had ever seen, a combination that makes this one of the most beautiful road trips in the Balkans.
Our least favourite part of highway must have been on our way to Hunedoara, where the views of lush mountains slowly started to disappear and were replaced with empty fields and factories, but in the end the destination was 100% worth it, but more on that below. If you are looking for ideas for your own route or itinerary, check out our map below with the exact road we took during our Romania road trip, or keep on scrolling to read more about our favourite destinations in Romania!
Best Places to Visit in Romania
A visit to Transylvania would not be complete without visiting the beautiful city of Brasov. Streets filled with an endless amount of colourful houses, the most stunning viewpoints, and close to one of the most popular sights of Romania: Bran Castle, a.k.a. Dracula’s Castle. Brasov must be one of our favourite destinations in Romania, and we honestly wished we would have stayed longer to explore more of what this beautiful city has to offer. We personally recommend spending 2 days in and around Brasov to see some of the nearby highlights as well, not sure what to do? Read our full 2 day Brasov itinerary here.
Visiting Sighisoara felt almost like we just stepped into a fairytale filled with the most bright and colourful houses. Narrow cobblestoned streets that we could have wandered for hours as you would discover something new everything you walk through them. We wrote about all our favourite things to do in Sighisoara here, from the most beautiful view over the city to learning more about Sighisoara’s history, you can easily visit all the sights within an afternoon as the city itself is rather small. However, before you head to your next destination consider stopping by one of the many lovely smaller cities in the vicinity, such as Biertan, which is home to an absolute massive fortified church.
While Hunedoara itself is a city that doesn’t have much to offer, there is one sight in particular that made the drive here all worth it: Corvin Castle. This castle was the sole reason I was inspired to do a road trip through Romania, and it honestly was even more impressive in real life. Corvin Castle made me feel like I had stepped right into a Harry Potter movie where I had received my invitation letter to Hogwarts! Visiting Corvin Castle was one of the highlights of our Romania road trip, and in our opinion an absolute must see when visiting Romania. Intrigued? You can read all our tips and tricks on visiting Corvin Castle here!
Many people fly into the city of Bucharest and have the tendency of just renting a car and hitting the road, which is a shame as Bucharest itself is a city worth exploring! We loved our time in Bucharest can cannot wait to go back in the future to see what else this city has to offer. Wander around one of the newest old towns you will find in Europe (it is only a couple of years old), visit the Palace of the Parliament which is the heaviest building in the world, or simply relax in the beautiful parks of Bucharest. We recommend booking an extra two to three days before or after your road trip to explore this beautiful city before heading home, or to your next destination.
The last city in Romania that deserves a spot on your road trip itinerary is the city of Sibiu. While we did not find Sibiu as beautiful or exciting as Sighisoara and Brasov we would still highly recommend seeing it if you have the time in your schedule. Wander around Sibiu’s beautiful market square, walk through the idyllic little cobblestoned streets or find the most beautiful viewpoint over the city of one of the towers. We Would personally recommend spending one day in Sibiu, before heading to the last destination of this road trip…
Last, but definitely not least, of the best places to visit Romania on your road trip is the Transfăgărășan Highway, also known as one of the most beautiful highways in the world. This beautiful road swirls through the Carpathian mountains and was built in the 1970’s as a strategic route, connecting Transylvania with Wallachia. It took over four years to construct this road filled with hairpin turns that slowly take you up to the highest point of the highway: Balea Lake from where you can admire the beautiful view over the highway. Driving the Transfăgărășan Highway through beautiful scenery, along creeks, waterfalls and sheep herders was the absolute highlight of our trip. However, the road is only open for several months out of the year (more info on that here), so be sure to check if you can drive it before planning your Romania road trip!
And there you have it, everything you need to know to plan the perfect Romania road trip! While we only had enough time to go on a 9-day road trip, we absolutely fell in love with the cities and nature of Romania, and we undoubtedly will be back in the future to see what else Romania has to offer. Do you have any questions? Or any recommendations for us and our readers? Be sure to tell us in the comment section down below!
Not going home yet after your road trip? Be sure to check out some of our other posts on nearby destinations!
- The Train from Chisinau to Bucharest: Everything You Need to Know
- 13 Unique Things to do in Chisinau
- 10 Unique Things to do in Tiraspol, Transnistria