Never travel without TRAVEL INSURANCE!  I use, and recommend, SafetyWing

Romania Road Trip: Everything You Need To Know

romania-road-trip-stop-by-lake

Jump To

This post contains everything you need to know to plan an epic Romania road trip.

Interested in seeing more of Europe besides the standard sites?  Consider taking a road trip through Romania.  

Romania is one of Europe’s true hidden gems.  Often overlooked by travellers, this Balkan country is packed full of interesting places to visit.  Combine this with dramatic scenery, fascinating history, and you have a country that’s perfect for exploring.

view-over-rooftops-in-sighisoara
Transylvania road trip = epic

Discover the castles of Transylvania.  Explore medieval Saxon villages.  Hike in the Carpathian mountains.  Tackle the best driving road in the worldParty all night on a Black Sea beach.  On your Romanian road trip you can do all of these things and more.

As well as information on the best places to visit in Romania, this guide includes lots of practical tips and advice to help you plan a perfect trip.  I’ve also suggested a few Romania road trip itineraries, which can be tailored according to how much time you have.

Trip map created using Wanderlog, a road trip planner app on iOS and Android

** Romania is not currently in the Schengen Area.  Still, many nationalities can visit visa-free for up to 90 days.

If you require a visa, I recommend using iVisa.com.  Their online visa processing service is quick, secure, and easy to use. **

Places To Visit On Your Romania Road Trip

Romania is a big country, with lots to see and do.  

These are some of the best places to visit in Romania.

Timișoara

Timișoara is an attractive city in western Romania.

Timișoara is located fairly close to the borders with Hungary and Serbia.  If you’re entering Romania overland from either of these countries, you will probably pass through.

timisoara-town-square-romania

However, there are plenty of other reasons to visit.  

Despite being the third largest city in the country, the centre is fairly compact and easily walkable.  As well as having lots of beautiful architecture, Timișoara is a cultural centre, with many art galleries, and no shortage of music and theatre.  

There’s a strong cafe culture and a thriving restaurant scene here.  Cafes, restaurants and bars spill out into the streets and line the edges of the pretty squares.

It is possible to take a day trip to Corvin Castle and Sibiu and back from Timișoara (more on this places below).  However, I’d only recommend this if you are really pressed for time…

See the below sections for suggested itineraries and a route planner to help you design your ideal Romania roadtrip.

Corvin Castle

Romania is known for its atmospheric fairytale castles.  Corvin Castle is one of the very best.

Built in the 14th and 15th centuries, this Gothic fortress is one of the best preserved medieval structures in Romania.  

Part luxury residence, part strategic stronghold, this stunning castle was home to the rulers of Transylvania for generations.

corvin-castle-romania
Don't miss the stunning Corvin Castle on your Romania roadtrip

Complete with towers, turrets, buttresses, thick walls, crenelations, a drawbridge, and a range of other defences, it’s a perfect medieval castle – something straight out of a fairytale.  

The Knights’ Hall is one of the most important areas inside the castle.  Its vaulted ceiling is intricately decorated with marble and adorned with medieval banners.  This impressive space served as a grand dining room, as well as a council room for noblemen.

There’s no end of myth, rumours, and legends surrounding Corvin castle.  

As well as being supposedly haunted, Vlad the Impaler (AKA Count Dracula) is said to have been imprisoned in the dungeons here for seven years.  (There’s little historical evidence to back this up, but it’s an incredibly atmospheric place to visit nonetheless.)

Cluj-Napoca

Cluj-Napoca (Cluj for short) is often referred to as the capital of Transylvania.

It’s a fairly lively, youthful city, with a large student population and loads of excellent (and excellent value) bars, restaurants and cafes.  Cluj also hosts several music festivals throughout the year.

Most of the main sights and activities are centred in and around the Old Town, which is easily walkable.  

In the heart of the Old Town, Piața Unirii (Union Square) is a large medieval central plaza.  Here you will find several important landmarks, including St. Michael’s Church and the statue of the King of Hungary Matthias Corvinus.  (Prior to 1918, Cluj and much of western Romania was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.)  

The square is a great place to sit and people watch.  It also hosts a regular farmers’ market.

cluj-napoca-statue-capital-of-transylvania
Is Cluj Napoca worth visiting? (Yes)

There are several museums and galleries in Cluj.  Some of the best of these include the National Museum of Transylvanian History, IAGA Contemporary Art Gallery, and Bánffy Palace.

Being a student town, Cluj has some great nightlife.  Head to Strada Piezișă (Piezisa Street) where you’ll find loads of lively bars and clubs.  The steampunk-inspired Enigma Bar is particularly fun.

There are several attractive green spaces in the city to take a wander or relax with a picnic.  

Central Park is almost 200 years old, has an attractive lake, and is a popular place to hang out with locals of all ages.

Citadel Park, perched on a hill across the Someșul Mic river, offers beautiful views over Cluj.  It’s a great spot to sit and watch the sunset.

Day trips from Cluj-Napoca

The area around Cluj also has some great day trips, including the Hoia Forest (if you’re feeling brave), the Turda Salt Mine, and Rimetea.

The Hoia Forest is often described as one of the most haunted places in Europe.  Here the trees grow in strange clusters, with branches that are bent and twisted.  Deep in the heart of the forest there is a perfectly circular clearing (called The Clearing) where no trees grow.  

Scientists are not able to explain any of these phenomena.  However, many locals claim to have seen spectres, ghosts, UFOs and a range of other supernatural figures roaming the forest.  Some refuse to go anywhere near it.

The Turda Salt Mine (Salina Turda) is a massive, ancient salt mine that’s been converted into a Museum of Contemporary Art, a theatre and a futuristic amusement park.  It’s totally unique, and an incredible place to see.

The original mine itself is almost 1,000 years old, and spreads over an area of 27 square miles (70 sq km), over 120 metres below the surface.  The main chasm is truly vast, with dark vertical walls, stalagmites, and an underground lake which you can explore by renting a little rowing boat.

Rimetea

Rimetea is a picturesque village located about an hour from Cluj.  As well as being a pleasant place to explore in its own right, the main reason to come here is the fantastic hiking in the surrounding mountains.

One excellent hike takes in the dramatic Piatra Seciului mountain (also called the Rock of the Szeklers).  Rising 480 metres over Rimetea, from the summit you can enjoy breathtaking views over the surrounding area.  

The trail takes about an hour to reach the summit.  It’s fairly steep and rocky in places, but should be doable for anybody with a moderate level of fitness.  It’s definitely worth it, the views are spectacular.

Sighișoara

Sighișoara is a beautiful medieval town located in the heart of Transylvania.  If you only visit one pretty old town during your Romania road trip, I’d really recommend it be Sighișoara.  

Perched on a hill, with walls, towers and an ancient citadel, this place looks like something straight out of a fairytale.  Wandering through its UNESCO World Heritage historic centre is like stepping back in time.

Sighisoara-tower
Colourful Sighișoara should definitely be a stop on your Transylvania road trip

Built and fortified initially by the Saxons as a defensive citadel in the 12th century, Sighișoara later grew to become a popular trading post and centre for artisans.  At its height, the town was home to several craft guilds, whose members further added to the fortifications.

The walled Old Town is a maze of narrow cobblestone streets, bright pastel-coloured houses, and fortified towers.  Climb the 13th century clock tower (Turnul cu Ceas) for amazing bird’s eye views out over the town and the surrounding mountains.  

The tower contains a museum explaining the rich history of the town.  It’s also full of fascinating artefacts documenting the history of the town.

sighisoara-transylvania

The real-world Count Dracula (Vlad III / Vlad the Impaler) was supposedly born in Sighișoara.  As well as the inevitable souvenir shops selling tacky Dracula knick-knacks, in the Old Town there is also a statue to the legendary ruler and Romanian national hero.

Be sure to climb the Scholar’s Staircase.  This enclosed wooden staircase was built in 1692 and connects the Old Town to the Church on the Hill (Biserica din Deal), one of the largest and most impressive Gothic churches in Transylvania.  From the churchyard, you also get great views out over the local area beyond the town.

Sibiu

Another 12th century Saxon town in Transylvania, Sibiu is a friendly, relaxed place full of unique architecture and excellent food.

Most of Sibiu’s main sights are located within the cobblestoned Old Town, which is easily explorable on foot.

The most iconic feature of Sibiu is the large number of baroque-style houses that have eye-shaped windows built into their roofs.  In fact, these have caused Sibiu to be nicknamed “the City With Eyes”.

sibiu-transylvania
Road trip Romania - Sibiu is another great place to visit

Supposedly built to help with ventilation and cooling the upper floors, these “eyes” are quite unnerving.  Some locals claim that they were actually built to scare off enemies.  As you explore the streets of the Old Town, they really do seem to watch you!

Another famous landmark in Sibiu is the Bridge of Lies, which connects the Old Town to the New Town.  According to local folklore, this is a magical bridge that listens to people who cross it.  

Apparently, whenever a lie is told, the bridge creaks and moans.  And if it hears a lie big enough, it will collapse.  (As you’ll probably gather, superstitious beliefs are pretty common in Romania!)

sibiu-rooftops-with-eyes
In Sibiu, it feels like some of the buildings are watching you...

A town of two squares

The big main market square in Sibiu is intelligently named Large Square (Piata Mare).  It’s surrounded by a number of attractive buildings, including the Brukenthal Palace and the Holy Trinity Catholic Church.  

In December, this square is also home to what is regularly referred to as one of the best Christmas markets in the world, with a giant decorated tree and dozens of stalls selling food, drinks, crafts, and toys.

Next to Large Square, you’ll find the (similarly well-named) Small Square (Piata Mica).  Here you’ll find a number of excellent restaurants spilling into the square, serving a range of different food from all over Europe.  This is a beautiful place to sit and enjoy a bite to eat or a drink, and watch the world go by.

The Lutheran Cathedral of Saint Mary is another highlight that you should visit in Sibiu.  You can climb to the top of the tower to a lookout deck which offers one of the best views in the city.

Food in Sibiu

Sibiu is often said to have some of the best food in Romania.  

One restaurant that I’d highly recommend is Crama Sibiul Vechi, a traditional restaurant that specialises in authentic local dishes and has a fantastic atmosphere.  The portions are large, the waiters are friendly, and the atmosphere is fantastic.  

Try the goulash and the mici sausages, or the peasant’s stew with polenta.  (The meat-free options are also decent here – not always a given in Romania.)

For a slightly cheaper (though equally delicious) gastronomic experience, check out Cibin Market.  Here you’ll find vendors selling a range of tasty Romanian dishes.

Transfăgărășan Highway

No Romania road trip would be complete without tackling “the best driving road in the world” – the mighty Transfăgărășan.

Brought to fame by the TV show Top Gear, this road really is epic.  Winding its way up and over the Carpathian mountains (i.e. the Transylvanian Alps), the Transfăgărășan has hundreds of corners, steep hairpins, and some seriously incredible views.

transfagarasan-road-trip-in-romania
The best driving road in the world?

At the top of the highest pass lies the glacial Balea Lake, where there is a little mountain resort surrounded by towering snowy peaks.  It’s a stunning place with world-class scenery.  

If the weather conditions allow, there are some excellent hiking routes up into the mountains which start from here.  Also, check out the Balea Waterfall hike, which starts from a little further down the road.

Other highlights along the way that are worth stopping at include Poienari Castle and the Vidraru Dam.

The road itself isn’t actually too difficult to drive, and is well paved throughout.  But make sure you keep your eyes on the road (it’s hard, the views are insane).  And don’t try to take the corners too fast… some of them are very sharp, with steep drops!

You could easily drive the whole 150km stretch in one day.  But, if you have the time, I’d highly recommend taking a couple of days to do it.  That way, you can really take your time, maybe do a short hike, and enjoy the spectacular views.

One important thing to bear in mind: the Transfăgărășan road is only open between June and October.  Outside of these months, due to the elevation, ice and snow make the higher stretches totally impassable.

Bran Castle ("Dracula's Castle")

Romania (and especially Transylvania) has no shortage of beautiful, atmospheric castles.  Perhaps the most iconic of these is Bran Castle.

Bran-castle-Romania

Built between 1377 and 1382, and commonly referred to as “Dracula’s Castle”, this is often said to be the influence for the novel “Dracula” by Bram Stoker.  As it turns out, this probably actually isn’t true, as Stoker never visited the castle, and Count Vlad (the Impaler) probably never did either.

Some people claim that Vlad Dracula was also imprisoned here.  However, as with the legends surrounding Corvin Castle (above), most historians disagree.

Either way, the castle is stunning and definitely worth a visit.  Just make sure you arrive early in the day, to avoid the crowds.

Inside-of-bran-castle-romania

Bran Castle’s natural setting is awesome, perched on the top of a rocky hill in the Carpathian mountains.  Its pointed tower and turrets, red tiled roofs, lush gardens, and mountainous backdrop are sure to make this a highlight of any road trip in Romania.

Inside, the castle contains lots of beautiful medieval furniture and artwork.  On the top floor there is also an exhibition on Dracula which explains many of the legends and myths.

Brașov

(Yet) another beautiful medieval city, Brașov is full of atmospheric cobblestone streets, Saxon fortifications, gothic churches, and cozy old cafes and restaurants.  

It’s bigger than both Sighișoara and Sibiu, so there are more things to see and do.  That said, Brașov is very popular with tourists (both local and foreign), so it’s also usually more crowded than the other places.

Brasov-romanian-road-trip

Brașov is one of the most important historical cities in Romania.  One of the best ways to learn about its fascinating history is to take a free walking tour.

Most walking tours start from the Council Square (Piața Sfatului), in the heart of the Old Town.  They cover most of the city’s main highlights, including the Biserica Neagra (Black Church, the largest medieval church in the Balkans), Catherine’s Gate, and the Strada Sforii (Rope Street, believed to be the narrowest in Europe).  

The tours themselves are free, but the (excellent) guides rely on tips, which are gratefully received.

Day trips from Brașov

As well as exploring the town itself, Brașov is a great place to base yourself for a few days to visit some of the nearby castles (including Bran Castle – see above), and Peles Castle, one of the most beautiful castles in the world.

There’s also some fantastic hiking in the Carpathian Mountains, which rise dramatically over the city.  After several days sitting in the car during your Romanian road trip, this is a good opportunity to stretch your legs and blow away the cobwebs.

You can hike (or take a cable car) up Mount Tampa for a stunning birds eye view over Brașov and its surroundings.  Mount Tampa is also the location for the large “Brașov” sign (which looks a lot like the “Hollywood” sign in the hills above Los Angeles).

The hike up to the summit of Mount Tampa takes about an hour and follows a well-marked trail.  The cable car operates from 9:30am to 4pm and costs 16 RON (about €3) for a return ticket.

If you’re looking for some more challenging hikes, the nearby Piatra Craiului Mountains are home to several excellent hiking trails, with something for all abilities.  

Slightly closer to Brașov itself, the Seven Ladders Canyon has a hike which takes in several beautiful waterfalls.  At one point on this hike, you need to climb a metal ladder bolted to a cliff face (!), but otherwise the trail is fairly straightforward.

Vama Veche

Vama Veche is Romania’s most famous party town.  Located on the Black Sea, only a few kilometres from the Bulgarian border, this little place is carefree, hippie-spirited, and lots of fun.

Between May and mid-September, the whole place effectively turns into one giant festival.  On most days you’ll find a range of live music, exhibitions, and all-night parties on the beach.

Vama-Veche

Every morning at sunrise, speakers on the beach play Ravel’s ‘Bolero‘ and people (most of whom have been up all night) gather to celebrate the start of a new day.  It’s surreal, and awesome!

As well as all the revelry and merrymaking, Vama Veche also has some great seafood restaurants and beautiful coastal walks.  

You can hire a bike and explore more of the Black Sea coast, which has many secluded beaches where you can camp or just spend a day.  You can even cycle into Bulgaria if you so wish.

For a more detailed guide, check out this post on visiting Vama Veche.

Bucharest

In all likelihood, you will (either) start and/or finish your Romanian road trip in the capital city, Bucharest.  

Many people pick up their car at the airport and head straight out of Bucharest to explore Transylvania and the rest of the country.  I think this is a mistake.

Bucharest might not be the most picturesque city in Europe, but it is full of amazing things to see and do.  Underneath the surface of its austere communist-era architecture and derelict apartment blocks lies a wealth of hidden gems just waiting to be discovered.

Bucharest-romania-road-trip
Most trips to Romania will include a visit to Bucharest, the capital

The city has loads of quirky hidden bars, excellent restaurants, hipster coffee shops, trendy brunch spots, cultural attractions, beautifully landscaped parks, and stunning Orthodox churches.

Given its size and rich history, Bucharest is another city where it’s a great idea to take a (free) walking tour.  Most of these start from in front of the Romanian Athenaeum building, a famous concert hall just north of the Old Town.

Palatul Parlamentului

The massive Palatul Parlamentului (Palace of Parliament) in the centre of the city is the political and administrative heart of Romania.  It’s not exactly beautiful, but this giant brutalist structure is certainly impressive.

Built by the former communist dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu, the Palatul is over 80 metres tall, with 1,100 rooms, and a floor area of over 360,000 square metres (3,900,000 sq ft).  It’s also (apparently) the heaviest building in the world, weighing roughly 4 billion kilograms!

You can take a guided tour of the Palace.  I’ve not actually done this, but have read accounts saying that it’s worthwhile.  Call in advance (preferably a few days beforehand) to secure a place.  Alternatively, reserve online through GetYourGuide.

Other things to see and do in Bucharest

There are many Orthodox churches and monasteries in Bucharest.  The most famous and beautiful of these are the New St. George Church and the Stavropoleos Monastery.  Both are located in the heart of the Old Town, an easy 5-minute walk from each other, and also fairly close to the Palatul Parlamentului.

Other highlights in Bucharest include:

  • Revolution Square, a central plaza that has been the scene of many key events in Romania’s history, including the overthrow of the communist dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu.
  • Cișmigiu Park, a landscaped botanical garden with winding pathways, benches and a boating lake (which is transformed into a skating rink in the winter).
  • Caru’ cu bere, the oldest restaurant and brewery in Bucharest – with a stunning interior and delicious, reasonably priced food.
  • Cărturești Carusel (Carousel of Light) bookshop, one of the most beautiful and famous bookshops in the world.
  • Obar Market, the largest market in the city – so much amazing food here!
(Romania has strong cultural and economic ties to Italy.  In Bucharest, you’ll find a huge range of authentic Italian food, including some of the best pizza outside of Naples.)

Romania Road Trip Itineraries

The perfect itinerary for your Romania road trip depends on two main factors:

1.) How much time do you have?

2.) Where do you want to start (and finish)?

Where should you start your Romanian road trip?

If you’re flying into Romania, it makes sense to start your road trip in either TimișoaraCluj-Napoca, or Bucharest.  These all have international airports serving a range of destinations throughout Europe and (in the case of Bucharest) further afield.

The best option for people on a tight budget might be to start and finish in Bucharest.

Flights to (and from) Bucharest tend to be cheaper than the other cities.  Bucharest airport also has the largest selection of car hire companies, which means that rentals tend to be cheaper here too.  And there’d be no “one way” car hire fee (more on this below).

However, bear in mind that you would need to double-back on yourself at the end of the trip in order to get back to Bucharest.  Romania is a fairly big country, so this might not be the best choice for people who are limited by time.

One-way rentals

An alternative (potentially better) option would be to hire a car in one city and return it in another.  This is sometimes referred to as a “one-way rental”.

If you’d like to visit all of the locations mentioned in this post on your Romania road trip, geographically it makes sense to fly into Bucharest and out of Timișoara (or vice versa).  That way, there’s no doubling-back on yourself, which cuts back on the time you need to spend in the car.

The main disadvantage of this option is that it might end up costing a bit more.  Flights to/from Timișoara are often (though not always) pricier than Bucharest, and you would also need to pay a “one way” car rental fee to drop off at a different location from where you started.

Still, unless the extra cost is prohibitive, I’d still recommend renting a car in one city and dropping it off in another.  This prevents the need to backtrack, and will probably be a more efficient use of the time you have for your trip.

sighisoara-clock-tower-romania
How much time do you have for your road trip in Romania?

Note: while I’ve listed Bucharest as the departure point for all of these itineraries, you could also them in reverse if the flights work out better that way around.

1 week Romania road trip itinerary

With only one week for your Romanian road trip, you won’t be able to visit all of the places mentioned in this post.

However, you’ll still be able to see a fair amount with 1 week in Romania, providing you are efficient with your time and don’t spend too long in each place.

My suggested one week Romania road trip itinerary is as follows:

  • FLY into Bucharest
  • Days 1-2: Bucharest OR Vama Veche
  • Days 3-4: Brașov (visit either Bran Castle or Peles Castle on the way)
  • Days 5-6: Sibiu OR Sighișoara
  • Day 7: Cluj-Napoca OR Timișoara
  • FLY out of either Cluj-Napoca or Timișoara

10 day Romania road trip itinerary

If you have 10 days in Romania, the itinerary is similar to the above.  However, you can either spend a little longer in each place, or visit both Sighișoara and Sibiu.  You’ll also probably have time to tackle the mighty Transfăgărășan. 🙂

Suggested 10 day Romania road trip itinerary:

  • FLY into Bucharest
  • Days 1-2: Bucharest OR Vama Veche
  • Days 3-4: Brașov (visit either Bran Castle or Peles Castle on the way)
  • Days 5-6: Sibiu
  • Day 7: Drive the Transfăgărășan Highway on the way from Sibiu to Sighișoara
  • Days 7-8: Sighișoara
  • Days 9-10: Cluj-Napoca OR Timișoara
  • FLY out of either Cluj-Napoca or Timișoara
sighisoara-romania-castle-towers
You can see quite a bit of Romania in 10 days

2 week Romania road trip itinerary

With 2 weeks in Romania, you can see even more, and also take your time.  This will also give you the chance to EITHER see all of Bucharest, Vama Veche, Cluj-Napoca and Timișoara, OR pick two or three and spend an extra night in each.

Suggested 2 week Romania road trip itinerary:

  • FLY into Bucharest
  • Days 1-2: Bucharest
  • Days 3-4: Vama Veche
  • Days 5-6: Brașov (visit either Bran Castle or Peles Castle on the way)
  • Days 7-8: Sibiu
  • Day 9: Drive the Transfăgărășan on the way from Sibiu to Sighișoara
  • Days 9-10: Sighișoara
  • Days 11-12: Cluj-Napoca
  • Days 13-14: Timișoara (visit Corvin Castle on the way)
  • FLY out of Timișoara

3 week Romania road trip itinerary

If you are not limited for time, allowing three weeks for your Romanian road trip would be optimal.  In this time, you’ll really get a good feel for the country.

I’d suggest a similar itinerary for three weeks as for two.  But spend an extra night in each place and don’t rush.  (I try to follow a three-night-minimum rule wherever I can.)  And if you spot something cool along the way, you can feel free to stop and explore a little. 🙂

Suggested 3 week Romania road trip itinerary:

  • FLY into Bucharest
  • Days 1-3: Bucharest
  • Days 4-6: Vama Veche
  • Days 7-9: Brașov (visit both Bran Castle AND Peles Castle on the way – why not)
  • Days 10-12: Sibiu
  • Day 13: Drive the Transfăgărășan on the way from Sibiu to Sighișoara
  • Days 13-15: Sighișoara
  • Days 16-18: Cluj-Napoca
  • Days 19-21: Timișoara (visit Corvin Castle on the way)
  • FLY out of Timișoara

Driving In Romania - Practical Information & Tips

Is it safe to drive in Romania?

In general, Romania is a very safe country to travel in.

That said, you should always keep your wits about you when driving in Romania.  It’s not uncommon to see people walking, riding horses, or driving ox carts on the side of the road.  Just because you’re driving on a major highway/motorway doesn’t mean that people won’t try to cross it on foot!  

Also, keep an eye out for bicycles, deer, cows, other random livestock, and animal herders crossing the road.  

road-trip-in-romania-meeting-friendly-man
Making new friends exploring Romania by car

Road quality in Romania

Most main roads in Romania are well paved and in excellent condition.  

In rural areas, the road quality tends to deteriorate.  Dirt tracks with giant potholes are common between villages outside of the main population centres.

However, all of the suggested destinations on this Romania road trip are connected by good roads.  So don’t worry about that.

Romanian driving laws

In Romania, as in the rest of continental Europe, you drive on the right hand side of the road.

As well as being obvious common sense, wearing a seatbelt at all times is required by law when driving through Romania.

Romania has a zero tolerance policy towards drink driving.  Don’t do it.

Most drivers in Romania are fairly considerate.  However, not everybody likes to obey the speed limit, and you will probably encounter the odd aggressive driver following way too close behind you.  Just pull over and let them zoom past.

Speed limits are usually (though not always) displayed.  In general, the speed limit in Romania tends to be 50 km/h on urban roads and in villages, 90 km/h for main roads, and 130 km/h on highways.  But keep an eye out for any signs to the contrary.

The police sometimes do random speed checks on the side of the road.  They will give you an on the spot fine if they catch you speeding.

By law, you must not use your car horn between 10pm and 6am in Romania.  In some places (including Bucharest), it’s forbidden at all times.

The emergency number in Romania is 112.

romania-road-trip-stop-by-lake
Taking a rest during an awesome Romanian road trip

Parking

Parking is not usually a problem in Romania, and it’s typically fairly easy to find a place to park.  However, bear in mind that you need to pay to park most places in the centre of towns and cities, and especially near popular tourist sights.

It’s usually very cheap though, typically less than 5 RON / hour (€1).  Be sure to carry some loose change, often it’s not possible to pay by card.

While not always enforced, theoretically you are only allowed to park facing in the direction of traffic (i.e. on the right side of the road).

Renting a car in Romania

Renting a car in Romania is usually quite straightforward, comparable to most other places in Europe.  

Prices tend to be fairly affordable.  The cheapest rates tend to be found when picking up the car from a major airport (e.g. Bucharest airport).  Use a comparison site like Skyscanner or Kayak to find the best deals.

Most of the major international car hire companies operate in Romania (Hertz, Sixt, Europcar, etc.).  However, these tend to be pricier than local Romanian companies.  

I tend to recommend going with a local company to save money when you rent a car in Romania.  However, be sure to check the reviews and ratings online before you book.  I’ve used Klass Wagen and would recommend them.

Requirements for renting a car in Romania

To rent a car in Romania, all drivers must be at least 21 years old and have held their licence for at least a year.  Any driver under the age of 25 may incur a young driver surcharge.  There’s also often an additional fee for adding extra drivers.

The maximum age for hiring a car in Romania is 70 years old.  Unfortunately, I’m not sure if there’s any way around this.

As is the case almost everywhere, one-way rentals (i.e. picking up the car in place A and dropping it off in place B) tend to incur additional fees.  Also, check with the company whether they actually allow one-way rentals before you commit, if this is something you want to do.  (Most do, but check.)

Car hire companies typically also require you to provide a credit card (for the deposit) in the name of the lead driver.

Some online sources claim that you need an International Driving Licence (/ International Driving Permit / IDP) to hire a car in Romania.  This isn’t my experience – I’ve never been asked to show one.  

That said, IDPs are typically very cheap (5 GBP in the UK).  So it’s generally a good idea to have one anyway, especially if your driving licence is from a non-EU country.

Money & Budget For A Romanian Road Trip

sighisoara-new-town-houses
Trips to Romania cost less than most other European destinations 🙂

For getting to Romania, you can sometimes grab insanely low fares when flying from within Europe.  (Check Skyscanner for the best deals.)

Compared with most other countries in Europe, Romania is a fairly cheap country to travel in.  

The currency in Romania is the leu (abbreviated, bizarrely, to RON).  Currently 5 RON = €1.

Of course, car hire and accommodation will likely be your main costs.  Assuming you rent a smaller, budget friendly car and stay in modest places, your Romanian road trip shouldn’t break the bank.

For a small car, rented at a major airport (e.g. Bucharest), you can expect to pay around €30 per day, including insurance, breakdown cover and unlimited mileage.

Petrol costs slightly less in Romania than in Western Europe (between €1.20 – €1.40 per litre).  Entrance tickets rarely cost more than a few euros.

If you stay in budget hotels, modest Airbnbs or guesthouses, and do a mixture of eating out and cooking your own food, you can probably get by on around €40-50 per day (excluding car costs).

Of course, if you have a larger budget, you can live in relative luxury for a fraction of what it would cost in, say, France or the UK.  With €100 per day, you could stay in smart hotels and eat out for most meals.

Best Time Of Year To Do A Road Trip In Romania

eating-watermelon-in-a-forest-in-romania
Bears like watermelon, right?

Romania has a classic continental climate, with hot summers and cold winters.

Summer (June-August) is the most popular time to visit Romania.  Temperatures are usually between 25-35°C, the weather is fairly predictable and the sun shines most days.

Prices are usually higher in the summer though, as most people consider this to be the best time to visit Romania.  The more popular tourist sights (Brașov, Bran Castle, Sibiu, Sighișoara) can become a bit crowded, and accommodation gets booked up in advance.

Note: if you want to drive the Transfăgărășan Highway, you need to come in the summer.  It’s closed for most of the rest of the year, due to heavy snow and ice.

Spring and Autumn (March-May and September-November) can also be good times to visit Romania.  Prices are often lower and there are fewer crowds.  However, the weather tends to be more unpredictable.

Winter (December-February) is a great time to go skiing in Romania.  But for a road trip, less so.  

The mountains, medieval towns and fairytale castles might look impossibly beautiful covered in snow.  However, the roads can become quite treacherous in the snow and ice.  Most main highways are gritted and cleared.  But as soon as you turn onto the more minor roads, the driving can get pretty tricky (and dangerous).  

Also, bear in mind that many tourist sights, guesthouses, and restaurants shut down over the winter.

That said, there are still plenty of amazing things to do in the winter in Romania.  Just be sure to check in advance to make sure everything’s open, and accessible by road (especially in the more mountainous and out-of-the-way places).  

Where To Stay During Your Romania Road Trip

As already mentioned, Romania is a pretty affordable country to visit by European standards.

You’ll find a range of accommodation for every budget, from extremely cheap hostels to lavish hotels and spas.

Below I’ve listed a few suggested places to stay for each location.

Timișoara

Cluj-Napoca

Sighișoara

Sibiu

Brașov

Vama Veche

Bucharest

I hope you’ve found this article helpful.  If you have any questions or comments, let me know below.

Enjoy your Romania road trip!

** Love road trips?  Me too.  Check out some of my other road trip-related posts, including:

If you’d like some extra help planning a trip to Romania, why not hire me as your  Personal Travel Planner!

I am a veteran trip planner with over 10 years’ experience planning trips to a wide range of exciting destinations, including Romania.  Click here for more information.

IMPORTANT: Never travel without travel insurance!

Here are two companies that I use, and thoroughly recommend:

  • HeyMondo – the best value travel insurance provider on the market. They cover virtually every country in the world, they have an easy-to-use app, and their policies are straightforward and upfront, with minimal (often no) deductibles and excesses.
  • SafetyWing – if you’re a digital nomad like me, it’s essential that you have suitable insurance. It’s super flexible and affordable, you can sign up for as little or as long as you want, and can activate and deactivate it whenever you need to.

Want to start your own travel blog?

Bluehost is by far the best website hosting provider for beginners.  Click here to get started!

I believe in transparency: Please note that some links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you purchase something through them, I might earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you. (For example, as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases made through some of these links.) However, I only link to products and companies that I trust and honestly recommend. The income goes towards keeping this site up and running. Thanks for your support.

2 Comments

  1. I see you were brave enough to drive through Transylvania, Alex. Good for you. I was born and raised in Romania, so I know how poor its infrastructure is. Even so, it’s a really beautiful country and truly worth visiting. It holds so many undiscovered treasures! Next time you go, visit the regions of Bucovina and Maramures. Safe travels!
    Anda

    • Alex Tiffany

      Thank you for your kind words Anda 🙂
      I loved Romania and can’t wait to explore more of the country. Will definitely check out Bucovina and Maramures as you suggest, thanks!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.






Who Am I?

Alex-Tiffany-photo

  • I’m Alex Tiffany.  Former corporate city robot; lifelong travel addict.

 

  • I’m on a mission to make adventurous travel accessible to all.

 

  • I created this site to inspire, encourage and enable as many people to get outside and explore as much of our beautiful world as possible.

 

  • Read more about me and my mission here.