The Budget Travel Guides are travel tips to help you save money and enrich your travel experiences. Eastern Europe is one of my favorite destinations and my Slovenia travel guide to Slovenia shares my passion for one of my favorite countries. Miruna Corneanu shares a destination that isn’t as well known but this Romania travel guides shows that this country deserves a lot more attention in Eastern Europe.
Romania travel guide for budget travelers
Romania is a beautiful but tricky country in Eastern Europe, so a budget travel guide will help you to explore it effortlessly and to get the most out of your experience.
Transportation in Romania
Romania is a small country with only 17 airports, so air travel within its territory is not very popular. Besides, flying from one city to another is very expensive and I won’t recommend it unless is necessary.
Train travel is the most convenient method of traveling throughout Romania. Spanned by one of the largest railway networks in Europe, the country features at least one train station in each city, town or village, offering travelers the opportunity to save money on transport and to admire the beautiful landscapes.
The cheapest and most popular train in Romania is Personal, but this slow type is usually used for short distances. However, for longer distances and better services, we use Rapid or Inter City. For more information about routes, tickets and others, you can visit CFR – the Romanian Railway Company.
If you decide to use trains for visiting Romania, I’d suggest buying a Rail Pass, they are all accepted here and can be bought from all over Europe, from a Romanian rail station or online.
Romanians love to travel by car as long as they do it in their own personal vehicles because renting a car in Romania can be expensive. However, a good car rental company is eurocars.
If you decide to move around Romania by car, you should know that there are only a few highways in the country, the rest being European or national roadsnot in very good conditions.
Gas price is around 1,25 Euros/ liter.
Another cheap (even free) and popular way of transportation in Romania is hitchhiking, although nobody recommends it.
Buses and minibuses are frequently used in Romania. They are cheaper than trains, but sometimes they can be poorly ventilated.
Compared to other European countries, Taxis in Romania are low-priced. However, I strongly advise all foreign visitors to call for one. Scams are still popular among this mean of transportation especially at the airports and train stations.
Lodging in Romania
Unfortunately, Romania has a lack of hostels, this type of accommodation being recently introduced only in the country’s major cities. Here you’ll find everything about hostels in Romania.
Guesthouses and pensions are probably the best options for budget travelers in Romania, providing good services, great local food, authenticity and low prices.
For alternative stays, Romania offers plenty of opportunities such as camping, bungalows, homestays, Bed&Breakfasts, apartment rentals, villas and even university dorms during the summer holiday.
Hotels and self-catered villas are very expensive and those who aren’t usually provide bad services.
In case you opt for homestay or private rooms, fix a price before accepting. A good advice would be to reserve far ahead whatever your choice will be. Any good Romania travel guide will include the many options for lodging but make sure you do your research when planning your trip.
No Romania travel guide would be complete without a mention of the many foods in the country. There are plenty of supermarkets all over Romania such as Real, Billa, Kaufland, Carrefour , but none of them compares to a food market where farmers sell their fresh products.
Any village or city in the country boasts at least one of these, so if you’d like to save on food you should definitely hit the market in the morning. Here you’ll find everything from fruits, vegetables and aromatic herbs brought on the shelves directly from people’s gardens to butchers selling fresh meat as well ashome-made cheese and honey. Therefore, food markets are definitely the healthiest and cheapest option for both locals and tourists.
For breakfast, Romanian pastries are cheap and great.
Lunch consists of three dishes (soup, steak with garnish and desert) and it can be served almost in any restaurant. Prices vary between 3 and 5 euros.
Eating out for dinner can be a little costly in cities like Bucharest, Timisoara or Cluj, but you can always opt for a fast food or a pizzeria (4-6 euros/pizza).
Romania is a great wine exporter, so the magic potion is both cheap and delicious here. Other local drinks include Tuica and Palinca–cheap strongbrandies made of plums, apples or other fruits.
If you are a beer enthusiast, Romania is a true paradise. The best resident brands are Timisoareana, Ursus, Silva, Ciucas and Golden Brau. Most of them have also a dark variety. A bottle rarely exceeds 1 euro.
Things to do in Romania
Scenic beauty, authenticity and culture are Romania’s best assets, so if you’re looking for a great travel experience, you’ve came in the right place. Moreover, the temperate climate makes it a year-round destination.
If you are looking for an affordable ski destination, Romania is the ideal place to find it. With plenty of resorts, slopes, breathtaking surroundings and winter chalets providing a great value for money, the Carpathian Mountains are the perfect setting for your winter holiday.
Romania is also an ideal destination to experience rural truism. Transylvania’s charming medieval villages and the astonishing monasteries of Bucovina will surprise even the most demanding traveler with their authentic traditions, welcoming locals, amazing food, spectacular backgrounds and extremely low prices.
Summer on Romania’s Black Sea Coast is a good option, as well, as long as you avoid Mamaia, the most luxurious resort. In Costinesti, VamaVeche or Eforie you’ll find cheap accommodation, nice beaches and plenty of entertainment.
Romania’s major cities are definitely worth a visit, each of them offering travelers a remarkable mix of culture, history and nightlife. Entrance fees to museums and historic buildings are around 4 euros.
You can easily cut costs on transport in Romania as all of its cities are pedestrian-friendly and local buses are inexpensive (0, 4 euro/ticket). If you are not familiar with the city, you can always opt for a free walking tour:
All major cities in Romania provide free Wi-Fi in cafes, restaurants and hotels.
Connecting with locals in Romania
If you want to make friends here, don’t start the conversation with jokes about Bram Stoker’s Dracula. All foreign travelers do that, and frankly, we don’t even find it interesting anymore.
Romanians’ common hobbies are sports, usually European football, hiking or cycling, music, traveling, eating and nightlife, so if you share the same passions chances are to make a lot of friends here.
Romania is a budget traveler’s paradise, but tourism business here is one of the fastest growing in the world. I would advise travelers from all over the world to start packing, before it’s too late. Soon, Romania’s picturesque villages, medieval castles and cheap skiing opportunities will not be the bargains that they are today. If you are planning a trip to this beautiful country, this Romania travel guide will give you a good overview of the things to see and do.
Miruna Corneanu is a freelance travel writer living in Romania. She is the owner and manager of Travelaway.me, a blog about travel, passions and personal experiences and also contributor for several travel blogs and websites. She is currently focusing on travel within Romania and Europe, spending a lot of her time on the road, in search of new experiences, diverse cultures and places that inspire. Find Miruna on Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn.