My home country and one of those European hidden gems you sometimes hear about, Romania is becoming more and more a great touristic destination. But one question I get asked often: is Romania safe to visit?
Some years ago, I used to work for a multinational company with headquarters in a Western European country. Corporations stand for rules and regulations, processes and process steps, and of course, the need to travel for work in different countries around the world (in some cases).
Thus, when someone travels for work, the company is very concerned with the person’s safety and the person itself might very well be when going to a country for the first time.
Throughout time, many people have visited my Bucharest office, coming to me with a lot of questions just before their trip.
We have also had people asking for a particularly high standard of services in order to avoid any safety problems during their visit to Bucharest.
Therefore, I said to myself I should write this post in order to ask the questions you all have: Is Romania safe to visit? How safe is Romania really? Is Bucharest safe?
What do you need to know about safety before traveling to Romania?
So here it goes, the honest truth from a Romanian lady, who lived in Bucharest the country’s capital for more than 30 years, who has had some wild days and nights in her life without anything ever happening to her.
Maybe I was lucky or maybe I was just a little bit aware of what was going on around me, and that’s all you need to be doing.
But let me take it one thing at a time, destroying all the misconceptions (or at least most of them).
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Risk of crime, including fraud and street crime
Ok, there may be some reasons behind this and you might have to pay some extra attention to some particular things but please don’t expect people will aggress you on the street or you will have your belongings stolen while you are walking by admiring the view by people on scooters (as I’ve heard stories about other faraway places).
Romania has one of the lowest gun possession rates, making it very unlikely for someone to be shut, threatened or mugged at gunpoint.
Also, kidnappings are not common (I’ve never heard of one, but maybe they happen), and muggings are also rare.
Wondering what to eat in Romania?
Like almost anywhere in the world, taxi drivers have the tendency of trying to rip you off, especially if you are a tourist and you don’t know your way around.
Usually, a taxi ride is really cheap (compared to other cities in Europe, it goes as low as 0.3 euro cents/km) but they will try to make you pay a fixed, higher rate.
What to do in this case?
At the airport, use the machines available next to the Arrivals. Use Uber! Or try downloading and using a taxi app.
Using public transportation in Romania
The public transportation infrastructure in Romania is not one we are proud of, but it is cheap and it can take you places.
If however, you choose to use public transport, make sure you keep an eye on your purse. It does not happen often to get pickpocketed but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
You won’t have any problem if you choose to travel on public transport after dark (the only problem is you won’t find public transport after 23:30).
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Risk of civil unrest
It is true, some street protests have happened in the past years, however, this does not affect public safety.
Protests have usually been peaceful ones and people down in the streets in the evenings were the same ones working in the multinational companies during the days.
Of course, since large gatherings of people are not usually predictable, you might find it better if you avoid the area where crowds gather.
Driving in Romania and poor road safety due to road conditions
Whenever I hear about unsafe traffic in Romania, the traffic in Istanbul and the one in Sicily come to mind.
Ok, driving in Romania is not as safe as it might be in more developed countries, mainly because of the infrastructure, but also because people don’t respect rules and regulations.
But trust me, if I can drive in Bucharest (without any accidents), you too can drive in Romania.
Especially outside of the main cities, roads might not be in the perfect conditions (one might encounter the occasional potholes) thus I advise you to adapt the speed to the road’s conditions.
Also, Romania has only (almost) 3 highways. This means no high-speed roads, with most national roads passing through towns and villages.
U.S./Canadian/Australian/New Zealand/European drivers licenses are valid and can be used for driving in Romania, by visitors who are in the country temporarily (less than 90 days).
Major medical risks (gastrointestinal diseases transmitted through food and water)
I guess one thing holds true no matter where you travel: if you don’t think the place you are eating it is clean enough, don’t eat!
You will find all sorts of restaurants and we don’t have street food.
Drinking water in Romania
Water is not infested and some might even drink it directly from the tap, even though I don’t advise you to do so, and just go for the very cheap and clear Romanian bottled mineral water.
But you don’t have to fear for your life if you find yourself without it, and it is certainly ok for rinsing fresh fruits and vegetables.
I’ve even read somewhere that you should refrain from consuming ice cream and ice cubes – that’s pure folly and you don’t have to worry about it.
Is it safe to travel alone in Romania?
In one word: yes, it is!
As long as you will manage to find your way through the country, find the best way of getting from one point to the other (maybe take a Transylvania road trip?), enjoying the trip along the way, nothing will happen.
The same holds valid also for women travelers in Romania. Throughout the years I have traveled alone plenty of times near and far in Romania, and nothing happened.
As long as you pay attention to your surroundings, use common sense in every decision (don’t go in a car with strangers, don’t travel at night on creepy roads and so on) and you will be safe from danger.
Terrorism in Romania
In recent years, unfortunately, the topic of terrorism has become wider spread and wherever you turned your head something was happening.
Luckily, maybe because of its lack of international political importance, or maybe for other reasons, Romania has been sheltered from any terrorist attack.
Since people don’t own guns, massive (or isolated) shootings never occur.
Natural disaster risk
Also, the risk of natural disasters in Romania is low. Of course, this depends on one area to the other, and from one season to the other.
Having a temperate – continental climate, with 4 seasons (which have transformed in the latest years due to climate change), you will get everything during the year: rain in Spring and Autumn, snow in Winter, and very high temperatures during Summer.
Therefore, when planning your trip to Romania, do a little bit of research and come prepared with suitable clothing.
Coming back to natural disaster risks, Romania is located in a seismic area, but earthquakes happen seldom and usually are not strong enough to feel them.
Problems with transportation occur especially in big cities such as Bucharest, whenever it rains or snows, but there’s always the metro option.
Other useful information to have when traveling to Romania
Romania Entry Visa
When traveling from outside of Europe, a valid passport is required in order to enter Romania. Keep in mind that the document should be valid for the entire duration of your trip.
The travel visa is valid for 90 days, after which if you want to prolong your stay in Romania, you will need to apply for a temporary residence permit.
For additional information with regards to visas for Romania, check out the General Inspectorate for Migration website.
The Romanian currency is the Romanian Leu (RON).
In conclusion, from my point of view, Romania is as safe as any other country and if you use common sense nothing will happen to you.
I will just leave you with a few pictures of my hometown Bucharest 🙂 Enjoy!
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