If you’re looking to explore off the beaten path this year, venturing into some of the lesser travelled European countries, Romania should be at the top of your list.
Though many people assume it’s a small country, Romania is, in fact, one of the larger central/eastern European nations, with a land mass a shade smaller than the UK. And it certainly packs a lot into that space!
Romania offers a wonderful blend of history, culture, nature, and religion, and the almost-circular shape of the country means that it’s quite easy to explore the country piece by piece.
Cosmopolitan urban centers boast Gothic churches and medieval buildings, rural villages offer the chance to witness fascinating age-old traditions, and there is plenty of spectacular wilderness to see as you drive.
Wanting to plan a Romanian road trip? You’re in for one heck of an adventure; just make sure you’re aware of the following.
Things to Consider When Taking a Romanian Road Trip
Pay Attention When You’re Driving – Seriously
Like other lesser developed countries around Europe, drivers in Romania aren’t required to adhere to stricter road guidelines like the UK, United States or Australia. Instead, they seem to act on an ‘act now, think later’ type prophecy.
This means that it’s not uncommon for people to create their own overtaking lane on a single lane road, so it’s extra important that you’re aware of your surroundings, and really pay attention when you’re driving.
Speaking of roads, you’ll experience a real mix. Some will have freshly painted lines and clear signage, while others may barely be an upgrade from a dirt track (or actually are a dirt track!).
Common sense should always prevail here. Make sure you always drive safely, and always be conscious of other drivers around you. Driving in Romania is on the right hand side of the road, and wearing your seat belt is mandatory.
You Won’t Be The Only Thing on The Roads
In Romania, the majority of the road systems are the main way of getting around, even if you’re not driving a car. When you’re getting around on Romanian roads, expect to encounter all manner of things, from bicycles to pedestrians to farmers herding their sheep.
This will apply less on the busier main roads, but when you start to venture into more rural towns and villages, you’ll certainly encounter a sheep … or ten! This is another reason you need to stay alert when driving.
If you’re entering a roundabout, you need to give way to your right, regardless of the type of vehicle.
Pro Tip: To legally drive in Romania you only need a full driving licence that is valid in your country of residence, however an International Drivers License may be required to hire a car in Bucharest.
Markets and Petrol can Be Hard to Come By
When leaving the city, unless you’re using Google Maps, you may begin to struggle to find places to restock on petrol and food supplies. This is because many of the lesser populated parts of the country are far less developed than the cities.
Most petrol stations in Romania are found on the main roads departing a town. We’d suggest stocking up (and filling up) before leaving the city to ensure you don’t get caught short.
We’d also suggest taking advantage when you do come across a petrol station, as it may be a while until the next closest. If you’re planning your route, take this into account to ensure you have enough petrol for the journey.
Pre-Plan Your Evening Meal
Nearly all towns and villages will have a restaurant or somewhere to grab a bite to eat before hitting the sheets, but sometimes these can be in obscure locations or not used to out-of-town visitors.
Although they will be more than welcoming to anyone that walks through the door, it’s always worth checking beforehand that there will be somewhere near to your accommodation. Or, if all else fails, that your accommodation serves food.
Choose Your Timing Wisely
The southern half of Romania is basically in line with northern Italy, which may come as a surprise to some people. This means that although it’s cold in winter, it’s also very warm in summer.
In June, July and August, it’s common for the temperature to rise into the low 30s Celsius and stay in the 20s even through the night. If you’re planning on visiting during the peak season, we’d suggest you make sure you’re aware of these safety tips for driving in the heat.
Alternatively, opting to visit during the shoulder seasons of May and September will still reward you with glorious weather but a less intense heat. After all, no one wants to be stuck in a car when it’s 30 degrees outside!
Bring Your Own Music
What kind of road trip would it be without listening to Ronan Keating’s ‘Life Is A Rollercoaster’ on repeat?!
Unfortunately, you’ll struggle to find this slice of cheesy pop goodness on any of the local radio stations, so bringing your own music is a must.
Whether you bring a CD with your songs burned on, an auxiliary cable or a Bluetooth speaker to have in the car with you, it’s not a roadtrip without an appropriate soundtrack!
Make sure you come prepared as you could be left regretting it.
Have Your Camera Ready
Romania is an immensely beautiful country with so much to see and do. The rural communities will literally transport you back to simpler times and offer a glimpse into a bygone era of living.
The natural landscapes and seemingly infinite national parks, along with the Red Lake and Balea Lake, are picture-perfect, so you’ll want to make the most of this by stopping and taking some photos to make your friends and family back home jealous.
Have your camera ready, though obviously, practice common sense, and don’t try and take photos from a moving car while driving. Stop safely, and pull over to the side of the road.
It’s worth noting that if you’re pulling over for sightseeing, parking in Romania is allowed on the right side of the street, and you need to make sure that you’ve parked in the same direction as traffic.
OUR FAVORITE ROMANIA TRAVEL GUIDES: CLICK PHOTO ↓