Planning Your Epic Romania Road Trip
Romania might be the very best country in Europe to enjoy a road trip. It’s a deceptively massive country with all of its villages, towns, and cities separated far apart from one another. No two cities are anywhere near each other in Romania, and so the country is sending every visitor an open invitation to hop in a rental car and explore the landscape.
Speaking of the landscape, it’s a varied and rocky ocean of tall snow-capped mountain peaks, deep and flat valleys, and rolling green hills. Romania offers some of the best views in all of Europe, and the best way to see them is from the window of your own rental car. Getting around Romania by car is freeing and exhilarating. Here is everything you need to know before driving around Romania, as well as a complete road trip itinerary for getting around Romania.
Driving in Romania
What is it actually like to drive around Romania for people who have never visited the country before? Well, there are a few key things to know before planning your Transylvania road trip.
In Romania, they drive on the left side of the car and the right side of the road. The traffic laws are similar to those in other EU nations. Roads are often closed or inaccessible during the snowy winter months so it’s best to plan your road trip itinerary for the summer months, when the grass is greenest and the roads are clear.
The biggest obstacle to driving in Romania can be found in the capital of Bucharest. Driving in most of the country is liberating and exciting, but driving in Bucharest is something of a nightmare. The roads are hellish and congested; the local people drive with terrifying speed and aggression; it is not a fun place to drive at all. Make sure you have travel insurance when you do hire a car! I highly recommend World Nomads or SafetyWing.
Driving outside Bucharest is a whole different story. In other cities, and across the landscape between those cities, the roads are clear, quiet, wide, and open. People drive with a lot more patience and consideration. You won’t find any problems driving outside the capital.
The only other surprise you’ll find when driving around Romania is that, in the provincial towns and villages, travel by horse and cart is very common. So, when driving your rental car through the more isolated areas of the country, be wary of the slower pace and the fact that you may have to overtake or wait patiently for a horse and cart to move out of your way.
If you are considering getting around Romania without a car, it is absolutely possible and quite cheap. The trains between major cities, and buses out to smaller historic towns are reliable and quick. Driving, however, is definitely the most fun and freeing way of getting around Romania. Renting a car is also very cheap and affordable in Romania, more so than in most other European nations.
Romania Road Trip Itinerary
The best place to begin your Romania road trip is, of course, Bucharest. It’s where you’ll fly into and it’s where most people will spend a few days before heading out to explore the rest of the city. As already mentioned, however, Bucharest is not an ideal place to drive. So, to avoid this, head to Gara de Nord train station in Bucharest and hop on a train to the nearby town of Sinaia.
The journey will take you no more than thirty minutes and, once there, you’ll be far enough out of Bucharest for driving to be fun. In Sinaia, you can rent a car from any car rental chain, such as Sixt, and then head out on your journey around Romania.
In order to see everything that Romania has to offer, this is the best route to take from Bucharest and Sinaia:
- North to Brasov
- Stay for two nights in Brasov
- Day trips to Bran Castle and Rasnov Fortress
- North to Sighisoara
- Stay the night in Sighisoara
- North to Cluj-Napoca
- Stay for two nights in Cluj-Napoca
- West to Timisoara
- Stay in Timisoara for two nights
- Return to Bucharest
The majority of this is a Transylvania road trip, and Transylvania is where you’ll find the most spellbinding and magical views. The Transylvania landscape is hypnotic in its beauty and splendour. As you drive further and further north – to Brasov, Sighisoara, and Cluj-Napoca – the landscape only becomes more dramatic and more sublime as you go.
The drive from Sinaia to Brasov will take around two hours. Once there, stay for two nights and explore the city at your leisure. With a car, you can easily take day trips to the nearby historic sites of Bran Castle (the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula) and Rasnov Fortress (an untouched hilltop citadel from the 14th century).
From Brasov, the drive north to Sighisoara will take approximately 90 minutes. The drive is winding and takes you over a few mountains, but the roads are strong and you’re not likely to meet any danger along the way.
Sighisoara is small, but worth spending a night in so that you can fully enjoy the cafe and restaurant scene there, as well as visit sights such as the bell tower, the church on the hill, and the house where Vlad Dracula himself was born.
Onward to Cluj-Napoca, which should take another two hours of driving northwest. Cluj-napoca is the second-largest city in Romania, after Bucharest, and is also home to some of the nations best museums, galleries, and art scene. Cluj-Napoca has great food, a great music scene, and some of the friendliest people in the country. There is enough to do for two days in Cluj-Napoca.
Your penultimate drive is a big one, south and west to Timisoara, Romania’s third-largest city. This drive will take four hours, with some incredible scenery along the way. But Timisoara is a bustling city of great restaurants and shopping opportunities that should not be missed.
The final leg of your journey is the longest: a six-hour drive east, back to where you began in the capital of Bucharest. This road trip will take you through all of the best locations in Romania, and across the very best scenery imaginable. The road trip of a lifetime.
Other articles you will love:
- 11 Incredible Things to Do in Timisoara, Romania
- Romania in the winter: is it worth it?
- How to get from Brasov to Bran Castle
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