From what we heard, Romanian roads and Romanian drivers have similar, bloodthirsty cult status to that other Romanian Legend, Count Dracula!
However, finding sensible information was not easy… Having spent three months towing a caravan around Romania, we can share our insights on coping with the rather singular driving challenges presented by this magical country, which, by the way, you MUST visit!
As is so often the case, the horror stories that we heard were exaggerated. Nobody had a good word to say about Romania. As a country, it is ‘up and coming’ and things don’t always work quite the same as in Western Europe, but that is part of the appeal! However, we can report that the main roads were WAY better than we expected. We had very few problems and would really recommend Romania as a destination.
- Road Tolls – ALL vehicles require an electronic vignette to use ANY road in Romania. This can be bought at the border or online before visiting the country. There are also additional tolls on some bridges. Click here for details and here to buy online.
- Drink Driving – there is Zero Tolerance to drinking and driving. It is illegal to drive with any alcohol at all in your bloodstream. Be especially careful if you are driving the morning after an evening drink, as your blood may still contain alcohol.
- Romanian Driving Style – Romanian people are lovely; kind, helpful and generous to a fault. Put them behind a steering wheel, however, and they turn into maniacs. Even the Romania Tourism Website states that “common road courtesies may be different…some Romanian drivers have a competitive driving style (improper passing / cutting into another car’s path and tailgating…)” When driving, you need to look behind you as much as in front. No manoeuvre is off limits to a Romanian and you WILL have to use your brakes HARD and REGULARLY to prevent you or the person (often ‘persons’!) overtaking you on a blind bend from having a head-on collision. Expect to perform this manoeuvre multiple times each day.
- Pay with Cash – We were advised to pay with cash, since credit card fraud was reported as widespread in Romania, particularly at petrol stations. The currency is Lei (also called RON), which is not readily available in other countries. The currency denomination has also changed, so paying with cash will prevent a few extra noughts being added on to your bill by mistake!
- ATMs – since card fraud is allegedly widespread in Romania, withdraw cash only at ATMs at a bank and do not use an ATM if it looks as though it has been subject to tampering.
- Do not Stop – if you are flagged down. If it looks like an emergency, call the emergency number, 112.
We have heard lots of other scare stories such as having to bribe the police (bribery is strictly illegal), however we have seen none of it. Our limited experience with Romanian police has been nothing but positive. With a van, surf boards and a large caravan, we hardly travel incognito, but we have not been targeted or pulled over by the police.
- The RAC Website – shows details of traffic laws, speed limits and what documents and equipment to carry with you when driving in Romania.
- The Romanian Road Infrastructure Management National Company Website – in English.
- Waiting Times at Border Crossings – Romania has been a member of the EU since 2007, however, not all bordering countries are in the EU or The Schengen Visa-Free Zone. We did hear reports of 8km tailbacks at some border crossings. Although we had no problems, it could pay to check at peak times.
- ACSI Campsites in Romania – we use ACSI Campsites on all of our travels. At the time of writing, ACSI listed 42 annually inspected campsites in Romania. There is a Romanian website for campsites, however those that we tried tended to be along the lines of ‘Communist Butlins in the 1950’s’, so we gave up and stuck with ACSI where we could! Campingo Worldwide Camping Guide also lists campsites in Romania; we have not used this website, so can’t vouch for the quality, although it may prove useful and you can check campsite reviews.
- Tour Companies – here are links to a couple of tour companies; (Please note that we did our own, independent itinerary and have not used these companies. However, if you would like a little local support, they do look interesting!)
I wrote this blog in answer to a request from Tom and Neil. If you need any information on caravanning in Europe with dogs and think that I can help, please don’t hesitate to ask me either in the ‘Contact’ or ‘Comments’ section of this blog – or on The Travelling Cavapoos Facebook page.
This blog is for information only and is based solely on our experience. It does not constitute professional or legal advice. All driving is undertaken at your own risk; please note my Disclaimer.
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Fangs very much!