We are 101% sure that your experience in Romania will be a memorable one and that you will be thrilled with everything you will see, hear, taste, do – in a word, experience – here. But after you come down from the clouds, with your feet on the ground, you realize that sometimes it is better to leave spontaneity aside and get things organized. Knowing what to expect from the locals, how to behave in certain situation or what is socially accepted to do can save you from unpleasant situations, while having useful information on how to contact your loved ones or what to buy as souvenir always comes handy.
The Romanian Post has post offices and agencies in all the cities and in almost all the villages. If you want to send your friends and family back home a postcard with Romania, it will take up to 10 days to reach its recipient. It takes only 2 or 3 days for letters, postcards and packages to be send from one part of Romania to another. For more information, check the Post’s website or call at the corresponding number from the Useful Telephone Number on our website.
A local proverb says that the Romanians were born Christians. The number of those who go to church is impressive, especially on Sundays and in the countryside. The Orthodox feast days (such as Easter, Christmas or the Dormition of the Mother of God) attract true processions in which sometimes millions of believers go to church to pray. Keep in mind that for us the church is a sacred place, even if for you it might be just another touristic spot. When entering a church or monastery, we advise you to wear decent clothes, keep silent, don’t smoke and don’t take pictures if there are signs prohibiting you to do so.
Inside some buildings it might be forbidden to take pictures. Look for signs indicating this aspect and try to respect them. However, in museums, monasteries and other sights you will usually have to pay a tax to take photos or record videos, which can sometimes be higher than the admission fee.
Travellers with disabilities
Romania has recently started to develop the infrastructure and services intended for tourists with reduced mobility and other disabilities. You will find parking places and special seats in the bus, as well as some special rooms in expensive restaurants, but access is generally difficult.
Local time business hours
Operating hours in most public institutions are 8:00 to 16:00, Monday to Friday. However, there are differences from case to case: museums are generally open from 9:00 to 17:00 (and closed on Mondays), while post offices are open from 8:00 to 20:00. In the private sector things are even “messier”. Banks have a 9:00 to 17:00 schedule, restaurants usually close around midnight and bars and clubs keep you up till the morning light. Petrol stations and some shops are open non-stop, even if most of the shopping malls and commercial centres close around 21:00 or 22:00.
Finding a toilet is one thing you will have to think of if you plan on visiting the whole day. Public toilets are hard to find and, even if you do find one, they might not be the most comfortable places on earth. Sometimes you will have to pay (around 0.25 euro) to get in, but this not guarantees cleanness. For extra-safety, bring your own tissues or toilet paper. Shopping centres, hotels and restaurants, usually have better and cleaner toilets. Look for the letter B (bărbaţi) if you are a man, while F (femei) is for women; however, most of the times there will be easily recognizable toilet door signs. In the countryside, where running water and sewage are not so common, you might be surprised to notice that the toilet is a one square metre wooden cabin in the back of the garden.
Since 2002, smoking in public places has been forbidden in Romania. Some hotels have rooms for smokers and non-smokers, and most restaurants have separate spaces for the two categories of clients. The majority of bars, pubs and clubs are smoker-friendly, which means that non-smokers will probably choke to death inside. If you are in a private house, ask for permission to smoke inside. However, in the countryside it is not usual to smoke inside the house and can also be perceive as a form of disrespect if you try to.
Except for the touristic areas, souvenirs with Romania are not easy to spot. There are few specialized souvenirs shops in the big cities, and they completely lack in smaller towns or in the countryside. If you have the possibility, we recommend you to buy authentic handicrafts directly from the craftsmen. The airport boutiques, although offering many souvenirs and traditional products, have very big prices. Take home a bottle of ţuică or wine or a jar of zacuscă, but pack them carefully so that they don’t spill or break. Woodcrafts and ceramics, national costumes, icons painted on glass and hand-woven wool carpets are only some of the traditional Romanian “specialties”.
There might be some differences between the measurement systems used in Romania and in your country, so here are some useful information. In Romania, the metric system is used for distances and weights, while clothes usually have S to XXL sizes. Dresses and shoes have the size indicated through numbers (European size). Below are some equivalents between the measurement systems used in Romania and other systems:
1 kilogram = 2.2 pounds
1 litre = 0.26 US gallons
1 kilometre = 0.62 miles
1 metre = 3.3 feet
1 centimetre = 0.39 inches
US: 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18
UK: 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20
Europe: 34 36 38 40 42 44 46 48
Italy: 40 42 44 46 48
Germany: 36 38 40 42 44
US/UK: 32 34 36 38 40 42 44
Europe: 42 44 46 48 50 52 54
US: 4 5 6 7 8 9
UK: 2 ½ 3 ½ 4 ½ 5 ½ 6 ½ 7 ½
Europe: 35 37 38 39 40 41
US: 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
UK: 5 ½ 6 ½ 7 ½ 8 ½ 9 ½ 10 ½ 11 ½
Europe: 39 41 42 43 45 46 47
The electronic devices in Romania, as well as in the rest of Europe, use 220V power. If you are coming from the USA, where you use 120V power, you will notice that even the plugs are different! Here we use European two-pin plugs to connect to the electricity supply. In order to work, electronics from the US usually need a plug adapter and a voltage convertor. Bring them with you, but in case you forget to pack them, you can buy ones from any electronics store.
Romanians tend to do or say specific things in certain situations, as well as they expect you, even as a foreigner, to do the same. Etiquette is very important, especially for the older generations, and here are some tips and tricks that you need to know so that they don’t take you completely by surprise.
When meeting new people, Romanians usually shake hands, and older men sometimes kiss the ladies’ hands. Young people are more likely to kiss you on the cheek, even if it’s your first encounter. Expect a kiss on each cheek, starting with the left one. If you visit a particular home, bring a small gift, such as chocolate or flowers (an odd number, as even numbers are for funerals) for women and drinks for men. Offer to take your shoes off at the door, before coming in, and always ask if you are allowed to do something no one else in the room does (such as smoking).
Romania is in the Eastern European Time Zone, 2 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+2). Make sure that, on arrival in Romania, you set your watch to the correct time zone, so that you can avoid getting too early or too late in certain places.
Tipping is not obligatory in Romania, but it is a good sign to show that you liked a certain service. In restaurants, leave around 10% of the bill’s value if you enjoyed the food or you liked the waiters’ services. In taxis, give the driver a bit more than the fare. For example, if the metre says 7.4 lei, give him 8 and don’t expect the change, as many times they pretend not having small money to give back.
Romanian cities usually have rubbish bins every 50 – 100m, but if you do not find one within sight, do not throw your garbage on the street. In smaller towns and in the countryside there are no salubrity services – so no rubbish bins –, just as you won’t find any when you go picnicking in the forest or hiking in the mountains. Collect your litter in a bag and keep it until you find a proper place to dispose of it.