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29 / 12 / 2013
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Travel Advice: Romania, Bulgaria, Austria


Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO)

FCO Travel Advice: ROMANIA

FCO Travel Advice: BULGARIA

ROMANIA and BULGARIA are relatively safe, friendly countries to visit but we recommend you should always check the advice of the Foreign & Commonwealth office (Links above). It is important, however, that this advice is always kept into perspective - compare Romania and Bulgaria with other popular tourist destinations such as:

FCO Travel Advice: FLORIDA

FCO Travel Advice: FRANCE

FCO Travel Advice:


United Kingdom: 4 Palace Green, London W8 4QD; Tel. 020 7937 9667; E-mail: [email protected]

Ireland: 47 Ailesbury Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4; Tel.01 239 2852
United States: 1607 23rd Street NW, Washington DC 20008-2809; Tel.202 232 4747


United Kingdom: 186-188 Queen's Gate, London SW7 5HL; Tel. 020 7584 9400; 7584 9433; www.bulgarianembassy.org.uk

Ireland: 22 Burlington Road, Dublin 4; Tel.01 600 3229
United States: 1621 22rd Street NW, Washington DC 20008; Tel.202 387 0174

United Kingdom: 22 New Cavendish Street, London W1M 7LH; Tel.020 7224 3692; website: www.romaniatourism.com

ROMANIAN CULTURAL CENTRE: website: www.romanianculturalcentre.org.uk

To book your perfect holiday
please contact:

01900 837570

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If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is! We strongly recommend that you book your travel arrangements through a reliable, fully licensed travel agent or tour operator. You should always check ATOL licenses and bonding arrangements or travel trust schemes before booking, and you should take out adequate travel insurance. We recommend TRAVEL COUNSELLORS in the UK, Netherlands, USA, and Australia because they have unparalleled financial protection, work with a wide range of quality, fully licensed tour operators such as Cox & Kings and Sunvil, in addition to local ground operators. Their consultants also provide a superb personal service. However, there are, of course, plenty of reliable alternatives.

Please take care if booking directly with hotels or operators in Romania advertising on the web. Some of them are unlicensed or uninsured. Travel is a unique commodity because you part with your money before you receive the service. This is why it is strictly regulated and legitimate agents and operators invest heavily in licenses, bonding schemes and trust accounts where monies are held back from suppliers until you have completed your holiday. Therefore, you as a traveller are protected. It is also important to note that ATOL licenses, unlike travel trust schemes, will only cover full packages booked under one licence. For example, if you book your flights direct on the internet, then book your accommodation through a travel agency, you would not be covered under their ATOL license.

By booking direct over the internet you are always taking a risk unless you have a personal recommendation or are able to check out the operator or hotel in question. Check for a registered address, evidence of licenses and financial protection, a fixed, rather than mobile telephone number, and for independent reviews or recommendations. We have highlighted specific problems where we have come across them. Common complaints are hotels (especially on the Black Sea) which take reservations but cancel them if a higher paying client or group comes along. Other complaints include surcharges levied on arrival, hotels that have been overbooked, transfers in unroadworthy vehicles or with dangerous drivers, and tours that so not turn out to be as advertised. Remember, Romania is a huge country. One Romanian internet company is currently advertising a Dracula Tour which finishes with a day driving from Bucovina to Bucharest via the Danube Delta and the Black Sea ... impossible, even with the fastest, most dangerous driver! So please take time to research before booking to avoid disappointment. If you are concerned about a particuar tour or operator, you can check with the Romanian Embassy or Tourist Office to find out if they are genuine.

Travel Tips for visiting Romania

You must drive on the right hand side of the road. In order to enter Romania in their own cars, tourists are required to carry with them: driving licence, registration papers and Green Card. Speed limits are 50 km/h in built-up areas, 90 km/h outside built-up area, and 120 km/h on motorways. There are regular speed traps including some notorious ones around Bran village - contrary to what you may have heard, do not under any circumstances try to bribe the traffic police! Along the main highways there are petrol stations, located every 30 km, belonging to both Romanian oil companies - PECO, Petrom - and international ones - Shell, Agip, Mol, OMV, etc. The Romanian Automobile Club (ACR) - Tel. 9271- provides technical assistance to all car owners. Driving under the influence of alcohol is strictly forbidden. Headlights are required to be switched on at all times. The best available road map is the DIMAP 1:250 000 Road Atlas, available in most bookstores or at MOL petrol stations.
Note: accident rates in Romania are amongst the highest in Europe, often due to access speed or machismo. This is more noticeable around Bucharest though care should be taken on all roads. Specific hotspots include the busy arterial roads fanning out from the capital, in particular those to Pitesti, Constanta, and to Suceava via Bacau. Drivers also tend to be impatient so you will encounter plenty of people who seem tp drive with hand on the horn, especially around the main cities.

ELECTRICITY SUPPLY: 220 volts at 50 Hz; plugs have two pins, 18 mm apart.

MEDICAL SERVICES: Supplied both in state and private hospitals, under the various agreements concluded between Romania and other countries. No vaccinations are required.

Bucharest (Otopeni - Tel.: +40-1-201.40.50 and Baneasa - Tel.: +40-1-232.00.20),
also Cluj-Napoca, Constanta (Mihail Kogalniceanu), Târgu Mures, Sibiu, Timisoara.

Romanian Currency: Romanias monetary unit is the LEU (the plural is LEI). Exchange Rate: Approx GB£1.00 = LEI 4 (2008)

The Romanian LEU (plural LEI) (ROL) was revalued and replaced by the 'NEW LEU' in 2005- refered to as 'LEU NOU' or 'LEU GREU' (RON) as follows:

1 LEU NEW (RON) = 10,000 LEI (ROL); 1 LEU  is divided into 100 BANI. 
The Old Leu is no longer valid currency but people still quote prices in the old currency out of habit:
Currency may be exchanged in lei upon arrival at the airport, at banks, hotels and exchange offices. Many will not accept damaged, ripped soiled or crumpled notes! The latter usually offer better rates for Euros but city banks, particularly some of the international names such as Volksbank, Raiffeisien or Skandiabank often offer the best rates for Sterling or US Dollars. It is advisable to avoid making currency exchanges in the street. Credit Cards: Most credit cards, including American Express, Master Card, Diners Club and Visa are accepted in the hotels and restaurants in the big cities and the major resorts. Most banks also have ATMs (even in larger villages) though you may find that they will only dispense a relatively small amount per transaction.
If you intend to use ATMs advise your bank in advance of your visit to ensure transactions are not blocked.

Shops are generally open between 9 A.M. and 6 P.M., and banks between 9 A.M. and 2 P.M.

962 - Emergency Hospital; 961 - Ambulance; 955 - Police; 981 - Fire Department; 971 - International phone calls; 9361 - TAROM flight booking; 9521 - railway information. To place a call to Romania from abroad, one has to dial Romanias international dialling code 0040, followed by the dialling code of the locality (21 for Bucharest, a three-digit code for other localities), and then the number proper. Beside the national telephone company services, mobile telephone services are also provided. Partnerships with major world operators allow for roaming calls.

Most visits to Romania are trouble-free. The following is adapted from FCO advice and expanded.

Visitors should be alert to the risk of petty theft in large towns, especially in Bucharest, and for pickpockets and bag snatchers in crowded areas, particularly near exchange shops, on buses (especially to the airport), main railway stations and inside airport areas. There have been reports of policemen stopping foreign cars and demanding payment of fines in hard currency for spurious offences though thses seem to have disappeared since EU entry. Another scam, that oif bogus policemen approaching pedestrians and asking to check their documents as a way of stealing cash also appears to have disappeared though petty opportunist crime is on the increase. British visitors have reported thefts of valuables including passports from hotel rooms. Items of value, including passports and credit cards should be deposited in hotel safes. You may also be approached in bus stations, or on some local stopping trains by gypsies or children begging. These are best avoided by taking secure intercity services rather than local expresses where possible. We would also recommend against young women travelling alone in the country, especially on trains at night (except for sleepers where there is an attendant), there some areas are much safer than orthers - Maramures for example.

Drivers need to be alert for horse drawn carts and livestock especially at night when they are not always clearly marked. Distances are often great and due to many villages being ribbon settlements with people and livestock journey times can be lengthy. As there are numerous checks carried out by the police it is essential that drivers observe the speed limit, ensure that their vehicles are roadworthy and have with them all their car documents including evidence of insurance that is valid in Romania. Cars should be securely locked and baggage placed in the boot. Most main arterial roads have been upgraded to western standards over recent years but some such as Bucharest - Brasov, Bucharest - Buzau - Bacau - Ukraine, and Bucharest - Pitesti - Sibiu - Deva - Arad carry heavy commercial traffic and care needs to be taken at all times. Towns such as Bucharest, Brasov, Cluj and Timisoara are also becoming congested during the day. Smaller roads may be uneven but driving here can be a pleasure on account of the lack of traffic in rural areas.

It is illegal to change money on the streets. Money should be changed in recognised exchange shops, banks and hotels. The Romanian authorities treat all drug related or sex offences very seriously. Custodial sentences can be expected for any foreigners convicted of such offences.

UK, EU and US passport holders do not require a visa to enter Romania. However, anyone who intends to take up temporary residence in Romania (eg work contract, business, teaching, press activities, church or humanitarian aid projects etc) is requested to present themselves to the nearest Romanian Passport Office within 15 days of their arrival in the country. The Passport Office will register your status and issue a residency permit, valid for a maximum of one year. This can be extended at the end of this period. Spouses and children of those applying to regularise their status in Romania must also apply at the Passport Office in person. Heavy fines have been introduced for foreigners who do not have the correct visa or whose visa has expired. In addition to fines, an exclusion order may be imposed preventing a foreigner from returning to Romania for a specific period of time.

There have been a number of Hepatitis A cases in Romania. Visitors are advised to seek medical advice about inoculations before travelling. All visitors to Romania are advised to drink only bottled water. Mineral water is available everywhere and is inexpensive. Rabies is endemic in Romania. It has largely been confined to the rural mountain areas. Visitors should be wary of, and try to avoid contact with stray dogs and sheepdogs guarding flocks in the mountains. If bitten visitors should seek medical assistance as soon as possible. Should a visitor plan to spend a lengthy time in remote rural areas of Romania, it would be a wise precaution to have a course of rabies inoculations.

Travellers are advised to take out full, comprehensive insurance cover to cover eventualities. We recommend that visitors to Romania carry some Euros in cash. Euro notes should be in pristine condition. Sterling is not always easy to exchange for the local currency especially outside of main towns, though rates in banks can be favourable. Euros are exchangeable anywhere in Romania. Travel cheques are also not always accepted and often attract high commission rates.

British Embassy, 24 Jules Michelet Street, 70154 Bucharest;
(tel: +40 1 210 7300; fax: +40 1 201 7317).
E-mail: [email protected]
Office hours: Mon-Thur: 0830-1700; Fri: 0830-1330.

Tips for ACCOMMODATION in Romania

Romania has seen some considerable changes since the fall of Ceausescu in 1989 and the arrival of private enterprise.

Many of the former state run city-centre or resort hotels have either been refurbished or are undergoing major refurbishment programmes as hotel groups such as "Continental" develop and take them over. However, there are still many notable examples of old-style hotels with crumbling plaster, poor plumbing and erratic hot-water, mainly in areas which are not usually visited by tourists. We are careful to avoid these wherever possible - however, it should be noted that in some places there may be no alternative. Take special care when visiting the Black Sea as many of the properties are charging very high tariffs with hidden charges and sometimes reservations are double-booked.

In addition the last few years has seen a boom in new, relatively small, private hotels and business hotels with the standards you would normally expect in the "West". A good proportion of these have been built by Romanians who worked in Germany, Austria or Switzerland during the early 1990s and have now returned and invested their new-found knowledge and wealth into redeveloping the tourist industry. However, some of them are already deteriorating due to lack of repairs or maintenance. Hotels in towns such as Timisoara are equivalent to those in the west, with new 4-5 star hotels appearing in places such as Timisoara, Bucharest and Sibiu. There are also several attractive hotels with character such as the Casa Wagner in Brasov or Sibiu, the art deco Opera in Bucharest, the Casa Luxemburg in Sibiu, The Savoy in Bucharest and the new 5-star Fronius in Sighisoara. .

We believe you will find any visit to Romania highly rewarding - indeed most people who travel independently in the country tend to become addicted and end up going back over and over again. However, there are many contrasts and from time to time you will become frustrated so bring along an open mind! Service varies from indifferent (more often in the former State hotels and restaurants) to a degree of genuine hospitality that is rare anyway else. For example staying in a homestay you are likely to treated like a long lost relative - nothing is any trouble to your host. That said, we are very selective in recommendations as there are still examples where there is no basic understanding of customer service ... for example you may struggle to find suitable vegetarian food,

The summer months are very hot and there are still some hotels which are not air-conditioned - this is less of a problem in mountain villages but cities such as Bucharest can be stifling. Bring along some mosquito repellant, especially if staying in the south and in Bucharest- if the weather has been humid they can become a nuisance because you are likely to want to sleep with the window open. They carry no risk but, like Scottish midges, they can be annoying.

You may also want to bring along some ear plugs if you are a light sleeper and are spending time in cities - Romanians love to party and any reasonable provincial will almost certainly have a wedding function on a Saturday Night! Enjoy it - watch the dancing, the singing and the traditions; you are likely to be invited to join in. However, Romanian wedding receptions go on all night and when (or if) you decide to call it a day the rest of the party will still be swinging and making plenty of noise!

Romanians are gradually becoming more and more accustomed to Vegetarian requests. Most hotels and large restaurants cater for vegetarians though recent reports (2009) suggest that others have a very indifferent attitude. If you are staying in a homestay or in a small pension you should give us plenty of notice to advise the proprietors as they may have difficulty in understanding your needs, Romanian cuisine, like most of central and eastern Europe is traditionally based around pork - that means pork fat (lard), salami, sausages and so on. However, don't despair! You will also find some excellent vegetable dishes - vegetable purees such as Salata de Vinete (a richly-flavoured spread of smoked Aubergine, mayonnaise and condiments), Vegetable stews such as Ghiveci and of course the shepherds staple of Mamaliga (maize polenta) and sheeps cheese. In addition as crops are grown organically you will find that simple things such as apples or tomatoes are considerably more flavoursome that is so often the case at home!

All properties we recommend, even homestays, feature flush toilets and hot and cold running water. Taking a shower or a bath can be quite an experience in some homes and you may need to ask in advance (large volumes of water often need to be heated by a large wood stove) though all small hotels have modern showers and ample hot water.

Cockermouth, Cumbria, United Kingdom CA13 0RA
- Tel. +44 (0)1900 838570; Email. [email protected]

beyondtheforest.com and www.lakelandbeyond.com are information websites provided and maintained in the United Kingdom by Romantique Couture

Copyright © 2014 BeyondtheForest - the Travel Specialists
Beyond the Forest - a comprehensive travel service for Romania: Flights, Holidays, Tours, Quality Accommodation including Historic Hotels, Villas, and Breakfast Pensions, Farm Holidays, Rural Tourism, Ecoturism activities in the Carpathians, Rail Tickets, Transfers, Professional guides throughout Romania, Adventure Holidays, Cultural Holidays, special themes including Wildlife, Dracula (History, Legends and Myths), Halloween Dracula Tours, inclusive responsible holidays in Transylvania includng fixed packages at Miclosoara, Cisnadioara, Sibiu and in the Maramures region at Botiza. We offer tailormade holidays throughout Romania including the following towns and citiesBucharest, Timisoara, Brasov, Cluj, Sibiu, Iasi, Bistrita, Suceava, Arad, Oradea, and Constanta. We also specialise in tourism to the fllowing regions: Maramures, Bucovina, Bistrita-Nasaud, Saxon Transylvania, Apuseni Mountains, Retezat Mountains, the Banat and the Danube Delta.

Beyond the Summit is a specialist travel service concentrating on central and Eastern Austria. We offer quality accommodation from historic hotels and palaces to simple bed and breakfast pensions in the Wachau Nibelungengau region of the Danube Valley (Melk, Krems, Spitz, Durnstein, Weissenkirchen) and the Steirische Eisenstrasse (Styrian Iron Road) including the Erzberg area with the towns of Vordernberg, Eisenerz, Radmer and Hieflau. We also specialise in other parts of Steiermark including Graz, Ennstal and Murtal/ Grebenzen, the Salzkammergut Lake District (Hallstatt, Traunkirchen, Ebensee, Bad Aussee, Grundlsee, Gmunden) and the Neusiedlersee region of eastern Austria (Eisenstadt, Rust, Neusiedl). Relaxing autumn breaks beside the Danube: explore the castles and vineyards by mountain bike, take a river cruise or spend a romantic evening in a traditional wine tavern or high class restaurant.

Beyond the Beach: specialist travel service focussing on tailormade travel to the Rhodope, Rila and Pirin Mountains, the towns of Veliko Turnovo. Melnik, Plovdiv, Ruse and Sofia and attractions such Rila and Bachkovo Monasteries, Heritage Towns a`nd villas on the Black Sea Coast (Balchik and Sozopol). We also offer a range of flights to Bulgaria and our Festival of Roses Tour to the Valley of Roses in Bulgaria.