Flying is the easiest way to reach Romania, with several airlines now operating direct from the UK. Flying from North America, Australasia or South Africa will entail one or more changes. Travelling to Romania from the UK by train is a long haul, though with a rail pass you can take in the country as part of a wider trip.
If flying, you can often cut costs by going through a specialist flight agent, who in addition to dealing with discounted flights may also offer student and youth fares and travel insurance, rail passes, car rental, tours and the like. Some agents specialize in charter flights, which may be cheaper than scheduled flights, but departure dates are fixed and cancellation penalties high.
Flights from the UK and IrelandFlying from the UK to Romania takes between three and three and a half hours. British Airways and TAROM, the Romanian national carrier, both have daily direct scheduled flights from London Heathrow to Bucharest. A number of budget carriers – including Wizz Air, easyJet, Ryanair and the Romanian carrier Blue Air – now serve a host of Romanian cities, including Bacău, Bucharest, Cluj, Constanţa, Iaşi, Sibiu, Târgu Mureş and Timişoara, though many of these are seasonal. Both Blue Air and Ryanair fly from Dublin to Romania.
Prices depend on how far in advance you book, although season is also a factor: unless you book very well in advance, a ticket to anywhere between June and September will cost more than in winter (excluding Christmas and New Year). Note also that it is generally more expensive to fly at weekends. Book far enough in advance with one of the low-cost airlines and you can pick up a ticket for around £60–70 return, even in summer; book anything less than three or four weeks in advance and this could triple in price. Search engines such as skyscanner.net, kayak.co.uk or momondo.com are invaluable for researching the best connections and prices.
Flights from the US and CanadaThere are no direct flights from North America to Romania, though most major airlines offer one- or two-stop flights via the bigger European cities, often in conjunction with TAROM, the national carrier. From the east coast of the US, expect to pay around US$750 low season and US$1100 high season; and from the west coast around US$1200 low season and US$1600 high season. From Canada, expect to pay around Can$1300 low season from Toronto (Can$1700 high season) and Can$1900 low season from Vancouver (Can$2300 high season).
Flights from Australia, New Zealand and South AfricaThere are no direct flights from Australia or New Zealand to Romania, so you’ll have to change airlines, either in Asia or Europe, although the best option is to fly to a Western European gateway for a connecting flight. A return fare from eastern Australia is around Aus$2200 low season and Aus$2700 high season. From New Zealand, a return fare costs from around NZ$2400 low season and NZ$3000 high season.
There are no direct flights from South Africa to Romania, but plenty of airlines offer one-stop flights via European hubs such as London, Frankfurt or Paris. Flying with an airline such as Lufthansa from Johannesburg via Frankfurt costs around ZAR9200 in low season, ZAR10,720 in high season.
By trainTravelling by train is likely to be considerably more expensive than flying. The shortest journey takes about 36 hours, with a standard second-class return ticket, incorporating Eurostar, costing around £350. From London St Pancras International, take the Eurostar to Paris Gare du Nord, and then walk to the Gare de l’Est for a train to either Munich or Vienna, where you change for Budapest. In Budapest, change again for the last leg to Romania.
Deutsche Bahn is the best option for making seat reservations on continental trains and its website (bahn.de) is an excellent resource for checking railway timetables, while The Man in Seat Sixty-One (seat61.com) is invaluable on most aspects of rail travel in Europe. The red-covered European Rail Timetable (europeanrailtimetable.co.uk), which details schedules of the main Romanian train services, is the most useful printed source for timetables.
Rail passesIf you’re planning to visit Romania as part of a more extensive trip around Europe, it may be worth buying a rail pass. InterRail passes (interrail.eu) are only available to those who have been resident in Europe for six months or more. They come in first- and second-class over-26 and (cheaper) under-26 versions. The passes are available to a combination of countries for five days within a fifteen-day period (£199 second class, £151 under-26), seven days within one month (£237 second class, £185 under-26) and ten days within one month (£282 second class, £220 under-26); there’s also travel for fifteen consecutive days (£312 second class, £255 under-26), 22 consecutive days (£364 second class, £282 under-26) or one month unlimited (£471 second class, £361 under-26). Pass holders also receive a discounted rate on the Eurostar service.
The other InterRail scheme is the one-country pass, which allows you to travel a certain number of days during a one-month period. For Romania, eight days in one month costs £122 for over-26s/£88 under-26s; six days in one month £103/£77; four days in one month £78/£57; three days in one month £64/£47.
Non-European residents qualify for the Eurail pass (eurail.com), which must be bought before arrival in Europe, or from RailEurope in the UK. The pass allows unlimited first-class travel in 28 European countries, including Romania, and is available in various increments; for example, a fifteen-day continuous pass costs US$656 for over-26s/US$429 under-26s, 22 days ($845/US$552), and one month ($1038/US$677). There are also a number of other passes available, including a One-Country Pass and a Select Pass, which allows you to travel in two-, three- or four neighbouring countries.
By car from the UKDriving to Romania, a distance of some 2000km from London, is really only worth considering if you are planning to travel around Romania extensively or want to make various stopovers en route.
Once across the channel (Eurotunnel UK +44(0) 844 335 3535, international +33(0)321 002 061, eurotunnel.com), the best route (around 30hr at a leisurely pace with plenty of stops) is through Belgium, Germany, Austria and Hungary, passing Brussels, Frankfurt, Nuremberg, Regensburg, Linz, Vienna and Budapest, and then taking the E60 down to the Borş border crossing near Oradea or the E75/E68 to Nădlac near Arad. Route plans can be obtained from the websites of Michelin (viamichelin.com), the AA (theaa.com) or the RAC (rac.co.uk). See for details of driving within Romania.