My name is Oana, I am passionate about travel and I love writing about it! I am a copywriter for, www.luxapartments.ro and I am currently living in Bucharest. I hope you will enjoy my article about Bucharest and it will make you want to discover the city!
Are there any tourist traps to avoid in Bucharest and why?
Bucharest is as safe as any other European capitals and actually safer than other cities in Europe. Still, there are a few tourist traps you can easily avoid if you are well-informed. From taxi drivers scams to money exchange and what neighbourhoods you should avoid in Bucharest, here are the things you should know before you visit the capital city of Romania.
Taxi Drivers Scam
This is probably the worst tourist trap in Bucharest but it can be easily avoided. Just make sure you follow these tips:
- First of all, you should always ask the taxi driver to put the meter on and should never accept otherwise.
- Make sure you check the prices before you choose a taxi, they should be written on the exterior door. The cheapest and most common price is 1.39RON/km.
- If the price and the name of the company are not written on the door, do not take that cab! Do not use no company taxis or private taxis no matter what, they are most likely scammers.
- If the taxi driver is trying to charge you more than the normal fare for the ride, do not accept. Do not allow the driver to negotiate a special price for the ride.
- In order to make sure you got into a valid taxi, you should also look for the license on the lateral side of the car and the picture ID license of the driver.
- Pay in cash RON (local currency, pronounced [ LEI ]), don’t pay in foreign currency.
One of the most common Bucharest scams was the one with tourists accepting taxi rides from drivers waiting in the airport, the train station or buss arrivals. In most cases those were unauthorised drivers that didn’t work for a certain taxi company and were simply trying to take advantage of tourists by charging them ridiculous amounts of money. Still, things are far better now and this Bucharest tourist trap can easily be avoided by simply using authorised taxis only.
On-demand taxis are now available at Bucharest Henri Coanda Airport. You can order a taxi by using the touch screen devices in the public area of the Arrivals Terminal and you will be issued a ticket. The taxi will arrive right outside the terminal, on the first floor, and then you will show the taxi driver the issued ticket. The charges vary between 1.39lei/km – 3.50 lei/km but you can also select that.
Also, now there is also an authorized taxi station at the ”Columns” entrances of the “Gara de Nord” railway station.
Again, do not let yourself get approached by fake taxi drivers. Choose one of the taxis stationed at the “Coloane” area and preferably choose a company that practices a rate of 1.39 lei/km.
But the best possible way to avoid the taxi driver tourist trap is to order a taxi by using a mobile app or by calling. You can use the Meridian Taxi app, the Speed Taxi App, Clever Taxi or Star Taxi. Here are some phone numbers you can use when ordering a taxi. All these are reputable taxi companies and feature a normal fare:
9444-Meridian, 9477-Speed Taxi, 9494-Taxi 2000, 9435-Taxi AS, 9451-Cobalcescu, 9425-Leone, 9423-Mondial, 9665-Pelicanul
The first and most important rule is to never exchange money on the street or rush into the first exchange office you see. Check several exchange offices to see which one has the best rates and choose the ones with 0% commission.
If possible, try to change money in banks. They are the safest and they usually have good rates too and 0% commission.
Don’t exchange a large sum of money at the airport because it is not worth it. The exchange rates are usually 10-20% higher than the ones you will find at the exchange offices in the city center.
Most frequent banknotes: 1 RON, 5 RON, 10 RON, 50 RON, 100 RON. Larger banknotes: 200 RON and 500 RON that are less used. And here’s another tip: even though the current Romanian currency is RON, nobody really says RON, everybody uses “LEI”.
Everything at the airport is seriously overpriced, from coffee and food to souvenirs, presents and perfumes. So better do not postpone your shopping with the idea that you will buy something at the airport. You will find a wider choice of souvenirs and presents downtown, also at better prices.
How to Keep It Safe in Bucharest
The central part of Bucharest is extremely safe during daytime and in most cases during nighttime as well. Still, since the streets are much emptier (except places such as the Old City), it’s better to stay away from dark alleys.
Also, there are a few neighborhoods you should avoid (these are far from being touristic spots), such as Ferentari or Rahova. These places are something in between a slum and a ghetto, so you can imagine extremely poor people live here, especially the Roma (gypsies). Also, it’s probably best if you avoid the Gara de Nord area during the night because there are many beggars here.
If you are a tourist, everything you might want to visit is close to the city center, which is also the safest part of the city, day or night (Piata Universitatii, Calea Victoriei, Piata Unirii). You will have no trouble finding Bucharest holiday apartments that are within walking distance from the city center, look amazing and that are also quite affordable. Finding great accommodation for all budgets in Bucharest is actually something everyone agrees with.
Try not to be too flashy with your expensive gadgets or jewelry on the street. You don’t want to bring this kind of attention to yourself, especially if you are traveling alone or you are in unknown parts of the city during the night.
Most Romanians are nice friendly people but better avoid people who are overly friendly and who are trying to find out too much about you and make you feel uncomfortable.
Avoid talking to gypsies on the street (most will ask you for money) or giving money to beggars. In case you get approached by someone who you suspect is trying to pull a scam on you, just tell them a firm “No thanks” or “Nu multumesc”(Romanian).
Also, in crowded places like a bus, keep an eye on your wallet to protect yourself from potential pickpockets. Try to keep control over your wallet, backpack or handbag even when you are surrounded by many people in a bus. Try to use the subway instead: it is safer, more pleasant to use and also a bit faster.
As you can see, there aren’t so many tourist traps in Bucharest, as surprising as it may seem to some. As long as you act based on common sense and follow these tips, you should be absolutely safe and really enjoy your time in this city.
I hope you enjoyed this guest post written by Oana.
Have you ever fallen in one of these tourist traps during your travels ? You can share your stories below, don’t be ashamed we all have been there :-) If you would like to write a guest post, don’t hesitate to contact me :-)