From the busy streets of Bucharest to the tranquil scenery of Transylvania – driving in Romania is a fun and exciting adventure. It’s also a little scary at times, especially if you’re driving on steep mountainous roads. But there’s nothing to be scared of – this detailed guide has all the information you need to confidently drive around Romania!
Laws, speed limits, parking lots, car rental, gas station availability, and more – I’ve covered everything you need to know about driving in Romania. Read this detailed guide and you’re ready to sit behind the wheel in Romania.
You drive on the right and overtake on the left in Romania. The only exception is trams, which must be overtaken on the right. You can only overtake a tram on the left if there is not enough room on the road, or if you’re driving in a one-way street.
To drive in Romania, you must be at least 18 years old and hold a valid driver’s license. International driving permits are recognized in Romania, but they are not necessary.
The country accepts all licenses issued in EU and EEA countries, and you’ll most likely be fine with your existing license. But that’s just for driving – you’ll still need an IDP to rent a car if you’re not from Europe. All passengers must be fitted with seatbelts if the car is equipped with them, including everyone in the rear seat.
Additionally, Romanian rules are strict when it comes to driving under the influence of alcohol. It’s strictly forbidden, and if you take a breathalyzer and your BAC is not 0.0 mg/L, you will be fined. Up to 0.8 mg/L you get a civil fine and your license is suspended. Anything over that and you’ll be charged with a criminal offense. The penalty for that is 1-5 years in prison, so it’s certainly not worth the risk over a few drinks.
Driving in Romania can be incredibly fun or extremely stressful, depending on where exactly in Romania you are. In some parts of the country, the roads are so great that they put countries like Austria and Slovenia to shame. Unfortunately, in most of Romania, the roads are not in great condition, and drivers must always be alert of their surroundings.
The main issue is that there’s a lot of mountainous roads and not that many highways. The high-altitude roads are not that well maintained, they’re curvy, and the weather conditions often make driving more difficult. Romania has the highest rate of road fatalities in the EU, and it’s largely because of those narrow roads.
It can be very difficult to overtake on mountainous roads, and you should only do it if there’s an intermittent line on the road. Don’t overtake over solid lines, especially not on road bends.
A vignette is mandatory for driving on motorways and some state roads in Romania. Toll collection is the same for vehicles below and over 3.5 tonnes, but vignettes are significantly cheaper for smaller vehicles. It’s 3EUR for a week, 7EUR for a month, 13EUR for three months, and just 28EUR for an entire year if your vehicle weighs less than 3.5 tonnes.
If you’re driving something that’s more than 3.5 tonnes, those numbers are 6EUR, 16EUR, 36EUR, and 96EUR, respectively.
In addition to that, there are also several toll bridges and ferries that are not covered by the vignette. These are on the borders with Serbia and Bulgaria and they’re inexpensive.
It’s worth noting that Romania has a short motorway network of just 806 kilometers. The motorways are mostly around Bucharest, so if you’re planning on driving north, don’t expect the roads to be that great. You still need the vignette for some state roads, even if you’re not going to be driving on the motorway at all.
Vignettes in Romania are available for purchase at gas stations, post offices, and you can even buy them online. The relevant authority is the National Company of Administration of Road Infrastructure, but you can’t buy the vignette directly from them. Instead, go to erovinieta.ro to quickly buy vignettes and pay for bridge crossings.
You must always have a warning triangle, fire extinguisher, first aid kit, and headlamp beam deflectors in Romania. Also, you’re not required to have a reflective jacket in the car, but you must wear one if you’re walking on the road or if the car breaks down.
Green cards are not mandatory, but they’re convenient to have since they can help back up the insurance documents. Additionally, all motorcycle drivers must wear crash helmets.
Winter tires are not compulsory in Romania. It’s mandatory to have tires appropriate for winter conditions and the minimum tread depth is 2mm, but the law does not state that you must have winter tires fitted onto the car. However, the law does impose fines for driving on snowy roads without winter tires, so it’s just smarter to have them fitted between November 1st and March 1st.
Speed limits in Romania are similar to those of other European countries. In built-up areas, it’s 50 km/h, 90-100 km/h outside built-up areas and 130 km/h on motorways. Road signs override the standard speed limits, so it’s always best to drive as fast as the latest sign you saw said you could.
You can be fined on the spot for some offenses, so make sure to at least have cash on your, if you’re going to break the law. The fining system is a little weird in Romania. Traffic offenses are categorized into classes and each class carries a certain amount of points. But they’re not points on your driving license – instead, one point represents 10% of the Romanian gross minimum wage. The fine is equal to the number of points a particular offense is considered to carry.
There are five classes of offenses:
Class I = 2-3 points
Class II = 4-5 points
Class III = 6-8 points
Class IV = 9-20 points
Class V = 20-100 points
The gross minimum wage in Romania is €471.75, so the lowest fine is around 94.36 EUR and goes up to 4717.5 EUR. Don’t drink and drive, drive the speed limit, keep the phone in your bag, and you will be fine.
In terms of speed limits, a Class I offense is driving 11-20 km/h over the legal limit, Class V is going 50 km/h over the limit, and everything in between is just 10 km/h increments. Driving 10 km/h within the speed limit is not a punishable offense.
It’s also worth noting that car insurance is mandatory in Romania and the police can ask you for proof of insurance during random checks.
Parking in Romania is easy and cheap, except for downtown Bucharest. The city center of Romania’s capital doesn’t have that many parking spots, and the rates are pretty high when compared to the rest of the country. It’s about 8 Lei ($2) for an hour in downtown Bucharest, compared to 2 Lei per hour just a little outside the city center.
There are lots of garages and large car parks in the bigger cities, while the smaller cities mostly have street parking. Street parking is sometimes paid and sometimes free, so be sure to look for a sign that indicated you’re allowed to park there, as well as a parking meter. Most parking meters only accept coins, so you’ll want to have some cash on you to pay for parking in Romania.
One thing to note is that you shouldn’t park on numbered spots in the street. These are usually reserved for residents, and your car could get towed if you park there. Look for nearby parking signs and if you find one that says “De resedinta”, you really shouldn’t park there.
In addition to that, beware of scammers. It’s not that common, but you might be approached by “a parking attendant” who wants to charge you for parking even though there’s a meter right next to you. You can either argue or just find a different parking spot – the latter is generally easier.
If you’re parking on the street, you must park in the direction of traffic.
You can use interparking-romania.ro to easily find parking lots in Bucharest and Timisoara, but that’s it. The service shows which payment methods are available and what the hourly parking rates are, but it’s limited to just five car parks.
The website also has an app that you can use to pay for parking, but I would not recommend this. Their app (P-app) has a lot of negative reviews and many users have reported issues with adding their cards to the app, among other problems. Plus, you can only download it in Romania.
Instead, you can use the TPARK app. It lets you find parking spots all over Romania, pay for parking, and you can even buy vignettes through the app!
You can rent a car in Romania if you are at least 21 years old, not older than 70, and have an IDP. An International Driving Permit is required by law in Romania and you can’t rent a car without it. At least if you’re from the US – driver’s licenses issued in the EU are accepted in Romania, so most Europeans don’t need an IDP to drive and rent a car in the country.
In any case, it’s best to check with the Romanian embassy in your country if you’re required to present an IDP when renting a car.
There’s usually a young driver’s fee for anyone under 25 who wants to rent a car in Romania, but it’s symbolic. On average, renting a smaller car will set you back about $150 per week, including insurance.
If you want to travel to other countries, you’ll need to purchase a Green Card Insurance permit. With that document, you’re allowed to drive the rental car to most European countries, except for Croatia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Slovenia.
There are hundreds of gas stations in Romania and it should be really easy to find one when you need to refuel. They’re abundant on main roads, you’ll find some even on secondary roads, and in the cities. Most petrol stations in the country are open 24 hours, for ultimate convenience.
Gas stations in Romania are manned and you must always go inside to pay for the gas. You usually just drive up to the pump, put in as much fuel as you need (you can see the amount and price on the pump), and go inside to pay. Most gas stations accept credit cards, although you might have to use cash if you’re fueling up at a smaller station in the middle of nowhere.
Unleaded fuel, diesel, and LPG are readily available at most gas stations in the country. It’s worth noting that the quality of fuel is questionable at some of the smaller gas stations, so it’s in your best interest to stick with larger chain stations like OMV, Lukoil, and Rompetrol.
There are a couple of apps that can make your time in Romania a bit easier, so be sure to check them out before you start driving around the country.
Google Maps is and always will be the best app for getting around foreign countries. You get route planners, offline maps, live traffic updates, and extremely accurate directions. It’s the best app to use if you need directions to get around Romania, so don’t forget to download an offline map to get those directions even if you don’t have Internet access.
TPARK is one of the best apps for driving in Romania. It lets pay for parking, tolls, and buy a vignette. You can also pay traffic fines with this app, which is pretty convenient. The app is free to download, it can be used throughout the country, but I’d like to point out that you can’t search for specific parking lots with it. Instead, you input your license plate, the parking zone you’re in, and the amount of time you’d like to stay parked.
Rompetrol Go is a helpful app to have when you need a gas station. The app displays all the Rompetrol stations, making it really easy to find the one closest to you. It’s also possible to filter apps by services they offer. However, when using the app, I found that not all of its functions are translated into English.
Anna is the co-owner of expert world travel and can't wait to share her travel experience with the world. With over 54 countries under her belt she has a lot to write about! Including those insane encounters with black bears in Canada.