Hi all! This post will explain how you can travel with public transport in Romania, even if the country is 4 times bigger than The Netherlands and the train schedules are not as we would like to. For many summer holidays we’ve wandered around the country, for 3 years in a row we used to travel around 2000 km with the train or bus so this kind of travel is not impossible, you just need to know where to search and how to combine the trips. Of course, if you have a driving license renting a car can get you in some extra amazing places, but sometimes you simply want to enjoy your trip without stress.
Trains: Until 3-4 years ago the only company operating train public transportation was CFR (Romanian Railways) – a state company, filled with corrupted managers, which stole the money instead of investing them in trains or stations. But in Transylvania a new operator – Regiotrans – assures trips on routes on which CFR doesn’t operate anymore.
CFR: as I was saying this is the state travel company. The managers of it were interested only in stealing the money so you will see old trains used in many years by many people. Another thing is the schedule – if the trip lasts longer than 5 hours (from Bucharest) than there will be only 2 trains per day if you are lucky. Don’t expect to use the toilet if you are a girl and there’s no WiFi connection. If the trip is long take food and water with you, since you don’t want to pay 1e for some chips (which are around 30c in the stores) or for 500 ml of water (which is around 35c in the stores). You can plan and buy your tickets on http://www.cfrcalatori.ro/en/national-fares/how-buy-ticket (what a nice surprise, they have the English version too!). Because many people complained that in the stations there are no English sings, in order to search you platform number you need to check the general info table. In each station there’s a big table with the arrivals (Sosiri) and departures (Plecari) and you can check your train number there. The word “Linie” means platform so you need to head there in order to take the correct train.
Regiotrans: A private company about I don’t know much, outside the fact that in covers many town that should be visited in Brasov county. The website is only in Romanian – http://www.regiotrans.ro/mersul-trenurilor/#/rute/ , but from here you can make an idea which train you should take. For example, we traveled to Rasnov by this train.
Buses: If there’s no train, for sure you will find a bus. My hometown is 500km away from Bucharest, there are only 2 trains per day, but there are also 4 buses. So now thinking about it the combined schedule it’s quite OK, the only bad thing is that the trip takes around 8 hours. The website I am using when it comes to planing is http://www.autogari.ro/, which has an incomplete English version too. After you enter your starting and ending points multiple options will come through. After you decide which is the bus you want to take, if you press “Vezi detalii” which means “Show details” you can find the information about the bus company and sometimes the price. In most of the cases the ticket can be bought from the driver. For example, a trip from Brasov to Bran (Dracula’s Castle) is only 7 lei (less than 2e) and it takes around 45 minutes. And who doesn’t know about Dracula? 🙂
Romania has a lot of things to offer: mountains, sea, more than 100 caves and castles, small villages in which you feel like living in another time. And, even if the public transport can be challenging (especially because of the language – but this is not the only country with English “deficit”), it can offer you views that you will not see from a car. In the end the best way to analyze the country you visit is seeing people acting naturally in their own habitat.