Citinerary is an international network of passionate citizens who share stories and meet visitors. An exchange of culture & lifestyle. This summer we regularly repost some of their specially selected articles on Amsterdam, Bucharest and Madrid. Today: correspondent Alin writes about tips on how to visit Bucharest.
It is said that there is no city which has no tourist traps. Be it The Big Apple or The Mini Apple, The Eternal City or The Windy City, Venice of the North or The Square Mile, wherever there are tourists, there will be ways for them to spend their money faster than maybe they would want to.
The Little Paris makes no exception, but this article is not necessarily about Bucharest’s tourist traps. It’s rather about giving you some tips & tricks on how to get along the city without experiencing head-aches.
Getting around the city.
Firstly, transportation. As you may have read in Untangling Bucharest Traffic (Part 1 and Part 2), Bucharest boasts one of the more complex public transportation in Europe. Its great advantages are the facts that it’s very well developed, covering the city thoroughly and it’s significantly cheaper than other networks in Europe. Its disadvantage though is the fact that it can be pretty confusing to a foreigner. There aren’t always English translations available and maps of the network aren’t easily accessible.
Using ‘Transport Urban‘ would help, which is the go-to website to get you from A to B in the most efficient way. An app for mobile phones or tables is also available. What’s important to mention is that surface transportation and underground are run by two different entities, so you need to buy separate tickets for them. For surface transportation there are booths which sell tickets in the major stations, you won’t be able to buy a ticket inside the bus/tram/trolley. For the subway you may buy tickets from similar booths, or from automatic machines. Also, for all transportation in Bucharest you can pay using your mobile phone or wireless credit card.
When using taxis, make sure to check the fare before getting in the cab. It is mandatory shown on both sides of the car, on the front doors. The normal fare is 1.39 RON/km (€0.30 / $0.35), but it can get up to 3.50 RON/km (€0.80 / $0.90), depending on the company. All taxis need to have a measuring device onboard, which also dispenses a receipt. If you want to always find taxis that are legitimate and have the best fares, useStar Taxi app. It uses your phone’s or tablet’s GPS module, so you don’t really need to know where exactly you are, the app will know and send you a cab right away. You can also use Uber, as an alternative to the conventional taxi service.
How to spend your money.
Paying for stuff. While there may be some places where you can pay with Euros or US Dollars, the Romanian currency (RON) is king. If you come carrying cash, you can change it at banks or at money exchange offices. If you opt for the latter, be aware that they may have a commission applied to the transaction. By law, all exchange offices are obliged to show the commission in plain sight. The majority of them have a 0% one, but keep in mind some of them might have commission up to 30%. If you have a credit card and want to extract money from an ATM, but are not sure about the commissions or fees, don’t worry. Also by law, all ATM’s inform you of the exact sum of money you’ll be paying for a transaction, in advance. Thus, if you choose not to proceed with the transaction, no money will be paid from the account.
The best advice is to try and pay for stuff using your card as often as you can, because the transaction is always free of commissions. But also keep some change close, as there may be places where you can’t use your card, such as small shops, newsstands or even some restaurants or bars. And always ask for a receipt. All commercial entities are obliged to issue receipts. If someone refuses to do so, you have the right to walk away without paying for the goods or the services provided.
That’s it for now, stay tuned for more tips & tricks. Or better still, if you come over, connect with the locals. We’ll be more than glad to show you around and give you the best advices.
All imagery to the courtesy of Bucuresti Optimist
– Alin –