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The first timer’s guide to Bucharest, Romania

Henri Coandă International Airport (formerly known as Otopeni International Airport) is the main gate to Romania, and for many tourist it’s the trigger of the first impression about the country and its inhabitants.

Photo: MichaelSosiri via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution

I’m not that kind of guy overwhelmed by the first impression, therefore, in the light of recent events, I would like to help all the foreigners pass over this putting together a short guide of how to manage their arrivals in Romania. Especially on the Henri Coandă International Airport.

For me, as a Romanian, it’s a sad thing since I’ve seen all the sides of the country and I’ve met all kind of people, and I know that out there are friendly people ready to share their home with you or give you an extra hand of help when necessary.

First of all, take note that the only airlines operating flights to/from Otopeni International Airport that provide internet services during their flights are Lufthansa and British Airways. Also, before boarding for any Bucharest flights, especially with Tarom airline, let your friends/contact people in Bucharest know about your arrival, that’s because usage of GSM devices are not allowed yet during the flight. With these in mind, document your trip before the flight and gather all the necessary information using smartphone apps that are working offline or note them down on your notebook.

Second, although I am sure that the worst case scenario is not on your travel plan, it is better to be prepared for everything that may occur, therefore keep at hand Your Passenger Rights mobile app and always chose a travel insurance. If you would like to see on the go if your flight arrival is synchronizing with any of the transport solution, you should install Romanian Airports too on your phone or any other mobile app that can display the arrival time for you.

Once the check-out process ends and luggage is picked-up, you’ll step up in the arrivals area of the airport where inhabitans and companies are expecting their guests. If somebody is expecting you, then you are more lucky than other visitors that should handle the airport take-off on their own.

For this group of travelers there are severals ways of leaving the airport behind and heading to the city: by taxi, by bus or by train. The transport choices and additional info are first available in the luggage pick-up area. From here you will follow direction plates until the ticket kiosk and airport information desk.

Henri Coandă International Airport Plan

[box]Information desk

Arrivals Terminal, public area

Telephone: + 40 21 204 1000 | + 40 21 201 4000[/box]

The following guide has been build around online tools and mobile apps that were subjects in the articles on this blog.

By Taxi

Central Bucharest

Photo: Tom SpenderCentral Bucharest via Flickr, Used by permission

Online Planning Before Your Arrival

Online (only in Romanian)

How to:

  • chose the city of your destination (look for the Romanian name, in this case București);
  • note down several taxi companies’ phone numbers;
  • call for a taxi after your arrival.

Online Planning On The Go, Just After Your Arrival

Mobile Apps (internet connection/GPS is necessary; roaming service activated; prepaid SIMs recommended):

Offline Planning On The Go, Just After Your Arrival

Mobile Apps (no internet connection necessary, roaming activated; prepaid SIMs recommended):

Take a regular taxi after drops somebody off at the Departures Terminal (Departures Terminal picture below).

Note: if you call for a taxi, you should be either outside the airport area (near one of the parking spots) or outside the Departure Terminal. This is because the regular taxi drivers are not allowed to stop the cars in the terminals area and therefore can’t wait for you.

Henri Coanda airport

Photo: John KivitHenri coanda airport via Flickr, Used by permission


Pick-up Fee (taxis authorized to operate in the airport area): 3.5 RON

Rate / km (taxis authorized to operate in the airport area): 3.5 RON

Pick-up Fee (other licensed taxis): 1.39 RON

Rate / km (other licensed taxis): 1.39 RON

*all the above fees are subject to change due to regulations; fees in other currencies may vary due to currency course, therefore please use the converter[/box]

Tips and Tricks

Make sure not to get into a vehicle not marked and licensed as a taxi. Always look for:

  • the taxi license plate on the back doors of the car; here, on a red plate you should be able to read the city were the taxi is licensed, license number, car license number, the date when the license will expire and the city hall logo. If in doubt, check the license number here (Google Spreadsheet, downloadable); this is the last known licenses status publicly available on the city hall website;
  • taxi rates in the quarter panel, just below the car’s mirrors (pick-up fee, rate per kilometer, rate per minute while standing, night rate);
  • taxi company logo number on the front doors;
  • a functional fare meter started when you get in the car.

All of the above elements can be found in the below image extracted from the taxi user’s guide available on the city hall website (.pdf file, only in Romanian).

Identification elements for Bucharest taxis (click on the image to enlarge)

In addition, ignore the trolling taxi drivers that are very persistent when it comes to drive you at your destination. Do not let them take your luggage or touch you. Authorized taxi drivers are not allowed to enter in the terminal and approach customers. They are waiting in line in their taxis just in front of the Arrivals Terminal (see picture below).

Henri Coandă International Airport Romania

Photo: Heather StinsonHenri Coandă International Airport Romania via Flickr, Used by permission

Also, under no circumstances, do not get in the taxi with a stranger other than the taxi driver.

You can read more about the taxi culture in Romania in this blog post from Sam cel Român.

By Bus (RATB Express Buses 783 and 780)

Online Planning Before Your Arrival

Online tools: RATB Route Planner (public transport company website, now integrating the solution offered by, (usefull tool for identifying links with other buses of trolleys), (subway network included).

Online Planning On The Go, Just After Your Arrival

Mobile Apps (internet connection/GPS is necessary; roaming service activated; prepaid SIMs recommended):

Offline Planning On The Go, Just After Your Arrival

How to:

  • Follow the direction plates until the ticket kiosk;
  • Buy a ticket (magnetic card);
  • Go to the bus station (ground flour) in front of the Arrivals Terminal and get the bus.


Photo: lunaticpandoraxiBucharest_Airport_Bus_783_route via Flickr

[box]Ticket fare: 7 RON (way and back; plus 1.6 RON for the magnetic card)

Bus schedule: daily between 06:00-21:00 for express bus 780 (detailed schedule here, on the RATB website); non-stop for express bus 783

Links: subway stations at Piața Victoriei and Piața Unirii

*the fare is subject to change due to regulations; ticket fare in other currencies may vary due to currency course, therefore please use a converter[/box]

By Train (CFR Henri Coandă Express)

Online Planning Before Your Arrival

Online tool: Romanian Railways’ Train Schedule and Planner (option 1 (RO), option 2 (EN))

Online Planning On The Go, Just After Your Arrival

Mobile Apps (internet connection/GPS is necessary; roaming service activated; prepaid SIMs recommended):

Offline Planning On The Go, Just After Your Arrival

Image from| Henri Coandă Express | Ticket Kiosk and Shuttle Bus Station

How to:

  • Follow the direction plates until the ticket kiosk
  • Buy a ticket (Domestic Flight Terminal)
  • Go to the bus shuttle station in front of the Arrivals Terminal and pick the shuttle bus
  • Take the train

[box]Ticket fare: 8.10 RON (no reservation) /11.4 RON

Shuttle bus/train schedule: daily between 06.25 – 21.24

Links: Bucharest Central Railways Station – Gara de Nord (subway station)[/box]

You can use all the above mobile apps free of charge (no data plan necessary) staying near by the tourist info kiosk from the Arrivals Terminal, public area. Besides the fact that you can search for accommodation and other travel info, the kiosk is also working as a hotspot.

If necessary, do not hesitate to ask for help directly to airport personnel not other tourist and inhabitants.

I am sure that there would be people saying that this is another ordinary guide, but I am also aware that many other guides are not complete or are too complex and hard to follow. I believe that this guide is simple and in the same time efficient, bringing a plus for the travelers’ safety. I can’t say it’s complete, but it will be updated on the go, once the information is confirmed by different parties.

This kind of guide is something in the responsibility of the authorities in other countries. In Romania, the authorities close their eyes and are focusing on short term actions with low investments. It is a shame that the Henri Coandă International Airport does not have a decent online map helping the passengers to guide themselves through various points of interest from the airport. What can we say about the missing tourist info point and about the not so active security personnel?

Until we will find some answers, other events are speaking for us. Fortunately, I and some other fellow bloggers are trying to change how the things are going.

This article is part of a blogging campaign initiated by the Romanian tourism bloggers as a signal on the anomalies from the Henri Coandă International Airport, main gate to Romania. Please feel free to spread the word by sharing on all of your communication channels this article and the ones published today on George Popescu-Orodel’s blog,,, Liliana Oprișan’s blog,,,,,,,, Bogdan Surdu’s blog,,, Enciclopedia Călătorului Independent,,,,,,,,,,

Petruș Lungu

În ultimii ani m-am plimbat ceva prin țară și prin afară, iar mai nou am înclinații spre cicloturism. De asemenea, practic la nivel de amator snowbording-ul și kiting-ul și încă mai fac față unor ture moderate de trekking. :)

27 păreri despre “The first timer’s guide to Bucharest, Romania

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  6. Express bus 783 has non-stop schedule since april 2012. During the night, the bus runs every 40 minutes, and the ticket ofice is open all night, both at the airport and at Unirii station. The schedule on the ratb website was not updated, unfortunately.

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