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Getting Around In Bucharest: A Transportation Guide

One of the main challenges when visiting a new city is finding out how to get around to visit the important landmarks, museums, and other sights. Bucharest is not only one of the largest, but also one of the most congested cities in Eastern Europe. Luckily, the Romanian capital is still fairly easy to navigate as it has a good public transportation system and several alternatives so it shouldn’t be much of a hassle to move around the city if you know how the transportation options work.

In this guide we share all the details you need to know about transportation in Bucharest, from how to get there, to all the different transportation options within the city, including public transport, taxis, ride sharing, and renting e-scooters and bicycles.

Getting To Bucharest

As the largest city, Bucharest is very well connected to other cities in Romania and abroad via roads, railways, and its airport.

By Air

Bucharest International Airport – Henri Coandă is the only commercial airport serving the city. It is the largest airport in Romania and has direct flights to many cities in Europe and beyond. It is the most popular and convenient way to get to Bucharest from abroad.

The easiest way to get directly from the airport to your hotel is by taxi. The official taxis are located in front of the arrivals hall, are metered, and charge between 2.50 and 3.50 lei per kilometer. We recommend to decline all unsollicited taxi offers and drivers who try to negotiate a fixed price as this is illegal and you almost always pay too much. Ridesharing apps Uber and Bolt are also available for rides from the airport or you can book a private transfer for the ultimate convenience.

The quickest way to get from the airport to the city by public transport is by taking the train to Bucharest North Train Station (Gara de Nord), which connects to the metro, tram and bus. The train runs 24/7 with up to 3 departures per hour during the day and tickets can be bought on board. Another option is to take the Express Bus 783 to Union Square (Piața Unirii) near the old town where you can also get on the metro. The bus stop is on the ground floor (one floor down from the arrivals hall which is on level 1), where you can also find the ticket booth (you can’t buy tickets inside the bus).

By Train

Bucharest has many direct train connections with other cities in Romania, but also sees some international trains arriving from other European cities, including overnight sleeper trains. Bucharest North Train Station is the main train station were all national and international trains arrive, with the only exception of a few regional trains which arrive at the Basarab or East train stations.

From Bucharest North Train Station it’s easy to get to other parts of the city. If you turn left from the platforms you’ll find the entrance to the metro at the end of the hall where you can get on the M1 or M4. If you keep going straight from the train platforms through long main hall, you’ll see the taxi stand and bus stop, where you can also buy the tickets for the bus or tram. The tram stop is to the right on Bulevardul Dinicu Golescu.

By Bus

There are many private bus companies operating routes between Bucharest and other Romanian and international cities, which include direct connections from neighboring countries, but also from Turkey and Germany. Where your bus arrives depends on the bus company and route so its best to check this before your trip as there are several intercity bus stations around the city.

By Car

Bucharest is connected to multiple National and European highways and its fairly easy to navigate your way to the city by car. However, there are a couple of important things you need to know before you get into your car.

  • Toll vignette: If you plan to drive into Romania with a foreign car, you need to buy an electronic toll vignette, which is required on all highways and national roads, otherwise you risk a fine. You can buy the vignette online, at border crossings, post offices, and gas stations, with a validity from 7 days up to 12 months.
  • Parking: Another important thing to know is that you need to pay for parking in the entire city. When it comes to public street parking, there are different rates for the different zones of the city, whereas most parking garages are privately operated and have their own prices. It’s recommended to take this in mind when booking your accommodation. Some accommodations offer free or paid parking, or might be able to advise you where the cheapest nearby parking is.
  • Traffic: Unlike on most highways and rural roads, driving in Bucharest can be challenging and frustrating. It is one of the most congested cities in Europe so rush hours can be a nightmare, while you might sometimes also wonder how some drivers managed to get their license. So unless you have a specific reason, driving around within the city is not recommended as there are much better alternatives.
  • Car Rental: Renting a car is a great idea if you’re flying to Bucharest, but want to see more of the country than just the capital city. Rental cars are available at the airport and at several locations downtown. It’s best to search and compare prices online and book ahead of time to scoop up the best deals, which you can do in our Car Rental section.

Walking In Bucharest

Most people agree that the best way to discover a new city is by walking a lot. This way you can let all your senses take in the atmosphere to get a feeling of the city and you have a 360 degrees view to observe everything you’re passing by. Luckily, Bucharest is very pedestrian friendly, so if you like walking, this is one of the best cities for you.

Bucharest has many long and wide boulevards with broad sidewalks and the old town with its lively bars and restaurants and many historic buildings is entirely car-free. Except for busy intersections and squares where red lights sometimes seem to take forever, crossing the street is usually very easy as there are many pedestrian crossings and cars do actually stop for you. The city also has many parks, including some very large ones like the King Michael I Park and the Youth Park, which are great for walking longer distances.

Public Transport

Bucharest has an extensive public transport network of metros, trams, light rails, trolleys and buses which works very well if you manage to find your way. The metro is very straightforward to use and easy to navigate, but with so many different overground lines its hard to figure out which bus or tram gets you where. Luckily all the metro and other public transport stops in Bucharest are marked on Google Maps and have live departure information. But there’s also a very good mobile app called ‘Info Transport Bucharest’ which not only has all live departure info, it also has a journey planner. You can simply enter where you want to go and it gives you the best options with live time schedules. Below you can read more about the different types of public transport, tickets, and prices.

Bucharest Metro

The metro is the quickest and one of the cheapest ways to move around within Bucharest. The metro operates between 5am and 11pm and trains depart every 5-10 minutes, while the waiting times are reduced to 3-5 minutes during peak hours on the busiest lines.

Metro Lines

The Bucharest metro has an extensive network with the most important lines being the M1 (Yellow Line) which circles around the center and stops at the Bucharest North Train Station and Union Square in the Old Town, and the M2 (Blue Line) which runs though the city center between the north and south. The metro is operated by Metrorex which runs a total of 5 metro lines, and a 6th line to the airport is currently being constructed. You can find live departure information for every metro station on Google Maps.

Althought the metro is convenient and covers large parts of the city, the downside is that the stations are far apart and some tourist attractions are located in areas that are not serviced by the metro at all.

Metro Tickets

Metrorex offers tickets which are valid exclusively for the metro (so not in buses, trams, or trolleys which are run by the company STB), but combination tickets are also available. Tickets can be purchased in cash or by card at vending machines or ticket counters in every metro station. The price is unrelated to the distance traveled or wether you change lines. Below you can read more about the metro ticket types and prices and about the combination tickets.

More information about Metrorex and the metro lines and tickets can be found here.

City Buses, Trolleys, Trams, And Light Rails

In addition to the underground metro, Bucharest has an extensive network of overground public transport consisting of trams, (trolley)buses and a light rail system. The overground transport is all run by the company Societatea de Transport București (STB), which is separate from Metrorex, which runs the metro. The ticketing system is also different, but you can buy combination tickets which are also valid in the metro.

Bus, Tram, And Trolley Lines And Operating Hours

There are over 100 different bus lines, 15 trolleybus lines, 23 tram lines, and 2 light rail lines in Bucharest which operate roughly between 4.30am and 11pm, with the exception of the night bus lines and the airport Express Bus 783, which operate throughout the night.

Bus, Tram, And Trolley Tickets

All city buses, trolleys, trams and light rails in Bucharest work with the same ticketing system, which is separate from the metro. There are several options to buy a ticket for your journey. The classic method is to purchase a ticket at one of the ticket machines or kiosks located at tram stops and the busier bus stops, or at a post office. However, can also pay contactless with your bank card at the machines with the Visa or Mastercard logo inside the bus or tram. Alternatively, tickets can also be purchased with the mobile app called 24Pay.

Each ticket (called an ‘Active’ or ‘Multiple card’) is preloaded with one or multiple journeys. So each journey has a flat fare irrespective of the distance traveled or the number of times you switch lines. A ‘journey’ is valid for 90 minutes on all buses, trams, and trolleys, but you need to validate the card every time you enter a new vehicle, after which the display will show you the remaining validity time. The card can be topped up again at the same ticket kiosks and machines. Below you can read more about the ticket types and prices and about the combination tickets that include the metro.

More information about the STB and its overground public transport lines, tickets and other info can be found here.

Public Transport Ticket Types And Fares

Public transport tickets are separated between the metro and all other public transport in Bucharest. You can buy a ticket for the metro (Metrorex), for the buses, trams, and trolleys (STB), or a combination ticket.

Individual Tickets For Metrorex Or STB

If you are planning to only use the metro or only the overground buses, trams, and trolleys, an individual ticket from either of the companies is cheaper than a combination ticket. Although the tickets for each company are different and they can’t be used interchangeably, the prices are exactly the same:

  • 1 journey: 3 lei (valid for 90 minutes)
  • 2 journeys: 6 lei (valid for 90 minutes per journey)
  • 10 journeys: 25 lei (valid for 90 minutes per journey)
  • 24 hour pass: 8 lei
  • 72 hour pass: 20 lei
  • Weekly pass: 30 lei
  • Monthly pass: 80 lei

Combination Tickets (Metrorex & STB)

Metrorex and STB combination tickets are valid for use in all public transport in Bucharest, including bus, tram, trolley, and metro. Combination tickets can be purchased at all regular Metrorex and STB ticket sales points at the following prices:

  • 1 journey: 5 lei (valid for 120 minutes)
  • 2 journeys: 10 lei (valid for 120 minutes per journey)
  • 10 journeys: 45 lei (valid for 120 minutes per journey)
  • 24 hour pass: 14 lei / 20 lei (incl. airport train)
  • 72 hour pass: 35 lei / 40 lei (incl. airport train)
  • Weekly pass: 50 lei
  • Monthly pass: 140 lei / (210 incl. airport train)

Taxis In Bucharest

Taxis are widely available in Bucharest and easily recognizable by their bright yellow color. It is the most convenient way to go from door to door, but also the most expensive mode of transport and bear in mind that you might get stuck in traffic during rush hours. Prices usually vary between 2.50-3.50 lei per kilometer, which is not bad compared to other European cities, but always make sure the meter is turned on to prevent paying too much. Cards are usually not accepted in taxis so make sure you have enough cash in Romanian lei, preferably in small notes.

Ridesharing Apps

Ridesharing apps Uber and Bolt are also available in Bucharest and have a well-established network of drivers so they work well. This is a cheaper alternative to taxis, but the same warning regarding traffic applies here. Ordering and paying goes via the respective apps so you don’t have to worry about having cash, which is convenient.

Electric Scooters

Like in many other cities electric scooters have made their introduction in Bucharest and have quickly become very popular. You can find and book the e-scooters via the mobile apps of Lime, Bolt, Uber, Splash, and Blinkee. E-scooters are cheaper than taxis, don’t get stuck in traffic, and a lot of fun to ride, but always be extremely careful if you decide to use them, and always adhere to the rules:

  • You need to be at least 14 years old to drive an e-scooter.
  • The maximum speed is 25 km/h.
  • Always use the bike lane if available.
  • If no bike lane is available, use the road only where the maximum speed is not higher than 50 km/h.
  • It’s not allowed to overtake other moving vehicles.
  • E-scooters are not allowed in parks and other pedestrianized areas.
  • The use of mobile phones, headphones, or other distracting devices is prohibited.
  • Drunk driving is also prohibited on an e-scooter.
  • It’s not allowed to take on a passenger.

Bike Rental

A healthy and fun alternative to get around the city is by bicycle. There are several places where you can rent bicycles, including the many I’Velo stations across the city where you can pick up a bike with their app. There are several dedicated bicycle lanes along the larger boulevards and in some of the parks, but otherwise be very careful in traffic.

Car Sharing

Car sharing has also made its introduction to Bucharest and offers another alternative to get around the city, or to make a day trip out of town. SPARK and Hip (Citylink) are the most well-known apps to get access to a car at your fingertips without the need to wait in line or fill out any paperwork. You just pay as you go by the mintute which makes it flexible and cheap for short rides. Although daily rates are also available, there is usually a surplus above a certain mileage, so if you’re planning a longer road trip, it’s ofter cheaper to go for a traditional rental car.

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