With an extensive public transport system, getting around Bucharest is easy. The centre of town is small enough to travel by foot – but watch out for potholes, broken paving and cars squeezed into whatever space they can find. For longer trips, a combination of the metro, tram, bus and trolleybus ensure that most of Bucharest is easily reachable. Otherwise, taxis are relatively inexpensive and widely available.
Public transport in Bucharest
Bucharest’s metro system is clean and affordable. With four lines and over 50 stations, this is the easiest way to get around the city centre, although metros can be overcrowded. Stations are indicated by white signs with a blue 'M'. Tickets can be purchased at these stations, with different multiple-journey options available, including unlimited weekly or monthly passes.
Buses, trolleybuses and trams
There are many bus and tram stops throughout the city, making it easier to get around in Bucharest. Buses, trolleybuses and trams are all run by RATB, the local public transport operator. A ticket can be used on any of the three transport options as they use the same ticketing system. Expats can also buy a weekly or monthly pass which is valid on both the buses, trams and trolleybuses.
Tickets can be bought at booths around town, which are generally found near to bus stops. Most ticket issuers do not speak English and expats should therefore learn the word for ticket in Romanian, which is "bilet". Alternatively, it might be easier to purchase tickets on the RATB website. Being caught travelling without a ticket will result in a hefty fine.
The quality of vehicles varies in Bucharest and, if a commute is crowded, expats should take care of their personal belongings. Bucharest is generally safe, but pickpockets are known to operate on public transport.
Taxis in Bucharest
Taxi services in Bucharest vary, as do their driving standards. They can be a quick way of getting around, but this depends on traffic, which is exceptionally bad during rush hours. A taxi is a good option once the daily bus service has stopped, however. When using one, always check the price on the side of the vehicle. Once in, check that the meter is showing the same rate and ensure the driver has switched it on. Taxi drivers in Bucharest are infamous for overcharging foreigners. Expats unsure of how to pronounce their destination should have it written down on a piece of paper.
Some rideshare and taxi-service apps operate in Bucharest. Local apps include Clever Taxi and Star Taxi, while Uber and Taxify are also an option. These are often cheaper than a regular taxi, and also have the added bonus of displaying the fare beforehand.
Driving in Bucharest
Driving in Bucharest is not recommended unless an expat wants to travel around Romania for sightseeing. A car is also useful when travelling to northeastern Bucharest, where public transport is almost non-existent and getting back to the centre by taxi can be difficult.
Bucharest’s road infrastructure wasn't designed to cater for the number of cars operating in the city. While it may be quicker to get somewhere by driving, finding parking in Bucharest can be challenging and drivers often park where they like, with little intervention by the police. Traffic in the city is also horrendous during rush hours.