With an extensive public transport system, getting around Bucharest is easy. The centre of town is small enough to traverse by foot – but watch out for potholes, broken paving, and cars squeezed into any space they can find. For longer trips, a combination of the metro, tram, bus and trolleybus ensures 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 five lines (M1, M2, M3, M4 and M5) and over 60 stations, this is the easiest way to get around the city centre.
Stations are indicated by white signs with a blue 'M'. Tickets can be purchased at 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. Ahead of their journey, expats should purchase an Activ or Multiplu card, found at kiosks near bus stops. Expats can use either card on any of the three transport options, as they share a ticketing system.
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 a taxi, always check the price on the side of the vehicle. Once in, check that the meter shows 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 Star Taxi, while Uber and Bolt are also available. These are often cheaper than a regular taxi, make the language barrier easier to overcome and 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. The roads are in poor condition, and driving can be a harrowing experience. That said, public transport doesn't cover some parts of Bucharest, making a car necessary.
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.
Licencing regulations for expats depend on nationality. Expats can use EU driving licences in Romania until expiry. In contrast, non-EU drivers need an International Driver's Permit (IDP), which they can use for up to six months before it needs to be replaced by a local licence. The same applies to UK licences.
►For daily expenses in the city, read Cost of Living in Bucharest.
"Traffic is really bad during rush hour in Bucharest. I’m so thankful to live near a metro line. There are only a handful of lines, but they connect the parts of the city we most often visit. There are also street car and bus services, but those tend to be much slower. They are also more difficult to navigate as a newcomer. Romanians really hate drafts, so even in the sweltering heat of summer they will not open the windows on the train cars. It can be a really hot, sweaty, uncomfortable experience." Read about Jessica, an American expat, and her move to Bucharest in her interview.
Are you an expat living in Bucharest?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Bucharest. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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