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Europe > Romania > Bucharest

See: Why rent a car in Bucharest ? | Why not? | Ratings | Summary | Comments

(All of these pages will look a lot nicer when they are tidied up later in the spring)

Your key questions for any destination:

Do I need a car in Bucharest?

Strictly speaking, there are very few travel destinations anywhere in the world where it's absolutely essential to rent a car in order to see the main points of interest.

That's why we give you loads of ratings scales from 1 to 10, rather than just yes or no answers!

  • The need question is generally answered by looking at public transport (transit) options. Is it good enough for visitors who are happy to consider using it?
  • How many public transport routes are there, and are they mainly rail or road (bus) based?
  • Is public transport fast, frequent, safe, reliable and cheap?
  • Does public transport actually take you to the places you'll probably want to see?

Is it worth hiring a car in Bucharest?

This question is usually more about value for money. For this, we look at Bucharest car hire options, and consider how rental costs compare with using transit.

How far are you likely to drive anyway, and how much might you expect to spend on fuel, road tolls, parking and any other charges. We compare Bucharest with other destinations locally and around the world.

This is obviously much more of an issue if you are planning a longer road trip than it is on a small island.

Should I rent a car in Bucharest? 

This is basically a merging of the two questions. Everything else might be about giving certain facts about the costs of car rental or using public transport in Bucharest, but answering this question is very much a matter of opinion.

Driving into Bucharest from the airport shows how much the city has developed since the fall of Ceausescu, and it almost seems like there is a new shopping mall on every corner. Yet within this traffic soaked metropolitan area there is still a relatively compact city core, where walking is still the best way to get around, whatever Bucharest’s varied climate throws at you.

Please note that is currently being revised and updated in preparation for the Summer 2022 (northern hemisphere) tourist season. 

We do not intent to include detailed covid information, nor do we intend to suggest hiring a car, just because public transport might still have a mask requirement. Our advice will be based on the same criteria we've always used, ie whether or not you can get a better travel experience, or at least a better value one, by choosing not to hire a car.

Quick Ratings

Price band

Bucharest is in car rental price band: 2/10 (1 = cheapest car rental location)

General comment - based on price alone, is it worth renting a car in Bucharest? 

Yes. Very cheap car rental by global standards.


Can you expect big swings in car rental prices in Bucharest between the peak and the off peak season?

5/10 (0 = stable prices)

Driving score: 5/10

Non car score:2/10

Balance: 7

(0 = car hire not advised / 10 = rental car essential)

General comment -


Ceausescu’s influence is still stamped firmly on the country’s parliament, which was his former palace, and the scale of some of these developments is such that it might be best to travel around in some sort of motorised transport, but this could easily be a bus or taxi rather than a hired car.

Bucharest has also invested heavily, and continues to invest in a mass transit metro system, and buses and trams are still widely available. This gives a natural leaning towards not hiring a car if you just plan to stay within the centre of Bucharest, but of course this would be missing out on all of the best scenery which Romania has to offer.

Why? Visiting Bucharest using a hire car

Why do you need a car in Bucharest ?

Should you hire a car in Bucharest?

  • With Bucharest being the natural arrival point for a road trip into the Carpathian mountains, whether on a slightly cliched Dracula inspired tour, or simply to enjoy any number of scenic views, the pendulum rapidly swings towards getting a hire car for the duration of your stay.
  • Even if you still plan to spend a couple of nights in Bucharest before heading out elsewhere, car parking shouldn’t be too much of a problem in any suburban hotel, so there isn’t much point in doing a rental for some of your stay, although as with anywhere, this will depend on the local conditions where you’re staying.
  • The Transfăgărășan is rated by many as one of the best driving roads in Europe. To reach this Carpathian mountains pass would take around 3 hours from Bucharest.

Why not? Visiting Bucharest without a car

Why don't you need a car in Bucharest ?

  • It’s also worth pointing out that Romania is also well worth exploring by train, and this will probably still suit the independent minded traveller, although Romanian trains tend to be a little on the slow side, with services offering very infrequently outside express services between the major cities. The network, which has seen little investment in recent years, is still excellent value compared to driving, especially for people travelling alone, or with just one other companion.

Ratings: How does Bucharest compare?

Is it worth hiring a car in Bucharest? TBC

This is based on a rough consideration of the costs of renting a car in Bucharest, and how this compares with the costs of using public transport. The answer to this varies hugely from one destination to the next, based on a wide range of factors. It's based on renting a car at the airport (TBC), and driving for an average of 2-3 hours on open roads on most days.

How does this compare if:

You are travelling:

Solo / As couple / small family / larger family / senior couple etc

Does car rental make sense on different budgets?



Do you need to hire a car in Bucharest? TBC

This is based strictly on whether or no we think it's possible to visit Bucharest (and the surrounding area) without using a car. Of the three key questions, this one is the most likely to be a "no".

Should you rent a car in Bucharest? TBC

This is a balance of all factors. Remember this is an answer to the question for people who are already asking it. That's why the answer might still be a "yes", even when public transport is good. 

See global comparisons

Hiring | Driving | Parking

Trains | Buses | Local travel


Car hire basics:


Public transportation basics:


Regular bus services: YES

Coach (inter-city): YES

Tram: NO

Metro: NO

Commuter Rail:

High Speed Rail:

Rail type (end stub / through / junction / hub):


As you start ....

Does Bucharest airport have a direct rail link?

(Yes - within terminal / adjacent / short walk) (Yes - bus transfer / other) No






Has our advice for Bucharest car rental changed over time, or has it been pretty constant?

2017 - 7

2019 - 6

2021 - 7

Average score - 7



Should you hire a car in Bucharest? On balance, a recommendation for Bucharest is that a hire car is probably useful.


Do you or don't you need a car in Bucharest ?

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