Driving in Bucharest is not the easiest task, although we heard of more hectic driving styles in other countries. The biggest problem in the city is the volume of traffic. The number of cars in Bucharest has constantly increased, but most roads have stayed the same. Some of the streets are also bad, so expect potholes. The municipality has been working on resurfacing many of them.
The rush hours – mornings and end of work day – are sometimes impossible, while some routes are clogged with traffic all day (Splaiul Independentei, Calea Victoriei, Piata Unirii, B-dul Balcescu, B-dul Magheru, Piata Romana and Piata Victoriei).
Sometimes drivers do not respect traffic lights, nor do they see anything wrong with driving off road or parking on the pavement! The biggest challenge, apart from getting used to these in the first place, will be to stop yourself from doing the same after a while!
As a rule, we suggest that you avoid going from south to north during rush hour (mornings and afternoons). However, on weekends and the July – August summer period, the traffic is a little bit less congested.
Expect to hear a lot of honking while driving, especially during traffic jams. (You can also hear honking in the case of a funeral, this is the tradition).
If you are moving to Romania with your own car, or are even just driving through, you have to pay the Romanian road tax, which is called ‘Rovinieta’. The authorities will be able to check electronically whether you bought the Rovinieta or not, as cameras have been installed at city exits.
The tax can be paid for a period of one day, seven days (EUR 3), thirty days (EUR 7) and one year (EUR 28), and can be paid in lei at current exchange rates. Petrom, Rompetrol, Mol, and OMV petrol stations sell the Rovinieta, as well as all customs stations. Do not leave this purchase until you reach the last petrol station before leaving the city, as sometimes their system does not work and you will have to find another place to buy it. Be sure to keep your receipt as you may be asked to show it to the authorities that organize road checks. Traffic police will not ask for your Rovinieta, as it is not in their jurisdiction, but if they are accompanied with the Road Authority (ARR), they can fine you if you do not present your Rovinieta.
It is mandatory for drivers to equip their car with winter tyres from 1st November every year. You are supposed to have these tyres at all times on your car, even if it does not snow. But you will be in more trouble if you get caught in the snow and your car is not equipped with winter tyres on. Expect queuing at car repairing and tyre shops in the last days of October, as everybody will rush there to change their tyres.