Discover Romania by Bike
Cycling in Romania
Some general information for cycle tourists, reported by CCN
Some main roads *European roads) have very intenive traffic (lorries) because there are almost no highways in Romania so that all the heavy transit traffic is on the "usual" roads. These roads are unpleasant to ride and even dangerous for cyclists and should be avoided as much as possible. Secondary roads have very low traffic but the quality of the road surface (asphalt) is often poor (potholes). Therefore atention and MTB-type tyres are recommended. Romania is hilly. Almost all touristical interesting areas are in hilly or mountainous regions. That means some up and downhill-cycling. Even National Roads can have up to 10 % climbings. MTB-like components are recommended, to have 21 or 24 or 27 speed, with minimum transmission of 0.80 if having lot of luggage on the bike.
It is no problem to buy food in any town or village. In small towns or villages it is possible to find basic things like milk, cheese, tins, bread, margarine, soft drinks.... but not large veriety and not all what you want (ex. specialised or concentrated food for sportmen) but food is generally not a problem. Prices are low for western tourists (like 1 liter milk 0,30 EUR, 1 kg bread 0,3 EUR, 1 kg Salami 4-7 EUR...) WATER
In hilly / mountaineous regions there are almost everywhere springs near the roads. In every village you can ask for water. And mineral water and soft drinks are everywhere to buy.
Touristical infrastructure is developed only in big cities and resorts in the mountains and seaside and some spas and along main roads. Along scondary roads and in areas with few tourists there are few good accomodation possibilities. But rural tourism is developed in some areas, and sleeping at peasants is for a cyclotourist a good solution, because Romanian peasants are very
hospitable.On longer bike-trips in mountainous regions with few / no villages, the tent is still one of the best and surest solutions.
PARTS AND BIKE SERVICE
In Romania there are many bikes, but most are old ones, without shifters, or low quality MTB-s with very low quality components. Few people have good bikes. The market is small and therefore good bike shops and services exist only in few big cities (Oradea, Cluj-Napoca, Timisoara, Targu Mures, Sibiu, Hunedoara, Iasi, Baia Mare, Onesti, Bucuresti...) In other places there is no chance to find components for good bikes or tools which are needed for a good bike. Even in this bigger towns it is not always sure that you can find more expensive things or not a wide range of gear but it can be provided in 2-3 days at request so you must sometimes wait if you need something more special like a fork or a XTR-hub...
There are no particular things to mention - it is like everywhere in east european countries. On roads it is strongly recommended not to cycle by night and to cycle very carefully where is intensive heavy traffic because most drivers do not care too much about cyclists. Road signposting is sometimes poor. Danger for theft or robbery is a problem more in Bucharest or by night in cities in the peripery... like everywhere. In the countryside and apart from the main roads and cities usually it is not a problem to camp alone in the forest... Beware of gipsy-groups. Never change money on the street and take care of your passport and money, especially in cities, railway stations...
The Romanian currency is the LEU (plural LEI) - in the banking system it is ROL (like DEM for German Mark or USD for US DOllar or EUR for EUro). In the moment there are banknotes of 1000, 2000, 5000, 10000, 50000, 100000 and 500000 lei and coins of 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 lei. Actual exchange rate is about 1 EUR= 25000 lei. Inflation is high - estimated to be about 35% in the year 2001. The best thing is to have with you US Dollars or German Marks (DM) in small bills (20 or 50 USD< 10 or 50 or 100 DM). Other currencies have bad exchange rates or can be changed only in big banks i big cities at bad exchange rates). There are "exchange offices" ("Casa de schimb valutar") in all cities and towns. CHeck the exchange rates, because they vary from an exchange office to another. Avoid the exchange offices in airport and reception desks in hotels because usually they offer bad exchange rate. In Romania, only cash money is used. To pay with credit cards or cheques is possible in very few big hotels and supermarkets - mostly in Bucharest. You can obtain LEI at exchange offices. In banks in cities and bigger towns you can also cash travel cheques and you can also directly cash LEI at ATMs on the street or banks - but such cash machines exist only in big cities. Average salary in Romania is about 100 EUR / month netto, but many people get only about 50 EUR / month. But prices are not as low as salaries. Some things are as expensive as in western countries.
Citizens of the European Union do not need visa for Romania. Citizens of Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Turkey and some other countries also do not need visa. Citisens of USA, Switzerland, Norway, Israel and some othe r countries can obtain the visa at the border, without other documents. (It costs about 30 EUR). Passport is needed at the border, in hotels, sometiomes for changing money... You should have your passport with you all the time in Romania.