There is often a lot of stigma surrounding one of the last countries to join the EU –
Romania. It is often portrayed by the media as a dangerous place with high levels of
crime. In this article for Eastern Europe Insight, we answer the commonly asked question: Is Romania Safe?
Tourists that plan to go there for a vacation and visit the infamous Dracula’s Castle in Transylvania, or roam the streets of the many beautiful towns such as Sibiu, Sighisoara, Brasov, and many others are often warned that they will get robbed the moment they arrive in the country.
So, is Romania Safe or Not?
However, even though Romania cannot compare to Iceland, supposedly the safest country in Europe, in terms of the level of safety, all that we are used to hearing about the country on the media is definitely way over the top and if you want to find out why that is, keep on reading!
To begin with, Romania is a hidden gem in Eastern Europe where you can find a wide range of beautiful places to visit. If your plan is to fly to the country, you are in luck! Because there are over 12 international airports on the territory of Romania.
However, if you would rather a variety go there by car, it is also very safe. Because Romania has in fact a great infrastructure and well-maintained roads and highways. All the main cities are well connected throughout the year and largely uninterrupted by snowfall.
It would actually be recommended to use your own transport instead of public transport. Although Romania is overall a very safe country with a Global Peace Index (GPI) rate for 2020 of 1.541, tourists might fall victim to petty and opportunistic crime such as pickpocketing, robbery, or mugging. This is especially prevalent in highly touristic areas. Or on a night out when the consumption of big amounts of alcohol is involved.
For this reason, travelers to Romania should use their common sense. Do not leave any personal belongings unattended and always be wary when walking through big crowds of people.
The Roma Gypsy Community & Stigma
Here we come to the next point of this article – the Roma Gypsy community. It is the biggest ethnic minority in Romania and it is often considered problematic when it comes to crime. Tourists that travel are often forced to think by the media that they will be robbed by gypsies.
The truth is, however, that there is a big problem with racial prejudice towards them. Romanian president Klaus Iohannis has in fact recently approved a law that would minimize the number of verbal and physical hate crimes that are conducted against the Roma community.
Based on this law, any person who is accused of committing hate crimes against the Roma community can be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison. The political analyst in Bucharest shares the opinion that “Romania does not want to be singled out as a country which has extensive problems with Roma, this is an issue of human need and human dignity”.
“Romania does not want to be singled out as a country which has extensive problems with Roma, this is an issue of human need and human dignity”.
As a whole, although there are some issues with Romani people linked to stealing and scamming, they are no more likely to commit criminal activity than any other person. Every person who goes on a vacation to a foreign country is at a higher risk to get scammed or robbed no matter the country. Therefore, using common sense goes a long way.
Tips on How to Stay Safe in Romania
A city like Bucharest would be linked to a way higher risk level in terms of crime than other smaller cities or towns in Romania. Just like in all major European cities, Bucharest is no exception in terms of the organised groups of pickpockets and thieves.
The key locations where such criminal activity usually occurs is in the underground, train stations or bus stations. If you ever decide to take an overnight bus or train you need to be especially careful due to robbers using the night hours as an advantage to rob people who travel alone.
For this reason, always keep your belongings close to you without leaving them out of sight. In case you would like to take a nap after a tiring day of exploring, keep your handbag or backpack on your legs and place your hands over it. In this way, the chance of waking up if someone decides to rob you is way higher than if it is lying on the seat next to you.
Also, please keep in mind that pickpockets and thieves do not look scruffy and dirty as people might often imagine. In fact, it is quite the opposite. They are often children and if not, they look very representative and dressed well.
They might approach you on the street and pretend that they know you with a phrase that goes something along the lines of “Hey, don’t you remember me?” and distract you while they pick your pocket or someone else does it from behind.
This is exactly why you need to be wary of everyone, regardless of how they look or what is their ethnic background. Something else you need to consider and NOT forget is that, although Romania is in the European Union, its currency is not Euro. It is Romanian Leu.
Before traveling there, keep in mind that credit card fraud and other types of financial fraud is common in the country. There are ATMs and change desks that would charge you ridiculous amount for withdrawing or respectively changing money by giving you very bad exchange rates or unknown service fees.
Romania is still a cash country and credit cards are not always accepted. The best you can do is to either use bank cards like Revolut or TransferWise or to priorly exchange money in your home country in a place where you can be sure you will not get ripped off.
Related Romania Travel Articles:
- Seven Cultural Drinks in Romania From Palinka to Tuica
- How did Kent Cigarettes Become Currency in Communist Romania?
- Reflections in a Gold Bathroom Mirror at the Ceausescu Mansion
To summarize, Romania is a beautiful country with a lot to see, but although it is an overall very safe country to travel to, there are some minor issues you need to consider and stay wary of. Nevertheless, as long as you use your common sense, you will be okay!