Get on Board in Romania
Romania is still a hidden gem in Eastern Europe: a gem as it offers some of the most glorious landscapes on the continent; hidden, as it is still quite difficult to roam around the country.
Trains are almost always the best way to travel in Europe, either because they are sleek and efficient, or because there is no serious alternative. Romania falls under the last category. You certainly wouldn’t drive there and take a chance to get lost on some Transylvanian road – we all know what happened to lost travelers there in the past.
Romanian villages and smaller towns are incredibly beautiful, and everything in between is too. True, some areas in bigger cities like Bucharest might have been spoiled by decades of voluntarism in industrial development, leading to some atrocities, but the rest of the country is largely unspoiled and a real delight for travelers. The train network is quite dense, giving access to virtually anywhere in the country. Train rides across Transylvania are a unique experience.
Faster, more modern trains like InterCity / EuroCity should be preferred in all cases, and should be booked in 1st class as trains tend to be quite busy in Romania. Advanced booking is strongly advised (and might be compulsory in some cases, so don’t take a chance). All tickets sold by Rail Europe include a pre-assigned seat whenever it is compulsory or recommended, so you’re on the safe side. If you travel with a rail pass, you can get a pre-assigned seat from Rail Europe too. Booking locally is not the smart way to do things, unless you have no alternative. You may want to use your Balkan Flexipass and plan along the way: in this case, the pleasure of spontaneity will certainly overtake the painful, long waiting lanes of people trying to book a seat on a departing train. Good advice is to come to the departure station one or two hours prior to departure to book your seat or couchette. No need to come earlier, as it might be too early to sell a ticket.
Good to know: international trains connecting Romania to their neighbors offer higher comfort standards for those longer distances.
In a word, traveling in Romania by train will probably expose you to some memorable adventures, but it is definitely the simplest way to experiment the beauties of an unspoiled country that has so much to offer to the traveler.
For more information on Romania contact the Romania Tourist Board.