Is Bucharest Safe?
An important question I kept getting asked when people know I was going to Romania was “Is Bucharest Safe?” My answer based on my own experience is………
Bucharest is a safe place to travel especially as a solo female traveller. But like with any unfamiliar destination you need to be aware of your surroundings. Don’t take unnecessary risks, would you walk down that dark alley way at home no, so don’t do it when travelling in Bucharest.
Like with any town or city there are going to be areas that are not suitable for tourists never mind a solo female. I know of areas in my home town and country that I just wouldn’t feel safe even if there was no threat. I first visited Bucharest in March for a couple of days and then again in May for a week and even though I felt vulnerable in some of the areas nothing ever happened.
During my first visit, I must admit I didn’t do my research properly and I was staying at the Ibis near the Gara de Nord and it is not the best neighbourhood to stay in. Looking after your own personal safety in Bucharest is important. Even the locals told me not to walk around alone at night and TBH I wouldn’t as I just didn’t feel that safe.
I felt as though everyone was looking at me and I later discovered it was because they were still not used to seeing tourists and it wasn’t they were checking me out to rob me or anything they were just interested. My naivety presumed with it being a European city they would be familiar with visitors. I probably stood out more than most with my ginger hair and pale skin.
However, at no point during both of my visits did any untoward happen. The second time I was there with 100 other travel influences and didn’t hear of any stories of anything happening to anyone either and it would have got around quickly if something had.
I encountered a bit of a scary situation when I arrived the second time but I think my imagination ran away with me slightly and made it more than it was. I got a taxi from the airport to my hotel, I knew my hotel was near the train station and it was for one night as I was arriving at 10pm I only wanted somewhere to crash so I went for cheap. Since I had been before and stayed near the train station I was recognising my surroundings slightly and when the taxi pulled up outside a hotel that had a different name and I couldn’t see the train station I said that I didn’t think it was the right place. He replied that it was but it was very run down and not a nice place and he could take me to the Ibis if I wanted. Now I had heard of scams like this before where they say the hotel is full and take you to another one and get commission but I am not sure if this was his intentions or if he generally wanted to take me to a different hotel as the one he had stopped at looked a bit of a dive. Plus I had already paid for this hotel so I wasn’t going to go to somewhere different.
Anyway, he said “yes this is it look at the sign” and it was called Sirs and I was staying at a Sirs hotel so I got out. I went into the foyer and the man behind the desk was looking at me strangely and he said “we have no reservations”. I showed him my booking and he explained it was their sister hotel which was about an 8-minute walk but it wasn’t safe to walk around here so he called me a taxi.
The taxi driver arrived and said he knew where we were going but I was dubious as that’s what the other taxi driver said. So off we went and this driver was speeding round the corners and talking on his phone.
Then we went through an area that looked like wasteland and he stopped I was thinking OK this is where someone comes and takes me away and does all the nasty things that happen in the films but he got out a tissue blew his nose and off we went again. He then stopped outside the hotel.
I asked how much as I noticed there was no metre but as a lot are Uber drivers I presumed he was too. He said “pay how much you want to pay”. I said “tell me a price and I will pay it” he laughed and said it was free.
Now nothing is free in the UK so I was a little bit worried in fact I watch so many horror films that I presumed that he was going to come back and get me in the middle of the night so I slept with the light on, not that a light being on would have helped me. But that is just my over active imagination as nothing happened to me.
However, it did make me realise that I hadn’t told anyone where I was going or where I was staying so I put a quick message on Facebook to tell people which hotel I was in just in case. It got me thinking about my safety when travelling and how I need to at least tell my mum where I am staying because I never do and if anything did happen no one even know where I was supposed to be.
Anyway, I survived the night and now I think back he was probably just doing a nice thing as I got dropped off at the wrong hotel in the first place and at the end of the day they were the same chain but I didn’t think that at the time. Anyway, my point is even though this happened to me and yes, I was scared at the time nothing bad happened and it was probably all very innocent but it is important to careful.
Even though the Romanians definitely like to party as there are lots of drinking establishments I didn’t witness any drunken behaviour or aggression. In fact, that is a lie as I saw two separate stag dos that were acting very rowdy but they were English anyway. I saw quite a lot of policemen during the day and night.
One local even said to me “it’s perfectly safe in Bucharest as let’s face it after becoming part of the EU all our pickpockets moved to Europe for a better class of wallet” this was meant as a joke and not to cause any offense btw. I didnt even get any abuse, rude comments, or bad manners from anyone I encountered.
I used Uber to get around and mostly all the drivers were friendly and talkative. I didn’t walk around the city alone at night but to be fair I wouldn’t do that in any city.
I was told not to walk around with expensive cameras or phones on show and again that is the same anywhere. I didn’t feel as though I couldn’t use my camera to take pictures though and I have been to places where I have felt unsafe and not even got my camera out.
The UK Government website offers more advice on safety whilst travelling in Romania with some great tips.
Overall I think Bucharest is safe and I would visit there as a solo traveller, with friends and family or even with kiddiewinks. But I still recommend like with all travelling be aware, don’t take unnecessary risks and get the best out of your time in Bucharest.
Articles for more information on Bucharest
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Article originally posted in May 2017 and updated in April 2019