I have been working in the travel industry for more than twenty years now, and I can tell you that booking a tour to visit Romania is not something challenging or even difficult. Moreover, if you are lucky enough to stumble upon the right person and the right company, everything should be smooth and straightforward.
Still, if you want to make sure that you will have a great trip, here are a few points I would be sure of before packing your bags.
1. What will you actually visit?
From my experience, it is worth having a list of sites you want to visit even before you start searching for the right tour company. There are many things to see and do, but a preliminary self-made online survey will reveal the places you should not miss.
Keep it on hand and check if the itinerary proposed by the tour operator actually includes all those sites. If not, ask that they be included. It’s a pity to leave the country and then hear about a beautiful castle you might have visited if you had only known that it was there.
2. Is the itinerary well-paced?
Romania is a large country, and you shouldn’t expect to see everything even if you have thirty days to stay here. For comparison, Romania covers an area larger than most American states but has fewer highways and turnpikes than the smallest state. Most roads are busy national roads, and the speed limit is generally 100 km per hour (56 mph). So if you want to see a lot and only have 10 days, the driving time could easily exceed your worst fears. Take a look at the driving distances and if you are not comfortable with them, talk to your agent and see what can be done. Giving up some minor sites will offer you more time to spend at others which are more important.
3. Where are you going to sleep at night?
Unlike many other countries, hotel standards in Romania are quite high. I always advise my clients to ask for something higher than 3-star locations only if they want real luxury and huge rooms. 5-star hotels are quite rare outside of Bucharest, and most of the upscale hotels in the country are small boutique properties. If you want to feel the true local atmosphere, you should try at least one local guesthouse. Please consider the fact that there are some wonderful villages in Romania where there are no hotels (just pensions and guesthouses) or at least, no luxury hotels.
All properties with 3 stars or above offer rooms with private facilities.
4. Who is going to be your guide?
The guide is probably the most important ingredient for a wonderful tour. His attitude and knowledge can definitely enhance or ruin the quality of your experience. If possible, ask the company who your guide will be, and look him up on Google.
However, most of the Romanian guides I’ve met are warm and passionate about their job and are really fluent in English. The chances to meet a lazy one are quite small, but still, you should check.
5. What car is the tour company going to use?
Tours around Romania can be operated with anything from a standard car to a large bus – it depends on the size of the group. The good news is that Romanian tour operators are generally very particular about using modern and even luxurious cars. As a result, tourists’ expectations are usually exceeded in this area. The bad news is that the standard space between seat rows in the minibusses or coaches could be smaller than the American standard. This is because European and American standards are a little different when it comes to the distance between seats. However, the difference is not significant, and if you are going to take a long private tour and the group is small, you should ask the tour company to tell you the type of car they use and if there is enough room in the back seats to stretch your legs.
6. Is the company trustworthy?
I can hardly remember a case where a Romanian tour operator deceived foreign tourists, but this doesn’t mean that it couldn’t happen. So be careful before paying any amount of money for your trip, and you should be able to answer the following questions:
- Is the company located in Romania? I would recommend a tour of Romania with a Romanian company as they have more local expertise, but you can also book with a foreign company if you prefer.
- Does the tour company have its full address on their website? A physical address is required by Romanian law for a company to do business. Therefore, just an email address, a postal box address, or just a name of the street is not acceptable.
- Is the registration number of the certificate on the website?
- A Romanian tour operator must have a valid tourism license to be allowed to function. Check the website for this document or ask the agent to show it.
- Does the company have public liability insurance?
- Is the company a member of any professional association, local or international?
- Have you seen any reviews from previous clients? Are these reviews on a third-party website that can guarantee their authenticity?
If you could not find the answer to any of these questions or if you have any doubts, do not book a tour with that company. Instead, keep looking and find another one.
7. Is the company responsive?
Romanians are warm and welcoming people, and the tour company agents usually speak good English and are ready to answer all your questions. The tour company's responsiveness and customer service are essential because they will show you how interested they are in serving you and how fast they will solve a problem if one occurs.
If you checked all the points above and everything looks fine, I am sure you will enjoy a great vacation in Romania. Don’t forget to try the delicious Romanian food, the excellent Romanian wines, and above all, enjoy yourself!
If you have encountered another kind of problem with your travel agent while booking a tour to Romania, please leave a comment here or send us an email, and we will update the article for future travelers to beware of.