Last updated on 29 April 2014
Facilities for disabled travellers in Romania range from patchy to nonexistent. Anyone with mobility problems should go prepared and ideally have local contacts. However it is possible to get to, from and around the country if you know what you are doing
In 2006, in the run-up to joining the EU, Romania passed some excellent legislation supporting the rights of disabled people. However although it has made some slow strides towards disabled access since then, and new buildings need to be wheelchair-accessible, implementation has been very poor. In practice Romania remains by and large off-limits to disabled travellers.
Much of the appeal of the Romania lies in its rugged countryside, historical buildings and mediæval settlements. These all cater mainly to the able-bodied.
In urban areas a major problem is the Romanian habit of parking cars on the pavement (sidewalk), which makes getting around in a wheelchair difficult at best. Uneven paving is another serious obstacle. In rural areas there are often simply no paved roads at all. It may be best to use a motorised rather than manual wheelchair.
One possible way of easing travel around Romania with a disability is to go on an organised tour, making clear your specific needs before booking. However even then you may find that some destinations are not accessible at all. If you prefer to travel on your own, it is important to give advance warning to service providers of any special needs you may have. Romanians will generally do their best to help even when facilities are poor. On public transport, for example, usually people will give up their seat for someone with a visible physical disability.
Newer hotels are the most likely to have facilities for disabled guests, including specially adapted bedrooms.
On the positive side, Romania has much long-term potential for health-spa tourism but currently facilities are of a low standard.
Disabled people should not face insurmountable problems in flying to, from or within Romania but it is important to give the airline notice at least 24 hours, and sometimes 72 hours, in advance and to arrive at the airport in plenty of time. Tarom requires at least 76 hours’ notice.
For more information about individual airports and contact details check out the following links:
Bucharest Băneasa (Aurel Vlaicu)
Bucharest Otopeni (Henri Coandă)
Baia Mare (Romanian)
Târgu Mureș (Romanian)
CFR makes some provision for persons with reduced mobility (PRMs), but only on certain national and international trains in InterCity, accelerat and rapid class to and from certain stations (Romanian), and with a minimum of 48 hours’ notice.
For more information, or to request assistance, ask at any train station or CFR booking office. If you don’t speak Romanian, you may find it simpler to head for the international ticket desk of a major station (Romanian), where staff are more likely to speak English. In this list, places highlighted in blue indicate city booking offices while the rest are train stations. Alternatively ask a hotel receptionist or tourist office to help.
However it is probably easiest to apply online. Beware that the form is very slow to load.
Virtually all local buses in Bucharest are wheelchair-accessible. These include the newest Mercedes Citaro buses, such as the 783 airport bus to and from Piața Romană and the 123 linking Gara de Nord and Piața Unirii. Irisbus Citelis trolleybuses running on routes 61, 62, 69, 70, 71, 86, 90, 91 and 92 are also wheelchair-accessible. The only tram (or more accurately light-rail) route that is currently wheelchair-accessible is the No 41, from Piața Presei Libere to Bulevardul Ghencea.
Of the metro stations, Piața Romană, Gara de Nord 2 and 1 Mai have lifts (elevators) for disabled passengers, normally open only from 6am to 10pm, and Gara de Nord 1 and Piata Unirii 1 have stairlifts, which often don’t work and require a member of staff to operate them.
Outside Bucharest disabled access to public transport is generally poor, although Satu Mare and Vâlcea are honourable exceptions.
Although Article 64(2) of Law 448 of 6 December 2006 requires taxi companies to have at least one vehicle accessible to wheelchair users, enforcement has been nonexistent.
Disabled loos are a rarity outside airports and the latest hotels.
Accessibilizing public space: intentions and realities (press release by the Soros Foundation Romania)
Calypso country report Romania
Motivation Romania—an organisation that provides wheelchairs among other things
Romania: What! No vampires?