Romania and dog-friendly probably aren’t two terms you’ve heard together before. But despite Romania’s non-appearance on lists of the most dog-friendly countries in Europe and its reputation for strays, I found the country a surprisingly friendly one to travel in with a dog. Here are my tips for travelling in Romania with a dog.
A Note on Stray Dogs in Romania
Firstly, a note on Romania’s reputation for stray dogs. Romania has by far the most stray dogs of any country I have visited in Europe (although there are a few countries I still haven’t made it to). However, I didn’t find they were a problem with my own dog.
The stray dogs are obviously not treated well by locals, as they were very shy and timid. Raise your voice, and off they go. Around my small Miniature Dachshund (who was far smaller than all of them), they simply wanted to play with him, and he was the fiercer (at least when it came to barking).
The more difficult aspect was instead the large number of strays that I saw killed on the country’s roads. It was a sobering experience while driving.
Dining Out in Romania with a Dog
Firstly, a caveat about our experiences eating in restaurants in Romania with our dog. It was the middle of summer and we had beautiful weather every day, so we rarely even considered seeing if our dog was allowed to dine inside.
The one exception was a cafe in a small city where we discovered they had ultra-fast wi-fi (compared to the barely-there connection at our hotel), so we asked to sit inside so we could also plug-in our laptops. The staff were okay with us sitting just inside with our dog, as long as he was well-behaved. (Just remember, when using shared wi-fi like at cafes or hotels, you should use a VPN to keep your internet browsing private and protected. For a guide to all of the best VPNs available, check out BestVPN.com.)
We otherwise dined on outdoor terraces, from the capital, Bucharest, to the countryside, to the Danube Delta. At none of these places did we experience any issues with having a dog. Although I did spot one cafe in a fancy area of Bucharest, that had a no dogs sign. I’m not sure if that was referring to inside or out.
If you are visiting Bucharest, a heads-up to the restaurant Dianei 4, just north of the Old Town. Between its lush green outdoor terrace and delicious salads, we returned multiple times, despite prices being higher than typical in Romania.
Taking a Dog on Public Transport in Romania
We mainly had a rental car to get around Romania, so didn’t make much use of public transport. The only other vehicle our dog travelled in was an Uber to and from our apartment in Bucharest. Our driver was fine with us having a dog (and he was still in his bag, fresh off the plane), and was one of the friendliest Uber drivers we met in Europe.
Looking at the rules published online, all size dogs are generally allowed on trains in Romania, while only smaller dogs are allowed on urban transport such as in Bucharest.
The full rules for the Romania train operator CFR Calatori are listed here. Small pets that are “carried/kept on the arms” can travel for free, while larger dogs require a leash and muzzle, and can only travel in 2nd class coaches. In this case they require a half-fare ticket. If you don’t have a ticket for the dog, on-board the train you will instead be issued with a full-fare ticket.
Two additional caveats: firstly, if any of the other travellers on the train protest about your dog, the conductor will either relocate you or, if “justified”, may prohibit the animal from travelling on the train. There is also a prohibition against dangerous dogs and additional requirements for travelling with some types of dogs (such as Rottweilers and American Staffordshire terriers). Check the full rules if these may apply to your dog.
The largest public transport network in Romania is in Bucharest. There the metro system is run by Metrorex and surface transport (buses and trams) is run by STB.
Metrorex stipulate that only “small pets carried in proper conditions”, such as in a cage or on a leash and with a muzzle, are allowed. This seems to imply that perhaps slightly larger dogs that don’t fit in a cage may be allowed, up to a certain size.
With STB, the rules are only in Romanian and are somewhat confusing. According to Google Translate, they stipulate that only “accompanying dogs that have a buttock (??), or small animals kept in their arms, but in compliance with OUG 55/2002” are allowed. I’m guessing the former part refers to guide dogs.
Dog-Friendly Accommodation in Romania
Romania has some of the cheapest accommodation on offer in Europe, with budget hotels typically available for €30 per night. Additionally, when we stayed in such hotels, not once did we get charged an additional fee for our dog. In fact, we found the owners to be universally friendly to our dog, especially at our guesthouse in the Danube Delta, where the owner checked in on and walked our dog when he was left behind one day.
However, I should warn that we did find it tricky to find accommodation in some more remote parts of the country. This was more a lack of accommodation listings full-stop (with Booking.com offering the most options out of the online listings). Typically around one-third of places seemed to be dog-friendly. Additionally, we managed to get permission for Schnitzel to stay in one Airbnb that normally didn’t allow dogs. It helps if you can be flexible about location, plus if you’re happy to not book in advance there’s probably more places you’ll discover driving through that aren’t listed online.
Dog-Friendly Sightseeing in Romania
With the large number of must-see beautiful churches and monasteries in Romania, we did discover that there were many places that we couldn’t take our dog. However, there are also dog-friendly sightseeing options, including the following recommendations…
1. Explore Historic Sighisoara
A small well-preserved medieval town, now listed on the UNESCO World Heritage list, Sighisoara is one of the highlights of Romania. I recommend spending at least a full day (and ideally a night or two) to wander the old streets and battlements. We enjoyed a wonderful lunch in the main square at Casa Wagner.
2. Visit a Dacian Fortress
Prior to Romania being conquered by the Romans, it was home to the Dacians. One of the best ruins left behind by this civilisation is the former capital of Sarmizegetusa Regia, in the mountains of central Romania, with its mysterious temple remains. It’s accessible via a fully sealed road then a 1km walk to the site, and dogs are allowed.
3. Chill Out in Bucharest
Bucharest is an intriguing city, with many old buildings deserving of preservation, in between some rather ugly modern edifices. One of its most famous buildings is the gigantic Palace of the Parliament, constructed in the 1980s and 1990s and one of the largest buildings in the world .
Take a walk along the long streets that surround parliament building, then head to the Old Town, spotting historic churches and the gorgeous Cărturești Carusel bookstore. Afterwards make your way north towards the Revolution Square and the graceful temple-style Romanian Athenaeum theatre. This area of the city is also home to many of its more upmarket restaurants and cafes.
4. Get Lost in the Danube Delta
It’s hard to believe that the vast wetlands of the Danube Delta are still within Europe. It feels a world away from the other bustling stretches of this great river, with its cruise boats and bridges. It’s a wonderful spot to head for a few relaxing days, staying in one of the many small guesthouses dotted around.
We took a speed boat trip out onto the Delta for a half-day trip, spotting a variety of birdlife along the way. Dogs are usually allowed on such trips, particularly if you organise it directly with the owner. However, we were concerned about our dog barking at birds and it is quite noisy, so left him behind for the day at our guesthouse. Larger dogs used to boats would be better suited to joining you. Oh, and avoid the winter! This region receives multiple metres of snow in the colder months.
5. Check Out a Castle or Two
While in Romania, don’t miss out on visiting a castle or two. The most famous castle is the Bran Castle, allegedly home to Count Dracula. However, I’ve heard more recommendations for the nearby Peles Castle. We didn’t make it to either, but instead checked out Corvin Castle in Hunedoara, although only from the outside.
Dogs aren’t usually allowed inside castles, so you may be limited to viewing them from the outside, although there is a small chance you’ll be let inside if you are carrying a small dog and it’s during a quiet period. There’s also the chance that the staff may offer to look after your dog outside! (This happened to us at one church tower, plus to a fellow dog owner at Corvin Castle.)
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