Guide to Taxis in Romania: How NOT to Pay More for Your Ride

When it comes to getting a taxi in Romania, things can work out without a problem or turn out into a scam really fast. In today’s article, I will share with a complete guide to taxis in Romania and how not to overpay.

The first thing I told to one of my non-Romanian friends before he set foot in the country was to be really careful with the taxi he will get from the airport to the hotel. And even though he heard stories about how taxi drivers in Romania are trying to scam you of everything you’ve got and he was prepared, he still had the worst luck ever.

Here’s what happened: just as we’ve discussed, he talked with the taxi driver about the cost of the ride before getting in. They agreed that the ride from the airport to the train station will be 15 Euros, which is still a bit over what you should normally expect to pay if it’s not a lot of traffic… but still wasn’t a rip off, so he hopped in.

When they were halfway there, the driver told him: “You know what, the ride will be 50 Euros, I didn’t do the math right when we first talked.”

My friend said that no, he would not pay that much and that they had agreed on a different amount. The taxi driver said that he misunderstood him, as he told “fifty” not “fifteen”, but that was not true since my friend was prepared for this too and used his fingers to explain the “15” they had agreed on.

A bit of a scandal followed, with my friend threatening to call the police or jumping out of the car. Eventually, they settled for 20 Euros, but you can imagine that the entire thing wasn’t really pleasant – and most people are not prepared for that.

But if you were to go through this, you might have not gotten away with 20 Euros. I know I would’ve caved in eventually and paid more, knowing that I am being scammed.

Because taxi drivers can be very intimidating here, they can get loud and curse a lot and, to put it bluntly: scare you and bully you into paying what they want. But you have to keep your cool and make them understand that you’re not their next victim!

Don’t get me wrong: the big majority of taxi drivers in Romania are honest people who would not even negotiate a larger sum and instead turn on the meter and charge you accordingly (you can ask them an estimate of the price though and they will tell you an amount that’s very close).

Most of the taxi drivers won’t drive you around for tens of minutes just to increase their pay, profiting from the fact that you don’t know the area.

But there are some that do this and since it’s better to be prepared than sorry, here is how to make sure you won’t get scammed by a taxi driver in Romania – and especially Bucharest which seems to be the worst place in the country for getting a taxi:

1. Do a bit of research first: find out what the average price per kilometer is in the city you’re in (right now, in Bucharest the general price is about 1.40 Romanian Leu per kilometer, about $0.35, while in the city where I live it is 1.80 Romanian Leu). Cars should always have the tariff listed on the car and inside, just above the meter machine.

Some taxis will cost a lot more – so make sure that you know that before you enter. A ride can cost double simply because of the rates charged per kilometer!

2. With even more research done, if you don’t know the route you should be taking, always ask the taxi driver how much will it cost to get where you want to. If what he says is close to what you know should cost – or it seems like a decent value, go for it! Taxi drivers will ALWAYS be able to estimate the amount you’ll have to pay – choose another if they say otherwise.

3. Go for the official taxis. Generally, every city has a few big firms that are trustworthy. Stay away of no name taxis as these are those that will scam you.

Use common sense when it comes to this: either search the names of the taxi firms in the city you are in before getting there or just look around a bit to notice the ones that are seen more often. Or ask a local, if nothing else can be done.

Fake taxis and scammers are not employed by a taxi company and usually they drive some crappy looking cars. Also, the Bucharest airport (and probably the other airports in Romania too) has a recommended company they’re working with: they usually charge a bit more per kilometer, though, but still A LOT less than what the “sharks” try to get from you.

Also stay away from people who will come to you, asking if you need a taxi – they usually do this in busy train stations. Never choose them as you will end up paying a lot more. Always go with a taxi company instead!

4. Be extremely careful near airports and train stations. That’s where the taxi drivers know that they’re dealing with tourists and they might try to take more money from you.

If you don’t know anything about the taxi companies in the city or the price you would be supposed to pay, it might be the wisest choice to call and order a cab: this way, you know that it’s an official car and chances of getting scammed drop significantly.

5. If you can’t do any of the above, ALWAYS agree on a price before getting in a taxi. Most honest drivers won’t agree on a price though because they MUST turn on the meter. In that case, see number 2.

Remember: it is illegal in Romania for taxis to negotiate the price of the rides and drive without the meter machine turned on. But despite this, some will still do it – that’s the sad reality, unfortunately.

But if you do agree on a price, make sure that it’s clear (so they won’t end up saying that they meant “fifty” not “fifteen”). And even if they try to change their mind and ask for more, hold your ground and don’t accept that. Threaten to call the police – this will usually be enough to make them stop.

Finally, I have to repeat it: generally, taxi drivers are honest and won’t try to overcharge, scam you or drive around just to increase the costs.

Also, in many cases in the big cities, you might get faster where you want to go by using the public transportation system which is a lot cheaper and you will surely find people who speak English and who are willing to help you find your way – so you do have options, like the taxi alternatives listed below.

Alternatives to taxis in Romania

Ridesharing is very big in Romania. So big that in Bucharest, taxi drivers went on strike and protested against Uber. For a while, they managed to outlaw Uber, but that didn’t last long.

As a result, there are several options for you to use in the larger cities. But make sure you do some research before getting there, if you’re planning to use Uber or anything like that, since in many cities they are not available.

The options you have vary from city to city: as I was saying, Uber is the best known and available in all larger cities. You also have Taxify (the biggest Uber competitor in Romania) or BlackCab which is offers more luxuriant cars.

Now you should know everything there is to be known about taxis on Romania and what to do to prevent getting scammed. You also have alternatives which are safe, but unfortunately not available in all cities at the moment of writing this article.

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34 thoughts on “Guide to Taxis in Romania: How NOT to Pay More for Your Ride”

  1. I was scammed by a taxi driver in China. I should have gone to an official cab, but I didn’t know what was “official”…apparently the official cab drivers have their photo and taxi ID up so you can report them. In anycase, not only did the driver overcharge me (I didn’t know how much it should cost), but he pulled a scam by switching the bills. I gave him the money for the ride, and he gave it back saying that it was ripped. I told him he was being picky and it was fine but he kept refusing it until I gave him a different bill. Well the bill he returned to me turned out to be counterfeit…he switched the bills without me seeing.

    • That is pretty incredible! I remember watching a while ago a show called “Scam city” and saw something similar to this happen in a different country, somewhere in South America, I guess. Fortunately, stuff like that can’t happen in Romania as our bills are made of plastic and counterfeiting them is really difficult.

  2. My god! I would love looking for a fight like this, lol! 15 or we’re calling the cops and l can yell and scream even louder :0)) . He could get me by going the long way though, cos l may not know. They do that at home too, you have to be firm, match their tone and come to a price before hopping in.

      • Don’t you think it will be a good idea if they can simply be honest and charge what they are suppose to. Obviously there is a lack of that part of humanity ….CONSCIENCE in Romanian taxi drivers.

  3. I was involved in foreign tourism for 20 years, responsible for creating tours to other countries. Taxi drivers can indeed be a PITA. Fortunately, I found the people of most countries to be very friendly and helpful…except for taxi drivers. If I had problems, I usually reported them to various government agencies after taking their name, number and information down. And…in unusual cases I refused to bring a tour group into that particular country. Fortunately, we always hired vans or small buses with our own drivers under contract for the tour groups. But…I must say, it makes my temper boil when confronted with such a situation. Wise or not, I was always ready for a fight and I could easily match the screaming and cursing of the driver. Seems stupid to me now some 30 years later as it’s easy to create a dangerous situation. Now…it’s one of the reasons I don’t travel overseas anymore. Too much hassle. As for Romania, thanks…but I much prefer the beauty and security of the State of Oregon. As one German tourist told me recently, “The USA doesn’t have such a great health system, but they have the most beautiful state and national parks on earth.” Amen!

    • Well, I am sure that the situation can’t really get dangerous and past the screaming point. And I am sure that each country out there has its Pros and Cons and each has enough natural (or not) beauty to keep one pleased living there.

  4. “C”: Great information! I’ve heard in Hungary, some taxi drivers try to give change back in your OLD Romanian currency (when it was x1000). (For the life of me, I can’t figure why any country would still maintain the x1000 rates! I’d have a heck of a time, not being a math whiz, trying to keep track of my finances with such large denominations!) This is the same in Colombia, with the large denominations. BTW: there some taxi drivers in say, Medellin, Colombia who will not only overcharge you, but will also have an armed accomplice force you to an ATM to withdraw all your money–then the driver and his accomplice split the money! This is not the norm, but it does happen, unfortunately.
    Mr. Michael, I lived in Portland, Oregon for 15 years. Yes, Oregon is a beautiful state, but the misinterpretation of the Second Amendment, and the resulting day to day carnage in the USA, makes me long to live in a sane, non-gun crazy country, like Romania! Also, from what I’ve seen, Romania is a most beautiful country, too!
    “C”: Do the taxis have seatbelts for the passengers, and do the taxi drivers prefer a lone passenger to sit up front with him/her?
    Thanks again for your words to the wise!
    ~Teil (USA)

    • Hello, Teil. Pretty scary what you said about taxis in Colombia, I didn’t know that!

      The old Romanian currency indeed looks a lot like the new one (minus the zeros) and it was made this way to ease the transition. For people who were used with all the zeroes for their entire life, cutting away 4 of them made things pretty difficult and many Romanians use a mixture of old and new numbers which can be pretty confusing. However, I never heard about people trying to give the change in old Romanian currency… and the change has been made several years ago that fewer and fewer people still have it 🙂

      In Romania, taxis have seatbelts for the passengers (it depends on the car, though, as many don’t have seatbelts on the back seats) but you can sit up front – there are no actual rules on that and I don’t really think taxi drivers have a preference on where a lone passenger sits.

  5. I recognize that you decided to go in a different direction with regards to your blog , however I am wondering if you could enlighten me on your perspective of the following financial situation. I have met a young Romanian through a mutual friend and she has somehow created a financial fiasco that is now ruining her life. From what I understand, she would be considered insolvent in any other country but Romania and her only defence is to hide from the so called collectors.

    She does not have the revenue or the means to make any type of restitution and tells me that your country does not have any consumer debt protection whereby she can declare bankruptcy or apply for some kind of debt relief.

    The purpose of bankruptcy is to allow a person like her to become a contributor to the countries economy and not spend her years trying to hide.

    Can you give me any insight into what your fellow countryman may have as options when they find themselves in this situation.


    • Dave,

      Unfortunately your friend is correct and there is no such thing as consumer debt protection in Romania. A person can’t declare bankruptcy and the state won’t help a person in her situation. Basically, there are two “solutions” that our dear government has for such a problem:

      1. If the debt is to the state, then they would automatically hold most of her revenue before it gets to her until the debt is collected.

      2. If the debt is to the banks, they will eventually confiscate and sell her belongings, eventually. It’s a really long process and if she’s made it so far it might mean that she has nothing or very little on her name (very common in Romania), so her only option is that of hiding from the collectors. Eventually, she will have to pay, one way or another.

      So unfortunately, there is nothing for her to do in such a situation. No help, I mean… she could try to find a better paying job, getting an extra job and so on – but all that means solving the problem on her own. And a word of advice, even though I don’t know the situation: if you’re considering helping her out, make sure that the problems are real!

  6. Obviously there is no solution to a taxi driver charging whatever he wants and the only solution is for to decide what you believe is reasonable. The suggestion here is to decide what you will pay or get out of the taxi. What is the purpose of the meter that runs in the taxi? How can you pre-determine the price is it is based on the meter? It only takes one bad apple to spoil a basket of apples. How do you determine who is nice one. I have been robbed by one and I don’t trust any since. My story is that I am an American. I went to one school in the morning and paid for the 8 Km trip. Returning in the afternoon, I was changed twice as much for the same trip. I asked him why and he gave me the receipt and showed me the meter. How can the same trip of 8 Km becomes 18 Km. Just a bunch of corrupted bandits with no conscience…as simple as that. I was tempted to refused to pay and let him call the police but as a foreigner I thought it would do me no good. I chose to be here and I just have to find a way to deal with the situation. It is just sad that corrupted ones and ruining the livelihood of the honest ones. Very sad indeed. But it is the lifestyle of the rich and famous and we cannot blame the poor hustlers to pursue their dream.

  7. Where to report if you’ve been scammed?
    I traveled from Agigea to constanta city center and I paid 60 US dollars (230 leu) to and fro.

  8. We’ve only taken taxis in Romania twice, and both times were terrible. First time, we were scammed at the train station exactly in the way you described in your article. The second was when we got a driver who berated us for our whole trip because we called his dispatcher when it was apparent he couldn’t find us.
    So, no more taxis for us. We have taken many an Uber, however, and never had a problem… except perhaps the time our driver, who told us he’s also a taxi driver, spent the whole trip complaining about all the other Uber drivers, for whom he held a strong distaste. LOL!!! Ubers here generally are nicer vehicles, have pleasant drivers and aren’t hard to order. In fact, we were visiting Bucharest the very first day when Uber was briefly banned from the country, yet found no challenge finding them for our rides. According to my wife, Romanians have a defiant nature and don’t like to be told what they can’t do. I say, good for them.

    • Sorry to hear about your bad experiences with taxi drivers. Good thing that there’s Uber in major cities, especially Bucharest. I would personally never take a taxi in Bucharest again because even if they don’t try to scam you (I learned how to deal with that), the risk of getting a very poor quality driver who is rude and drives chaotically is very high.

  9. Calin:
    Another case of déjà vu.;-)
    Doesn’t appear taxicabs are any easier to deal with, sadly. I know the cabbies
    need to make a living, but they shouldn’t cheat on the fares.
    Still, rather ride with a LICENSED, NICE, taxi driver who treats you right.
    One that will give you his or her card to call in the future is a good bet.
    I don’t trust Uber or Lyft–too many stories of violence–especially against poor
    women. I mean most any creep can become an Uber of Lyft driver.
    Me, I miss the big Checker taxicabs (as pictured in your third picture) of the last century.
    The legroom in those beasts was incredible. They were built like Sherman tanks.
    Saw your president Iohannis, recently, was in DC meeting with terrible Trump. It must have
    been important. Me, I couldn’t stand being in the same room with Trump–yuck!!!
    Somehow, Trump hasn’t managed to alienate your president, yet. Same with Polish president
    Duda, it seems.
    Take care,

    • There have indeed been security concerns regarding Ubers, but we’re always picking those with many ratings (and high ratings) so we’re minimizing risks as much as possible. So far, in Romania I haven’t heard stories about violence or problems with Uber drivers. And now the government made it even more difficult for them to drive (they need a special license) so things are a bit more regulated.

      I haven’t followed the Trump/Iohannis meeting to be honest, but it’s still the US that we’re talking about and getting there, for a Romanian, is still better than not getting there at all 🙂

    • Calin,
      Please DON’T risk your life coming to visit the USA!!!
      It’s just not worth it!
      I am sure there are other warnings, too. It’s just common sense. God willing, 2020 will bring in a new executive and senate, and things will become (God willing!) more sane and safe. There’s always a Disneyland Paris and a Legoland in Denmark.:-] Europe is a lot more scenic, too.
      Very sad to hear about Romanian soldier killed in Afghanistan. Trump just doesn’t respect all NATO has done to help with our (sadly misguided) Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.
      Here is a link to some of the US issues with Uber and Lyft. Bear in mind that the US is a very litigious country. It sure helps keep the law profession rich!!!
      I’ve never had an incident with a taxi driver (though I’m not a gal;-). I don’t have a smart phone (probably the only one on the planet!:-)), so I’ve never “Ubered” or “Lyfted.”
      Enjoy the fall (I expect it’s a lovely time of year in Romania–definitely with spring, my favorite season.)

    • I read about that warning a while ago and some people were saying that it was nothing but marketing. Still, it’s sad that these things are happening, that’s a fact.

      Yes, this season is indeed really beautiful… and the temperatures just became perfect in my opinion, althoguh it will get cold soon and I don’t like that 🙂

  10. I think we were lucky when we went to Romania. Our prices were reasonable because we used Uber 🙂 so it was a set price every time. I would do the same again. I find it so much more convenient. With a regular taxi, very hard to tell if you’re getting taken for a ride since you’re not familiar with the place and they can take the long way.

  11. Well That Was A great Information …But I had a little Different Question…I want To Know that if I want To Travel From (Baia Mare) to (Arad) In Taxi Then what should I do…I don’t want to travel in Train Or Bus.. So is There any Information that you can provide me for that Route so I can save my Money and Time… Do Black Cab Or Taxify work From there..?

    • I don’t think that Black Cab or Taxify work in Baia Mare. Either way, traveling by taxi between these two destinations with a cab will cost you a lot of money because you will have to pay for the trip from Baia Mare to Arad, but also for the driver’s trip back home.

      You could discuss with a taxi driver directly and most likely strike a private deal with them, but even so I would expect your trip to cost a couple hundred Euros.


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