Updated on April 5, 2019
Henri Coanda International Airport is the most important in the country. It is located 18 km north of the center, in Otopeni town, so it is usually known by that name. Although Romania is still a cheap country within the European Union, prices in shops and restaurants at the airport are double that in the rest of the country (each Burger King menu cost us € 12.5) and currency exchange rates are between 10 and 15% worse to the official, while in the center of Bucharest barely reach 1%.
There are two express bus lines to go to the airport, or so they call themselves, but they are not express at all, they stop at every stop. The vehicles are modern but are not equipped for the luggage of travelers, and since they are not actually direct to the airport, locals use them as a normal bus line; this means that the bus could be packed with tourists, their luggage and Bucharesters, which was exactly what happened to us when arriving, and which annoyed a local who semmed to have being drinking too much alcohol; although I do not speak Romanian, it was clear that he was, let’s say… expressing his dissatisfaction about the space occupied by the suitcases, until among the other passengers urged him to shut up. You will see the bus stop as soon as you set a foot out of “Arrivals” terminal, following the yellow lines on the floor:
Express Bus 783:
- Destination: from the airport to Unirii Square, the southern part of the City center, crossing some of the main interesting places for tourists, as Victoriei and Universitatti squares.
- Schedule: daily, every 20 minutes approximately during the day and every 40 minutes at night, 24 hours. In the official transport website schedules are available to download in pdf format:
- Time taken: in theory it’s 40 minutes to Uniri Square, longer at rush hour and less at night. We took it:
- Arriving at 6:30 p.m. on a Thursday, it took us over an hour to get to Unirii.
- And returning on Monday at 11:45 am, it took 55 minutes.
- Prices: tickets are purchased at a stand and a machine at Departures and Arrivals at the airport, drivers do not sell tickets:
- You can buy a normal simple ticket, but it costs 8.6 Lei one way. You have to validate it when you get on the bus.
- Or you can buy an electronic card, so the trips will cost 3.5 Lei one way:
- Activ Card, it costs 3.7 Lei. You have to buy the card and then charge it to use it (in the kiosk you can buy it and they recharge the number of trips that we ask for).
- Multiplu Card, it costs 1,6 Lei. There are two options, a 1 day pass that costs 8 Lei, or buy it with the number of trips we plan to do, minimum 2 and maximum 10. Once used, it can not be recharged.
Express Bus 780:
- Destination: it goes from the airport to the Central Train Station, also called Bucharest North (Bucharest Nord or Gara Nord), that is far away form the city center, being the preferred transport the underground. For more information check the post BUCHAREST: GETTING AROUND).
- Schedule: daily, every approximately 40 minutes, from 5:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. The schedules in pdf can also be checked in the official website:
- Time taken: it takes about 45 minutes.
- Prices: the price and payment system is similar to that of bus 783.
Less efficient, because it needs a transfer to the train station by shuttle bus:
- Tickets can be purchased at Arrivals, at the CFR counter, at 7.7 Lei one way. It includes a minibus that transfers us to PO Aeroport Train Station, 2 km from the airport and gets Gara Nord.
- It takes about 60 minutes.
- There’s one every hour from 5:15 a.m. to 8:50 p.m. The official railway website has been improved, but still schedules can not be checked.
One of the biggest problems and inconveniences that a traveler can have in Romania in general and in Bucharest in particular are the scams and problems related to taxis. However, going from the airport to the center is probably the least unsafe taxi ride in the country:
- There is a Clever Taxi stand in Arrivals with a touch screen, where we can choose a type of taxi and a ticket is provided.
- In that ticket there’s a number that will also be in the door of our taxi.
- Once in the taxi, the fare is metered, 1.39 lei per km (to 3.39 lei per km if we choose a luxury taxi). It should cost between 40 and 60 lei.
With this system, the taxi, besides being official, is fully identified, so the possibility that they try to scam us is scarce. Under no circumstances should you use an unofficial taxi.
Despite the fact that the previous system has almost eliminated the scams related to taxis at the airport, personally I would not take a taxi in a country as riddled with corrupt taxi drivers as Romania if we can take an Uber, which works in the same efficient manner as in any other European capital. According to its official website, the journey in an UberX would cost between 42 and 64 Lei to Unirii Square.
PRIVATE OR RENTAL CAR
International companies Avis, Sixt, Europcar, Hertz, Budget y Enterprise have offices at the airport, as well as some Romanian companies.
If you use your own vehicle, there are two types of parking, P1 and P2, closer, normal, and P3, P4 and P5, long stay, cheaper. Prices are as follows:
|Fares||P1 and P2||P3, P4 and P5|
|60 minutes||6 Lei||40 Lei|
|1 day||144 Lei||40 Lei|
|2 days||288 Lei||80 Lei|
|3 days||432 Lei||100 Lei|
|1 week||1.008 Lei||150 Lei|
|2 weeks||2.016 Lei||220 Lei|
|3 weeks||3.024 Lei||290 Lei|
SHUTTLE AND PRIVATE TAXI
These companies operate not only to the airport, but to almost any destination in the country. They charge for a fixed amount, higher the bigger the vehicle requested. It can be an economic option for groups of several travelers. There are many companies, which I have not used and therefore do not recommend or advise, but it is true that they have a reputation for being much more professional than taxi drivers. Among the best rated are Travel Express (you can book on advance on their official website) or Bucharest Airport Transfer (book only by phone +40.722.55.3322). A trip to the airport costs € 20 for a normal car for 3 passengers plus the driver.
As of April 2019, the subway still does not reach the airport, but a line is being built that will connect to 1 Mai Station, on the green line M4.