Someone told me recently that in the list of the most read books of all time, Dracula is second only to the Bible.
While it seems that “fact” is completely false (it did come from a Romanian in the tourist industry) the book certainly hasn’t done any harm for Romania.
Transylvania continues to draw tourists in search of the bloodthirsty vampire, but while they arrive for him, they stay because of the impressive mountain scenery and idyllic towns such as Brasov and Sibiu.
However, most visitors still enter through the country’s capital Bucharest — and you’ll be glad to know it’s a very easy place to get connected.
There are four cell networks available in Romania, although you’re most likely to only notice the two larger companies, Orange and Vodafone. These two currently cover 95% of the population, with 3G and 4G/LTE available on pre-paid packages in most major cities and often when travelling between them.
Both Orange and Vodafone offer a number of packages suitable for short-term visors to the country. For less than $10 you’ll have plenty of calls, texts and data that last up to a month.
I purchased a Vodafone SIM when arriving in Bucharest, simply because it was recommended to me by a friend already living in the city. The majority of people I know here are also using Vodafone, although Orange is actually the market leader according to the latest statistics . Either way, there’s little difference between the services they offer.
SIM cards are available from most convenience stores and newsstands, but due to the amount of dedicated phone shops around the major cities there is little point in using them.
All shopping centers (of which there are many) will have a Vodafone and Orange shop, often two of each, and if you’re looking for English speaking staff these are usually the most reliable. No ID is required for purchasing a SIM card in Romania.
Simply ask for a new SIM — they will often have a pile of them, ready and waiting for you to choose your preferred number. While activating the SIM is relatively straightforward, the staff at Vodafone have insisted on doing it for me each time. Make the most of this help to ensure your credit is used to activate the package that suits you best.
If flying into Bucharest, the airport does not currently have a Vodafone or Orange shop onsite, but SIM cards are available from the convenience stores inside.
However, with free Wi-Fi so readily available at the airport, shopping centres, cafes and even some petrol stations, it might be worth waiting to visit one of the dedicated shops to ensure you receive the best deal.
Again, there are so many in the major cities it’s unlikely you’ll be more than walking distance away once you reach your accommodation.
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A standard Vodafone SIM costs €6.20 which includes €5 of credit.
This €5 can be turned into 1GB of 3G data, valid for 30 days. Alternatively you can increase your data to 4GB for €9, 6GB for €10 or 11GB for €15, all of which include 4G/LTE. If you’re staying in the country a little longer, there is also the option of 5GB for €12, valid for 60 days.
If you are looking for more than just a data package, I strongly recommend you speak to a member of staff in a Vodafone shop. There are many constantly changing packages available in Romania — I’ve found a deal for as little as six euros to cover me for 30 days worth of data, calls, SMS and even a few international calls thanks to these packages.
Details of the deals can be found here (Romanian). Staff in the Vodafone shop will be able to help you choose the best package for you and set it up. You’ll then pay the total cost — the price of the SIM, plus the credit required for your chosen package.
Note: Costs are quoted in Euros but require payment in the local currency, lei.
Top-ups can be bought from Vodafone shops or newsstands and convenience stores. Vodafone is the only network in Romania that currently allows online top-up via international credit cards.
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Coverage and Data Speeds
Vodafone coverage in Romania has been excellent. 4G/LTE is available and very reliable in Bucharest and other major tourist cities like Brasov.
Even when driving through the mountains it was rare to lose phone signal, and I was surprised to see 4G/LTE available at the highest point of our recent journey through the mountains. Like the Wi-Fi, phone coverage (including 3G and LTE) is very impressive in Romania