Tips for arrival at the Henri Coanda International Airport and transportation to town.
Henri Coanda International Airport is the largest airport in Romania and it is located outside the urban area, in the small town of Otopeni 16.5 kilometers from the city center. Here you can find ATM’s, currency exchange office and offices of major car rental companies.
After disembarking your plane, you will be immediately ushered through customs. Be prepared, as depending on the number of flights arriving at the same time, you may stand in line for a while.
Once you are through customs, you will then need to retrieve your luggage. Just grab a free luggage cart (yes, they really are free) and collect your bags. At the baggage claim there is a last duty free area (yes, at the arrivals). The prices are not really duty free here, but are ok.
The next task at hand, if you haven’t already made airport transportation arrangements, will be to get cash and find a taxi. If you can avoid changing money in the airport, please do. There are exchange offices but the rates provided are probably 20% lower than what you will get in town. A good option is to find an ATM (bancomat) in the arrivals lobby and get some local currency (lei) from here. The maximum ride fare to almost anywhere in town should not be higher than 150 lei.
With lei in hand, you will then be ready to find a ride to your hostel, hotel or apartment. To do so, you have several options: transfer, airport taxi, illegal taxi, hotel shuttle or public bus. Don’t go for the train, as it’s a hassle. You first have to take a bus to get to the train station and then wait for the train as it operates hourly.
Here’s a brief breakdown of your options:
Transfer – a private car, much like a taxi, but without the cool yellow and black paint. Hiring a transfer will cost you around 25-30 EUR for a standard car, 45 EUR for a van of 8 persons or 60 EUR for a luxury car. A small tip is nice if your driver helps you with your bags or is friendly and offers good advice. The drivers are all bilingual, drive relatively new cars and you will not have to wait in line to hire a driver.
Usually the transfer is the safest (you know the company you hired) mean of transportation, they are paid in advance and know the address and destination. If you rather hire one on the spot than book one before you fly then use the booths inside of the airport. You may have to wait a bit, but they will get you to where you need.
Taxi – Taxis will cost you a bit less than transfer or at least in theory. At the arrivals area you will find two digital display touch screen kiosks using Clever Taxi system. You can order a taxi in several international languages and print a voucher with details of company taxi ordered, number indicative of the car, estimated time until arrival, taxi dispatch phone number and address e-mail for suggestions and complaints. A taxi ride to down town Bucharest should not be more than 100 lei (~20 eur).
Illegal Taxis – After walking through the doors to the curbside waiting area, you will find a line of remises waiting, a line of official yellow taxis waiting for their next clients, as well as a line of men dressed in casual wear. If you wait just a minute or two at least one of these men will approach you and offer you a ride into town. This is actually an illegal business offer, as official airport taxis are the only ones technically allowed to do business at the airport.
Public Bus (autobuz) The bus is your cheapest option, by far (at a cost of only 7 lei pp). Line 783 of the local public bus transportation system runs regularly from the airport to the city center. There are a few drawbacks to this most affordable option: first, if you have luggage, it might be a cramped public bus ride into the city. Second, the 783 will slowly lumber into town and might take up to an hour or more. The 783 will take you all the way to Piata Victoriei and Piata Unirii, a major landmark of Bucharest and a great place to start your travel experience.
Bus schedule: Monday to Friday:
05:30-20:00 (every 15 minutes)
20:30-23:00 (every 30 minutes)
05:30-23:00 (every 30 minutes)
If you are heading to the airport, just grab any taxi in town with regular 1.39 lei per km, the way back will only cost 30-40 lei. Tip the driver and pay 50 lei regardless of the meter sum as the taxi will have to return to Bucharest empty.