Having only visited Romania to travel round it by train I can’t comment on the touristy bits but can say traveling by train in Romania was a bit different to that in Western Europe. The stock is generally older and some lines are very start/stop, making the journeys a little slow. Safety isn’t as in your face as it is in western parts either as every time a train stops, whether in a platform or not, the doors open and people walk about that tracks as if its second nature. The biggest annoyance I found was the smoking on stations, and on the trains. If you put all of the aforementioned behind you though and accept Romania Railways for what they are it is actually a good way to get around the country.
CFR Calatori operate the national rail service, throughout Romania; also offering many cross border trains into neighbouring countries. You can use the CFR online timetable to plan your trip but PDF downloads of the routes are not available. Full CFR timetables can be purchased at major stations in Romania. A map of the CFR network is available on their website.
A comprehensive list of both passenger and freight operators in Romania can be found on the helpful Railfan Europe website’s Romania page.
Train times and Tickets
Booking tickets for travel within Romania can be done at most CFR stations. You can also buy CFR tickets online. If you only require reservations for either Interrail, Eurail or railway staff passes then this can be done via phone to the DB office in London.
If choosing to use an Interrail pass, either for just within Romania, or to pass through Romania, all the relevant details on the passes, including the different types/lengths of validity available, can be found on the InterRail website.
For those travelling from outside Europe then the Eurail Pass is your ticket to Europe, details of which can be found on EU Rail’s website.
Also available for travel in Romania is the Balkan Flexi Pass which is valid in Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Greece, Serbia, Montenegro, Turkey & Bosnia. Periods of validity range from 5, 7, 10 or 15 days in 1 month but there is a limitation in that if you buy the pass in Romania it is only valid in Romania for one return journey to/from the border; this is the same whichever country you buy it in!
Finally travel in Europe can be made a lot simpler by using the very, very, helpful smartphone app courtesy of Eurail. This app is available both online and offline and is always up to date (well it has been for the countries I’ve used it in; including for any planned engineering works); for me it was an essential part of my travel in Europe. This app is linked to the Hafas system, which countries like Germany, Austria & Switzerland use for their train planning online tool. Eurail has done what the individual countries haven’t though and made it available offline.
For the Rail Enthusiast
A comprehensive list of Romanian Locomotives by their respective railway system can be found on the Railfaneurope website’s Romania page. This also explains a bit the various operators of the network and how they have amalgamated over the years.
A detailed map/atlas of the South East Europe & Turkey Railway Systems, which includes Romania, is available from European Railway Atlas.