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Bucharest has only one operational airport. The Bucharest airport (called Henri Coanda) is located in Otopeni, at 17 km from the central area of Bucharest (Universitate).
You have a few options to get from the Bucharest airport to the city.
The fastest and the easiest one is to take a taxi. As you exit the airport, you’ll find two lines of taxis – to the right there are the premium ones that cost almost $1US per km; to the left, there are the cheaper ones, with rates of $0.5 US per km.
The distance between Henri Coanda airport and Universitate (the center of Bucharest) is 17km. Depending on where in Bucharest you want to go, the taxi will cost you $15 – $25 US.
Taxi drivers can’t take cards. You’ll need cash to pay for the ride. Some of them may accept US dollars, but it’s probably best to exchange money inside the airport. The exchange rate is very bad, so don’t change a lot of money.
Always use the taxis in front of the airport. Don’t go with anyone else who promises you a ride to the city! This can be very dangerous (otherwise Bucharest is a safe city).
There are four express bus lines that connect Bucharest with the Bucuresti Henri Coanda International Airport. Here they are:
Bus no 780 connects the airport to Gara de Nord (the North Train Station).
Bus no 782 connects the airport with Complexul Comercial Băneasa (Baneasa Shopping Center, in the North of Bucharest).
Bus no 784 connects the airport to Bucharest Center (Piata Unirii)
Bus no 783 connects the airport to Bucharest Center (Piata Unirii).
The Express lines 783 and 784 have the same route from the airport to Piata Victoriei. After that, they split to meet again in Piata Unirii, at the end of the line.
If you are for the first time in Bucharest, chances are that your hotel is somewhere on the 783 line.
Here are the schedules of all express bus lines that depart from the Bucuresti Henri Coanda International Airport.
The cost of a one-way ride is 3.5 lei.
Special Tip: Bus drivers in Bucharest don’t sell tickets. You can buy tickets from the special booths located nearby the bus stops. If you fail to get your ticket, you can buy one online by sending a text message to 7458, containing the message E followed by the number of the bus line you want to use. For instance, to get a ticket for bus line no 783, you need to send the message E783 to 7458 before getting on the bus.
Keep in mind, though, that you’ll need a Romanian SIM card to be able to use this number.
As of October 2020, you can use your contactless credit or debit card to pay for the trip. I wouldn’t rely on this, though, as I’m not sure what cards are accepted by the system.
You can arrange your transportation before your arrival to Bucharest. There are many transport companies that offer this service.
If you need a group transfer, you can try this one, here.
If you are alone or in a group of maximum four, you can try the private transfer services here, here or here. The last option is a premium one. It costs a little more than the others, but it is more comfortable.
The ride can take anywhere from 40 minutes to one hour and a half. There’s only one route linking Bucharest to its international airport. Should an accident occur, you can find yourself in trouble, as there won’t be any way to take another route. During rush hours, this road becomes extremely busy. Also, there’s no metro to the airport.
If you want to be on the safe side, consider this a 1.5 hours drive, particularly when you leave Bucharest and you have a flight to catch.
Inside the airport, you’ll find signs pointing to the train station. Don’t take this option into consideration, because it is the least reliable and the least convenient of all. There is no proper train station for you to wait inside, you need to take an express bus to get to the strain station, and the trains schedule can be hectic.
I don’t know of any Bucharest local people taking the train from the airport to get to the city center. While in other big cities in Europe the train is one of the best airport transfer options, in Bucharest it is probably the worst idea.
If you only need to get to Bucharest to travel by train to other places in Romania, take this train that takes you to Gara de Nord (The North Train Station).
Bucharest has Uber, so you can use it, if you want. The service is reliable, the drivers are nice, and the cars are clean. Fares depend on the time of the day. They are higher by night, during rush hours and on national holidays.
Taxi services are also fine, provided that you use an app to order your rides. Clever and Star Taxi are probably the most popular taxi apps to use in Bucharest. The basic service fares are around $0.5 US per km.
Taxi drivers don’t take cards, so you’ll need cash. Some may accept US dollars or Euros, but you shouldn’t rely on that. If needed, change some money in the airport, but only the minimum to be able to get to your hotel. Currency exchange rates in the airport are the worst of all.
Taking a taxi from the Old Center by night is something to avoid. Most of them are there to scam tourists and locals alike. If you need a ride from the Old Center to your hotel by night, make sure you use a taxi app or Uber.