Practical Bucharest: How to get from the airport to the city
If you're flying to Bucharest, you'll land at the Henri Coanda International Airport, more commonly known as the Otopeni Airport. You then have to travel about 20 km to reach the city centre and, unless you have a friend to pick you up or you prefer to rent a car, you can choose between several transport options: the bus, the train, or the taxi and ridesharing services.
The Henri Coanda International Airport (OTP) is actually located in the town of Otopeni, about 20 km north of Bucharest, which is why it is most commonly known as the Otopeni Airport. It is the largest and the busiest airport in Romania, with about 45 airlines operating routes to destinations around the world. Its official website is here.
Depending on the means of transport and the time of travel, it can take you up to one hour to reach the city. The car (taxi or ridesharing) can be the fastest and most convenient means of transport, but the train or the bus can be the better option if you're on a shorter budget.
- How to get from Otopeni Airport to the city centre by bus
783 is the express line linking the Otopeni Airport to Unirii Square in downtown Bucharest. It is operated by STB - the company managing the overground public transport in the capital city.
The 783 bus operates 24 hours, seven days a week, with varying frequencies during the day and night. It leaves from the ground floor outside the Arrivals terminal building, where you will also find both a ticket office and a ticket machine. A one-way ticket is quite cheap - less than EUR 1 - and you have to validate the travel card inside the bus. Drivers don't sell tickets.
However, although the bus is the cheapest option, it is definitely not the fastest. 783 has 18 stops, and it usually takes about 40 minutes to get from the airport to the last stop - Unirii Square. It can take even longer if you're travelling during rush hours (like workday mornings and late afternoons). Plus, keep in mind that the buses are not equipped with dedicated luggage storage.
Overall, taking the bus is a good option. However, if you're not on a short budget and you're in a hurry, we would recommend other ways of travel.
A map of the 783 route is available here.
- How to take the train from the airport to Bucharest's Gara de Nord
The direct train linking the airport to Gara de Nord, Bucharest's largest train station, is one of the fastest and cheapest options of transport. However, Gara de Nord is located in the north part of the city, so to go to a more central location (like the Old Town), you need to switch to subway, bus or trolleybus. You can also take a taxi or rideshare with Uber or Bolt, but that will definitely increase the cost.
To take the train at the Henri Coanda Airport, you need to go out of the Arrivals terminal building. There's a Train sign showing where the station is located, and getting there is quite easy - you have to cross the street and walk to the station. It's not far so don't worry if you're carrying bigger luggage.
The trains run 24 hours a day, every 40 minutes, and a one-way trip takes about 20-25 minutes.
Most trains belong to state company CFR Calatori, but private operator Transferoviar Calatori also operates direct trains on the Henri Coanda Airport-Gara de Nord route. For CFR trains, you can check the schedule here.
A one-way ticket costs RON 4 (less than EUR 1), and you can buy them online, from ticket vending machines, or, in some cases, from the train staff after boarding the train.
We previously wrote more about this option of transport here - All aboard! A short guide to Bucharest's new train connection to the airport.
Important: Combined tickets for Bucharest’s airport train service, subway and overground public transport are also available as of February 17. More details are available here.
- Taking a taxi or Uber/Bolt from Otopeni Airport to Bucharest
If you're in a hurry or prefer a more comfortable way of travel, taking a taxi or an Uber or Bolt can be the better option. Plus, if you're travelling in a group, you can split the cost.
Prices and travel times depend on traffic and your final destination. However, a trip from the airport to Bucharest should cost between RON 40 and RON 80 (EUR 10-20).
Licensed taxis await customers just outside the exit of the airport. However, some locals still tend to avoid these taxis, especially if the drivers try to negotiate the cost of the trip. The good news is that, in recent years, there have been significantly fewer reports of taxi drivers waiting to rip off tourists. Still, if people approach you at the airport offering taxi services, refuse. Also, make sure your taxi driver starts the meter at the start of the trip.
You can also use the touch screen terminals located inside the airport (in the hall of the Arrivals terminal building) to order a taxi. After getting the printed ticket with taxi details, go outside and wait for the car to arrive.
If you prefer ridesharing apps like Uber or Bolt, you can also use them to request a ride. According to data on Uber's website, you can even book a ride up to 30 days before your flight. Customers can meet their drivers outside the terminal's first-floor parking lot, but this can be subject to change, so look at your app after requesting a ride to double-check the pickup point.
Another app locals use is Free Now. This one integrates both taxi and ridesharing services.
(Opening photo: Cateyeperspective/Dreamstime.com)