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When I was looking for a guidebook for Romania I had three options: National Geographic Traveler: Romania, Lonely Planet's Romania & Moldova, and The Rough Guide to Romania.
The National Geographic guide got okay reviews, people either loved or hated Lonely Planet, and so I chose Rough Guide, which got moderate to good reviews, but had a few that mentioned it had a good section on Bucharest, which was my travel destination. I had never purchased a Rough Guide and had never been to Romania, so I had no idea what to expect or even what to look for, and I desperately needed some sort of direction on what to see and do in Bucharest and the surrounding areas.
The other reviews were right when they mentioned that a lot of the focus was on Bucharest. The rest of Romania was covered very broadly. Most of the maps in the book are for Bucharest. The maps themselves are easy to read and made it easy to find my way through a very large and complex city. I had about three days in the capital city, and the book did provide logistics and history.
I honestly didn't do much with the rest of the book, though. Because I had a day trip planned out to Poienari Castle (Dracula's real castle), I thumbed through the sections on Transylvania and some of the other major cities. These sections have a lot of history around the 1989 revolution.
The Rough Guide to Romania worked pretty well for me on my trip this September. I found its recommendations for museums and points of interest very good, and when I did get lost in Bucharest it was due to the lack of street signs, not the map in the guidebook. The book's recommendation of taking taxis and the expected prices was accurate and extremely helpful, and the tips on getting around and what to see were pretty spot-on for my travel style.
The only complaint I did have is that its restaurant recommendations and hotel information left a lot to be researched either beforehand or by wandering around. The hostel I stayed at was listed in the book, and I found it nice if not charming, but the restaurant price ranges were definitely geared to the ultra budget traveler.
There isn't much on the market in terms of guidebooks for Romania. It is still very much a country in transition, with a large sprawling city for its capital. The Rough Guide to Romania worked very well for what I wanted, which was some history, good maps, and logistics on how to get around. I think these guides are geared toward backpackers, so if you're willing to plan your own sightseeing and are looking to be as thrifty as possible this is definitely your best bet.



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