Hitchhiking from Hungary to Romania

I was in a hurry to get out of Budapest (even though I love the city) since the Sziget festival was starting the following day and so all the Hostels were booked fully. I had arrived in the early evening after hitchhiking from Bratislava.

I quickly caught the metro line 3 and caught the bus to the airport, I figured this would drop me at the edge of the Eastern side of the city and I would find a hitchhiking spot. I was wrong, the motorway can’t be walked and the nearest reachable petrol station really only served local traffic. To people looking to hitchhike east from Budapest I can’t recommend starting at the airport.

Overall Rating : Waist of time.

Waiting Time : Dont care to remember.

Since it has gotten late by the time I got back into town from the airport I merely dumped by bag at an Irish pub I used to frequent when living in Budapest and hit the clubs. Luckily they are open until the early morning. I partied through the night then headed off again hitchhiking the next morning without any sleep.

My new tactic to get east was to head to Nyugati train station and catch a train right outside the city. A 2 euro ticket got me to Üllő in about 30 mins, from here I walked through the village until reaching the main road and heading left (east) until I came to a roundabout (past two small petrol stations). There is a petrol station by the roundabout but its clearly never busy.hitchhike budapest romania

From here I began hitchhiking with the thumb out, I figured the fact I was away from a motorway meant I would be better off hitching with my thumb for some farmer type guy to pull over probably mistaking me for a local.

I got picked by Andras, a farmer (I presume) with no English. Nice guy in a banged up old car, the worst moment was when he stopped the car to share a shot of his homemade Palinka with his new (extremely hungover) Irish friend. Somehow I managed to hold in last nights largers and kebab and smiled gratefully before tanning a shot.

Overall Rating : OK, but local traffic mainly, could be good for Debrecen and Romania with patience and not looking hungover.

Waiting Time : 30 mins with thumb out.

Unfortunately Andras was only driving locally as most of the banged up cars usually are. He dropped me off at Pilis a village on route to Szolnok. I didn’t see a petrol station so just kicked back on the pavement for a while watching the traffic. I was contemplating taking a nap in a nearby field but decided to give hitchhiking an hour.

I decided to make a sign from cardboard and wrote RO for Romania, I tought my chances were unlikely since I was still far from the border but I needed to rest badly and a long car trip seemed ideal. One or two Romanian registration cars passed amongst the Hungarian cars without paying me attention. The traffic is quite slow here seen as it’s not a motorway so they definetly saw my sign. I was getting depressed

After a while I spotted a Romanian taxi approaching (I knew the yellow Dacia taxis from being in Romania before). I started waving the sign and smiling estatically. He nodded and pulled in down the road.

Overall Rating : OK again not much different to the previous spot, possible to get to Romania or Debrecen with a sign and patience.

Waiting Time : 40 mins thumb out then 30 mins with sign.

The taxi driver had no English but he spoke Italian like most Romanian men, which wasn’t much use to me but he understood I wanted to get to Romania and he was destined for Oradea. From what I understood of his story he had been at the Budapest airport that morning dropping off a wealthy Romanian and was returning home. I don’t care to imagine what a taxi fair from Oradea to Budapest is (over 300km) but I bet the guy would be pissed off if he knew I got back that way for free in his taxi. The taxi driver managed to get lost on the journey too, seriously Romanians have to be the most random drivers.

Hungary and Romania have a border as Romania isn’t Schengen, it’s relaxed enough although the possibility of getting a quick search on either side is high.

I want to mention an odd Hungarian town I passed through near the Romania border called Berettyóújfalu. Nowhere else was like this place because everyone was cycling here, I didn’t even see a single regular pedestrian on foot. Thought that was weird to be honest, maybe it’s just me.

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Hitchhiking in Romania Tips

Hitchhiking in Romania Tips

Capital : Bucharest

Population : Around 20 Million

Languages : Romanian

 English (Many but not all younger people)

 Hungarian (Parts of Transylvania)

 Italian (Common amongst the Guys)

Difficulty : Great for Hitch-hiking.

Money : Leu (Cheap)

Hitchhiking in Romania is quite easily done, especially on the countryside roads of Transylvania (see hitchhiking in Transylvania).

People often say that you will need too pay for rides in Romania but that’s simply not true. I hitchhiked over 20 lifts in Romania (cars and trucks) and was only asked for money once in the middle of nowhere near Zarnesti. I just said Nu Bani (no money) and offered a cigarette instead.

Romanian truck drivers are especially helpful and often speak Italian or Spanish.

To flag a car down you can either hold your thumb up or point at the ground while making eye-contact with the driver.

Most male drivers tend to drive a bit more recklessly then in other parts of the world, and two of my drivers managed to get lost too in the countryside.

Complimenting Palinka “the local home-made alcohol” is usually a good way to get off on the right foot with your driver. Speaking highly of your Hungarian friends is not recommended at all. Many Romanians will claim all of their neighbours (especially Bulgaria and Hungary) are not worth a visit and might even try persuade you not to cross the border. There no need to listen though, rivalry between neighbouring countries is common in Eastern Europe.

It’s a good idea to try learn some Romanian too (Multumesc meaning thank-you), since it’s a Latin language it’s not that difficult for anyone who knows Italian, French or Spanish too.

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Van driver I hitchhiked with.
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Scenic roads in Transylvania
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Truck driver I hitchhiked with for two days.

Hitchhiking in Transylvania (Bears and Vampires)

Hitchhiking in Transylvania

Country : Romania

Cities : Brasov, Cluj-Napoca, Sibiu

Languages : Romanian, Hungarian

 English (Many but not all younger people)

 Hungarian and German are common in some areas

Difficulty : Great for Hitchhiking.

Money : Leu (Cheap)

Up for Sunrise in Transylvania
Up for Sunrise in Transylvania

Hitchhiking in Transylvania can be like travelling back to the Medieval times or travelling through Middle Earth.

transfargasan
The Transfagarasan Highway is a stunning route to hitchhike.

The roads meander through beautiful mountain routes. Many villages still have very traditional living with little electricity and Gypsy-carts for transport. Wild animals such as bears, wolves and boar populate the forests and great castles and forts are scattered around the province.

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Romanian truck drivers are great! Get talking to them at petrol stations at the borders. Most speak Italian or Spanish too.

Hitchhiking around is relatively easy (see hitchhiking in Romania), payment might be expecting on a rare occasion since the locals do it, just say nu bani (no money) and the driver will understand.

It’s possible to hitchhike the gypsy horse-carts too but they are very slow.

Language

Some villages are Hungarian speaking but most speak Romanian and often these villages are but a mile or two from each other.

The Hungarians usually speak Romanian too but the Romanians rarely speak Hungarian.

German is a little common too as some villages are of Germanic origin.

Hiking

Going hiking in the Piatra Craiului Mountains National Park is the highlight of Transylvania. The best access point I found to be Zarnesti which is easy to hitchhike from Brasov. 

There are small metal huts scattered along the mountain trails for trapped hikers and shepherds to rest in but I recommend packing a tent and definitely a sleeping bag, plenty of water too. It get’s very cold on the ridge and there’s also no water sources up there, make sure to print-out a map and don’t get lost.

Bears

Bear’s do roam wild here and the local Romanians will tell you stories about spotting them rummaging through bins and crossing the roads. Your chances of seeing one aren’t that high unless you might go tracking them and sneak up on one.

bear paws
Visible Bear tracks on a hiking path in Transylvania

If you do meet one then don’t panic, try making noise or running downhill (I heard they don’t chase down hills).

At the end of the day a bear dosen’t want to meet humans, (they dislike our meat) so making noise as you walk around should suffice to keep them away.

If you do want to meet them then I heard of a professional tracker in Zarnesti who takes tourists out tracking bears and wolves. There is also a sanctuary near Zarnesti for the Bears.

piatra climbing
Selfie on a mountain ridge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Castles and Forts

bran castle hitchhike
Bran Castle

Transylvania has a scattering of Castles and Forts all over the countryside and in most towns.

The most famous of them being Dracula’s Castle in Bran.

I hitchhiked there one day and wasn’t overly impressed.

Bran Castle is really quite small and packed full of eegits with selfie sticks.

If you do go however then make sure to check out the nearby Fort and cave in Rasnov.

Sleep

The bigger towns like Brasov and Cluj have hostels for around 7 or 8 euro a night and couch-surfing is definitely possible.

When the smaller villages then camping is probably your best option but be wary of stray dogs. It’s a good idea to ask for permission to camp by someone’s land if your not in the woods, I doubt anyone would refuse you permission, Romanians like camping themselves. I guess a small B&B wouldn’t cost more then 15 euro though anyway.

Hitchhiking from Brasov to Zarnesti (Piatra Craiului National Park)

Hitchhiking from Brasov to Zarnesti

Many bag-packers staying in Transylvania want to experience the Piatra Craiului hitchhike zarnesti brasovNational Park or go to the bear sanctuary near Zarnesti.

I stayed for a month in Zarnesti using Workaway and would hitchhike in and out of the town (the train is only about 1 euro but takes nearly an hour).

The spot I used to come from Brasov was at the edge of the city.

hitchhike brasov bran rasnov

 

Overall Rating : OK

Waiting Time : 30 mins

Zarnesti is quite small so you can jump out anywhere, easiest place would probably be the train station then you can stroll through the town onto the Strada Toplita. This road leads straight into the National Park.

hitchhike zarnesti

 

It is a few km before you will reach any mountain trails or the trail to the old Orthodox Monastery. When walking along the road into the National Park keep your thumb up to passing traffic to make the journey quicker. Since its an old dirt road without any markings don’t expect much other then tractors and horse-karts however.

 

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Photo I took on a trail. The fork on the main (dirt) road can be seen in the distance (keep left).
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A cave nearby the old Monastery near Zarnesti, the trail to it is signposted on the road into the Park.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keep left at the fork in the road along Valea Crapaturii to get to the best trails. A map of the trails can be got here.

Remember you can’t make a camp-fire except for in special locations (you can be fined).

When hitchhiking back the way to Brasov you can simply start anywhere around the train station is in the direction of Rasnov.

Hitchhiking in Serbia Tips

Hitchhiking in Serbia Tips

Capital : Belgrade

Population : Around 7 Million

Languages : Serbian

 English (Most Younger People in Belgrade and Novi Sad)

Difficulty : Great for Hitchhiking.

Money : Dinar (Very Cheap Country)

Hitch-hiking in Serbia is relatively easy and fun, be a little cautious however if you are Arab, Turkish, Albanian, Black or Gay. The country is a bit more Soviet the the other Balkan countries but the chances of any trouble is slim.

The Cyrillic alphabet is used on road signs.

The two main bag-packer destinations being the capital city of Belgrade (great night-life) and Novi Sad (home of the Exit Festival).

Hitch-hiking at night isn’t recommended though because outside the cities there is very little street light and a high possibility of drunk drivers.

The roads are of a much higher standard then neighbours like Bosnia, Romania and Bulgaria. Hitch-hiking on motorways is possible but using the toll stations is recommended.

Serbians are extremely proud to be Serbian and of their history. They generally don’t like Albanians and a debate about Kosovo will quickly become heated. This applies to all Serbians, if you meet the border police with a Kosovo stamp then be prepared to do some explaining or get refused entry.

Everyone smokes here, indoors and outdoors and Rakia is the drink of choice for many locals with a beer. Belgrade has some cool boat clubs with cheap shots along the Danube river too which are definitely worth checking out in the summer months. Serbian girls are among the most beautiful in the world too and very friendly.

Hitchhiking from Bulgaria to Romania

Hitchhiking from Bulgaria to Romania

Hitchhiking from Bulgaria to Romania and across to the Hungary border at Nadlac took me a total of two days. It was hitchhike veliko tarnovo bucharestan enjoyable journey across Romania, one of my favourite countries to hitch-hike.

I began in the morning in a village a couple of kilometres from Veliko Tarnovo called Samovodene. I had been staying at my friend Cliff”s place called Trinity Rock’s Farm.

I began thumbing on the northern side of Samovodene and got collected by a young Bulgarian guy who spoke English from working at holiday resorts.

hitchhike trinity rocks farmOverall Rating : OK

Waiting Time : 1 Hour

He brought me to the border at Ruse and turned back. I was quickly told by Bulgarian security that I wouldn’t be allowed cross the border (a big bridge) by foot.

So I began talking to truck drivers and the third guy (Turkish) nodded to me, he had no English but knew I wanted to cross the border and had no problem with me ridding shotgun.

Once across the border he stopped for some Turkish tea (Chai) with his other Turkish trucker friends (Turks love tea). I got offered plenty of tea, biscuits and bread by the three Turkish truckers then they set off again with my guy driving to Bucharest.hitchhike bulgaria romania

He dropped me off on the outskirts of Romania’s Capital near Jilava on a ring road that goes around the city.

I followed the signs for Pitesti and started thumbing again.

Some young Romanian guys pulled over wanting a chat but they were only driving into the city and a Prostitute seemed to be angry at me for hitchhiking near her spot or maybe because I was a foreigner without lots of cash.

A trucker stopped for me though after about 30 mins.

Overall Rating : OK but not ideal, rough looking area

Waiting Time : 30 Mins

The trucker was a great gut (like most Romanian truckers), he drove along the motorway until Pitesti then radioed the other truckers to ask if anyone was continuing towards Hungary.

He found me a guy named Carlos that was driving that way and let me off, after waiting on the side of the motorway maybe 10 minutes Carlos an old Romanian guy turned up.

He spoke Spanish fluently which meant we cold have some conversation although my Spanish is basic. He drove for another hour then stopped to watch football and put some magnet scrammer thing under his truck then drove for a few hours during the night.

Carlos was going to Arad but had to stop for a few hours in Timisoara first. His truck had two bunk beds and he offered me one while he took a nap in the other. That was my first time sleeping in a truck.hitchike arad nadlac

After a 6 hour nap we headed to Arad and I jumped out on the outskirts of the city and began thumbing for the border.

Overall Rating : Great

Waiting Time : 20 Mins

Carlos had been great company on the road and it was still early in the day so I was sure I could make Budapest before the end of the day.

My lift to the Nadlac border was a young Romanian guy who wasn’t himself crossing it.

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The Hungarian that brought me to Budapest

I began hitch-hiking on the Hungary side and din’t have too much success. All the truckers were planning on resting after the border.

There was a petrol station with very little traffic close by but in the end thumbing near the border paid off and I got a lift directly to Budapest with a Hungarian guy in his forties who had travelled around Europe and Israel in his younger days via hitch-hiking. He was returning from work in Arad.

 

Hitchhiking from Turkey to Bulgaria

Hitchhiking from Turkey to Bulgaria

Hitchhiking from Edirne in Turkey to Veliko Tarnovo in Bulgaria proved quite difficult, mainly at the Bulgaria/Turkey border.

hitchhike edirne veliko

I presume the Bulgarians were a bit less trustworthy of strangers because of the amount of Syria refuges sneaking across the border at the time.

I had camped in Edirne the night before after travelling from Istanbul and began thumbing beside where I had slept.

The first car to pass by collected me, a Turkish fella and he brought me to the border then turned back, don’t really know where he was going originally.

Overall Rating : Greatcamping edirne

Waiting Time : 5 Mins

I had no luck what so ever at the border though. I waited nearly an hour just after crossing it then another hour on the immediate highway but with no luck (the traffic is scarce yet moving fast).

After walking along the highway though about a kilometre I spotted a hole in the fence that led down towards some service stations and restaurants for truckers. I had a bite to eat then continued walking from here towards Svilengrad.hitchhike svilengrad

After walking another 2 or 3 km I got collected by an old man who dropped me at a good “autostop” spot in Svilengrad for travelling north towards Veliko. I was very grateful for that lift after the hardship of the border.

At my new hitch-hiking spot it only took about 20 mins to get back on the road again.

Overall Rating : OK (Not very busy)

Waiting Time : 20 Mins

This elderly man had no English but I believe he claimed that he regularly picked up hitchhikers from all over Europe around the border.

He was only going to Cherepovo so I jumped out before then and tried for another car. There is no need to point out the specific locations because this route I took is full of small villages and it’s possible to hitch-hike anywhere on the road.

The next car to pass was a pair of Gypsys in their thirties with a banged up old Dacia, some part of my brain said to ignore them but my aching feet were happy with any ride so I stuck the thumb out and caught my first lift with Gypsys.

It turned out to be just fine like I expected (wouldn’t of thumbed otherwise) and I got let off in Polski Gradets. I walked out of the town and started hitch-hiking again on the side of the road.

My next lift took maybe an hour to arrive but I was glad in the end because the (mafia looking) guy drove ridiculously fast, and he had a mercedes with comfortable leather seats. He was only going to Radnevo though.

By now I was a little confused as to my location but I knew I was still heading in a northerly direction.

So after hitchhiking in Radnevo I arrived in Stara Zagora and since it was after getting dark I decided to sleep, I pitched my tent up by a small lane-way which was to the side of the E85 motorway just outside Stara Zagora. To me it looked like a Mechanic’s Garage was maybe at the top of the lane, I couldn’t tell in the dark.

After maybe one hour of sleep though I was awoken by a flash-lamp and the sound of a dog. I opened my tent to find four fully armed Bulgarian soldiers looking at me (more on this later) but luckily one spoke English and I talked me way out of the situation. Apparently the ground was Bulgarian secret service territory (some spy I would be).

I walked down the motorway another 500 meters and found a secluded spot in a wooded area without soldiers.

In the morning it was raining heavy but I really wanted to get to my friends place in Veliko to get tidied up and showered so I began hitch-hiking anyway. An elderly guy in a truck stopped for me even tough I was drenched (some people are just great) and he brought me to Kazanlak explaining in broken English how I had went wrong on my way to Veliko.

The road from Nova Zagora to Veliko by Gurkovo is much faster and used by the Veliko traffic no the Stara Zagora route. When coming from Polski Gradets I shouldn’t of veered west to Radnevo. He helped me get back on track by radioing other truckers too and found me one in Kazanlak for Veliko, and that’s how I finally got there in the end. Getting lifts in trucks can be a slower method of travelling but will often proove rewarding since no-one knows the roads better than them.

 Before : Hitchhking from Istanbul to Edirne

 After : Hitchhking from Veliko Tarnovo to Nadlac via Bucharest

 

Hitchhiking out of Istanbul towards Edirne

Hitchhiking out of Istanbul towards Edirne

This is bloody difficult (it took me two days) unlike general hitchhiking in Turkey. Istanbul is just too dam huge.

I began near Ataturk Airport (jumped in a taxi with a friend from my hostel who was getting a flight) and walked west, my plan was to get to Silivri then work my way up to Edirne off the motorway so that I could hitchhike. After there I was heading to Bulgaria.

hitchhike istanbul edirne

On the first day I walked for the whole day. It was a late start (like 3pm) and I was too hungover to bother talking to drivers so I never really thumbed either. I must of walked for maybe 7 hours following the D100 then camped in a field by the road putting my tent up after dark. The area was still residential and I spotted the local security guard who gave me permission to camp.

On the second day I kept my thumb out as I strolled along by the side of the D100 road and got picked up a couple of times in various locations. After maybe three lifts I was in Corlu and things were looking good to reach Bulgaria and in one of the cars the young Turkish guys were smoking some weed.

I however got into a bad situation when this other guys wallet fell out of his car when he let me out, (see Facing Arrest in Turkey). That wasted another two hours at least and it was getting dark.

I was however by then in Babaeski. I walked to the edge of the town and turned left at the hitchhike edirnejunction to get onto the D100 again. The traffic was moving very fast but I got collected quickly without even a sign. I really thought this spot was useful.

Overall Rating : Great

Waiting Time : 10 Mins

In Edirne then I walked through the city center. The place looked a bit dodgy to camp in (Refugees trying for Greece and Bulgaria around).

I found a nice place to camp though. A sort of park camping edirnejust after the bridge (marked in red), it had a friendly security guard who was working all night and had no problem with me camping on his grounds.

In the morning I hitch-hiked directly beside my park on the road just after the bridge towards Bulgaria and got collected by the first car.

After : Hitchhiking from Edirne to Veliko Tarnovo (Bulgaria)

Hitchhiking from Batumi to Trabzon

Hitchhiking from Batumi to Trabzon

Trabzon and Batumi are two popular seaside towns among backpackers. Mainly because the Iranian embassies in either town can provide a visa in just a few hours without any required documents other than a passport (or so the rumours say).

This was my first time hitchhiking in Georgia.

hitchhike trabzon

 

When I was leaving Batumi I began walking from the town center in the direction of the Turkish Border with a Scottish friend named Connor. hitchhike Batumi

We started hitch-hiking after a fork in the road with a sign for Turkey.

It took around 30 minutes to get collected by two young Georgian guys driving to the border in a convertible.

Overall Rating : Good

Waiting Time : 30 mins

Its a strange border with Turkey, all passengers of cars (except the driver) have to exit the vehicles and cross separately.

After keep on walking up the hill to the right and you will pass people selling corn on the cob and then a Mosque. You can hitchike by the Mosque as there’s space for cars to pull in.

The traffic is slow but frequent enough, use a sign for Trabzon or some other town along the Black sea. It’s probably possible to catch a lift direct to Istanbul.

Overall Rating : OK

Waiting Time : 45 mins

hitchhiking to rize

From the border we got brought to Rize by an elderly Turkish man.

We kept walking along by the sea on the right side of the motorway from the city center until we saw space for a car to pull in and began thumbing again.

Overall Rating : OK

Waiting Time : 1 Hour

From here we were brought directly to Trabzon by a Turkish guy in his thirties who spoke fluent English. He explained to us a lot about Turkey’s past and also one or two Turkish words, the Turks are very proud of their language and history.

Hitchhiking from Wroclaw to Bratislava

Hitchhiking from Wroclaw to Bratislava

It took a long day hitchhiking from Wroclaw to Bratislava, Hitchhiking in Poland proving again to be tricky for me.

Hitchhike wroclaw bratislavahitchhike wroclaw auchan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To get out of Wroclaw I walked to the Auchan shopping center. A bus can be got if you want I would recommend it. I had a long walk.

From the shopping center keep following the road on the left hand side to get yourself onto the far side of the motorway at the Orlen Petrol Station (you can’t cross the motorway at the petrol station).

Overall Rating : Good

Waiting Time : 25 mins

I managed to get a lift towards Krakow off a Polish guy and he left me off at a bad spot along the motorway between Katowice and Krakow where there was a bus stop, the exact location of I can’t remember but I got lucky in the end.

I stood against all odds with a Bratislava sign and the first Slovakian registration car to pass by stopped for me. It was a group of three guys coming from a rally in Poland who lived in Bratislava.

Before: Hitchhiking from Poznan to Wroclaw

After: Hitchhiking from Bratislava to Oradea via Budapest