Constanța

Constanța (pronounced Constantza) is a coastal Black Sea town in southern part of Northern Dobruja, Romania, the second most important city in the country and, during summer, a somewhat touristic city. It is the capital of the Constanţa county and the Black Sea's largest seaport, a great city to begin to explore the wonders of the sea.

The Casino

Understand

Constanţa, being founded as a city almost 2600 years ago, is the oldest attested city in Romania, the biggest port on the Black Sea (third largest in Europe) and also the fourth-largest city in Romania, with 400,000 inhabitants. Constanţa was founded by the Greeks as a port on the Black Sea Coast for trading with inland people and called Tomis (6th c. BC). The city was renamed later after Constantina, niece of Constantine the Great (274-337). It was still a flourishing port city in the 10th and 11th centuries, trading with the Byzantine Empire and the city of Genoa.

Get in

By plane

Constanța is served by one airport, the Mihail Kogălniceanu International Airport, in the nearby town of Mihail Kogălniceanu. The only cities outside of Romania that have service to this airport are London, Istanbul, Varna and Bergamo. There is only one route from the airport to Constanța, the E60, a 30 minute drive.

By car

The most popular route is the Bucharest-Constanţa A2 highway. There is a tax of 11 lei (€2.50) to cross the bridge system over the Danube.

By bus

Plenty of buses connect Constanţa with the rest of the country. Throughout the day Bucharest bound buses leave Constanţa every 45 minutes from the Railway Station (also called Autogara). The trip takes about 3.5 hours thanks to the newly constructed A2 autobahn, also called "The Sun's Highway". Tickets costs RON 50-55, which is 10-15% less expensive than the train (see section below). Though buses are slightly slower than the train, they are clean and comfortable and the newest ones have free Wi-Fi, which the train does not.

There are also several daily buses leaving from Constanţa to Istanbul from the Railway Station (when you exit the train station turn left and walk 200m). The duration is less than 12 hours including time spent crossing borders and the prices for 2011 are RON 200 (€48) a return ticket, including 1 night accommodation in Istanbul.

Likewise, there are buses to Thessaloniki in Greece, Chişinău in Moldova and some buses to Varna in Bulgaria. One can also take a bus to Ostrov-Vama (€5), which is a village near the border with Bulgaria, cross the border and you are in Silistra, a town in Bulgaria. From there there are several connections to other Bulgarian cities such as Rousse, Dobrich, Sofia etc.

Frequent maxitaxis leave to resorts south of Constanţa from the Railway Station (when you walk out of the train station turn right and continue about 200m).

By train

Most of the train connections from Constanţa are from Bucharest, which acts as the main railway hub for the region. There are five daily trains to/from Bucharest during off-season and more trains in summer and the trip takes between 2-2½ hours depending on the type of train. Second class ticket starts at RON 62, while first class is available from just over RON 90. Regional services ply to route along the coast, from as far south as Mangalia, with a journey time of around 1hr20min. Information on trains and schedules are avalible at the website of CFR

The main station,   Gara Constanța is located at the western end of Strada Gării about 700 m away from the city centre.

By ship

Although Constanţa is the largest commercial port in the Black Sea and the third-largest in Europe, there is currently no passenger ship that links Constanța to any other port on the Black Sea coast.

Get around

Public transport

You can use the public transport system (buses, trams, trolleybuses and maxi-taxis). To get to Mamaia you can take the 310 mini van called maxi-taxi for 2 RON one way but it is very crowded during summer. The stop is in front of the main exit of the Railway Station, after the traffic light, on the side with the park. You can also take the special bus which takes you to Mamaia and has regular stops around the city and resort, it is a double-decker bus and you can find it as you exit the train station in the bus station. (4 RON one-way ~ €1). You can also get to Mamaia by taking the 40 or 100 buses (3,5RON 2 trips ~ €0,8), but those two buses will leave you at the beginning of Mamaia and from there you must walk, take a taxi or a mini van.

By taxi

The best option is a taxi. A legal taxi must be painted yellow and must have the fee written with green or black characters on the driver's door. Always insist on starting the meter and try to avoid the cabs with red tariffs right next to the train station who, as in every major city, try to take advantage of tourists. Walk 100 meters from the station and only then wave to a cab. The typical fee from the train station to Mamaia is maximum €5, €10 to the end of Mamaia (The typical fee is: 1,79lei/km during the day; 2,15lei/km during the night and 2,75lei/km outside the city limits. The prices are available in October 2011). You can ask in advance the taxi driver how much does he think the ride will cost. If it is more than €10 do not accept. Taxis do not accept credit card payments.

By bike

In Constanţa there are no paths for bike, but it is safe to ride the bike on the main road. There is a free rental service sponsored by Raiffeisen Bank, located in Parcul Tabacarie, which runs from June to October. You can rent the bike with your ID or passport for 2 hours with the option to extend for another 2 hours.

On foot

Walking in Constanţa is one of the great pleasures of visiting the city. It is possible to cross the entire city in only a few hours. Be aware of dogs.

See

Interior of Great Mosque
The Genoese Lighthouse

Constanţa has been continuously inhabited for 2500 years so there is a lot to see.

Museums

Parks

Do

Walk

You can stroll the city's streets, the historical peninsular area which has a special charm, the sea coast, the Tomis marina or one of the many parks, on the lake-side or through the ruins of the ancient Greek colony Tomis.

Beach

You can do sunbathing or you can swim in the Black Sea. There is a large beach called Modern right in the middle of the city, which is favored by locals and is near the marina. Very very shallow waters (you can walk for 20–30 meters and the water won't pass your knees) so it's suited if you want to take your kids there and let them play safely in the water. The most significant beaches are in the Mamaia resort which is in the north part of Constanţa. It consists of about 6-7 kilometers of sandy beaches with absolutely no rocks; the width of the beaches vary from 20 to 150 meters. It's also full of hotels, clubs and bars and extremely popular and fashionable in the summer. Moreover in the off season (September–April) they are a great place for taking pictures walks, or rides with the atv or enduro motorcycle and there are some centers for renting atv-s near the Cleopatra bar at the beginning of the resort. If you arrive by car not registered in the county of Constanţa from May/June to September expect to pay an entrance fee of 3 Lei (~ €0.70) at the entrance ticket booth for your car, although in 2006 the tax was off. The ratio of free parking/paid parking is around 25%/75% and the parking lots with the fee are guarded and not that expensive (3 Lei per hour) and a good alternative especially if you are on a motorcycle because people will climb your bike to take pictures on it. The paid parking places are marked with a white P on a blue background. The unpaid parking lots are on the sides of the main boulevard.

Cinemas

Theatres

Sea tours

You can get aboard a tour boat from the Tomis marina which will take you on a trip to the open seas and back.

Buy

Shopping

You can shop downtown, on the Ştefan cel Mare street where most big shopping centers are situated, including Tomis Mall, but also in the new, modern and bigger City Park Mall - in Tabacarie Park. Another shopping center is TOM (Carrefour). A new shooping, Maritimo opened recently.

You can also do your shopping at other shopping centers:

Eat

A typical meal at a restaurant is around €8-10 per person including drinks. Waiters usually know some English and menus are usually written in English. International cuisine is present, you should try the wines which are very good and not that expensive.

You will find a lot of fast food places selling kebab and shawarma (a nice mixture of grilled chicken, salads, French fries and sauces wrapped in a lipia (a sort of thin pancake used as a substitute for bread by Turks), very good and not that expensive (around 7 lei for a small one and 10 lei for a big one).

Drink

Bars and clubs

There are many bars and clubs open in Constanţa. However, some of them are closed during the summer, as Mamaia resort opens. You can go to: Phoenix (a rock club), Domino, Doors.

There are many bars in the city especially during summer-time.

Sleep

Hostels

Budget

Some hotels in Mamaia are open in the winter and you can get very good deals on accommodation in the off season.

Mid-range

Splurge

Stay safe

Constanţa is a pretty safe city even by European standards, but as a precaution avoid taking taxis near the train station and insist that they turn the meter on. If you visit the historical peninsular area at night, try to do this in a group. Unlike some other cities in Romania, people from Constanţa are well used to foreigners and are generally helpful. Walking at night is okay even alone, though you should avoid walking with your camera around your neck and be mindful of pick pockets when using public transportation. Your religion is not of concern since a lot of locals come from very different ethnic and religious backgrounds, but refrain from commenting on religious matters. Unlike Western Europe or the Middle East, the local Muslim population is pretty secular and don't have a problem with western culture or habits.

Stay away from dodgy small casinos and avoid exchange offices especially those located in Mamaia. They have hidden commission (written with small letters) or separate exchange rates for travel checks and cash. Use only trusted exchange offices, like Balkan Exchange. If you are unsure go to a bank, Your best bet is to exchange money at banks, which are located throughout the city. Although banks don't have good exchange rates, they are still better than the rip-offs).

As with Bucharest and other big cities in Romania your biggest safety concern could come from feral dogs. If confronted by a group of barking dogs don't loose your cool and back away since they are usually territorial and won't chase you. If they get too close, pretend you are picking a rock from the ground. Whatever you do, don't run.

Women will not be permitted access in churches or mosques if they wear short skirts.

Go next

to the south there are a string of summer resorts, Eforie Nord/sud, Costinesti, Neptun, Olimp. Neptun is recommended because it has a more relaxed atmosphere and for its lush forests that end near the sea. During the last NATO summit president Bush visited the resort for talks with President Basescu

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Friday, September 25, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.