Constanța (pronounced Constantza) is a coastal Black Sea city 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 Constanța county and the Black Sea's largest seaport, a great city to begin to explore the wonders of the sea.
Constanța, 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. Constanța 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.
- 1 Mihail Kogălniceanu International Airport (CND IATA). The only cities outside of Romania that have service to this airport are London, Istanbul and Bergamo. There is only one route from the airport to Constanța, the E60, a 30-minute drive.
The most popular route is the Bucharest-Constanța A2 highway. There is a tax of 11 lei to cross the bridge system over the Danube.
From Timisoara to Constanta via A1 and E81 it takes around 9 h 32 min (781 km).
From Cluj-Napoca to Constanta via E81 it takes around 8 h 47 min (683 km).
From Iasi to Constanta via DN24D it takes around 6 h 20 min (452 km).
Plenty of buses connect Constanța with the rest of the country. Throughout the day Bucharest bound buses leave Constanța every 45 minutes from the Railway Station (also called Autogara). The trip takes about 3½ hours on the A2 autobahn, also called "The Sun's Highway". Tickets costs 50-55 lei, 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 Constanța to Istanbul from the Railway Station (when you exit the train station turn left and walk 200 m). The duration is less than 12 hours including time spent crossing borders and the prices for 2011 are 200 lei 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. You 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, and Sofia.
Frequent maxitaxis leave to resorts south of Constanța from the Railway Station (when you walk out of the train station turn right and continue about 200 m).
Most of the train connections from Constanța 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 62 lei, while first class is available from just over 90 lei. Regional services ply to route along the coast, from as far south as Mangalia, with a journey time of around 1hr 20min. Information on trains and schedules are available at the website of CFR
The main station, 2 Gara Constanța is at the western end of Strada Gării about 700 m away from the city centre.
Although Constanța is the largest commercial port in the Black Sea and the third-largest in Europe, there is no passenger ship that links Constanța to any other port on the Black Sea coast.
You can use the public transport system (buses and maxi-taxis). To get to Mamaia you can take the 310 mini van called maxi-taxi for 2 lei 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. Alternatively you can use line 100 to Tomis III and change to line "City tour 00", which goes along Mamaia strip. 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. Line 100C covers the route from the train station to the old casino. Line 00 costs 3 Lei per trip (pay at the driver), mini buses 2 lei for any trip in Constanta (pay at the driver) and other public buses cost 1,5 Lei (buy tickets at the kiosk e.g. at the entrance of the train station, don't forget to validate them on the bus).
You can also get to Mamaia by taking the 40 or 100 buses (3.5 lei, 2 trips), but those two buses will turn at Hotel Delta and from there you must walk. Mini vans continue further north.
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: 1.79 lei/km during the day; 2.15 lei/km during the night and 2.75 lei/km outside the city limits (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.
In Constanța 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.
Walking in Constanța 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.
Hire a car rental to travel to and around Constanta. A legal car rental company will cost you between 12-23 EUR / day for a low cost car.
Constanța has been continuously inhabited for 2,500 years so there is a lot to see.
- 1 Old Casino Constanța. Built in Art Nouveau style and conceived by two architects, Petre Antonescu and Daniel Renard (of Swiss extraction but born in Romania). This stunning former casino and the surrounding promenade was opened in 1911. It has, however, been abandoned for long.
- 2 Statue of Ovid. The statue by Ettore Ferrari was erected in 1887 after a public subscription (the same statue can be seen in Sulmona). In AD 09 Ovid, born 43 BC in Sulmona, died in AD 17 in Tomis/Constanța, was sent in exile by Augustus for obscure reasons. He wrote his Tristia in Tomis.
- 3 Grand Mosque of Constanța (Marea Moschee din Constanța), Strada Crângului 1 (A stone's throw from Ovidiu Square). The first public building made of concrete in Romania (1910), a gift from King Carol I to the local Muslim community. The Mosque is built in Moorish style in honor of Sultan Mohamed II. It hosts a carpet brought in 1965 from the island of Ada Kaleh, a Sultan Abdul Hamid (1876-1909) donation, work of the famous Herek handicraft center in Turkey.
- 4 Roman Mosaic Edifice (Edificiul Roman cu Mozaic). Utility work undertaken in 1959 in Ovidiu Square led to the discovery of one of the most important monuments of ancient Tomis - the Roman mosaic edifice. Located on the western shore, the complex was built in three terraces and connects the city and the ancient port.Monumental building - with over 2,000 m² of mosaic - was erected in the 4th century AD, probably under Emperor Constantine the Great, being repaired at various stages by the end of the 6th century, when their existence ends, falling in decay ruin with the commercial activities of the city. From the original 2,000 m² area still maintains about 700 m² - but enough to infer that we are in front of a large port construction. Upper terrace was occupied by an impressive hall (100 m long and 20 m wide), probably covered in antiquity, with a huge dome supported by pillars. From this room there are still today part of the long wall and one of the side walls. The first presents an arcade ordinance open to the sea, is covered entirely with white marble and polychrome plywood. Pillars decorated with beautiful arches Areu capitals decorated with acanthus leaves zoomorphic or anthropomorphic figures and center.
- 5 National Museum of History and Archeology (On Piata Ovidiu), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 1 May-30 Sep: daily 08:00-17:00; 1 Oct-30 Apr: W-Su 09:00-17:00. Displays an impressive collection of pieces from the Greek and Roman antiquity (for example, the Glykon Snake, Fortuna and Pontos, Two-faced Nemesis and countless amphoras). Also outside the museum there are some marble tombs and artifacts.
- The Popular Art Museum, Aristide Karatzali Street (+40 241616133). Open hours: 09:00-20:00 (during summer); 10:00-18:00 (during winter).
- 6 Marine Museum (Muzeul Marinei), Traian Street, 53, ☏ , , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 09:00-17:00 (during summer); 10:00-18:00 (during winter). The museum has: casts after epigraphic documents, coins, art works, original articles with significant historical value: anchors, amphorae, dozens of models reproducing all types of existing vessels in the military and commercial Romanian Navy, navigation instruments, documents and photographs, fire arms, propellers, lighthouses lenses, flags, paintings, exhibits of great scientific value and documentary.
- The Sea's Museum with the Genovese Lighthouse, behind the statue of Eminescu, on the sea front. Although built between 1858-1860, on the rock of the southeast corner of the Tomitane Peninsula, by an English company, the Lighthouse is called "Genovese Lighthouse" in memory of another time Lighthouse merchants having a white light, last time running being in 1913, and a few years later, in 1948, was restored for the last time and gave to the tourist circuit.
- The Ion Jalea Sculpture Museum, Arhiepiscopiei Street, 26. Ion Jalea Museum is arranged in a building built in the interwar period by architect C. Pariano in Brancoveanu style. Museum shows more than 120 donated works in bronze and plaster by artist Ion Jalea to his hometown.
- 7 The Natural Sciences Museum Complex. Considered to be an important reference for the cultural and scientific image of the municipality, with a high emblematic value in the summer offer of the Romanian seacoast. It consists of:
- The Dolphinarium began its activity on June 1, 1972, being the first museum form of this kind in Romania and the first one in the S-E of Europe at that time. The exhibition presents the world of the shell fish living in diverse seas. The shows are organized in the amphitheatre with a pool, with dolphins from the Phocaena relicta species and Delphinus delphis ponticus species, with seals from the South Atlantic. Shows hours: 11:00, 15:00, 19:00. Entrance fee: 50 lei for adults; 25 lei for students. Children under 5 free.
- The Planetarium - A world beyond us, made up of stars, planets, galaxies and other things are disclosed to you, but you are assisted to learn how to travel among them using the constellations, the “Sky” that needed no renovation in the last 2000 years contributing to the realization of this picture. Shows hours: 10:00, 11:30, 13:30, 15:30, 17:00, 18:00 and 19:30.
- The Exotic Birds Exhibition - On a 100 m² covered surface, in large bird houses, with adequate compartments for food, nesting, flying and rest, one can admire the representatives of different bird species from Asia, Africa,Australia, New Guinea and South America.
- The Micro Delta - The patrimony of this objective has the aquatic avifauna (pelicans, swans, ducks and wild geese), the terrestrial avifauna (peacocks, pheasants) and mammals (mouflons, fallow deer, harts), that can be found in the Danube Delta’s Biosphere Reservation and the Negureni Reservation. Most part of these exemplars are natural monuments and rare species with a scarce representation in the natural biotopes.Some exemplars were obtained by exchange with the other Zoo Gardens and others were purchased or donated.
- The Aquarium - The exhibition space is marked out for the presentation of the permanent aquatic flora and fauna exhibition in 57 tanks, and also for the temporary exhibitions with aquatic biological and ecological themes. An inedited museum institution for natural sciences in our country due to its exhibition patrimony made up entirely of living organisms, the aquarium in Constanța also has naturalized collections of marine and fresh water fish and invertebrates belonging to different geographical areas of the Earth. To facilitate the presentation of aquatic life and the visitors’ access to information, the exhibition patrimony consists of over 100 species (1300 exemplars) aquatic creatures and is structured into several sections. The distribution of aquatic organisms into sections is based on ecological and bio-geographical criteria, and within the sections the taxonomic criteria was taken into account for placing the different species into the tanks. Open hours: 09:00-20:00. Entrance fee: 20 lei for adults; 10 lei for students. Children under 5 free.
- Tabacarie Park
- The Archaeological Park right in the center of the city is a nice place for a walk if you're in the area.
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.
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 Constanța. It consists of about 6-7 km of sandy beaches with absolutely no rocks; the width of the beaches vary from 20 to 150 m. 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 ATVs near the Cleopatra bar at the beginning of the resort. If you arrive by car not registered in the county of Constanța from May/June to September expect to pay an entrance fee of 3 lei at the entrance ticket booth for your car. 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.
- Cityplex (in Tomis Mall), Str. Ştefan cel Mare, Nr. 36-40, ☏ .
- Cinema City (in Maritimo Shopping Center), Str. Aurel Vlaicu, nr. 220, ☏ .
- Teatrul Național Constanța, B-dul Ferdinand, Nr.11, ☏ .
- Teatrul de Opera si Balet Oleg Danovski, Str. Mircea cel Batran, Nr. 97, ☏ .
- Elpis, Str. Alexandru Karatzali, Nr. 16, ☏ .
You can get aboard a tour boat from the Tomis marina which will take you on a trip to the open seas and back.
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. Other shopping centres are TOM and VIVO! Constanța.
You can also do your shopping at other shopping centres:'
- Selgros 391, Bulevardul Tomis - warehouse club
- Kaufland Bulevardul Aurel Vlaicu 218 - another supermarket
- Mega Image Bulevardul Tomis 310A - another supermarket
- Doraly Mall Șoseaua Mangaliei 84
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).
- International fast-food
- McDonald's (Tomis Mall: ground floor, 3rd floor, Delfinariu Area, City Park Mall: Park Level)
- KFC (Tomis Mall: 3rd floor; TOM; City Park Mall: Park Level)
- Pizza Hut (Str. Rascoalei; TOM; City Park Mall: Lake Level)
- Spring Time (TOM)
- Adrys Restaurant Evenimente, Str. Lct. Economu, Nr. 30; Tel. - +40 724 855 811; mostly banquet hall type of dining, though may be open for regular business as well.
- Albatros, Str. Traian, Nr. 52; Tel. - +40 241-615-717; Mici (sausages) and other Romanian food.
- Ambient Ristorante, Strada Pandurului 49; Tel. - +40 799 599 544; dance hall with drink selection, also kind of geared toward organized parties.
- Avanti, B-dul Tomis, Nr. 334; Tel. - +40 731 612 138; pizza!
- Balada, B-dul 1 Decembrie 1918, Nr. 12; Tel. - +40 241 633 909; another hotel restaurant.
- Beta Restaurant, Str. Ştefan cel Mare, Nr. 6, ☏ . Posh albeit possibly smoky interior with a lot of continental cuisine and fusion choices.
- Extrablatt, B-dul Tomis, Nr. 114; Tel. - +40 730 658 735; fast food-type eatery feature pizza, pastas, and shawarma.
- Bulevard, B-dul Mamaia, Nr. 294; Tel. - +40 241 831 533; some continental choices at this hotel restaurant.
- La Ana și Ion, B-dul Tomis, Nr. 17; Tel. - +40 761 559 550; pork soup, stew, pancakes, authentic Romanian dishes.
- THE VIEW Constanta, Bulevardul Regina Elisabeta 2A; Tel. - +40 770 117 777; So nice because you have the sea on one side and the casino on the other. Unfortunately, the food may be a bit disappointing and overpriced (because of that view!), but you can have a drink at least.
- 1 Haute Cup, Strada Griviței nr. 20, ☏ . M-Th 08:00-22:00, F 08:00-24:00, Sa 09:00-24:00, Su 09:00-22:00. Coffee connoisseur/vendor.
Bars and clubs
- Arabica Pizza&Bar., Bulevardul Tomis nr.3, ☏ . Here you can likely find that particular drink you are looking for, or absorb all that beer with some pizza.
- Restaurant Turcesc Nor, Bd. Tomis, 48, ☏ . Drinks and Turkish food here.
- Eol777, Str. Aviator Vasile Craiu nr 3a (a bit on the way to Mamaia), ☏ . Featuring shared bathrooms and commons, with private rooms or dorm beds, like reliving the best of campus housing or summer camp yore. ~50 lei.
- Dobrogea, B-dul Alexandru Lăpuşneanu, Nr. 194; Tel. - +40 241 655 556 (~96 lei) Kind of dank and stodgy, like a pair of old slippers. Has a bar though!
- Florentina, Bulevardul I. C. Brătianu 119 (near train station); Tel. +40 241-512-535; Fax - +40 241-510-202 (in springtime €35/night 2p-room w breakfast) Hygiene not too great here.
- Hotel London, Strada Viceamiral Ioan Murgescu nr 42; Tel. +40 241-697-638; Fax. +40 241-697-638 (157 lei) Kind of basic amenities in this low-rise tower, but it does have a restaurant and garden anyway.
- Hotel Metropol, B-dul Mamaia, Nr. 114, ☏ . Really about its only saving grace is its location, if you are a beach lover. Restaurant can be satisfactory though.
- Le Premier, Strada Dr. Aristide Karatzali 1, ☏ . Mostly characterizes itself as a restaurant these days, but somewhere there is a room supposedly. Nice beachside ambience.
- Hotel Turist, B-dul Mamaia, Nr. 288; Tel. - +40 241-831-006; Fax - +40 241-831-006 (165 lei) This one is excellent if you're seeking to relive the old Soviet/Iron Curtain feel. Lots of gaudy red neon lights and furniture. Clean though and has a nice restaurant.
- Elmo Pension (Pensiunea Elmo), Bulevardul Mamaia 134, ☏ . Homestay option with a friendly dog host. Simple accommodations. 96 lei.
- Casa Harghita, Sat de Vacanţă, Tel. +40 241 513 738. Kind of a low-key place with a restaurant on-site.
Some hotels in Mamaia are open in the winter and you can get very good deals on accommodation in the off season.
- Cora, B-dul Mamaia, Nr. 201; Tel. - (469)-428-2533; Fax - +40 241-613-179. Basic hotel with breakfast; could be some issues with a/c and hot water though.
- Guci, Str. Răscoalei din 1907, Nr. 23; Tel. - +40 241-695-500; Fax - +40 241-638-426. Free breakfast and wifi; restaurant on top floor with view of the sea.
- Intim, Str. N. Titulescu, Nr. 7-9; Tel. - +40 241-617-814; Fax - +40 241-618-285. It occupies a historical landmark and serves as a sort of social club, may be undergoing restoration.
- Maria, B-dul 1 Decembrie 1918, Nr. 2D; Tel. - +40 241-611-711; Fax - +40 241-616-852. This one comes with wifi and a/c and a breakfast buffet so that's a pretty good deal.
- Millennium, B-dul Mamaia, Nr. 135; Tel. - +40 241-607-317; Fax - +40 241-607-341. Hotel has a glassy exterior and your room may come with a view of the sea. There's a limited breakfast and the maintenance can be a little off at times.
- Adrys Boutique Villa, Strada Gheorghe Economu 30; Tel. +40 724 855 811. It's very homestyle: has a restaurant and a down home feel.
- Oxford, B-dul Alexandru Lăpuşneanu intersecție cu B-dul Aurel Vlaicu; Tel - +40 241 606 510. Almost has a resort feel with restaurant and bar and atrium and proximity to beach. Breakfast included.
- 1 Complex Bulevard, ☏ .
- 2 Hotel Dali, 6A Strada Smardan, ☏ .
- 3 Hotel Royal Constanța, Bulevardul Mamaia 191, ☏ .
Constanța 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 Constanța 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. 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.
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
- Vama Veche to the south, close to the Bulgarian border is a former hippie/bohemian beach village turned into a commercial venture over the years but still one of the few places on the Romanian coast where camping is still hip (although there have been agents patrolling the beaches asking for a 10 lei fee from people they find at the tent. Just say it's not your tent and you'll go look for the person who's tent you are watching. They'll go bother someone else.)
- Limanu cave near Mangalia is a 3,200 m long cave unique in Romania. The only way to reach it is by personal car. Entrance to the cave is closed off but there are some phone numbers on the door that will get you in touch with a guide. A good measure to keep the bat population happy and to keep the vandals out. Guide and entrance fee is 3 lei.