Romania

Romania is an often-overlooked gem in Eastern Europe, with stunning natural landscapes, a rich history, and a vibrant cultural scene. This guide will provide you with an expert overview of what to see, where to go, the best attractions, the weather, transportation, food, suggested daily travel plans, and essential tips for tourists.

Why Visit Romania?

Romania offers a unique blend of medieval charm, diverse architecture, unspoiled wilderness, and a preserved traditional way of life. From the colorful medieval towns of Transylvania to the majestic Carpathian Mountains, Romania’s beauty and cultural richness are bound to captivate any traveler. Moreover, Romania is an affordable destination, making it attractive to budget-conscious travelers.

What to See and Where to Go

Brașov

Brașov is an ideal starting point for your Romanian adventure. This historic city is nestled between two forest-clad mountains and offers a pedestrian-friendly old town filled with trendy cafes and shops. Key attractions include:

  • The Black Church: A Gothic church known for its history and architecture.
  • Tâmpa Mountain: Take the cable car or hike for panoramic views of the city.
  • Brașov Citadel: Explore this historical fortress.
  • Day Trips: Visit Bran Castle (Dracula’s Castle) and Peleș Castle, both within a short drive from Brașov.

Sighișoara

Sighișoara is a UNESCO-protected medieval town with multicolored houses and a fairytale atmosphere. Notable sights include:

  • The Medieval Citadel: Europe’s last remaining inhabited citadel.
  • The Clock Tower: Offering beautiful views of the town.
  • The Birthplace of Vlad Dracul: Discover the history of the infamous Vlad the Impaler.

Sibiu

Sibiu is a charming town with a well-preserved historical center. Highlights include:

  • The Lutheran Cathedral: Climb the tower for breathtaking views.
  • Crama Sibiul Vechi: Enjoy traditional Romanian cuisine in this former wine cellar.
  • The Grand Square: A lively area surrounded by beautiful baroque buildings.

The Best Attractions

The Bicaz Gorge

Experience one of Romania’s most scenic drives through the Bicaz Gorge in the Cheile Bicazului-Hășmaș National Park. This area is perfect for nature lovers and photographers.

The Transfăgărășan Road

This 90-kilometer mountain road through the Carpathians is often called one of the best drives in Europe. Note that it is typically open only from July to September due to snow.

Turda Mines

Visit the spectacular Turda Mines, an underground salt mine that has been transformed into a unique theme park with various attractions.

Bran Castle

Often associated with Dracula, Bran Castle is a must-visit. While the Dracula connection is more fiction than fact, the castle’s history and architecture are fascinating.

Peleș Castle

Located near Sinaia, Peleș Castle is a Neo-Renaissance masterpiece surrounded by lush gardens, making it a perfect day trip from Brașov. Romania is home to numerous fortified churches, and Biertan is one of the most impressive examples. These churches offer a glimpse into the region’s history and defensive architecture.

Weather

Romania experiences a continental climate with four distinct seasons. Summers (June to August) are warm and ideal for hiking and exploring the countryside. Winters (December to February) can be cold with snow, especially in the mountainous regions, providing excellent skiing opportunities.

Transport

Romania is accessible by various low-cost airlines, with major airports in Bucharest, Sibiu, and Cluj-Napoca. Once in the country, there is an extensive train network, and schedules and tickets can be checked on the CFR Călători website or app. Buses and rental cars are also viable options for exploring more remote areas.

Food

Romanian cuisine is hearty and diverse, influenced by German, Hungarian, Turkish, and Greek cuisines. Some must-try dishes include:

  • Sarmale (cabbage rolls stuffed with minced pork)
  • Kurtos Kalacs (a sweet, cylinder-shaped pastry roasted on a spit)
  • Ciorbă de burtă (a tradițional tripe soup).

The approximate travel plan by day is as follows:

Day 1-2: Bucharest – Explore Romania’s capital, known as the “Paris of the East,” with its mix of cultural and architectural styles.

Day 3-4: Constanta and Bucharest – Visit Constanta, the largest port city on the Black Sea, and then return to Bucharest for further exploration.

Day 5-6: Brașov – Discover the medieval charm of Brașov and take day trips to Bran and Peleș Castles.

Day 7: Sighișoara – Spend a day exploring the medieval town of Sighișoara.

Day 8-9: Sibiu – Enjoy the historical and cultural attractions of Sibiu and take a day trip to the Transfăgărășan Road.

Day 10: Return to Bucharest – Return to Bucharest for your departure.

Tips for tourists 

  • Language: Romanian is a Latin language, so knowledge of Italian or Spanish might be helpful. English is widely spoken among younger people and in tourist areas.
    Safety: Romania is generally safe for travelers, including solo female travelers.
  • Currency: The Romanian leu (RON) is the local currency.
  • Beggars: You may encounter beggars, particularly in tourist areas. Exercise caution and do not feel pressured to give, especially to children.

In conclusion, Romania is a captivating destination with a rich tapestry of history, culture, and natural beauty. Whether you’re exploring medieval towns, driving through scenic mountain roads, or savoring hearty local cuisine, Romania promises a memorable travel experience. So pack your bags and get ready to discover this underrated European gem.

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