If we’re going to talk about recommended countries to visit, I guess you wont be hearing very often Romania. But why is that, is there nothing to visit, what else is there besides some names: Nadia Comaneci, Dracula or Ceausescu ?
Oh, you’ll be surprised … let’s take a quick look, just follow me!
Romania is situated on the western shores of the Black Sea, South-East of Europe. It enjoys great natural beauty and diversity and a rich cultural heritage. You will be charmed with its scenic mountain landscapes and unspoiled countryside areas and also with its historic cities and large cities.
My main opinion of Romania, it is always surprising. You’ll see many contrasts on the road between cities that are truly Western Europe and some villages that seem to have been brought back from the past, wild natural landscapes, modern beaches and a variety of hills, mountains, the Danube, the Black Sea.
First of all you need to get here, probably the quickest way is by air so your first contact with Romania will be with one of its cities.
Bucharest is the capital municipality, cultural, industrial, and financial center of Romania. It is the largest city in Romania, located in the southeast of the country and some statistics say that it is probably one of the cheapest capital cities in European Union to visit.
If you are a fan of visiting cities, you’ll probably need 2 days to enjoy the sights and night life in Bucharest.
I. Places to visit in Bucharest:
a. The Village Museum (Muzeul Satului)
It was established in 1936 and it contains over 300 wooden houses, windmills, churches etc. from all over the country. If you don’t plan to visit Romania’s rural areas – and even if you do – you shouldn’t miss this museum which is one of the largest of its kind in Europe. Many of the buildings are originals which were brought here in pieces and reassembled. The oldest houses date as far back as the 17C.
b. Museums: National Art Museum (former Royal Palace), Museum of Romanian Peasant, Antipa Museum, National History Museum.
Ticket Price for each museum: between 2 Euro and 5 Euros
c. Relaxing walks through Bucharest:
– Cismigiu Gardens (Gradina Cismigiu) – In the very center of Bucharest there is a place where one can take a break from Bucharest for a few hours. Cismigiu is located close to Universitatii Square, across the City Hall building. It is Bucharest’s oldest park and a great place to stroll and enjoy the peace that one can feel finding such a place in the middle of a hectic city.
– The Old Court (Curtea Veche) – The oldest part of Bucharest lies around The Old Princely Court (Curtea Veche) at the end of Str. Franceza. Archaeologists believe that this area was inhabited long before the 14th century because of pieces found here. But this area’s time of glory came in the 15th century when the reigning prince of Wallachia, Vlad the Impaler built his fortress here.
– Calea Victoriei – (Victory Road) is one of Bucharest’s most charming streets. It was built as a main road in 1692 under orders from Constantin Brancoveanu who needed a road to link his palace at Mogosoaia with the Old Court. Between the two world wars Calea Victoriei became one of the most fashionable streets. Following this avenue from Piata Natiunilor Unite to Piata Victoriei you’ll find some of the most beautiful buildings in Bucharest.
d. Get something to eat in a famous place:
– Manuc’s Inn (Hanul lui Manuc) – is the best preserved of Bucharest’s old inns. It was built around 1808 to shelter travelling merchants. The inn is also one of Bucharest’s historical building. The building has the two tier galleries that were common all over the Otoman Empire. Today, Manuc’s Inn functions as a hotel-restaurant and wine cellar. Address: Str Franceza 64.
Menu: starting from 10 Euros.
e. Night life and maybe some parties.
– Villacrose and Macca Passages – Villacrosse and Macca passages are two pedestrian alleys roofed with glass and wrought iron and lined with shops, cafes and restaurants. They were built at the end of the 19th century. Entrance from Calea Victoriei across the police headquarters and from E. Carada Street.
– The Old Town – Great coffee, buildings and lots of fun.
Prices starting from : 2 Euros (beer), 1 Euro Coffee
f. The Parliament Palace (Palatul Parlamentului) – the peak of Ceausescu’s megalomania. It is the second largest building in the world in terms of surface, competing with the Pentagon in size and it has probably the biggest rooms in the world (maybe). The building is now used as the parliament house as well as for conferences and exhibitions and can be visited by guided tours.
II. Get you gear and lets visit Wild Carpathia.
Here we have 2 options, I’ll let you choose. My little advice is to rent a car, this way you’ll make your own plans and you can stop and visit anything you like. The costs, for a economic car start from 15 Euros / day and if you are not alone on this trip I guess its worth it.
A. Bucharest – via Ploiesti – destination: Sinaia / Busteni / Azuga / Predeal – Brasov.
Well, the 4 places are the most visited mountain resorts in Romanian. Great sightseeing, great mountains, an escape from modern city life.
In this area you can visit the National Bucegi Park, Bran Castle, Peles Castle, Piatra Mare (mountain), The Ice Cave, Tamina Waterfall, Rasnov Castle, Caraiman Mountain.
Probably you’ll meet many other tourist in this region, but the best way to enjoy this parts it’s to go for some long walks in the mountains, escape in nature.
Brasov is the biggest city in the region and very close to this mountain resorts. It’s architecture is influenced by the old german inhabitants and it’s a great place to visit if you’re in this area. Many museum, Piata Sfatului (the main square), The Black Chapel, The city Zoo
You can get a single room in the Mountain Resorts from 30 Euros, in the city of Brasov you’ll find some rooms with 20 Euros
B. Bucharest – via Pitesti, Curtea de Arges – destination Transfagarasan / Transalpina
About Transfagarasan I can only say one thing and those are not my words: “ Probably the best road in the World – Top Gear, UK”. I really can’t describe the feeling driving up into the clouds, seeing the biggest dam in Romania (Vidraru) and the landscape is impressive. It’s like you are on the top of the world. Enjoy the pictures and see for yourself!
Here you can make another choice, go towards Ramnicu Valcea and take the Transalpina Road, I can tell you just this … it is the highest road in Romania !! Even higher than Transfagarasan.
Rooms starting from: 20 Euros
Moving from Transfagarasan / Transalpina –> Sibiu. (Transylvania)
Sibiu was the Cultural European Capital in 2007 and like Brasov the German heritage is well present. Great buildings and squares, museums and a very relaxed city. Here you can also visit another Village Museum, museums and some very lovely rural villages around Sibiu. Get to know the real rural lifestyle still present in Romania.
C. (Transylvania) Sibiu –> Sighisoara – Turda (Salt Mine) – Cluj Napoca (Apuseni Mountains).
Medieval cities worth visiting with great cultural activity, active nightlife and idyllic parks, buildings and architecture.
If you arrive in Cluj-Napoca besides being one of the top cities in Romania at 100 km you’ll find the Apuseni Mountains, probably the best preserved and untouched mountains in this area. Not that big as the ones in Brasov area, nevertheless a fantastic sight.
Rooms starting from 20 Euros
D. Maramures and Bucovina region.
Maramures is a land of wooden churches, mythological richness, impressive landscapes and very ancient customs. It has carefully preserved the culture, traditions, and lifestyle of a medieval peasant past.
The village of Săpânța, located just 4 kilometres south of the Ukrainian border is world-famous for its original “Merry Cemetery”: a special kind of graveyard, with wooden crosses painted in vivid colors. A particular blue, called „Sapanta blue” rules over all the other colors.
Maramures is more than rural villages, beautiful young mountains, it’s the spirit of rural Romania, the place where tradition is still well preserved and present.
Bucovina is one of the most attractive and visited touristic areas in Romania. No wonder this area(famous today all over the world) was given in 1975 the Pomme d’Or international prize by The International Federation of Travel Writers and Tourism Journalists. The century-old architecture monuments together with the frescos from this country spot were listed by UNESCO among all the universal art monuments.
The frescos of the painted monasteries in the north are among the most picturesque treasures of Romania. Set amidst the scenery of the surrounding mountains in villages known for their traditional way of life. Each fresco tells a different biblical story on its painted walls of on the outside and inside of the monasteries, as well on the ceiling of the interior. The illustrated scenes resemble prayers, episodes of sacred hymns and themes such as The Last Judgment and The Ladder of St. John, all in colorful and rich imagery of apostles, evangelists, philosophers, martyrs, angels and demons.
When visiting Romania a detour to the north is much worth the experience.
Rooms starting from 20 Euros
E. The Danube Delta
The Danube Delta is the second largest river delta in Europe, after Volga Delta, and is the best preserved on the continent. The greater part of the Danube Delta lies in Romania (Tulcea county), 3,446 km² and it is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
In 2011 Danube Delta has received the Quality Coast Gold Award for its efforts to become a sustainable tourism destination. Because of this award Danube Delta has been selected for inclusion in the global atlas for sustainable tourism DestiNet.
One of the wonders of this part of the world, great sunsets, nature and wildlife, a place still virgin with so much to offer. You should see this at least once in your life.
Rooms starting from 30 Euros
F. The Black Sea – Constanta / Mamaia / Costinesti / Vama Veche
Constanta is one of the biggest cities in Romania and right at the Black Sea shore. It can be an interesting city to visit because of its direct opening to the Black Sea but also because of its history and cultural life.
Mamaia (near Constanta) is a resort and the largest on the Romanian Black Sea shore. Mamaia is also the only resort in Europe to have the pure white sand only found in tropical places such as Hawaii. The beach season is at its best between mid-May and late September, when average daytime temperatures are 25 to 30 degrees Celsius (78 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit). The water is warm until late autumn. It is considered to be the resort where the rich people prefer to go.
Besides Mamaia you can visit the other resorts near the Black Sea shore: Neptun, Jupiter, Venus, Costinesti, Vama veche.
Rooms starting from 30 Euros
Romania is full of surprises and many magnificent places to visit. The people are usually very friendly and open-minded. Besides all the horror stories heard this country can get into your heart if you take the time to visit it, discover it and love it.
This country is for every budget. The cost are pure informative and standard, you can have tours via a rented car, buses, plain. It all depends on you, but you can enjoy a great vacation even with a little budget.
14 days at hotels (3 star): around 650 Euros
14 days car rental : around 225 Euros
1 liter of gas : around 1.3 Euro
Recommended food and drinks
1.Ciorbă de burtă – (tripe soup) soured with sour cream.
2.Borş de urechiuşe – wild mushrooms sour soup/
3.Ciorbă de fasole cu afumătură – (bean and smoked meat soup).
4.Ciorbă de peşte “ca-n Deltă” – (fish soup prepared in the style of the Danube Delta)
5.Ciorbă de pui is a chicken soup
1.Caltaboş/chişcǎ – a cooked sausage made of minced pork organs and rice, stuffed in a pig casing.
2.Ciulama – white roux sauce used in a variety of meat dishes.
3.Mititei (mici) – grilled minced-meat rolls.
4.Tochitură – a Romanian-style stew.
5.Sarmale – minced meat with rice, wrapped in either pickled cabbage leaves or vine leaves
1.Ardei umpluţi – stuffed bell peppers
2.Iahnie – beans, spiced up, cooked until there’s no more water and a soft sticky sauce binding beans together has formed
3.Mămăligă – cornmeal mush, also known as Romanian-style polenta. Mămăligă can be served as a side dish or form the basis of further dishes, such as “mămăligă cu lapte” (polenta with hot milk), bulz (baked polenta with Romanian sheep cheese and cream), “mămăliguță cu brânză și smântănă” (polenta with telemea (Romanian cheese similar to feta cheese) and sour cream) etc.
4. Tocăniță de gălbiori – chanterelle stew
5. Pilaf – rice, vegetables, and pieces of meat (optional), often wings and organs of chicken, pork, or lamb. Cooking method is very similar to risotto.
Drinks (besides the commercial ones)
1.Afinată – blueberry liqueur
2.Pălincă – is a strong, double-distilled plum brandy, produced in Transylvania
3.Socată – is a non-alcoholic beverage made of fermented elderflower (Sambucus nigra) blossom