Located in central Europe, Romania is most easily known for its famed Transylvania region. Second to that are the wonderfully preserved medieval spots like Sighisoara and fortresses like Bran Castles – which is usually associated with Dracula legend. In just a few hours you can go from the Danube River to the capital city of Bucharest, and then on to the Black Sea. Romania is surrounded by the Carpathian Mountains which attract tourists looking for excellent climbing, trekking, skiing adventures. Romania can be described simply: natural beauty and a wealth of folk culture. Spend time exploring its architectural gems, vibrant art scene, and pristine landscapes and you’ll see why.
Lets explore the best places to visit in Romania:
Romania’s capital and commercial centre has a great energy and the locals know how to have fun. Without doubt, Bucharest’s most iconic landmark is the communist-era Palatul Parlamentului government building. With 1,100 rooms and its massive blue-print, it’s the second largest building on the planet. Enjoy everything from the nightlife in the Lipscani district to the 15th-century Curtea Veche palace where Vlad the Impaler once ruled. Must-sees include the Romanian Athenaeum and Cismigiu Garden. The city is a combination of modern capitalism and remnants of the communist era, but tucked away in surprising pockets are graceful villas, 17th century churches, lovely parks, and trendy cafes.
Located in Transylvania and ringed by the Carpathian Mountains, Brasov is one of the most visited tourist locations in Romania. Home to the towering Black Church with its 4,000 pipe organ (13th century), it’s definitely worth your time. It combines city life and old world charm with stunning landscapes and rich history. You’ll want to see Piata Sfatului (Council Square) and the Casa Sfatului (local museum). But the real reason to visit is Bran Castle – otherwise known as Dracula’s Castle. There’s a ton of myth to sort through, but Bran the setting of Bram Stokers Dracula and is now a museum open to tourists. You’ll love strolling through Brasov’s maze of streets, boho cafes, and real life gingerbread houses.
A couple hours north of Bucharest is Sibiu, situated on the Cibin River in Transylvania. Considered a cultural gem, the baroque squares and quaint cobblestone streets have a unique appeal. Voted the European Capital of Culture in 2007, Sibiu created the countries first library, pharmacy, and hospital. There’s a large handful of “must visit places,” but the top of the list includes the Brukenthal National Museum, the Gothic church with 6,002 pipes and a dizzying church tower you can climb, the tomb of Prince Mihnea the Bad, who was murdered in front of the church, and the ASTRA National Museum Complex. Sibiu has more festivals than any other city in Romania – not to mention plenty of theatre, opera, and exhibitions.
Step back in time in Sighisoara, a 12th century Transylvania-Saxon town; perhaps the best preserved medieval town in all of Europe. This UNESCO World Heritage site is a completely intact gem dating from the 16th century. With nine towers, burgher houses, cobbled streets, and stunning churches, it’s drenched in ambiance and atmosphere. There’s more to discover about the Dracula legend here – it’s the birthplace of Vlad Dracula, a.k.a. Vlad the Impaler. Vlad ruled during the 15th century and is Bram Stokers inspiration for the fictional Count Dracula. Visitors can stop by his home as well as the Church on the hill, the Dominican Monastery, and the Venetian House.
If you’re looking for a sleepy fishing port to put your feet up for a bit, then Sulina, and its tranquil beach, is just the place. The town is Romania’s easternmost point and possibly the loveliest stopping point on any Danube journey. Most tourists use Sulina as their home base for deeper explorations into the delta and along the Black Sea. Explore the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve, visit Argamum and Enisala, medieval fortresses, and discover Saon and Celic Dere, two orthodox monasteries. No matter what, you’ll be amazed at the diversity of wildlife and the beauty of this tiny town.
The standout attraction in Deva is Citadel Hill, a nature reserve being protected because of the rare floral species found there as well as the horned adder. Built in the 13th century, the ruins of the citadel remain on top of the hill – which you can climb or reach by cable car. For those on their way to Corvin Castle, it’s a perfect overnight stay. You can enjoy the Arts Theatre, Patria Cinema, and the Old Centre. Some trivia for you: Deva is the gymnastics capital of Romania (remember Nadia Comaneci?)
7. Baile Herculane
Archaeological digs confirm that humans have inhabited the area of modern day Baile Herculane since the Palaeolithic period. You can visit Pestera Hotilor (The Cave of Thieves) to see proof for yourself. The town is now famous for its luxurious thermal springs. Legend holds that Hercules himself once stopped here to bathe and rest. The city is so fond of its famous visitor that no less than six statues of him have been discovered here. Since WWII, people have come for the healing properties of the hot springs. Baile Herculane is a funny mix of senior citizens enjoying their retirement and the university crowd, looking for a great holiday.
The unofficial capital of Transylvania, Cluj-Napoca is a vibrant university town. It boasts an energetic nightlight as well as historical landmarks dating back to Saxon rule. Everyone will tell you, this is a town that’s big on charm. It serves as the film capital of Romania and each May the Transylvania International Film Festival is held here. Visit Piata Unirii, a Gothic-style church, the baroque-era Bánffy Palace, now home to a Romanian art museum, and a dramatic statue of King Matthais Corvinus (15th century). Cluj often serves as a launching point for trips to the Apuseni Maramures mountain ranges.
Suceava is considered the gateway into all things cultural, historical, and natural in the Bucovina region. It’s also home to the Painted Monasteries. Once the capital of Moldavia, the city has some incredible landmarks, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Saint George’s Church, the Buconvina Ethnographic Museum, and the Princely Court. At first glance, this is a pretty unassuming town. However, it makes a perfect base camp for visiting the many fortresses in the area. Plus, it’s a great place to return to every night as the food here is phenomenal and the laid-back nightlife enjoyable.
Timi?oara is the main social and cultural centre in western Romania. It’s a popular destination among urbanites who love its diversity. Often called Primul Oras Liber (First Free Town), the first anti- Ceausescu protests broke out here and ultimately led to the demise of Ceausescu and his wife in 1989. City planning dates back to the 13th century and over the years the Romans, Turks, and Serbs, and Austrians have laid claim to the place. With such a unique history, Timisoara’s public squares, gorgeous parks, neighbourhoods, and beautiful gardens have incredible cultural influences. The city’s second nickname is “Little Vienna,” because of the year-round music festivals, theatre, art exhibitions, and museums.
11. Vama Veche
Near the border of Bulgaria and sitting right on the coast of the Black Sea is Vama Veche. This city knows what its word is, and that word is: Party! (Exclamation point required!). All summer long you’ll find enticing beach-front bars, restaurants, and clubs with non-stop 24/7 service. Thousands of people flock here at the end of the work week to let loose on the beach. Grand opening weekend is always May 1st weekend and the season closes with the Stuff Stock Music Festival at the end of August. Swim in the Black Sea, fall in love with the Boho free spirit attitude, and soak up as much sun as you want.
12. Maramures (Baie Mare)
Travel to Maramures, a mountain region in northern Romania in order to relax and take a long deep breath of fresh air. The region is famous for its wooden churches, most of which are several hundred years old. The place to be in Maramures is Baie Mare, the capital. For over 2,000 years, people have been mining for silver, gold, and other metals in this traditional Romanian town. Much of its medieval past has been preserved in the main square, Piata Libertatii. Baie Mare is the best place to get a taste of traditional Romanian life. While there visit Piata Izvoarelor, the open air food market, and Butcher’s Tower.
Ask any Romanian and they’ll tell you that, hands down, the best castle in the country is Corvin Castle, found in Hunedoara. Located in Transylvania in the Poiana Rusca Mountains, the city is a mix of Romanians, Hungarians, and Germans. Lush trees flank the streets making it an idyllic setting as you make your way to the castle. Also known as Hunyadi Castle, it’s one of the largest in Europe and for those that love visiting European castles, this one is always at the top of the lists. Don’t let the castle blind you, there is plenty to see and do in Hunedoara. Cinci Lake is nearby, as are Nandru Cave, the Furnace of Govajdia, and St. Nicholas Church. Many tourists also use the city as a staging point for trips into the Poiana Rusca Mountains.
Sinaia is named for Mount Sinai and high above the town, you can see a cross on the mountain, placed there by a nobleman in 1965 who later went on to found Sinaia monastery there. This mountain resort has a number of things to attract the average tourist, not the least of which is Peles Castle; dating from 1883, it’s an extraordinary site and home of Romania’s first king. It’s filled with hidden passages to tease the imagination. Sinaia is situated in a small valley filled with marvellous fir-trees. It’s a quaint town that fills with hikers each summer and skiers each winter. Set against the breath-taking crags of the Bucegi Mountains, many tourists come just for the dramatic day hikes.
Ranked as one of the top 22 spectacular tourist destinations, Salina Turda is a salt mine in Durgau-Valea Sarata that’s been open to tourists since 1992. Roughly two million tourists find their way there each year to see the eclectic coloured Hapsburg facades of the village. Visit the Turda Gorge and the eerie, yet still awesome, salt mine. Strangely, there are some 1000 varieties of plant and animal species in this small area, some of which are quiet rare or endangered. Just an hour outside of Cluj, it makes a great day excursion