10 Reasons to Visit Romania

There is a small country in Eastern Europe that used to be my home – Romania. While I lived there I didn’t care too much about its natural beauty or historic sites. I was constantly dreaming of seeing far-away lands and exotic places. Now, every time I go back I’m surprised to discover how beautiful Romania actually is. 25 years later and from the other side of the world, I realized that “far-away” or “exotic” is just a matter of geographical perspective. It depends where you are coming from. For people living in America, or Australia, or Japan,  Romania is indeed a far-away and exotic place. So if you haven’t seen it yet, I could give you at least 10 reasons to visit Romania.

 

1. Beautiful landscapes

Romania enjoys a very diverse scenery: from high mountain peeks reaching almost 3,000 meters (the Carpathian Mountains), to hills and plains, the Danube Delta and the Black Sea shore. The country is well-watered by many rivers, streams and lakes. There are two main highways crossing the Carpathian Mountains: Transalpina and Transfagarasan running  at very high altitudes, with twists and turns and deep ravines, equally beautiful and dangerous.

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2. Medieval towns and old authentic villages

Throughout Transylvania there are villages that remained almost unaffected by modern civilization, still looking like they did three centuries ago. In the central part of the country there are some beautifully preserved medieval towns, like Brasov, Sighisoara, Sibiu, Cluj, or Alba Iulia whose citadels make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time.

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Medieval town of Sighisoara

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Village in Transylvania

 

3. Beautiful castles

Romania is home to three of Europe’s top 25 castles: the elegant Peles Castle, located in the Carpathian Mountains near the town of Sinaia;  Bran Castle, originally built by the Knights of the Teutonic Order in 1212 and later closely tied to the legend of Dracula; and Hunedoara Castle, also known as Hunyadi, or Corvin Castle,  the place of the 7 years imprisonment of Vlad the Impaler and  supposedly a haunted place.

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Peles Castle

 

4. Easy to visit

As a former communist country, Romania  isn’t usually the place that people have high up on their must-see lists. That means tourist attractions can be visited with ease, without many restrictions and limitations, usually strictly enforced in other countries.  You can walk just by yourself in a castle without having to wait for an organized tour, or take pictures in an old church without being admonished. Historic sites are not overcrowded and picture-taking is not prohibited in most places. Unfortunately though, this started to change lately as the number of tourists visiting Romania is growing every year.

 

5. It’s affordable

Romania is still a budget destination where your dollar goes a long way. Hotel and food prices are very low compared to other European countries (a loaf of bread is $0.30, 1 lb. of beef tenderloin is $3.50, a bottle of domestic beer is $1.50). Restaurants and cafés can be slightly more expensive near the tourist sites, but still affordable. Admission fees for museums and other attractions are also very reasonable and so is public transportation (busses, metro, or cabs).

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Romania’s railway system is one of the largest in the world and prices are very cheap. Many low-cost European airlines connect Romania’s cities with other European countries.

 

6. Delicious food and historic restaurants

Tasty food has always been a part of the Romanian culture. Almost anywhere you eat the food is delicious. Romanian cuisine has some Hungarian, Germanic and Turkish influences but still maintains its identifiable character. An example would be the classic sour soup (“ciorba“) made with “borş” (a sour liquid made from wheat and cornflower) and fried mutton pastrami with polenta. So if you visit Romania, be prepared to return with a few extra pounds. But besides tasty food, Romania is home to some very old, traditional restaurants with wonderful interiors, painted ceilings and ornate woodwork . Some of the most famous ones are located in Bucharest’s historic center, like Caru’ cu Bere, Hanu’ Berarilor (located in a historic house that once belonged to Elena Lupescu, mistress of King Carol II), Hanu’ lui Manuc, Crama Domneasca, or Casa Doina.

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Carul cu Bere (the Beer Wagon) Restaurant

 

7. The Danube Delta

The Danube Delta is formed by the river Danube flowing into the Black Sea. There are many beautiful sites in Romania that are worth visiting, but if you are a bird-watcher and pure nature lover you shouldn’t miss this one . It is largest and the best preserved delta in Europe, with over 300 species of birds living in its lakes and marshes. The Danube Delta is a protected habitat and was declared a biosphere reserve.

 

8. The Painted Monasteries of Bucovina

Among the most picturesque treasures of Romania is a group of 8 Painted Monasteries located in the northeastern part of Romania, in Bucovina.  The churches date back to medieval times (15th to 16th century). In most cases they have been founded as burial places for the noble families in the area. These churches are extremely well preserved and absolutely unique.  There is no other place in the world where you can find such a group, with such high quality interior and exterior frescoes. The frescoes represent biblical scenes from the Old and New Testament.

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The Last Judgement scene at Voronet Monastery (canstockphoto credit)

The painters (most of them unknown) gave the biblical scenes their own interpretation, using colors like the famous Voronet blue, the red of Humor, the yellow of Moldovita and the green of Arbore. The wall paintings, inspired by the Byzantine art and completely covering the churches’ façades, are of inestimable artistic value. In 1993 the Painted Monasteries of Bucovina have been declared a World Heritage site.

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Sucevita monastery – Bucovina, Romania (canstockphoto credit)

 

9.Bucharest’s architecture

In the past, the city’s elegant inter-belic architecture earned Bucharest the nickname of “Little Paris”, but unfortunately today’s architecture is rather a blend of some old palaces dating back to the 19th century, art-deco buildings and new modern blocks of flats.

 

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Different architectural styles in downtown Bucharest

Altogether Bucharest is a mixed bag with some clean, well maintained areas next to neglected, dirty ones. Many of the historic buildings have fallen into serious disrepair, but there are still some old well preserved ones, especially in the downtown area.

 

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Old building in need of repairs

Miraculously, a good number of historic churches in Bucharest managed to survive Communism and have been restored to their original beauty. The European Union invested serious funds into rebuilding some of the old, historic areas of Bucharest.

 

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Ion Mincu University of Architecture and Urbanism

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Dimbovita River, Downtown Bucharest

10. Friendly people

In the end, no matter how beautiful a country is, it is its people that will make the difference. Romanians are known for their friendliness and hospitality. The best part is that almost everywhere you go you’ll find someone who speaks English, especially the young generation. And even if they don’t, they will do their best to accommodate you or point you in the right direction. In fact they may even offer to accompany you to where you need to get if that’s not very far.

 

 

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46 Comments on “10 Reasons to Visit Romania

  1. Great post! I should mention that a limiting to 10 will necessarily leave out stuff! Romania is a famous hunting destination for Boar, Bear and Deer. It is a treasure trove of folk art and rural civilizations, amazingly diverse, surviving live into the 21st Century, as well as one of the greatest places on earth for artifacts of ancient civilizations going back to Europe’s Stone Age.

    • Thanks Vlad. There are so many other reasons to visit Romania. I’m sure that as a local you can come up with great suggestions.

    • Thank you for your beautiful comment. I’m sure you would not regret visiting Romania. And if you were to do it, it’s better to go before it turns into a touristic place like any other.

    • Thank you, Janice. Unfortunately, Romania is still in the group of the overseen Eastern European countries, but it has vary many interesting things to offer.

  2. A very interesting post with beautiful images, Anda. I’ve long been interested in Rumania, and this has made me think that I really should include it when visiting Europe in the future.

  3. Your information is great, and – WOW – those photos! Just tantalizing! I’m in Central Europe but haven’t thought much about visiting Romania. This definitely piqued my interest. Cheers.

  4. I love your photos. Even the “old building in need of repairs” looks stunning. Thank you for writing this post. I rode through Romania on the train on my way to Bulgaria very long time ago, but the trip did not include stopping there. I hope I’ll get to see this beautiful country some time. I’m also pinning your post to my “East Central Europe” Pinterest board, hoping that travelers who come across that board while planning a trip to Central East Europe will find your post interesting as well, and maybe put Romania on their itinerary.

    • Thank you, Jolanta. I’m very thankful to you for sharing my pictures on Pintrest. I hope you’ll get to visit Romania someday.

  5. Hi Anda, I feel the same way about my hone country, the Philippines. I have so much appreciation of it now then when I was still living there. Thank you for sharing the beauty of yours. I look forward to visiting Romania someday. Those old authentic villages that are frozen in time truly interest me. I’d love to see its beautiful landscapes, monasteries, architecture and meet its lovely people.
    Marisol@TravelingSolemates recently posted…Varanasi: Evening Rituals on the Ganges RiverMy Profile

  6. Heard a lot of good things about Bucharest from a friend of mine, who went there in business. Though, I lived in a boarding country, I have traveled to Romania just once as stayed on a day before driving further to Bulgaria. Sighisoara town looks so lovely and so does the scenery! I feel like I’d to re-visit Romania before it gets mainstream and flooded with tourists 🙂

    And Anda, I perfectly feel the same about my home country, Ukraine. Once I left and became an occasional visitor, I started to see it from the new angle as a traveler!

    P.S. If you’d like to share some more fact about Romania, I’m running a series of quirky country facts at my blog where locals and expats can share smth interesting about the place they live 🙂
    Elena@Elena’s Travelgram recently posted…Best French Food in One BoxMy Profile

  7. Romania is well known all over the world for its rich natural beauty as well as stunning heritage sights. Its villages and valleys are breathtaking and awesome. It is also very famous due to its amazing castles and churches. I have been there about a year ago after completing my USA trip with my family. Peles Castle is my favorite attractions there. It was built at the command of the first Romanian king.

    • I am really glad you enjoyed your trip to Romania. This country had a very sad and tumultuous history that kept it behind for centuries. Its beautiful sites have been neglected for a long time too but now things started to change for the better. Thank you for your beautiful comment.

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  9. Anda, I haven’t realized that you are from Romania until today:) I visited a couple of times when I lived in neighboring Moldova and then spent a month there about 20 years ago. I loved it. if you hadn’t include the people as one of the reasons, I would have! they were this country’s most prominent feature for me- so friendly and well cultured. I stayed in Buchurest, Sinai, and Neptun on the Black Sea. I hope I return one day with my kids.
    Victoria @celebratetheweekend recently posted…BOSTON WEEKEND – NEW FRIDAY POST SERIESMy Profile

    • So glad to hear you like Romania, Victoria. It seems we were neighbors for a long time, while we both lived in Europe. You know that Romanians still claim Moldova is theirs…

  10. Felicitari pentru articol, dar am o rectificare de facut. De fapt, Romania cea mai mare tara din estul Europei.

    • Thanks for your comment, Dan. “Small country” in this case was used a term of endearment rather than a reference to the size of the Romania.

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  12. Hi, Anda,it’s so nice to see you show others that there are some very beautiful places worth visiting in Romania. Asides from medieval towns, the charming countryside and everything else, it’s also very easy to for a swim in the Black Sea and then hiking on the mountains in the same day (depending on the traffic, as we all know too well). I’m certain that Romania will become a more and more popular travel destination.

    • Thank you, Luminita. I appreciate you taking the time to read my post. I’m sure Romanian tourism will pick up in the near future. After all, this is such a beautiful country!

  13. Hey, I couldn’t help thanking you for the way you described our country. I am romanian and I’m proud to see other people notice what a beautiful country we have and actually seeing the good not just the bad. Greetings from Danube Delta.

    • You are welcome, Paula. Don’t forget, Romania was my country too and although I left for political reasons, I can’t deny its beauty.

  14. Vlad’s been making a really great case for Romania for the last couple of years, and now you’re helping too! It’s creeping farther and farther up on my list, mostly because of the castles and the bucolic countryside.

  15. This seems really cool, I’m flying in soon on a business trip, I’ll make sure to check it out. I usually travel with Bucharest Transfers. I hope they will know how to get there, they have not let me down so far.

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