Alyssa has been writing about exciting travel topics for Trips to Discover since 2013. After living the big city life in Chicago, Washington, DC, and Atlanta, Alyssa sold the bulk of her possessions and became a digital nomad, living full-time in her camper and working from wherever she could find an outlet and an internet connection for her laptop.
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Often associated with the legendary character of Dracula and mysterious castles, Romania is an exciting and intriguing place to plan your next vacation. Here you’ll find quaint small towns, ski resorts, art communities, and lots of charming people. Here are our top picks for things to do in Romania!
One of the best ways to get a sense of the Romanian landscape is to take a scenic drive along the Transfagarasan Highway. It’s also known as the Road from the Clouds and links Transylvania and Wallachia. You’ll pass by high mountain peaks and see stunning views of the region from this route. The maximum speed on the road is 40 kilometers per hour, which is plenty fast with all the hairpin turns you’ll encounter. If you’re coming from Bucharest, you can take the A1 motorway to Pitesti to get here, and Curtea de Arges is a great destination for your sightseeing first pit stop on the route.
Peles Castle is one of the most-visited landmarks in all of Romania and a must-see for any first-time traveler to the region. This is the type of castle that Disney movies were modeled after, and it’s near the town of Sinaia and the Bucegi Mountains. The castle was completed in 1883 and was a summer residence for the royal family until 1947. There are 160 rooms here with lovely chandeliers, stained-glass windows, and fine art. The open hours vary slightly by season, and your admission fee includes a 45-minute tour offered in Romanian, English, French, Spanish, or Italian.
The most well-known city in Romania is Bucharest, and this is where many travelers start and end their journeys to the country. This is a place where history meets modern life in art, architecture, and daily life. You’ll find glimpses into the old ways Communist life and impressive high-rises in the same parts of the city, and the old town center is lined with cobblestone streets and medieval churches.
Herastrau Park, Bucharest
This is a large city park in Bucharest on the northern side of town and that was formed around Lake Herastrau. Herastrau Park is a popular place for boat trips, water sports, and city events. It’s also known for its beautiful flowers and trees and close proximity to the Village Museum, Elisabeth Palace, and other top city attractions. It’s also fun to rent bikes from the vendor close to the park’s entrance, fish for carp in the stocked lake, or grab a bite to eat nearby. Parking can be hard to come by, so you may want to walk here rather than driving.
This obscure natural attraction has been described as a liquid veil with a strange, otherworldly presence. Head to the Anina Mountains to see this waterfall, which is about eight meters high and falls over green moss in small streams before trickling down into the Minis River. It is truly a sight to marvel at, and it’s easy to get to from the nearby cities of Bozgovici and Oravita. The waterfall is part of Cheile Nerei-Beusnita National Park, so you can take some time to explore the rest of the park here as well.
This is another urban center in Romania that is packed with history within these ancient walls. This medieval center has strong ties to the Great Union of 1918 and the coronation of Ferdinand I and Mary, and St. Michael’s Cathedral is a top attraction. Plan to spend a day exploring this area, and don’t miss the guard parade at noon daily. Local tour groups offer guided tours of the citadel to help tourists understand the significance of the fortification system and the monuments.
Sighisoara is in Transylvania and is favorite place to visit among history buffs. The walled town has been wonderfully preserved and has an old citadel that hosts a medieval festival in the summers. It’s also fun to photograph the pastel-colored cobblestone streets while exploring the historic town center here. Top Sighisoara highlights include the Church on the Hill, the 13th century Venetian House, and the Church of the Dominican Monastery. There are also lots of medieval structures that you can still see today, such as Blacksmith’s Tower, Butcher’s Tower, Furrier’s Tower, and several others. But perhaps the most famous attraction here is the Clock Tower, which has a dial that overlooks the Lower City and a spire that ends in a small golden sphere.
Another city that travelers should definitely check out in Romania is Brasov, which is in the central region and also a mix of old and new. You’ll see the Carpathian Mountains in the distance and truly enjoy this area if you’re a skier. The town is a haven for winter sport lovers and also home to the famously narrow Rope Street, which is only about four feet wide. For the best views of the city, take a cable car to the mountain top. Other top things to do in Brasov are the Parc Aventura Brasov theme park, Council Square, the Brasov Historical Center, Mount Tampa, and the Black Church.
This is an annual international film festival that was founded in the town of Cluj-Napoca in 2002. The work of local and regional filmmakers is highlighted here, and there are also educational programs offered for children and teenagers. Approximately 79,000 film festival tickets were sold last year, there were 400 screenings, and 248 selected films from 64 countries. The 2018 festival is scheduled to take place between May 25 and June 3.
It’s always fun to try traditional foods when you visit a new country and get to know its culture and people. Favorite foods here include cabbage rolls, minced meat, polenta, sour pickles, various cheeses, and beef tripe soup. If possible, also make sure to try cozonac, which is a sweetbread and holiday treat with sweet walnut paste and poppy seeds. Traditional beverages to try include a plum brandy called Tuica, and elderberry soft drink called socata, and locally produced beers and wines.