Top 10 Reasons to Visit Romania
Painted monasteries, castles and fortified churches stand regally amid a wonderful landscape. In the pristine cities located in the Carpathians, former Saxon settlements like Sibiu and Brașov and ooze a certain amount of charm, while capital Bucharest is overcrowded, but full of energy and history. I'm a citizen of Romania and will expose some insights not all tourists get to know. Ten great reasons to visit Romania.
10. Mindblowing castles (including Dracula's)
The country where Dracula existed certainly has no shortage of brilliant landscapes and jaw-dropping castles hidden on rocky hilltops. The Bran Castle has the incredibly spurious connection to Stoker's narrative, but other places such as Peleș Castle or 14-century Corvin Castle are equally unique. Maramureș boasts towns and villages that seem exactly like in the Middle Ages, with hay racks, horse carts, and wooden churches. Owing to its massively rich medieval history, Romania is saturated with beautiful castles in various states of repair.
9. Virgin landscapes
Romania has an immense amount of undisturbed forsest as well as the largest population of brown bears in the whole Europe, being a brilliant destination for nature lovers. The Carpathian mountains are running through the center of the country and the combination of natural beauty and villages makes it perfect for anyone who wants to hike or just visit.
The Carpathians boast a beautiful swath of rocky peaks surrounded by grooves of pine and deciduous trees. Many landscapes have not been unaltered by humans and a pretty wide network of huts offers accommodation for people curious enough to travel to the peaks.
8. Old authentic villages and medieval towns
Most people who have heard of Transylvania are familiar with the name because of Dracula, but this part of the country is home to some villages that remained unaffected by modern civilization, looking like they did two or three centuries ago. The central part of the country boasts beautifully preserved villages and medieval towns, such as Brașov, Sibiu, Alba Iulia, Cluj, or Sighișoara whose unique citadels make you feel like you've stepped back in time.
Romanian cuisine. Wikipedia.
7. It's affordable
Even though it's part of the European Union, Romania is a budget destination where your foreign money goes a long way. Food and hotel prices are low compared to Western Europe (1 lb. of beef tenderloin is $3.75, a loaf of bread is $0.35, a bottle of local beer is $0.5). Cafés and restaurants can be more expensive near famous tourist sites, but they are still affordable. On the same note, admission fees for castles or museums are very reasonable and so is public transportation (metro, cabs). In addition to this, more and more low-cost airlines (such as BlueAir) have started to connect the major cities in Romania to the Western Europe for a great price. Pro tip: know that Tarom, the national airline, has bigger prices than its competitors.
6. It's multicultural
An incredible reason to visit Romania is its cultural diversity. You will hear German and Hungarian in Transylvania, Turkish in Dobrogea. You will visit Orthodox, Catholic and Evangelical churces as well as mosques and synagogues. You'll eat "borș” in Moldova and ”ciorba” in Oltenia. You'll see thousands of tourists in Bucharest and people who have never seen foreigners in the Carpathians. Speaking of diversity, make sure you get your visa if you're not from the EU. I, personally, use VisaHQ to avoid bureaucracy.
5. Historic restaurants and delicious food
Romanians love food. Period. Anywhere you'd go in Romania, you'll find friendly faces happy to serve you some homemade food. If you're heading for a restaurant, note that some Germanic, Turkish and Hungarian influences can still be seen in the Romanian cuisine, but it still maintains an identifiable character. The typical sour soup (”ciorba”) is quite unique as well as other foods like ”sarmale”. If you plan to visit Romania, be prepared to come back to your home country with a few extra pounds. In addition to the tasty food, this Eastern European country is home to very old restaurants with beautiful interiors, ornate woodword and painted ceilings. The most famous ones are located in Bucharest's historic center, like Crama Domnească, Casa Doina, or Caru' cu Bere.
Danube Delta, Romania. Wikipedia.
4. The Danube Delta
The river Danube is Europe's second-longest river and marks the southern border of the country before empyting into the Black Sea. It is another mark of natural beauty, being vast protected land, great for birdwatching, fishing, boating, and hiking. This is a must-go destination if you are pure nature enthusiast and don't want to miss a great spot. It is the best preserved delta as well as the largest one in Europe, being home to over 350 species of birds living in its marshes and lakes. It is a biosphere reserve and a protected habitat.
Voroneț Monastery. Bucovina, Romania. Wikipedia.
3. The Painted Monasteries of Moldova
The northeastern part of the country is home to one of the most picturesque places of Romania. The group of 8 monasteries is comprised of churches that date back to medieval times (13th to 16th century). In a few cases they have been built to serve as burial places for noble families. They are absolutely unique and very well preserved. The high quality exterior and interior frescoes highlight biblical scenes from the New and Old Testament and even boast a unique shade of blue ("albastru de Voroneț”). Here's more info on the Danube delta.
Palace of the Parliament (People's House), Romania. Wikipedia.
2. Bucharest's architecture
In the communist times, the Bucharest's extremely elegant interbelic architecture earned the city the nickname of "Little Paris". Today you'll find a perfect blend of old palaces dating back to the 18th or 19th century and 21-st century modern buildings. The most shocking building in Bucharest is the collosal People's House, the craziest tribute to communism megalomania you will ever see.
This huge structure is the world's second-largest building after the Pentagon. It was built in 1984 and hosts more than 3100 rooms and 13 underground levels. You'll need a passport to visit this and it costs about 14 euros. Today it houses the parliament.
1. Friendly people
We have a saying in Romania ("Omul sfințește locul”) and means that nothing matters more than the people. No matter how wonderful a country is, the people will always make a difference. Romanians are famous for their hospitality and friendliness. A good thing is that you'll find people speaking English in any corner of the country. The young generation will gladly tell you insights or give advice, or at least they will point you in the best direction.