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I don’t know why I waited such a long time to share a list of the best places to visit in Romania. Not only do I love this country because that’s where my grandparents were born but also because it’s an underrated budget-friendly destination that has so much to offer.
From medieval cities and villages to jaw-dropping natural landscapes to the most unique historical landmarks, Romania is full of surprises! On my trip, I obviously only got to see some of them, so I’ve gathered the recommendations of a few more bloggers to create this awesome Romania bucket list just for you.
BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN ROMANIA: CITIES, TOWNS, AND VILLAGES
The Romanian capital holds a special place in my heart because that’s where my grandfather was born. I have to admit that I don’t think it’s the highlight of this list, but it is worth a visit of one or two days.
Planning your itinerary, don’t miss landmarks like the Palace of the Parliament (an architectural masterpiece and the second-largest administrative building in the world after the Pentagon), the Romanian Athenaeum, and the National Museum of Art of Romania.
For something more relaxing, stroll around the old town, grab a drink at a rooftop bar, or wander through beautiful parks like Herăstrău Park and Cișmigiu Park. There’s plenty more to do and see in this city, so this is just a taste of what Bucharest has to offer.
If it’s not the first post you’re reading here, you probably already know how much I love roaming the streets of beautiful towns, and the medieval Sibiu is one of them.
The colorful buildings of the old town (which most were built by German settlers), the iconic eye-shaped dormers on their roofs (also called the Eyes of Sibiu), the little cozy cafes, and the medieval vibe – doesn’t that sound dreamy?
If you want to go sightseeing, some of the town’s points of interest include the 14th-century Sibiu Lutheran Cathedral, the Brukenthal National Museum, the Altemberger House (Sibiu History Museum), and the Potter’s Tower.
Contributed by Arnav from Eat | Travel | Live | Repeat
Frequently referred to as ‘Little Vienna‘, Timișoara is known for its secessionist architecture. It is the country’s most cosmopolitan city, as well as the third-largest city and the social and cultural capital of Romania.
Fun Fact – it was in Timișoara, that the Romanian Revolution of 1989 took birth, which ultimately ended Ceauşescu’s dictatorship, making Timisoara quite an important city in Romania’s history.
When it comes to recommending things to do in Timisoara, the majority of attractions are found in the Old Town. Iconic sights and attractions in Timisoara such as the Romanian Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral, Opera House, Strada Alba Iulia (Umbrella Street), the Roman Catholic Cathedral, Piata Libertatii – all will be covered along if one starts at Piata Victoriei and walks all the way to Piata Unirii.
It’s no wonder why Brasov is considered one of the most beautiful cities in Romania. With a mix of architectural styles, a well-preserved fortification system, and the fact that it was founded by knights – who can resist such a fascinating place?
Apart from the fortified medieval towers, gates, and bastions, you should also check out the Council Square, the Black Church, Rope Street (the narrowest street in Romania), the Beth Israel Synagogue, and the Brasov History Museum.
If you want to visit in winter, the nearby Poiana Brașov is a highly popular ski resort.
If you’re looking for an offbeat weekend getaway in Europe, Craiova can be a great option. It is not a super touristy city, yet it offers enough to fill up a laid back two-day itinerary.
Its must-see spots are the Madona Dudu Church, the Cosuna Monastery, the Craiova Art Museum, the Oltenia Museum, the Botanical Garden, and the Nicolae Romanescu Park, but you can also take a day trip to the city of Targu Jiu.
Another medieval city waiting to be explored by you is Sighisoara. A few fun facts about it:
- The origins of Sighisoara go back to Roman times.
- Thanks to its intact nine-tower citadel, its old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- It’s the birthplace of Vlad the Impaler (aka the possible inspiration for Dracula).
Apart from the citadel’s towers and Vlad’s birth house, in Sighisoara, you’ll find landmarks like the Venetian House, the Stag House, the wooden Scholars’ Stairs, many beautiful churches, and of course – the old town’s enchanting colorful streets.
Contributed by Cass from Cassie the Hag
Cluj-Napoca is the most populous city in Romania. It has an aesthetic which makes itself known as both a lively, university city and a former medieval old town filled with beautiful historic buildings, including many houses painted in bright colors.
This city has trendy cafes and bars a stone’s throw away from the gothic architecture, which the Transylvania region, of which Cluj-Napoca is the unofficial capital, is most famous for. St Michael’s Church and the Reformed Church are impressive examples.
Alongside a great foodie scene and nightlife, there is a large variety of museums and gardens all being walking distance from each other. Popular day trips include castle and fortress tours, Turda Gorge, and the unique underground amusement park at Turda Salt Mine.
SINAIA (PELES CASTLE)
The town of Sinaia is mostly known for the Peles Castle, an architectural stunner, which was a royal summer residence up until 1947. A few fun facts about it:
- It was the first European castle to have electricity.
- It has 30 bathrooms (because why not?).
- It houses a collection of thousands of pieces like paintings, armors, porcelain, tapestries, and more.
But this little beauty is not the only building worth seeing in Sinaia. Be sure to also check out the Pelisor Castle, the Sinaia Monastery, the Stirbey Castle, the Sinaia Casino, and the St. Elias Church. If you’re an architecture lover, you’ll be gawking at these buildings for hours.
The underrated Targu Mures is one of the best cities to visit in Romania and should not be overlooked. You’d be surprised to know that almost half of its population is actually Hungarian and that’s it’s home to some of Romania’s most amazing landmarks.
Those include a medieval fortress, the impressive Status Quo Synagogue, churches and museums, and the Culture Palace, a stunning early-20th-century building (that should be seen on the inside as well).
Contributed by Mario from Rest and Recuperation
There is one place that I really loved during my trip to Romania: Viscri. This little village in the middle of Transylvania is out of the usual tourist routes because you need to take a long detour from the main attractions (I highly suggest renting a car to get there).
The region is famous for Dracula, of course, but also for its Saxon villages and their stunning fortified medieval churches. Viscri is probably the most beautiful for its location, lost between fields. The village is very small and there are almost no cars, as most people get around with horse carts.
If you want to see more UNESCO listed fortified churches in Transylvania, head to the villages of Biertan, Calnic, Dârjiu, Prejmer, Saschiz, and Valea Viilor.
Contributed by Anda from Travel for a while
Alba Iulia is one of the oldest settlements in Transylvania. A Dacic fort existed here even before the Romans conquered the region. During the Roman occupation, they extended the fort to a Roman Castrum and named it Apulum.
Modern Alba Iulia has played a major role in the Romanian Union of 1918. The final act of Transylvania’s unification with the rest of Romania happened in Alba Iulia in 1918. You can now visit the Union Hall, where the final vote took place.
Other places you need to visit are the 18th-century Alba Carolina Fortress and the Coronation Cathedral, where King Ferdinand and Queen Mary were sworn in as monarchs in 1922.
The star-shaped citadel is also a must-see. It features Baroque gates, museums, bastions, and restaurants (my favorites are the bronze statues). Also, don’t miss the guard-change ceremony at 11:50 AM every day.
Contributed by Kami from My Wanderlust
Located right at the border with Hungary, Oradea is like a hidden gem of Romania. The city was founded in the 11th century and for years has been an important center in the region. At some point, Oradea was even a burial place for Hungarian kings!
The biggest development of the city took place in the 18th century, and that’s when most of the buildings you can admire now were built.
Oradea is a great place for fans of art nouveau architecture. You can find many stunning buildings, but the most impressive one is “Vulturul Negru” Palace (“Black Eagle” Complex) from the beginning of the 20th century with two symmetrical parts and beautiful passage in the middle. The whole center of Oradea is such a lovely place and wandering around is pure pleasure.
Contributed by Arabela from The Spicy Travel Girl
The combination of a romantic cityscape full of ancient Roman relics and a beautiful coastline with clear water and a vibrant party scene makes Constanța a perfect destination for couples, solo travelers, and families alike.
Enjoy a romantic evening strolling through the old city center and watching the sunset from the minaret of the Carol I Mosque or spend a fun day swimming in the Black Sea and dancing the night away in the Mamaia Beach Promenade.
Besides all that, you can enjoy delicious Romanian cuisine in traditional restaurants, Autoservire canteens, or through inexpensive street food stalls right next to the water. And for history buffs, Constanța not only houses impressive Roman mosaics and other ruins but was also the very place in the Roman Empire where the poet Ovid spent his last days. Doesn’t that make it even more romantic?
SZÉKELYUDVARHELY (RO: ODORHEIUL SECUIESC)
Contributed by Helga from ShegoWandering
Székelyudvarhely is one of the most charming towns at the feet of the mountains of the Eastern Carpathians. The town is mostly populated by Hungarian Székelys, who have a long history in the area. The town is famous for its charm, great traditional restaurants, and the beautiful nature surrounding it.
While here, you must see the 300+ years old churches, such as the Protestant church on the north side of the town center. Visit the park of statues on the east side, where you’ll see sculptures of all the famous figures from Hungarian history, as well as the Catholic and Protestant schools which have a lovely architecture!
Take a walk in the town center and admire the rose gardens, then, make sure you visit the famous Alexandra pastry shop! It’s the best in the region! Outside the town, visiting Szejke, with the must-see 14 gates going up on the hill!
Contributed by Sean from Living Out Lau
One of the most charming features of Romania is its wide stretches of pristine countryside and rustic traditional villages. Because of the lack of transportation in these areas, most travelers don’t get to see the beauty of these places unless they are going on a Romania road trip.
One of the most idyllic villages is Rimetea, a small hamlet of about 1000 inhabitants located an hour away from Cluj-Napoca, the unofficial capital city of Transylvania. Because of almost 1000 years of Hungarian rule, most of the villagers are still Hungarian and speak Hungarian.
Strolling on the gravel-stoned roads and exploring the simple way of life is a great experience in Rimetea. Another popular activity is hiking the Piatra Secuiului – at 480 meters above the town, the views up there are surely breathtaking!
If you’re already road-tripping through the region of Maramureș, add a short stop at Baia Mare to your itinerary. This city has been an important mining center for thousands of years, and you can visit the Museum of Mineralogy and marvel at its unique mineral collection.
Although Medias is the second-largest city in Sibiu county, it seems a lot more like a medieval village. It’s home to one of the best-preserved historical centers in the country and is such an enchanting place, yet you’re likely to be the only tourist there.
It’s definitely worth dedicating a few hours to explore its old town and see the 15th-century St. Margaret’s Church, as well as the fortified Trumpeters’ Tower.
HISTORICAL LANDMARKS AND UNIQUE POINTS OF INTEREST
CASTELUL DE LUT
Contributed by Rachelle from Adventure is Never Far Away
Tucked away in the Transylvanian countryside of Romania lies the Castelul de Lut Valea Zanelor, translated to “Clay Castle of the Valley of Fairies.” This quirky, soon-to-be-open hotel is made entirely of clay, straw, and sand, with all 10 rooms having their own unique style. The structure itself was built by the craftsmen from Maramures, a region in Transylvania known for beautiful wooden churches.
Castelul de Lut is set in a picturesque location within sight of the mighty Carpathian mountain range. Local legend says that fairies still roam there, protecting the magical area. For just 5 Lei a person, you can wander the grounds, check out each room, take all the pictures you want, and relax in the fairy garden by the babbling brook nearby!
PAINTED MONASTERIES OF BUCOVINA
Contributed by Kristin from Adventures with Ensuite
In the north-east of Romania, close to the border with Ukraine, lies Bucovina. It is nearly six hours by car from the capital Bucharest, but it is worth it to see the eight UNESCO listed painted churches and monasteries from the 15-16th centuries.
From the outside, the churches look like forts, surrounded by heavy defense walls and towers. However, the interior and exterior walls of the churches are covered in mural paintings, depicting scenes from the Old and New Testaments.
The churches are spread over a relatively large area with limited public transport, so renting a car is the best way to get around. If you don’t have time to see all eight, make sure you include Voronet, Moldovita, and Sucevita in your itinerary.
During winter, there is a lot of snow, so the best time to travel is from mid-April to mid-October.
Contributed by Odette from Omnivagant
Located on the edges of Transylvania, you will find one of Romania’s most beautiful castles: Corvin Castle. The history of this castle dates back as far as the 14th century, and visiting this place will almost feel like you are stepping into a fairytale, or a Harry Potter Movie.
To access this castle, you will have to walk across a beautiful wooden bridge through the ports of the castle until you reach the courtyard. From here, you can visit various sections, such as the knights’ hall, the towers, and plenty of rooms that have been filled with original and replica furniture to give you a better idea of what Corvin Castle truly looked like back in the day.
Visiting the Corvin Castle is one of the best things to do in Romania – it’s a magical experience, one that undoubtedly deserves a spot on anyone’s Romania itinerary.
LIBEARTY BEAR SANCTUARY IN ZARNESTI
Spreading across 70 hectares (160 acres) of forested area, this incredible, unique sanctuary is the home of dozens of rescued bears (and also wolfs and deers).
Hearing their heartbreaking stories yet seeing them so free and content, I couldn’t help but feel sad and happy both at the same time. It is, without a doubt, one of the best places to see in Romania – it was one of the highlights of my trip, and I think it must be on your Romania bucket list!
Who hasn’t heard of the infamous Bran Castle? Often known as ‘Dracula’s Castle,’ it is one of the biggest attractions in Romania. I have to admit that there was something creepy about this place, but I couldn’t leave Romania without visiting it.
When learning about its history, the actual connection between the castle itself, Dracula’s author (Bram Stoker), and his alleged inspiration (Vlad the Impaler) remains unclear, but everybody likes good old myths, which are the reason it’s such a popular sight.
TURDA SALT MINE
Contributed by Nicky from That Anxious Traveller
Turda Salt Mine is one of the most extraordinary things you’ll see in Romania! Easily accessible from the pretty town of Cluj-Napoca, you might think that this is going to be your standard historical sight – but you’d be wrong.
Enter the mine, walking through increasingly chilly rooms, and you’ll certainly see mines with ye olde excavating equipment. But the big surprise comes when you descend to the Rudolf Mine – and discover that here, hundreds of meters below ground level, is a fully functioning theme park and recreation area!
Take your pick of activities under the stalactites hanging from the cavern’s roof – there’s ping pong, a basketball court, an auditorium for concerts, ten pin bowling… oh, and your standard boating lake (saltwater, of course), and a Ferris wheel. Yes, seriously.
Turda Salt Mine is ridiculously good fun and one of the best things to see in Romania!
DUMBRAVA SIBIULUI NATURAL PARK AND THE ASTRA MUSEUM COMPLEX
Just outside Sibiu’s city center, you’ll find a natural park that houses one of the largest outdoor museums in the world. The park is a protected area, home to hundreds of flora and fauna species, and the museum complex is located in its forest area – the Dumbrava Forest.
The open-air complex consists of four ethnology and history museums, including the unmissable Museum of Traditional Folk Civilization, which showcases the way of life in different parts of Romania before the industrial era. From houses and windmills to workshops and fairs, this place makes you feel like you’ve stepped back in time.
Contributed by Kat from Wandering Bird
If you’re heading to Romania, make sure you add the Transfagarasan Road to your itinerary. This is the road made famous by the car show Top Gear in 2009 – and thousands visit every year to experience it for themselves.
The road winds through the Carpathian mountains and rises to 2042 meters at its highest point- making it the second-highest paved road in Romania. The entire road is about 90 km long and takes a couple of hours to drive – unless you choose to stop for photos!
There aren’t many facilities along the way, so be sure to bring some food and drinks with you – a picnic is perfect and a great excuse to enjoy the incredible views. If you’re not keen on driving in Romania, you can also book a Transfagarasan Road tour.
Seeing photos of this intriguing place, you’ll probably think you’re looking at ancient ruins in South or Central America, but no – this surprising spot is one of the top sights in Romania!
Sarmizegetusa Regia was the capital of the ancient Dacian Empire, and the elaborate archaeological works that took place here revealed three areas – the fortifications, the sacred zone, and the residential zone. Just one glance at them explains why this place is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and why you must visit this Romanian hidden gem.
Built by knights (how cool is that?), this 13th-century hilltop fortress was also a place of refuge for the local community, though it was abandoned in the 19th century. Today, it’s restored, and you can visit the citadel’s remains as well as a small museum.
WOODEN CHURCHES OF MARAMUREȘ
The wooden churches of the region of Maramureș totally deserve to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Well, only eight out of almost a hundred surviving churches are listed by UNESCO, but they all should be appreciated.
Dating back to the 17th-19th centuries, they were created as a response to the Austrian-Hungarian Empire’s prohibition to build churches with durable materials like stone.
These uniquely beautiful structures will surely make you feel like you’ve been transported to the past, and you can find them in the villages of Barsana, Desesti, Surdesti, Ieud, Budesti, Rogoz, Plopis, and Poienile Izei.
FORTRESS OF SUCEAVA
If there aren’t enough medieval landmarks on this list, I’m adding the Fortress of Suceava, a 14th-century citadel that was built to defend Suceava, the capital city of the former Principality of Moldavia. Today, it also houses a medieval history museum, including some amazing multimedia exhibits.
ROCK SCULPTURE OF DECEBALUS
If you love hidden gems and quirky places (like I do), this one will knock your socks off. Imagine this: you’re taking a boat tour on the Danube, enjoying the views, and suddenly, there it is in front of you – a giant face carved in the rock overlooking the river.
So who is so important that people would make such an effort to commemorate him? Meet Decebalus, the last king of the ancient kingdom of Dacia, who fought against the Roman Empire multiple times and is considered a hero in Romania.
How to get there: This landmark is located in the Porțile de Fier Natural Park, where you’ll find many other points of interest and quite a few accommodation options. Located not too far from the sculpture, Cazanele Dunării is the company that operates the boat tours to see it.
Contributed by Stephanie from Sofia Adventures
An often overlooked place to visit in Romania is Horezu Monastery. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is located in southwest Romania in the southern Carpathian Mountains of the Walachia region.
Founded in the 17th century by Prince Constantin Brâncoveanu, it is one of the country’s best examples of the Brancovan style of monastic architecture. Horezu is still a working monastery. The town is also famous for its Horezu pottery, which makes a great souvenir from Romania to bring home with you.
While there aren’t many tours that run here, you can easily get here by renting a car and driving or by hiring a private driver through a rideshare app. It makes a great day trip from Bucharest since getting here takes about three hours each way.
CURTEA DE ARGEȘ MONASTERY
Located in one of the oldest towns in the region of Wallachia, this 16th-century cathedral is a Byzantine-style masterpiece and the burial place of many Romanian kings and queens. With legends and myths regarding its construction and unique architectural style, it’s no wonder why it is one of the most famous, most important monasteries in Romania.
BEST PLACES IN ROMANIA FOR NATURE LOVERS
CEAHLĂU NATIONAL PARK
Contributed by Audrey from That Backpacker
Ceahlău National Park is a hiker’s paradise! Located in Neamt County in Romania’s Eastern Carpathians, this park is bounded by Lake Bicaz to the east and Bicaz River to the south.
What makes this place a must-visit destination in Romania is its natural beauty. Picture dense forests that offer a cool canopy to hike under, fossil limestone peaks that tower in the horizon, and rolling clouds that play hide-and-seek, surprising you with majestic vistas when they finally blow over.
This group of mountains known as Ceahlău Massif is often nicknamed the Mount Olympus of Romania, and there are ancient legends of Dacian gods that trace their origins thousands of years back to these very mountains. The two main peaks in the Ceahlău National Park are Ocolaşul Mare (1907m) and Toaca (1904m).
For anyone looking to spend the night atop the mountain, there is a hikers’ cabin (Cabana Dochia) and a campsite (Camping Ceahlău). If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, this is a destination you won’t want to miss in Romania!
PIATRA CRAIULUI NATIONAL PARK
Contributed by Daniela from Grumpy Camel
Romania’s Carpathian Mountains are possibly Europe’s last true wilderness. The mountain range is home to ancient unspoiled forests, as well as several wildlife species, including brown bears, wolves, and lynx.
If you want to go hiking in Romania, spend a few days exploring Piatra Craiului National Park in Transylvania.
Forming part of the Southern Carpathians, the park offers several hiking trails through remote mountain villages and deep gorges, with views of sweeping meadows and an impressive limestone ridge that stretches for over 15 miles and rises up to a height of 6560 feet.
The town of Zarnesti is a great base if you want to hike Piatra Craiului. Make sure you hire an experienced guide, as the park is inhabited by brown bears and it’s easy to get disoriented in bad weather. There are several attractions close by, including Libearty Bear Sanctuary, Bran Castle, and the colorful city of Brasov.
Contributed by Arnav from Eat | Travel | Live | Repeat
Danube Delta – Europe’s second-largest river delta, is one of Romania’s hidden gems. After meandering through 10 countries, the Danube River splits into three main distributaries in the delta, namely Chilia (120 km long), Sulina (64 km long), and Sfântul Gheorghe (70 km long), before emptying into the Black Sea.
Fun Fact – the Danube Delta, which is home to 250+ bird species, is the third-largest biodiversity hotspot in the world and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site back in 1991.
I highly recommend you spend 2-3 days in the Danube Delta on your next trip to Romania, visit during the summer months, and go on a bird-watching boat trip.
Situated in the Făgăraș Mountains, this glacier lake and its surroundings provide some of the most gorgeous natural landscapes in Romania. You can simply enjoy the views or hike to either Balea Waterfall or Capra Lake. If you also want to wake up to this scenery, book a night at one of the chalets sitting on the lake.
How to get there: I visited in summer when it was accessible by car. In winter, this area becomes a paradise for skiers, but it is only reachable by cable car or a day tour.
BERCA MUD VOLCANOES RESERVATION
Lunar landscapes and bubbling mud volcanoes? Are you sure this is Romania?
Probably one of the most unusual natural phenomenons you’ll see in the continent of Europe, it derives from gas erupting through salty mud, creating little volcano-shaped natural structures. If you’re looking for out-of-this-world scenery and love offbeat gems, this reservation, which is reachable by car, must be on your itinerary.
Tip: Be sure to bring appropriate footwear and avoid visiting on rainy days.
Contributed by Stella Jane from Around the World in 24 Hours
Tulcea, Romania is one of the best places to visit if you want to truly appreciate Romania’s natural beauty. That’s because Tulcea is the perfect base for exploring the extraordinary Danube Delta.
Several tour companies leave from the Tulcea Harbour and take visitors on either all-day or half-day boat trips around the Danube Delta. This is one of the most biodiverse regions in the entire world, and you can see many different unusual birds and over 1000 plant types here.
Back in Tulcea, you can also learn more about the Danube Delta by visiting the Danube Delta Eco-Tourism Museum Center, which includes a fascinating aquarium. By the end of your trip, you’ll be an expert on the Danube Delta. Tulcea is about 5 hours away from Bucharest by either bus or train.
NEREI-BEUȘNIȚA RAVINE NATIONAL PARK
For relatively easy (yet not necessarily short) hikes, add this national park to your bucket list. Here, you’ll find spectacular waterfalls (like Bigar, Vaioaga, and Beusnita), caves, gorges, and the famous turquoise Devil’s Lake and Ochiul Beiului Lake. You can check out the full list of hikes on the park’s official website (use Google Translate).
RETEZAT NATIONAL PARK
With mountainous landscapes dotted with dozens of glacial lakes, the Retezat National Park is an avid hiker’s heaven. It’s also home to thousands of flora and fauna species and is a UNESCO Reserve of the Biosphere.
Some of its most popular hikes are Bucura Lake, Retezat Peak, Peleaga Peak, and Păpușa Peak, but I’d say this is a destination for adventurers rather than newbie hikers, and a trip to this remote area requires careful planning.
*Some of the photos in this post about the most beautiful places in Romania are from Unsplash and Pixabay
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