Have you been contemplating traveling to Europe, but want to check out a country that’s a little off the beaten path? One or more of these five great cities in Romania could be exactly what you’re looking for!
With striking views, attractive museums and traditional culinary arts, each of these cities has something to offer every variety of traveler.
Photo via Camil Ghircioas/FlickrCC
There are some interesting things to be found in the city of Sibiu, but the road itself may be the best attraction of all. The Transfăgărășan, or DN7C, is the place of dreams for driving enthusiasts and is accessed via a remote pass between Brasov and Sibiu. You’ve probably seen this highway on several car commercials without realizing the location. The twists, turns, tunnels, and viaducts along the steep side of a dazzling mountain gorge are not for the faint, but offer amazing views and a stimulating scenic experience if you’re not afraid of heights. Beware though, this road is only open from June to October, due to weather conditions. If you’re traveling that way anyhow, there are a few places to visit along the way including Vlad the Impaler’s castle, Bâlea Lake, and the Poienari fortress.
Once in Sibiu, visit the Holy Trinity Cathedral, the Tower of Stairs, and the Ocna Sibiului spa.
I also had some of the absolute best traditional Romanian food while I was in Sibiu. At Grand Plaza Restaurant the food is cheap, the portions are huge, tons of locals eat there, and it was so good I went back twice (I never do that while traveling!)
This medium-sized Transylvanian city has spectacular mountain views and rich architectural elements. Many of the 14th century towers and siege walls are still intact and provide dramatic backdrops for photos and quiet morning walks.
Another interesting view for the amateur or professional photographer can be found along the very narrow Rope Street, or Strada Sforii — an old passage of about 4 feet wide. Rope Street is not far from Black Church, another beautiful and prominent structure to visit.
For the carnivores among us, several restaurants offer local wild game meats like boar and venison, along with traditional Saxon side dishes and soups.
I also highly recommend taking a day trip to see Bran’s Castle, Rasnov Fortress, and Peles Palace (a tour to see all three can often be booked through your hotel/hostel!)
With picturesque city views of the red-roofed buildings, Cluj-Napoca gives visitors an urban delight full of both modern and ancient architecture including many museums and churches. To capture these views, take a 200 meter climb up to Fortress Hill where the skyline is seriously impressive.
For a more natural form of entertainment, visit the Alexadru Borza Botanical Garden where 10,000 plant species may be on view.
Just a short drive from the city, a car ride over to the Scarisoara Cave in the Apuseni Mountains provides a beautiful picnic area and many hiking options.
Since this is a larger city, dining options in Cluj are more varied with an array of Romanian, Saxon, Turkish, Western, and Asian restaurants to choose from.
This is a pretty popular student city, so if you’re looking for great nightlife outside of Bucharest, this is your best bet.
Photo via Bannanan/FlickrCC
Bucharest is the capital and the largest of all cities in Romania, and is often considered the “Paris” of Eastern Europe. This populated metropolitan area offers countless historical and political sites.
Despite getting an occasionally bad reputation by some tourists, this city actually has many pleasant things to do and places to see. The Herăstrău Park, near the Colentina River, has some natural rustic walking trails that are gorgeous in nearly any season of the year, but also provides several recreational activities like boating, golf, and a museum.
When visiting Bucharest, be sure to also spend an evening at the Opera House for some fine performances between September and June.
If you’re a fan of architecture, take a stroll along the Victory Square and Union Square near the city center for some lovely 19th century buildings.
Old town, or centru vechi, is the place to be if you want to stroll through the cobblestone streets, relax at an outdoor cafe, be seen at some of the hippest lounges in Eastern Europe, or dance the night away with Bucharest’s infamous nightlife. I’ve only been to Bucharest during the winter, but I hear this area really comes alive in spring and summer!
Located along the Târnava Mare River, Sighisoara welcomes tourists to its quaint little town full of shops and eateries within its classic city walls. For a taste of the village life, make arrangements to stay at one of the many bed and breakfast guesthouse with a local host (I wish I had done this! Instead, I stayed at a small hotel that I absolutely cannot recommend.)
The town also boasts of one of UNSECO’s World Heritage Sites in its Citadel, colonized by the Saxons and still an active living space with residential inhabitants. The Covered Staircase is an unusual site, leading the entryway to the Church on the Hill where some well-preserved fresco paintings and an old cemetery can be found.
For tourists with high-demand entertainment needs, Sighisoara may not be the right fit, but for those looking for a quiet and peasant-like stay, it could not be better.
Tourists in Romania will find many beautiful people and places while on their vacation, but remember to be open minded! Romania is a beautiful and interesting country, but it generally doesn’t make for the easiest trip if you’re totally new to travelling. If that’s the case, I’d recommend doing a lot of research before going, or contact me if you need any help! Also be sure to read reviews of hotels before you go; Trivago is a great comparison tool for finding discount hotels in any of these great cities in Romania.