To continue the series I am running that promotes Romania as a travel destination and straightens out any preconceptions people might have about visiting, here is the ultimate travel guide to Romania.
It has taken me a while to collect this information and, of course, there are a few gaps here and there, but I hope it proves useful to those of you thinking about visiting Romania for the first time.
If you have any further tips or advice, please don’t hesitate to get in touch and I will add it here as I want this to be an all-inclusive resource.
Why Visit Romania?
I wrote a post a couple of weeks ago encouraging you not to overlook Romania, not just because of the stunning scenery and friendly people.
I, for one, think there is something for everyone, from rustic castles and soaring landscapes to delicious food and easy-to-use transport. I challenge you to not find something you love about this country.
The history of Romania is a tangled one, frought with communism and hardship. Today, there are still elements of the past that linger, discouraging tourists not to visit. It is slowly breaking away from its difficult history and, like with any country in a similar position, its turbulent, colourful past means that it is now rich in experiences and offers so much more to discover than aesthetic masterpieces.
One of the reasons people may not feel inclined to visit is because they don’t know enough about it. Knowledge is power, an’ all that.
So, for starters, here are 12 things you may not know about Romania.
Didn’t know it had one of the happiest cemeteries in the world? Best find out more, then.
If you prefer good old-fashioned numbers and statistics to rambling, adjective-stuffed prose and photoshopped images, check out this post by Cat from Sunshine and Siestas who documents her trip to Romania in numbers.
But, for those of you that do prefer visual information, don’t worry(!), here is a video by a Romanian resident asking you to get to know the country.
Romania’s capital, Bucharest, is often met with mixed reviews. Some love it, some hate it. There were parts of it I loved, like the huge parks and great restaurants, and parts of it I couldn’t wait to get away from, like the peeling central station and its homeless inhabitants.
Here’s my view of the capital.
If you’re looking for a bit of history about Bucharest, check out this article by Haute Compass and, for some great ideas for things to do have a look a these two posts:
For a local’s point of view, check out Wandering Earl’s post about what it’s like to live in Bucharest.
If you’ve heard of Dracula, then you’ve probably heard of Brasov, or Transylvania, as the two go hand in hand. In fact, Brasov is possibly the place in Romania that people know the most about.
Personally, I loved Brasov; the quirky architecture, the cobblestone alleyways, the beautiful surrounding countryside all filled me with joy. I struggle to find anyone who does not like this place!
Elsewhere in Romania
Although they are the most talked about places in Romania, Bucharest and Brasov are by no means the only destinations you should make an effort to visit. In fact, there are many other small villages and towns that arguably offer a more ‘Romanian’ experience.
Outside of Brasov, for example, in the wider area of Transylvania, there are numerous little hotspots that offer a variety of sights and attractions. Just take a look at this post by yTravel blog that lists 10 reasons to fall in love with Transylvania.
If you can’t decide where to visit, Tom of Waegook Tom might be able to help you out with his post about other Romanian cities.
It’s rural Romania that is often the biggest draw for visitors looking for something a little – dare I say it – off the beaten track, though. Just take a look at this photo essay by Amanda from A Dangerous Business to see why.
If, like I did, you make Brasov your base, there are a number of different places you can visit from there. With the time frame I had, I chose to head to Sinaia which I had mixed feelings about.
Another popular nearby town is Sighisoara, which has many things to love about it. For practical information about visiting this quaint Romanian place, see We Said Go Travel’s post which covers the logistics.
Since my return, many people have suggested I visit Maramures on my next visit and, judging by this article by the Telegraph, I can see why!
Prices in Romania
One thing I noticed about Romania was the low prices. Transport was ridiculously cheap (a return journey on the Bucharest metro cost around 80p), and so was the food (you could get a two course meal with drinks for two people for around £10 altogether).
It’s difficult to quote prices though, as they are constantly changing and vary from place to place in the country. However, Jeremey offers a great overview on Budget Travel Adventures and the Cheapest Destinations Blog also tries to break down some of the numbers.
I wanted to do a section on accommodation here, but it was difficult to find any posts that highlight a few places to stay and I don’t want to promote lodgings that I haven’t experienced for myself. I’ll just say that I stayed at Hello Hotel in Bucharest which cost £25 per room per night and was modern and clean with friendly staff, and Pension Ambra in Brasov, which cost about £60 for three nights and was very nice.
Pensions are a great option as they tend to be more apartment-like in their set-up and can be found all over Romania. But, whatever you choose, the accommodation in Romania seems to be very wallet-friendly.
Romania has a number of things to see and do for all types of traveller. Whether you want historic castles and fascinating history or beautiful views and great eateries, there is something, somewhere for you.
Now, I really wanted to experience the Transfagarasan whilst I was there, but didn’t get the chance. But, if you’re interested in visiting (and why wouldn’t you be!), Janice of Solo Traveler has a detailed post about it up on her blog.
Food is a big part of any travel experience, and I have to say I loved the food in Romania. It is hearty, filling, and delicious! My favourite meal included a pot-baked chicken with ridiculously crispy skin and mince-meat wraps in a tomato sauce.
If you want to dribble over more pictures of tasty dishes, check out Waegook Tom’s post about discovering Romanian food which will have you drooling in no time at all. Promise.
For a traditional recipe of stuffed eggs and a bit more information about the kinds of food you can find throughout the country, click over to this post on Travel o Cafe, or take a look at this offering on Travel Dudes that lists some of the best places to eat in Bucharest. Yum.
Tips and Advice
It’s always good to get a bit of first-hand advice from someone who has been there and done it. Sometimes it can lead to discoveries you wouldn’t have made otherwise.
These tips from readers of the Guardian are great for snippets of localised information and this post, though dramatic with its title, offers some useful tips if you’re visiting Romania for the first time.
Bonus – Advice can also help you to not make the same mistakes as others, like this faux pas that Adelina of Pack Me To… kept making with the time difference.
Lastly, it’s worth noting that everyone will have a different experience in Romania. No two individuals are the same, and whilst one person might enjoy the lively crowds at Bran castle, another might absolutely loathe it.
Which is why we should all strive to make our experiences unique.
Nonetheless, it’s interesting to read the opinions of other travellers to see a few other angles, like the first impressions of Romania as experienced by Waegook Tom and the reason behind Aggy of Dream Explore Wander’s love-hate relationship with Bucharest.
Bonus – For some lovely black and white images of Romania check out A World To Travel’s photo essay.