Romania: Top Things to See and Do (Tourist Attractions)

Unspoiled country side with green rolling hills, castles and fortresses, towns rich in history and cities vibrant with night life and shopping describe Romania to a tee. There is something for everyone in this underrated country nestled in Eastern Europe. Because of its relative compactness, and well connected transport system, you can catch a train, bus or self-drive almost anywhere in a couple of hours.


WHAT CAN YOU SEE AND DO?

Mountains:

With pristine snow during winter that is perfect for skiing to green, lush vegetation during summer that is perfect for exploring, the Carpathian Mountains are great to visit during any season. There are many places across Romania that you can stay and experience various activities. Sinaia is the most popular tourist resort town in the mountains, and it is close to various popular attractions. The train between Bucharest and Sinaia takes about one and a half hours.

There are many natural reserves and hiking trails on offer across Romania. In Berca, near Buzau there are mud volcanoes, which are a rare phenomenon and create a barren, otherworldly landscape. There are also many caves in the mountains, Valea Cetati Cave in Rasnov, which is a great stop if you are also visiting the Rasnov Fortress, Bear Cave, famed for its stalagmites and stalactites and 140 bear fossils, and Scărișoara Cave, whichis one of the biggest ice caves in Romania, and is located in the Apuseini Mountains.

Sea:

The Black Sea coast is a must do destination in the summer for tourists and locals alike. They all flock to the various resorts on the beaches between Mamaia to Mangalia, in the lower part of the Romanian coast. Constanta is the main port and sea city in Romania. It is an important economic and cultural hub, with a historic old centre, archaeological riches, great entertainment options and lively beaches and nightlife. Mamaia is a great destination if you want a luxurious retreat, with most hotels ranging from 4 to 5 stars.  Costinesti is a popular option with students and younger people, and Vama Vechie is host to Liberty Parade, which is held at the end of July and it is one of the biggest electro music festivals in the country.

Monasteries and Abbeys:

The Bucovina region has is home to many of the famous painted monasteries of Romania. Voronet Monastery is well known for the “Voronet Blue” that is unique to the monastery. It is also known as the “Sistine Chapel of the East” for its splendid painted exterior and interior walls. Sucevita Monastery boasts the largest amount of painting of all the monasteries in the region; it is famous for the depiction of the Ladder to Paradise. This used to be a princely residence as well as a monastery, and now houses a museum filled with an impressive region of religious and historic artifacts.  Putna Monastery is another great example of the region, boasting a rich heritage from Stephen the Great and a big, informative museum.

Castles and Fortresses:

Due to a rich history starting with the Saxons in the 14th century and spanning across the middle ages, Romania has many castles and fortresses doted all over the country. Transylvania’s famous Bran Castle is mostly known for its ties with Bram Stoker’s Dracula. It is impressively built on the side of a 200 feet rock face, and used to be the summer residence of the Queen Marie of Romania from 1920 to 1935. Peles Castle, in the Bucegi Mountains, close to Sinaia, is considered one of the most stunning castles in Europe. It is a breathtaking example of German new-Renaissance architecture; inside the rooms are amazingly furnished with Murano chandeliers, art from great European artists, and teak furniture. Rasnov Fortress has an amazing history starting in 1331, when it was built by Teutonic Knights, spanning to 1848 when it was abandoned. It has been restored to its former glory and now includes a museum and visitors can take in 360° panorama views of the region from atop the highest point of the ruins, there is also a museum that houses a skeleton hidden in the ground and several secret maze-like passageways that will keep you entertained for a few hours.

The Capital:

Bucharest is the capital city and the hub of Romania. It used to be referred to as “Little Paris” in the 1900, as it boasts Belle Époque architecture, especially found in the Old Centre, and various museums, buildings and landmarks that are rich in history and culture.  Victory Avenue is the oldest and most picturesque street in Bucharest; take a stroll down from Piata Victoriei to Piata Natiunilor Unite to find remarkable historic architecture such as Revolution Square, CEC Headquarters, and National History Museum. The Old Centre has been remodeled to become a vibrant nightlife spot with lots of bars, taverns and restaurants for all tastes. Besides these, there are also many old building such as the Old Princely Court and Church that was built by Vlad the Impaler in the 15th century.

During the day there are many art galleries, coffee shops, and antique shops to browse while strolling through the cobbled streets. For those that are looking for a quiet place to relax and have a picnic, there are also many green areas in Bucharest such as Cismigiu Gardens, Herastrau Park or the Botanic Gardens, where you can relax, have a boat ride or stroll in the shade while experiencing the local flora.

July 15, 2014