Sandwiched between old Yugoslavia and the old USSR lies the home territory of Dracula himself, the home of old tales of kings and dragons, the beautiful country of Romania. Now, if you’re not into hanging out with Dracula and vampires, or don’t happen to have a silver spoon on you at all times, don’t worry! There is so much to see and learn about Romania that you’ll entirely forget about the man who runs the night! Join us on our journey of the most unforgettable things to do in Romania.
Romania is filled with wonder and enchantment, a tumultuous history that left beautiful cities and castles in its wake, and more than things to do and eat than you can fit into a single trip! So strap in, keep some silver nearby (just in case Dracula stops by), and let Romania move to the top of your list of MUST SEE travel destinations!
The Old, the Bad, and the Beautiful
The land that occupies Romania has been through so much change, turmoil, and strife over the millennia, but out of that came the beautiful country we know today. People have been living here for over 12,000 years and there are cave paintings to prove it. The territory has been ruled by nearly every Eurasian power at some point, from the Greeks to the Romans to the Ottomans to the Soviets. Simply listing those empires will bring connotations of beauty, education, and even oppression.
From democracy to communism, Romania has seen it all. But out of that was birthed a new nation. A land that oozes splendor, from its mountains to its beaches, from its cities to its quiet small towns. There’s something here to offer everybody and you don’t want to miss it! We’ve provided all the info you need for your journey! So keep scrolling for all of the juicy details about Romania!
Table of Contents
- 1 Most Beautiful Cities of Romania
- 2 Traditional Food and Drink
- 3 Must see Stops Throughout Romania
Most Beautiful Cities of Romania
Things to do in Bucharest
The capital city of Bucharest is one that has been sandwiched between so many cultures over the centuries and has seemingly retained the best from each of them. Whether you’re walking down cobblestone alleys in Old Town, navigating one of the many beautiful art museums, hunting for hidden churches, or gazing on one of the largest administrative buildings in the world, Bucharest will pull you in every step of the way. Bucharest sightseeing is a must on our list of things to do in Romania.
- Parliamentary Palace: The largest administrative building in Europe.
- Lipscani (Old Town): Full of boutiques, restaurants, and bars that now occupy restored old buildings.
- Bucharest Russian Church: One of the remnants of Soviet influence it’s now a part of the University of Bucharest.
- Cişmigiupark: The oldest and largest park in Romania is a perfect spot to picnic and explore!
Things to do in Sibiu
Distance from Bucharest:
- Train: 6 hours
- Car: 4 hours
Maybe heading to the countryside is more your thing. If so, we can’t suggest Sibiu highly enough! In the countryside of Transylvania, Sibiu will welcome you with colorful houses and a grand plaza called the Piata Mare. Also known for its art, Sibiu is home to some incredibly ornate cathedrals and religious buildings that you won’t want to miss. The Orthodox Cathedral is covered in beautiful, massive frescoes that will leave your jaw on the floor. For the best views of the entire city take a walk up the Council Tower to view the sea of orange roofs sprawled out among the countryside! While in Sibiu you must try the salami.
- Piata Mare: The center of the town since the 15th century is a beautiful spot to find a café!
- Orthodox Cathedral: One of three extremely ornate and beautifully decorated religious buildings in Sibiu.
- Council Tower: Climb the tower for the best views of Sibiu from above!
- Lower Town: Make your way to Lower Town, known for having houses with eyes.
Things to do in Brasov
Distance from Bucharest:
- Train: 2.5 hours
- Car: 2.5 hours
This medieval city is often spoken of as the romantic city in Romania. Lined with narrow cobblestone streets, Brasov is like a trip back in time. Home to one of the largest and grandest Gothic churches in Eastern Europe, Brasov is filled with history, great food, castles, and local life. The Black Church, as it’s known, towers over the town just off the main square. Like most of our list of things to do in Romania, a visit to the Black Church will display influences of a multitude of past ruling cultures, from the Ottomans to the Hungarians, and even the Saxons. While in Brasov, be sure to make your way to the old medieval fortress set on the hill next to the city. This 700-year old fortress has been beautifully restored and was once the main defense against European and Asiatic tribes. And don’t miss the Brasov sign, similar to the famous Hollywood sign in California, perched on the hillside.
- Black Church: The largest Gothic church in Eastern Europe.
- Tampa Mountain: You can hike or take a cable car up the mountain for gorgeous views of Brasov!
- Rasnov Fortress: Explore this medieval fortress just outside Brasov for less than $1USD!
- Catherine’s Gate: A gate that was constructed in 1559 and proudly displays the Brasov coat of arms.
Things to do in Sighisoara
Distance from Bucharest:
- Train: 5.5 hours
- Car: 4.5 hours
Sighisoara is the town we’ve all been waiting for! Why? Well, it’s the fictional home of Dracula! This thousand-year-old city is so picturesque you’ll think everything was placed here on purpose for the views. From the luscious tree-covered hills to the brightly colored houses lining the streets, to the gorgeous cobblestone walkways (cobblestones seems to be a trend in Romania, we’re not mad about it), you’ll fall in love around every corner! While the history of the city may seem rather dark with stories of Vlad the Impaler (you can guess what made him famous), as well as Brom Stroker’s fictional blood-sucking character of Dracula, we can assure you that the modern town of Sighisoara is anything but dark and scary. Quite frankly, you’ll have a hard time ever leaving this charming little Romanian town.
- Vlad Dracul’s House: This is the house where Vlad the Impaler was born, the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula character!
- Clock Tower: Erected in the 13th century, it doubled as a defense tower for the city as well.
- Old Town: Full of cobblestone streets and colorful buildings, you won’t mind getting lost here for a while!
- Piața Cetății (Citadel Square): The Citadel Square was the center of life for Medieval Sighișoara
Things to do in Constanta
Distance from Bucharest:
- Train: 2.5 hours
- Car: 2.5 hours
With all of the beautiful hills and countryside in our list of things to do in Romania we can’t forget that Romania has beaches too! The eastern side of the country sits on the Black Sea, where Constanta has long been used as a port city. For more than 2,500 years, major ruling powers have occupied the area of Constanta, from the Greeks to the Romans to the Ottomans. Modern-day Constanta is a mix of history, old buildings, beaches, and modernism with ports, cruise ships, and nightlife. Constanta is the perfect location to get out of the hills and onto the beach for some much needed R&R.
- Constanta Casino: Abandoned along the seaside, it has functioned as a casino, hospital, and even a nightclub.
- Cathedrals of Saints Peter and Paul: Beautifully adorned, this cathedral in Old Town will have your eyes falling in love.
- Mamaia Beach: One of the very few white sand beaches in all of Europe!
- Capidava Fortress: Nearly 2000 years old, these ruins of the Dacians once played host to the ancient Roman military!
Things to do in Busteni
Distance from Bucharest:
- Train: 2 hours
- Car: 2.5 hours
Without a doubt the smallest city on our list of things to do in Romania, Busteni is one you won’t want to overlook. Not only is it just a quick day trip outside of Bucharest, but it’s located in one of the most beautiful valleys of the Carpathian Mountains where skiing and mountain climbing are the primary leisure activities. This town of fewer than 10,000 residents has some secrets though. If you happen to enter Bucegi National Park, you’ll start to hear about the Great Bucegi Sphinx. This rock formation is surrounded in mythical lore, stories of ancient gods, supernatural energy, and even aliens. We suggest you take a look for yourself and come to your own conclusions. Regardless of the outcome, you’ll be blown away by the magnitude of this megalith.
- Great Bucegi Sphinx: Aliens? Ancient gods? Supernatural energy? You’ll have to decide that for yourself!
- Bucegi National Park: There’s a never-ending list of natural formations that will appease all of your heart’s hiking desires.
- Babele Rocks: These giant, mushroom-shaped rocks are one of the most popular natural destinations in Romania!
- Cantacuzino Castle: After being nearly destroyed by the communists, the castle has been restored and is now open to the public!
Traditional Food and Drink
Romanian foods haven’t escaped the influence of other cultures and it’s for the absolute best! Featuring lots of meat and cabbage, Romanian foods will send your senses for a spin with hints of German, Hungarian, and Turkish influence. We do want to note that while Romania is known for a heavy diet of meat, in recent years there are more and more options for vegetarians. Below you can get an idea of different dishes you’ll find, including an appetizer, an entre, a few drinks, and a delicious local dessert!
This sour soup is one of the more versatile dishes within the realm of Romanian cuisine and it is one of our favorites. Typically very colorful, it features a ham hock, mixed meatballs, and mixed vegetables, along with a water-based soup with spices and borș, which is fermented wheat bran. Ciorbă is widely considered a favorite among locals in Romania! You will have a wide variety of options to chose from as a base to the soup, including fish, chicken, beef, potatoes, leek, beans and more.
Sarmale, which is a type of stuffed cabbage roll, has very Turkish origins. It’s one of those dishes where everybody claims that their grandma has the best version! Pickled cabbage is stuffed with minced meat, rice, and spices including mint, cinnamon, allspice, and sometimes sugar. Once stuffed, these wraps are cooked and served hot. (Some regions may serve them cold, but not often.) Again, another one of our favorite dishes.
Țuică is a traditional spirit made entirely of plums, one of Romanians key exports. Containing between 40-60% alcohol by volume, this strong drink is typically consumed before meals as it is said to increase appetite. It is so popular that it’s sipped before nearly every meal, present at nearly every party or event, and even used as an addition to wages! Because of how prevalent plum trees are in Romania, many families are able to produce their own Țuică for their own personal use. This is definitely a must-try on your things to do in Romania list!
Romanian Vin Fiert
There are as many unique recipes of Romanian Vin Fiert, which basically means boiled wine, as there are drinkers. Often called mulled wine or hot spiced wine, vin fiert is a perfect cold-weather beverage. It is often made with heated red or white wine; spices including cinnamon, cloves, and allspice; and touches of fruit including oranges, apples, or plums. If you happen to visit during the cooler months of the year (November to February), you’ll need to warm up with some delicious spiced vin fiert.
Amandine is going to make your mouth water. So there’s your fair warning. Amandine is a chocolate layered cake filled with fine caramel syrup, almond cream, and a touch of rum. Do we even need to say more? No. We don’t. But we will. This is probably the most popular dessert in Romania and we really aren’t sure why it’s not the most popular everywhere in the world. The cake is stacked in layers with chocolate buttercream in between each layer and topped with a chocolate glaze that is specifically unique to this dessert!
Must see Stops Throughout Romania
Among the many places to see and things to do in Romania, we’ve narrowed it down to five, just to wet your appetite for this gorgeous country! Stuffed with beautiful hills, castles, and cathedrals, you’ll be amazed how much you’ll fall in love in just a short period of time.
The Peleș Castle is arguably the most picturesque castle in all of Europe. Think about that for a minute? There are HUNDREDS of castles in Europe, and this one is right at the top. While it might not be as old as some others or share in some dark tainted history, this castle may stake its claim on having the best views and being the most modern. It was the first European castle to have electricity running through all 160 rooms. Complete with leather walls, grand chandeliers, and stain glass windows throughout, the Peleș Castle will leave your eyes gawking at the former summer home of the king. If you visit during the winter, you may even be able to pack in some skiing in the mountains nearby!
Speaking of skiing, one of the best places in all of Romania to ski is in a town we’ve already mentioned – Brasov! Poiana, Brasov has seven main slopes, the longest of which is more than 4,000 meters in length. Skiing is available year-round with the recent addition of snow cannons, but you can expect natural snowfalls to begin towards the end of September. Head up the slopes for some world-class skiing and then head into town to warm up with some vin fiert!
Admittedly, there are bigger more powerful waterfalls in the world. But the Bigar Waterfall isn’t about size or power. It’s the shape of the waterfall that makes it so unique. The water flows over a curved rock which creates little streams in each direction as it cascades towards the river it flows into, giving it an otherworldly appearance. There is a walking bridge just above the falls for a great overview, or you can hike along the river to get up close at eye level!
Have you ever needed to feel like James Bond and take your car through the mountains on hairpin turns in the most scenic drive in the world? Look no further than the Transfăgărășan Highway. Laid out like a ribbon covering the Carpathian Mountains, this paved road has more hairpin turns than a box of paper clips. Covering more than 70 miles, the highway changes roughly 5,000 feet in elevation over the drive. At the highest point of elevation, visitors can spend time at Lake Balea, which includes a waterfall, incredible hiking points, wildlife, and numerous outdoor activities.
Wooden Churches of Maramureș
More than one hundred wooden churches dot the hills in the northern region of Transylvania, eight of which are protected UNESCO World Heritage Sites. These churches are known for their Gothic architecture, imposing wooden towers, and durability through turbulent times in Romanian history. Most of the churches were built before the 18th century, and some argue that the oldest was built in the 14th, although there is some debate surrounding the construction date. Regardless of the actual date, these wooden churches provide a perfect, serene getaway!
Have you booked your ticket yet?
We could go on. But do we really need to? Romania has something for everybody; whether you’re a history buff, a romantic, a sci-fi thrill-seeker, or a nature enthusiast, you’ll love this country. So we only have one thing left to ask, have you booked your ticket yet?!
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