10 Amazing Places To Visit In Romania

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Romania is such a uniquely beautiful country! And it’s a pity that more often than not it falls off the travelers’ radar. While there are plenty of misconceptions surrounding it, truth is, there are a plethora of places to visit in Romania. A rich culture and a long history await the curious traveler.
We took several trips to Romania over the past few years and every time we were amazed by the diversity and the fast-paced economic development. Romania has great potential. It is a country that only now, a quarter of a century after the fall of the communist regime in Eastern Europe, starts to bloom.
Romania is so much more than vampires. Think quaint medieval towns, time-capsule villages, delicious cuisine, painted monasteries, virgin forests, majestic mountains, and a blossoming art community. The landscape of possibilities is quite impressive. And this list of places to visit in Romania could be so much longer. On our latest trip, we rediscovered Transylvania over a period of two weeks. And these are the best places we’ve encountered.

BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN ROMANIA (Transylvania)

Alba Iulia

10 Places To Visit In Romania - Alba Iulia

This is the city where it all began. Well, sorts of. Back in 1918, the union of Transylvania with Romania was declared here and Alba Iulia is regarded as the birthplace of Romania as it is today. The city has deep significance for the local people. However, Alba Iulia is well off the beaten path for most tourists coming from abroad. 
The most stirring sight here is the Habsburg Citadel, one of the most impressive in the whole of Europe. It is situated up on a hill and offers beautiful panoramic views over the gently rolling countryside. The Citadel is one of the best places we visited in Romania and by far the most unexpected of surprises. It looks like a carefully designed film set, with tree-lined alleys, perfectly manicured lawns and recently restored buildings bearing historic significance. 
Among the main attractions are the Union Hall, the Orthodox Cathedral (in the picture) and the Roman Catholic Cathedral, the oldest in Romania. The life-size bronze statues depicting people from every walk of life animate the streets. The Citadel is pedestrian only and this makes it an incredibly peaceful place. 
Don’t miss the changing of the guards. And if you have time, try to find your way to a small café nested in a cute little apple orchard at the foot of the hill. They serve some amazing lemonade!

Where to stay in Alba Iulia:

La Maison de Caroline – this hotel welcomes you to a specific architecture of the end of the nineteenth century in a mansion with a special atmosphere of rooms full of history. I highly recommend their restaurant as well.

Hotel Medieval – situated in the old centre of Alba Iulia, in a historical palace inside the Alba Carolina Fortress, Hotel Medieval offers elegant accommodation with classical-style furniture.

Peles Castle

10 Places To Visit In Romania - Peles Castle
Peles Castle near Sinaia, is not only the most spectacular castle in Romania but one of the most stunning castles in the whole of Europe. OK, we actually believe it is the best and reason enough to visit Romania. 
Its construction began at the end of the 19th century on an existing medieval route linking Transylvania and Wallachia. Peles Castle is surrounded by one of the most majestic mountain sceneries in Romania and not far away from ‘Babele’ and ‘Sfinxul’, the two most striking rock formations in the country. 
Peles Castle is a Neo-Renaissance jewel. It used to be the summer retreat of Kind Carol I of Romania and no expense was spared. It was the first castle in Europe to have central heating and electricity. And the amount of sculpted wood decorating its interiors is overwhelming. The furniture and carpets are absolutely amazing, and the stained glass windows depicting German fairytales add a whimsical dimension to the heavily adorned rooms. Peles is one of the best places to visit in Romania, you have to trust me on this one!
Where to stay in Sinaia:

Complex La Tunuri – Vila Economat – situated in the former Royal Guard Office of Peles Castle, this hotel is located right on the Royal Domain. It features classically furnished rooms with all the modern facilities.
Hotel Ioana – a boutique-style hotel in the quiet surroundings of Bucegi Mountains. It offers panoramic views over Sinaia, a spa centre and easy access to the ski slopes. Peles Castle is merely a 30-minute walk away.

Sibiu

10 Places To Visit In Romania - Sibiu
Sibiu was designated European Capital of Culture in 2007 and it is as idyllic as it gets. Back in the 14th century, it used to be an important trade centre and the various guilds that coexisted gave their name to the old medieval towers surrounding the city. 
In Sibiu, the houses have eyes! A walk along the cobbled streets of the Upper Town might give you the feel that you are being watched. The small windows in the roof look rather seductive though and there’s nothing to be afraid. Rather grab an ice-cream or sit on one of the terraces overlooking the fountain in the Large Square.
Don’t miss the Brukenthal Art Museum. The Romanian art section will shed some light on the great artistic talents this country gave to the world. The Bridge of Lies is a wrought iron masterpiece and the quirkiest attraction you will find in Sibiu. It is surrounded by legends that include lying merchants and maids. 
Not far away from the city, the ASTRA Museum of Folk Civilisation makes for a great day trip. It is sorts of return to innocence kind of place, with over 300 picturesque wooden houses spread over a vast green area. This is the largest open-air museum in Romania and it encompasses houses, workshops, and churches from the pre-industrial era.
If you have time, don’t miss a visit to the farmer’s market. It’s guaranteed to be a journey back in time. Don’t shy away from buying some locally grown fruits and vegetables from the granny with a kind wrinkled face. She is probably the one who planted the seeds in the first place and her products are 100% bio even though she sells them at a fraction of the normal price. 
Where to stay in Sibiu:
The Council – situated in the former 14th-century city hall, this gorgeous central hotel is part of the Sibiu Medieval Fortress and offers classically furnished accommodation right next to the Council Tower, and within walking distance from the Small Square, the Bridge of Lies and the Large Square.
Hotel Am Ring – located right on the Large Square of Sibiu, this amazing property is housed in a historic building from the Gothic period, with 19th-century style furnishings.

Brasov

10 Places To Visit In Romania - Brasov
Brasov is the most visited city in Romania, after Bucharest. And for good reason. It’s really, really pretty! It has a privileged location, fringed by the peaks of the Carpathian Mountains, with lots of hiking trails through the lush green forests surrounding it. 
The old Town Hall Square is a the heart of the city, but it is far from being a bustling place. Life has a slow pace here. People are relaxed and the terraces serve great food, beer, and even beer cocktails! 
Not to be missed are the Black Church, the largest Gothic church in Romania. It burned in the Great Fire at the end of the 17th century. The smoke blacked the walls, giving the church its current name.
Another quirky attraction is the Rope Street (Strada Sforii). Some say it is the narrowest street in Europe. True or not, you can comfortably touch both its sides if you stretch your arms. Not for the claustrophobes, but definitely fun to walk up and down a couple of times for everybody else.
Where to stay in Brasov:

Casa Wagner – located in the very heart of the old city of Brasov, in a building that dates back to 1477. The rooms are decorated with locally crafted furnishings and antique artwork and have been renovated and refurbished to preserve the past while providing very modern amenities.
Casa Albert Boutique Hotel – each room in this recently restored ancient building features walls decorated with mural paintings depicting Brasov’s historical monuments. The quiet garden in the courtyard invites you to spend some relaxing moments.

Bran Castle

10 Places To Visit In Romania - Bran Castle
World renown as the lair of vampires, Bran Castle is Romania’s most famous attraction. It is THE place to go in Romania for vampire lovers, though the search for Dracula might prove unfruitful. Here or anywhere else as a matter of fact. 
Instead, you will be rewarded with incredible views over the breathtaking countryside and a beautiful medieval castle with a strong character. Think blue tiled fireplaces, incredibly ornate four-poster Gothic beds, hand-woven rugs, low ceilings and white walls contrasting with dark wooden beams. OK, if you are looking for an eerie experience, take the dark, carved in stone passageways. If not, take the modern stairs like everybody else. 
The castle is only a short drive away from Brasov. It is not quite clear if Vlad the Impaler, the historical character who inspired Bram Stoker’s novel, ever stayed in this castle. Bram Stoker himself never visited Romania. But if you happen to go to Bran Castle on a foggy day, you’ll surely have the feeling that you have fallen inside the pages of his book.

Rasnov Citadel

10 Places To Visit In Romania - Rasnov Fortress
Rasnov Citadel is situated on the road connecting Bran Castle and the city of Brasov. It might not be a world famous attraction, but it is the largest peasant fortification ever built in Eastern Europe.
We didn’t find the crowds and cues of Bran Castle here. Instead, we enjoyed the peacefulness of the mountains in all their glory. However, the citadel is steeped in legend, and more than one good ghost story was born here. Apparently, certain sensitive folks have reported a series of poltergeist activities, including moving shadows, voices, footsteps, cold spots and entities walking around. This, plus the bones and skeletons found around the fortress, make Rasnov one of the most haunted hotspots in the world.
But, nope, we didn’t see anything suspicious. Just a very pretty fortification, with simple architecture and one heck of a well. Legend has it that back in the 17th century the citadel had no source of fresh water. So the good folks of Rasnov took two Turkish prisoners and promised to free them if they dug a well in the rock soil. 17 years fast forward, they found water. But nobody knows what was the prisoners’ fate.  

Sarmizegetusa Regia

10 Places To Visit In Romania - Sarmizegetusa Regia
One of the most spiritually rewarding trips we’ve ever taken was to Sarmizegetusa Regia. We both love Ancient history and places shrouded in mystery that make you leave with more questions than you came with in the first place. And this is exactly one of them. 
Two millennia ago, prior to the wars with the Roman Empire, Sarmizegetusa Regia used to be the capital and the most important military, religious and political centre of the Dacians, the predecessors of Romanians. Nowadays, it is a UNESCO Heritage Site.
Many locals believe it to be charged with positive energy. What is certain is that this is a hushed place shrouded by rough mountains. The 5 temples, the sundial and the timber sanctuary reminiscent of Stonehenge, invite to meditation. And there’s nothing to bother you here. There is no mobile coverage. And the people are scarce. 
Getting here is a bit of a challenge, as the last 20km (12,5 miles) are nothing but dirt road. But if you travel to Romania during the dry summer months, you should be fine. 

Sighisoara

10 Places To Visit In Romania - Sighisoara
Sighisoara is regarded as one of the best preserved mediaeval towns in Europe. It is also included on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list. The old town still looks today as it did five centuries ago. Plus, it is the birthplace of Vlad the Impaler, the bloody ruler who served as inspiration for Count Dracula. A big perk for vampire lovers!
Bring comfy shoes if you want to walk the cobbled streets of Sighisoara. Pavement is seriously uneven and you will have to climb quite a few stairs too. 
Try to spot as many of the nine towers as you can. The Clock Tower is an omnipresent sight and can serve as a point of reference. Then visit the Church on the Hill and its interesting cemetery. Photograph a few colourful houses. And if you can make it, don’t miss the Medieval Festival held every July.
Where to stay in Sighisoara:

Casa Georgius Krauss Sighisoara – housed in a UNESCO certified building dating back to 1600, this boutique-hotel offers uniquely designed rooms, original frescos, and mediaeval-style wood furniture. 
Fronius Boutique Residence – features rooms full of character, fitted with antique wooden furnishings, vault ceilings built in local stone, modern amenities and an outdoor sun terrace. 

Cluj-Napoca

10 Places To Visit In Romania - Cluj Napoca
Cluj-Napoca is the second largest city in Romania. Like many other Romanian cities, it traces its origins all the way back to a 2nd century AD Dacian settlement. 
Cluj-Napoca is a cosmopolitan, modern and young city. Heck, they even have Starbucks! The student population is the largest in the country after all, and the café and art culture follows shortly.
You will find beautiful baroque architecture, art museums, gothic churches, and the best Botanical Gardens in Romania. 
When you are tired, stop on one of the terraces and order a lemonade (they are delicious, home-made and seem to have taken Romania by storm!) or a glass of local wine. Don’t forget to try the stuffed eggs, ‘Cabbage a la Cluj’, sarmale and to stuff your face with mouth-watering cakes and pastries. But the same goes for the whole country!
Where to stay in Cluj-Napoca:

Hotel Capitolina City Chic – stylish hotel in the city center with comfortable and colorfully furnished rooms that are like a breath of fresh air.

Camino Home – self-catering accommodation in the old center, a few meters away from to the Main Square. The apartments are located in a 19th-century restored building, that still preserves the original spirit of the house.

Corvin Castle 

10 Places To Visit In Romania - Corvin Castle
Corvin Castle or Hunedoara Castle is one of the largest in Europe. Its imposing Gothic-Renaissance architecture and the surrounding moat are enough to make a strong first impression. Some even prefer it to Bran Castle! It is believed that Vlad the Impaler was imprisoned here for seven years!
Visitors are left to roam pretty much freely on the grounds of the castle and explore every nook and cranny. You won’t find much furniture, and the rooms have a sober quality to them. The Knight’s Hall is truly impressive through its sheer size and hight and the artillery platform offers pretty panoramas.
The castle appeared in scenes from „Ghost Rider 2” (with Nicholas Cage), “Fright Night” (with Colin Farrell) and the upcoming “What about love” (with Sharon Stone).

BONUS: Red Ravine

10 Places To Visit In Romania - Red Ravine
I simply couldn’t resist mentioning it. Its reddish colour might easily remind you of the Grand Canyon and the strange rock formations even of another planet. The Red Ravine, near Sebes, is an unusual geological reserve, a true natural wonder, 10km (6 miles) long and up to 100 meters high. 
Getting here is even more difficult than getting to Sarmizegetusa Regia. While it can be spotted from the motorway, getting close and personal with it is a bit more tricky. There are virtually no signs and once you get off the motorway, the dirt road takes you through the corn fields. However, if you have the chance to see it from close by, don’t hesitate. It’s beautiful, mysterious, wild, and peaceful out there. Like every other place in Romania.

How to get around Romania:

One of the easiest and most comfortable ways to see Romania is by renting a car. Most big companies have a presence in the country and when you book via AutoEurope you can save up to 30% off your car rental.

On the other hand, if you’d rather prefer traveling by train you can either buy individual tickets (although the e-ticket options for this country are pretty limited at this time) or use an Interrail Romania Pass, starting at 57EURO.

Romania is also one of the 30 countries covered by the Interrail Global Pass (or Eurail Pass if you are a non-European resident), so you really can’t make up excuses for not visiting this intriguing land.

What are your favorite places in Romania?

29 Responses

  1. Marian
    | Reply

    Horezu is also a must see place because of the pottery tradition and the old monasteries. Consider it for your next visit to Romania.

  2. Anastasia Babenko
    | Reply

    I would love to visit Romania. Thank you for this post.
    Shane, have you ever been in Poland? There are also a lot of memorable and fascinating historic landmarks. Yesterday I've been Niemodlin Castle – a star of Polish screen, one of the oldest castle in Poland. And I would recommend everybody to have a look at this ancient beauty.

  3. Shane
    | Reply

    I'm an American engaged to a beautiful Romanian from Hunedoara. I've been to visit RO once, and this makes me want to go back ASAP!

  4. Elena
    | Reply

    There are indeed many places to see and things to do in this beautiful country. Can't wait to visit again and check out some of the attractions on your list.

  5. Annabelle
    | Reply

    These are all the reasons I need to visit Romania! I hope to go to Romania this summer.

  6. Tine
    | Reply

    It looks and sounds amazing! I hope to visit one day in the future! I used to work with a Romanian and she made it sound so beautiful too!

  7. Such beautiful, unique architecture! Romania doesn't look like it gets as much attention as it should.

    • Laura
      | Reply

      Unfortunately, it doesn't. But there are so many beautiful places worth visiting in Romania…

  8. Anonymous
    | Reply

    I'm a Romanian, but lived in Texas for 7 years. I've missed SO much these wonderful places, the traditions, the Holidays, the culture, the mountains, the sea, the whole thing, that I've returned for good.
    I dare you all to visit Romania, at least once.

    • Laura
      | Reply

      Great story! Romania is beautiful!

  9. Anonymous
    | Reply

    Indeed Romania has a lot to offer, lovely place to see, friendly people and delicious food ��

    • Laura
      | Reply

      I totally agree with you. There are many gorgeous places to visit in Romania. Such a diverse country!

  10. mette
    | Reply

    I've got family going to Romania this summer. Can't wait to share this info with them:)

    • Laura
      | Reply

      Is it their first time in Romania? I'm sure they will enjoy it! 🙂

  11. Dan
    | Reply

    Thanks for the great list. I've always wanted to see Romania

    • Laura
      | Reply

      You really should visit Romania. It's a beautiful country!

  12. Miranda
    | Reply

    I haven't been to Romania yet, but it's defiantly a country near the top of my list.

    • Laura
      | Reply

      That's great! I hope you'll visit soon. Romania is not overrun by tourists just yet.

  13. Cathy Sweeney
    | Reply

    I would love to visit Romania and you've got me ready to go with these great pics and info about top places to visit. I'm very interested in European Capitals of Culture, so cool to find out about Sibiu.

    • Laura
      | Reply

      Sibiu is special indeed. Glad you found inspiration in my article 🙂

  14. Lizzie
    | Reply

    Ah I love Romania so much! I visited two years ago and fell in love straight away. I only visited Brasov, Bucharest, and Peles Castle, so there's still loads more I need to explore. I can't wait to go back and get stuck into all the amazing scenery and quirky legends!

    • Laura
      | Reply

      That's the beauty of Romania. There are so many places to see and things to do you would need months on end to discover everything. We can't wait to go back and discover the Maramures region next.

  15. Grace Sarmiento
    | Reply

    Beautiful! I've been to almost all these places. Thanks for sharing.

    • Laura
      | Reply

      Wow! That's amazing! What's your favourite Romanian city?

  16. Frank
    | Reply

    So happy to see this post Laura because we want to come back to the Balkans in late summer (we're in Croatia now but have to go back home for a month or so). Romania's been on my list for a while, for a bunch of different reasons.
    Good info, we will definitely be here.
    Frank (bbqboy)
    Ps. If anyone from Rasnov is reading this; please take off that Rasnov sign. What a terrible way to ruin a majestic view…

    • Laura
      | Reply

      Hahaha, Frank! I totally agree with you about the Rasnov sign. Did you know Brasov has one too?

    • Frank
      | Reply

      No I didn't. Maybe they think it's sexy but it's just kind of tacky.I think you should start a petition 🙂

  17. Andrea Fenita
    | Reply

    I've never considered travelling to Romania before but after seeing those photos, I definitely am now!

    x Andrea | http://www.wandrealust.com

    • Laura
      | Reply

      Yay! Happy to have inspired you to travel to Romania! 🙂

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