Perhaps the most underrated country in Europe, Romania is a land of hidden treasures. From countless natural marvels to vibrant cities, art, culture, and good food, this country can satisfy all types of travellers. If you don’t know what to include in your itinerary then keep reading. Here are the most epic places to visit in Romania.
Sighișoara is the place where the legend of Dracula comes to life. It’s the birthplace of Vlad the Impaler, the ruler of Wallachia – today’s Muntenia region – who inspired Bram Stoker’s story. It has preserved the medieval charm you would expect from such a place.
The citadel transudes its Gothic personality in an impossibly pretty huddle of mighty watchtowers, colourful houses, and narrow cobblestone streets.
Its surrounding fortified walls enhance the surreal beauty of this place. Sighișoara’s Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the only inhabited medieval citadel in Europe, and one of the best preserved fortified towns on Earth.
Just like Dracula, Transylvania is also real, and Cluj-Napoca is its capital. The second-largest city in Romania after Bucharest, Romania’s capital, Cluj-Napoca impresses with neoclassical and baroque architecture, a lively cultural scene, and 11 universities.
Nestled in the heart of one of the most picturesque regions in the country, the city blends its deep-rooted traditions with a flamboyant lifestyle.
Cultural cafes and boutique hotels, museums, and dozens of events animate the city season after season. So much that it has even been designated the European Youth Capital in 2015. Some of its most fabulous festivals include Electric-Castle and UNTOLD.
Cluj-Napoca’s hipster character makes it ideal for culture devotees, romantics, and gourmets who want to discover the most distinctive traits of Romania.
3. Turda Salt Mine
A stone’s throw away from Cluj-Napoca, there is Turda, a small industrial town that hides a unique marvel. The Turda Salt Mine is exactly what it sounds like. A former salt mine transformed into an exceptional underground amusement park.
The mine was built in the Middle Ages and is one of the oldest in the world. Today, it welcomes visitors instead of workers.
This unusual amusement park boasts a Ferris wheel, sports arena and bowling lane, a museum, and even an underground boating lake. Those who want to pamper themselves can opt for a spa treatment, or you can hit the green on the artificial mini golf course in the world’s deepest underground attraction.
4. The Sphinx, Bucegi Mountains
You wouldn’t expect to see the Sphinx in Romania – or elsewhere in Europe as a matter of fact – but this amazing country knows how to surprise. Its Sphinx is a natural rock formation perched at 2,216 metres above sea level, in Bucegi Natural Park.
The peculiar shape of this megalith is the result of wind erosion, and it’s strikingly similar to the Great Sphinx of Giza. Surrounded by many mysteries, the plateau also offers breath-taking mountain views and endless hiking possibilities.
Another gem of charming Transylvania, Sibiu has been the European Cultural Capital in 2007 and is one of Romania’s most sought-after destinations. Despite its size, the city preserved most of its medieval charm and boasts a rich cultural heritage.
Expect windy cobbled streets, German-style houses, and amazing restaurants. The main square in the gorgeous Old Town hosts many cultural events throughout the year and a lovely Christmas market in winter.
Surrounded by mountains and splendid natural reserves, Sibiu is an unexpectedly beautiful year-round destination.
6. Hunedoara Castle
Like many gems in surprising Romania, Hunedoara Castle is nestled in the most unexpected place. This spellbinding fortress skulks out from an industrial jungle, but it will strike you the moment you walk over its drawbridge.
The castle was built in the fifteenth century by Ioan of Hunedoara atop of a fourteenth-century fortress.
His son, Matia Corvin, added ulterior fortification elements and the result is a mighty construction that impresses travellers and film makers from around the world.
Hunedoara’s surroundings also have a lot to offer to those in love with nature and the outdoors. The Retezat National Park is an area of impressive beauty with many marked hiking trails, while winter sports lovers will also find here a true paradise.
7. Danube Delta
The best-preserved delta in Europe, Danube Delta is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to countless unique fauna and flora species. It boasts 23 natural ecosystems and is a true paradise for wildlife lovers.
You can find everything here, from forests to lakes, floating reed islets, marshes, and sandy beaches.
The picturesque fishermen villages that dot the area offer a unique perspective on life in Romania. Tranquil rhythms and a symphony of flavours and aromas can delight the foodies and invite to relaxation.
At a stone’s throw away, the lively Romanian littoral shows a different character and offers endless entertainment opportunities.
8. Transfăgărășan Highway
Those aiming to drive on the most scenic routes can’t miss Transfăgărășan Highway. This is not only the most spectacular road in Romania; it’s one of the best roads in the world according to BBC’s Top Gear.
Winding up to 2,042 metres above sea level, the highway links Transylvania to Muntenia region.
At its highest point, the wonderful Lake Bâlea impresses with its crystalline waters. A mountain retreat and restaurant welcome tourists with good food and a cosy place to rest, and the entire area attracts nature lovers with its extensive forests and hiking trails.
9. Bran Castle
Getting back to the legend of Dracula, Bran Castle is perhaps Romania’s staple. Dated back to 1377, it inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula castle in the famous novel. This mighty fortress sits on the border between Transylvania and Muntenia and is open as a museum.
There is no evidence that Vlad the Impaler lived here, but the museum houses a rare collection of art and furniture belonging to Queen Marie of Romania who lived here in the 20s.
Like most Romanian landmarks, Bran Castle is nestled in an amazing natural area that attracts both mountaineers and winter sports lovers. The nearby city of Brașov and Prahova Valley are two amazing places in Romania from where it’s easy to plan a day trips to Bran and many other places in this surprising country.
Romania’s capital and largest city Bucharest would serve as a great starting point for a visit to the country. Here you’ll find the world’s largest parliamentary building, the Palace of Parliament which has over a thousand rooms and an area of over 300,000 square meters.
Other attractions in the city includes the Romanian Athenaeum, the picturesque Carturesti Carusel bookshop, as well as museums and parks.
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Bucharest added by Editor