Romania is probably not the first place you’d think of when looking for a holiday in Europe, but it is fast-becoming a tourist favourite, and it’s easy to see why. The country is rich in history and the arts and is home to some of Europe’s most popular wines. The capital city of Bucharest, often dubbed ‘Little Paris’, is a bustling metropolis ideal for a city break. It is famed for its provision of the high-life VIP experience. However, Bucharest is not just for shopping and scenic strolls; it is home to numerous points of historical, cultural, and political interest. Further afield, Romania is home to some truly stunning areas of scenic natural beauty including the Danube Delta, Retezat National Park, and the Piatra Craiului Mountains. Romania is also the ideal destination for travellers on a budget, so read on to find out what makes Romania a great place for a European getaway.
Stavropoleos should be top of your to-do list for your Romanian getaway. Visitors can take in a cultural heritage collection of Byzantine art and music, artefacts, frescoes and icons. It is also home to the Stavropoleos Monastery, a religious and architectural gem. It’s extremely rare to find a monastery like this in the centre of a city, particularly in Europe.
There’s plenty to see and do in the capital of Bucharest, including the gorgeous architecture of the Romanian Athenaeum, the National Museums of art and natural history, and Cotroceni Palace. After all that sightseeing, a trip to Herastrau park with its large lake and woodlands is the ideal way to unwind.
If you’re staying in Bucharest, a day trip further afield to marvel at Romania’s historic medieval towns is definitely on the cards. Vampire country in Transylvania is home to the menacing Bran Castle, which has to be seen to be believed.
Wine and Dine
Romanian cuisine is a hearty mix of flavours influenced by various cultures throughout the centuries. Greek, Saxon, and Turkish food came together in a fusion over the years to form the varied and delicious traditional foods of Romania. A typical Romanian meal begins with a cheese board complete with cold cuts and vegetable spreads, and features a hearty stew complete with dumplings for the main course. Romania is also the birthplace of the idea behind American Pastrami!
Romanian wine is making a comeback; the country is now the sixth largest wine producer in Europe. Wherever you choose to holiday in Romania, wine country is never far away. There are a multitude of vineyards just waiting to be visited, including Murfatlar, Cotnari, and Odobesti.
As well as wine, many Romanian households and businesses take pride in distilling their own plum brandy, known as palinka. For the most modern and varied dinning and drinking scene in the country, Bucharest is the place to be. Wine bars are also dotted throughout the capital.
Romania’s biggest water slide attraction, the Danube Delta, is sure to go down a treat for both kids and those who are young at heart. The huge area is the size of Dorset, and is teeming with wildlife. A day out at the Satul de Vacanta amusement park is also sure to keep the kids busy. In addition to lots of rides for thrill seekers, the park is the ideal place to take a stroll and is home to many restaurants, a bowling alley and an open-air bazaar.
Families are often drawn to holidaying in Romania in order to pay a visit to Transylvania, the mythical land of vampire legend Dracula. The most popular place to try and catch a glimpse of Bram Stoker’s character is Bran Castle, which is now a captivating museum. The surrounding area is home to a magical, almost medieval way of village life.
Action and Adventure
Adrenaline junkies will be sure to get their fix in Brasov. Surrounded by beautiful mountain landscapes, the city offers ample opportunities for paragliding, mountain climbing, skiing, and skating. Travellers with a truly adventurous spirit can also go canyoning on Dambovicioara Gorges, starting out in Brasov. The experience is sure to get your heart pumping as you descend from a height of 2,900 feet. Those staying in Bucharest can whet their appetite for adventure with a white-water boating experience starting out in Mogosoaia, or rent out a sail boat for an intrepid adventure.
In winter time, there are inexpensive ski resorts at Poiana Brasov. Brave travellers can also try their hand at wolf-watching and bear-watching during the winter months - a truly awe inspiring day out that’s not for the faint of heart!
Life's a Beach
Although it may not be the first place that jumps to mind when you think of beach holidays, Romania does boast some spectacular seaside getaway destinations. Bordering on the Black Sea, its 245 kilometres of coast in the south east is full of beautiful lakes and seaside. For a sandy beach in the sun, the port city of Constata is ideal; its golden coast stretches all the way to the Bulgarian border. Temperatures in Constata reach 29 degrees on average during the summer months, and the resort gets 11 hours of sunshine daily. Mamaia is another coastal hotspot. Its narrow stretch of light, fine-sand beach lies between the Black Sea and Lake Siutghiol – one of the most popular water sports destinations at the Romanian seaside. The area boasts hotels, a casino, great nightlife and many restaurants, but it is also steeped in legend and home to a beautiful calcareous island.
Visitors to Bucharest will be sure to never have a dull night! The vibrant city of culture comes alive in the evenings; it’s got dozens of clubs and bars to choose from. There is something for everyone, from Irish pubs to strip shows, large clubs and trendy bars.
The essential Bucharest experience has to be a visit to the Beat Angels of Bucharest. This enormous, upmarket club is open twice a week, and has two resident DJs who know how to get a party started. Watch live entertainment from the club’s spacious chill out zones or go wild for hours on the huge dance floor.
Cluj-Napoca is another nightlife hotspot, and is home to The Londoner, a so-called Great English Pub, serving up fine cocktails and a great playlist. This pub, which received TripAdvisor’s certificate of excellence, is the ideal meeting place for a drink with friends before you venture out to one of the many clubs in the area. What’s more, Bucharest and Cluj-Napoca are both safe places to go at night, so party away without a care in the world.
Romania should be top of the list for a couple’s getaway in Europe; traditional romance lives on in the beautiful bohemian architecture of the country itself. Bucharest may be a bustling city, but it has no shortage of romantic spots. There’s so much to do in the capital – take a picnic for two to Cismigiu park, Park Carol, or Herastrau park, hold hands as you stroll through the historic old centre, talk about the future at Church Stravropoleos, or just relax at one of the city’s many cafés, bars and restaurants. There’s also an impressive IMAX in Bucharest, perfect for a movie date for two. Sibu is another city highlight, ranked Europe’s 8th most idyllic place to live by Forbes magazine.
Those craving something more secluded can head to the citadel of Sighisoara with its narrow cobbled streets, colourful buildings, and beautiful clock tower. Brasov, surrounded by mountain landscapes, is another favourite, as is Cluj Napoca.
Romania is home to many buildings which are steeped in history. For history and politics buffs, much still remains in Romania from the Communist rule which came to an abrupt end two decades ago. Lots of tourists are keen to find out more about life in the former Socialist Republic of Romania. You can take a tour through Bucharest’s communist history, including the gigantic parliament building which dominates the city centre. Visitors can also stroll around the beautiful historic district of Lipscani.
In the Romanian countryside, peasant culture and medieval ways persist like nowhere else in Europe. Some of Europe’s best-preserved medieval towns including Sighisoara, Brasov and Sibiu lie in the Transylvania area. They boast unique architectural treasures including churches, castles, and centuries-old houses. The Transylvania region is home to almost 200 Saxon villages, so there’s always something new to explore! There’ve even a museum dedicated to peasant life, called the MTR.