Romania is a European gem. It deserves a place on your travel bucket list. And whether you look forward to a family vacation, a romantic getaway or a solo city break, you’ll be spoilt for choice in Romania. Best of all, Romania is affordable.
What to see and do
First-timers to Romania should visit Bucharest before visiting other parts of the country. Bucharest, the capital and largest city in Romania, has an outstanding list of restaurants and cafes and a vibrant nightlife scene. Known as the “Little Paris of the East,” Bucharest is steeped in history, and its architectural heritage is an eclectic mix of communist, Art Nouveau, French Neo-Classical, and Byzantine.
Here is a list of top buildings to visit:
- Palace of the Parliament – the world’s second-largest administrative building. It’s home to Romania’s parliament and the National Museum of Contemporary Art.
- Stavropoleos Church – built in the 18th-century by a Greek monk. It has stone and wood carvings
- Casa Melik – the oldest house in Bucharest
- Domnita Basala Church – built in 1885 and the most beautiful church in Bucharest
- Romanian Athenaeum – built between 1886-1888, a building of neoclassical and eclectic style
- National Bank of Romania – beautiful facade and on the list of the National Historical Monuments
Spend time in Centrul Vechi (old town), the part of the city that looks like Little Paris, close to the National Bank of Romania. Stop by the bars, cafes, and restaurants and sample some Romanian food and beer.
Bucharest is green. There are parks everywhere. You may want to spend time at one of these parks:
- Cismigiu Park – close to the old town and the oldest in Budapest
- Vacaresti Park – a 450-acre wetland park
- Botanical Gardens – you need to pay a fee to enter
2. Peles Castle
Take a tour from Bucharest to the town of Sinaia to visit Peleş Castle, the summer residence of the Romanian Royal family until 1947. This Neo-Renaissance castle located at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains has 160 rooms, stained glass windows, a concert hall, a 60-seat theater and a library with a secret door. It was the first castle in Europe to have electricity.
A visit there will include visiting the different rooms and seeing the over 4,000 displays of furniture, glassware, paintings, armories and more.
Tours at this fairytale-like castle are available from Bucharest and Brasov.
Brasov is the gateway to Transylvania, one of the most fascinating destinations in Romania. This medieval city is walkable and you’ll need two full days to explore. Start your tour at the Piata Sfatului (Council Square) and end it by walking around the old city wall fortifications.
Brasov was an important German trading colony in the 13th century. To protect the city from their enemies, the Saxons fortified the city with massive stone walls, towers, and gates. Only a few of the towers and walls survived and were restored in recent years. You can check out the Black Tower, White Tower, Graft Bastion, Weaver Bastion, and Catherine’s Gate.
Piata Sfatului, known as Marktplatz, is a beautiful square surrounded by colorful houses, and some of the buildings like the Old City Hall dates back to 1420.
Don’t leave Brasov before visiting these places:
- Biserica Neagra (Black Church)
- Schei and St Nicholas Church
- Strada Sforii (Rope Street) – the four-foot-wide narrowest street in Eastern Europe
While in Brasov, take a day trip to medieval Bran Castle, famously known as Dracula’s Castle.
You can join a tour that combines Peles and Brasov from Bucharest. Or take the train from Bucharest Gara de Nord to Brasov. There are 17 trains per day. It takes around two hours and 40 minutes each way. You can potentially plan a day trip using the train.
4. Voronet Monastery
I highly recommend taking the time to visit Voroneţ Monastery, a medieval monastery in the village of Voronet. It is known as “the Sistine Chapel of the East.”
Dishes to try
Romanian food is delicious and hearty. Here are five iconic Romanian dishes you must try:
- Cabbage rolls (sarmale)
- Papanasi (Romanian national dessert)
- Mamaliga (polenta) – the most popular side dish in Romania
- Beef tripe soup
- Placinta cu branza (cheese pie)
Also, read 10 Best Foods to Try in Romania
Where to stay
- Cismigiu Hotel
- Radisson Blu Hotel Bucharest
- Novotel Bucharest City Center
- Hotel Drachenhause
- Casa Corona
- Pension Carmen Silvae
- Pension Perla Bucovinei