What is there to do in Romania? Dracula was the first thing on my mind when I arrived here! Yet there is so much more to Romania tourism than a blood-sucking legend. Romania tourist attractions include some of the most exciting and intricate castles in Europe, top-notch mountain hiking, gorgeous medieval towns, delicious cuisine, tranquil and vibrantly rich wildlife and nature experiences, along with some kickass road trips!
Here are 30 Romania landmarks to visit in 2019, lovingly supported with contributions from some of my top blogging buddies.
Unashamedly my number one reason to take a trip to Romania was to finally make it to Transylvania and see ‘Dracula’s’ castle for myself.
‘Dracula isn’t really real you know’ said my guide looking at me a little concerned. We were standing at the castle entrance and I was losing it in a fit of giddiness. ‘Nope, he’s real’ I insisted.
That poor guide had to put up with me taking endless photos whilst lapping up every single word he said about Vlad the Impaler. We ventured through the twists and turns of the fortress and it was one of my best days ever. That guide was a champ for sticking with me.
Dracula’s Castle, actually called Bran Castle, is nestled amongst the hills and trees of Brasov, on the border between Transylvania and Wallachia. From a distance, it ticked all of my dreamy expectations and once I was in front of it, my Romania sightseeing was complete! You can look around it yourself, but I opted for a day trip to Transylvania to get the full lowdown and expertise from a local. Book your trip to Dracula’s castle here
It looks like something right out of an apocalyptic action movie where you have to tackle various obstacles inside to reach the gold. Constanța Casino is deathly grey, bold, overpowering and strikingly beautiful. Funnily enough, months after visiting this hauntingly mesmerising spot, I just so happened to see it featured on TV in an ice cream advert! The producers must have been struck by its eerie elegance just as much as me.
Located right on the edge of the Black Sea, Constanța Casino was first erected in 1880 for the high class to make it rain with their money, but it has been rebuilt 3 times since then! It’s been through two World Wars and is still standing in its Art Nouveau style – but alas, it has been abandoned since 1990! If I had enough money, I’d totally buy it and restore it to its former glory. But for now, we will just have to enjoy it in its more subdued slower-paced state.
Dubbed the best road in the world by no other than Jeremy Clarkson from Top Gear, the Transfagarasan Highway is one of my top reasons to visit Romania.
What’s so special about it? Two things: 1) the crazy hairpin turns and 2) the views! The Transfagarasan Road climbs to the top of the Fagaras mountain range and it does so in wild serpentines. They twist and turn like an endless snake. Soon you’re going to notice more than just the sharp left and right turns: the views around you will mesmerise you. As you slowly rise to the top, each bend becomes an ideal stopping point for a photo opp. There are waterfalls just by the road and often you can see layers of snow.
At the very top you can stop at a small chalet hotel and a restaurant located right by the edge of a glacial lake poetically called Balea.
The Transfagarasan Highway is open usually from June to October.
I visited it in June and it was nearly freezing at that altitude. The highest point the Transfagarasan Road reaches is 2,042 metres (6,700 ft). It takes about 4 hours to drive the whole length of the road, even though the hairpin part is just a few kilometers long.
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One of my favourite places to visit while backpacking Romania is the town of Sibiu, located in the region of Transylvania (it’s easy to reach from the country’s capital Bucharest).
The old town of Sibiu is full of historic sights, cobblestone streets and colourful houses surrounded by the old city walls. Sibiu is part of the “seven walled citadels” of Romania and was actually built by German settlers centuries ago! Therefore, Sibiu is also called by its German name “Hermannstadt”.
When walking around the old town, you’ll see several towers as well as churches, with the Great Square (Piata Mica) in the centre of the city. Here’s where you’ll also find plenty of nice restaurants and cute cafés to take a break from your sightseeing tour.
For a beautiful panorama of Sibiu, climb up the tower of the Lutheran Cathedral. If you’re on a longer trip around Romania, you can easily combine your visit in Sibiu with other cities and places in Transylvania, such as Brasov and Sighisoara.
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Romania is home to many beautiful castles and fortresses, as well as some of Europe’s best-preserved medieval towns. One of these is Târgu-Mures, a beautiful city which still maintains its unique medieval character. Târgu-Mures has a great geographical position in the Transylvanian plane between Mures Valley and Niraj Valley. The old part of the city sits on a high plateau, about 1,500 feet above sea level.
Until 2002 Târgu Mures (Marosvásárhelyin Hungarianan) was the largest urban Hungarian community in Romania. The majority of the population spoke only Hungarian.
During the communist regime era, in an effort to dilute the Hungarian population, Târgu Mures became a closed city. All ethnic groups other than Romanians were forbidden to settle in it. Today only 47% of the city’s population is Hungarian and the city is officially bilingual.
Târgu-Mureș is an important cultural and educational centre that has the best of both Hungarian and Romanian cultures. Some of the city’s most beautiful buildings are in the city centre, like the Palace of Culture, the Orthodox Cathedral and the Prefecture Palace.
Also in the city centre, you can find a great array of lovely cafés, bars and restaurants, as well as some old churches and monuments. The city is also home to several interesting museums and an old medieval fortress dating back to the 17 century.
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By far one of the most beautiful places in Romania that tourists are still cottoning onto is the Danube Delta. It’s the place to be! The Danube Delta UNESCO World Heritage site in Romania is the second largest river delta in Europe yet the most preserved out of all of them!
Romania holds 3,446 km² of this beautiful water world and travelling through it on various boats is quite an experience! Personally, I’m not a bird watching fanatic, but I loved it just as much as the adventurers next to me with their 500mm camera lenses.
Being here was the perfect opportunity to just get away from it all, switch off from the internet and reflect on life a little. The pace is slower, the living simpler, and the facilities available will ensure you still get the luxury you want if you so desire. I spent my time in three places in particular: Sfantu Gheorghe, Letya and Murighiol, all within easy reach of the glorious eco-accommodation of Green Village.
Accessible from Murighiol, Green Village in Sfântu Gheorghe is a 4* paradise nestled into the lush, green, abundant waterways of the Danube Delta on the edge of the Black Sea.
How you spend your days in tranquility here is up to you. You can switch off, slow down and immerse yourself amongst the comfort and Mother Nature, or get out and take advantage of all of the wildlife and adventure activities available!
I spent my mornings waking up early, meditating and getting lost amongst the willows and reeds – then after a very delicious lunch, I made the most of the area and explored the Danube Delta, Sfântu Gheorghe and Letya. There are all kinds of activities that you can enjoy here: why not rent a bike, try water pilates, glide along on a kayak, play volleyball, read a book in their special reading lounge, lose yourself in the spa or go on one of their guided boat tours?
Drifting through the musical songs of the warblers in the air, you’ll be transported through the Danube Delta by a super knowledgeable guide from Green Village who lives and breathes this area! What I loved most about his words and advice was him repeatedly saying; ‘Enjoy. Take your time’. I think we all need to be reminded of this from time to time eh?
Here, you’ll be able to see the highest concentration of bird colonies in all of Europe. You can spot mute swans with their s-shaped neck, egrets (thankfully after coming back from close to extinction thanks to those Victorian ladies who liked their feathers in their hats), Egyptian white pelicans, Arctic geese, glossy ibises and another 295 species (yeah there are a lot!). The best time to go bird watching is in late April / early May.
Green Village is located in the darling village of Sfântu Gheorghe. Yes, there really is not much here, but that is why Sfântu Gheorghe is so precious. It is the oldest and most sparsely populated village in the area and is home to 600 inhabitants originating from various countries, including Ukraine. This village used to produce and export the most black caviar for Romania and it was here that they caught a beluga weighing 882kg in 1897 producing 147kg of caviar.
I recommend you hire a bike and take a gentle ride around here, stopping off at the local church to take a peek inside and to buy something from the local supermarket.
You can only get here by boat! By staying at Green Village, they’ll make sure everything is sorted for you.
The Russian village of Letea has trees which are around 300-600 years old in it, wild horses running around, sand dunes full of lizards, and a feeling of being transported through a time warp back to the simple days.
I love this place! You can only visit this subtropical forest with a local guide as its the oldest protected area in Romania. Green Village will help you out.
The Merry Cemetery is a splendidly vibrant cemetery in the village of Săpânța in Maramureş county. Each wooden tombstone colourfully depicts scenes from the life of the person buried there. As you walk between the graves, you’ll see both heartfelt and witty illustrations of people’s daily lives and passions.
Carved relief paintings show women weaving and apple picking, men herding sheep, other men drinking too indulgently, and people operating their businesses as shop owners, gas station attendants, bartenders, etc…
Beneath the painted scenes are inscriptions and poems in the local dialect. It’s perhaps the most joyful cemetery in the world. And, it reminds visitors that a life lived ought to be celebrated. It also reminds you that there’s no hiding your indiscretions in a small town!
The paintings and design of the tombstones are credited to the local artist Stan Ioan Pătraş (1908 – 1977). In his lifetime, he hand-carved about 700 oak crosses and tombstones. His disciple sculptor Dumitru Pop continues the tradition till this day.
The cemetery is now an open-air museum. Entrance tickets cost 10 Romanian Lei (about 2.50 USD) per adult. The cemetery is located in Maramureş county, very close to the border of Ukraine. After your visit, definitely check out the region’s famous orthodox wooden churches.
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Deep in the heart of Romania’s Buzău County lies a hidden gem that I think draws far less attention from tourists than it deserves. The Berca Mud Volcanoes are perhaps among the most impressive examples of this little-known geological phenomenon.
The drive up to the mud volcanoes, or Vulcanii Noroioși, runs along a scenic, albeit bumpy path through the sub-Carpathians and small village communities.
Top Tip: If you enjoy sausages, you may want to stop by Pleșcoi for their famous Pleșcoi sausages!
There are two locations from which the phenomenon can be observed. Pâclele Mici (the Small Volcanoes) and Pâclele Mari (the Big Volcanoes).
The terrain immediately surrounding the volcanoes themselves is arid and desert-like—some may even say it looks like another planet, with the beautiful ravines that were created by water over millions of years. But today, there is no water here. The ground is cracked and the salty mud that pours from the craters means that almost nothing grows here.
Though you may be tempted to use this as an opportunity for a nice spa treatment straight from Mother Nature, the tour guides will tell you not to touch the mud due to high levels of radioactive elements. If you’re visiting on a particularly hot and sunny day, it’s also important to note that the trails of mud form hard crusts on the surface, but these seemingly dry patches of the dark grey mud are not to be trusted, as the mud is still wet underneath—tread carefully lest you lose a shoe!
As a final note, this is a great place for a photo shoot. Bring a camera and a nice outfit if you’d like to capture a fantastical image of your very own version of the lunar landing. If you’re more of the adventurous type, it’s also a great place to hike across the crevasses just for fun. Either way, whatever your motivation for going, the Muddy Volcanoes are worth the trip!
P.S: In the parking lot just across the entrance to the Big Volcanoes, you may come across a couple of lovely Romanian ladies selling delicious home-made jams, syrups, and honey. Don’t let the opportunity pass you by! Our favorites are quince, rose, wild strawberries, and walnut jam.
Recommended by Hexa Fleet. Check out her YouTube Channel. She’s Romanian!
Good news! You can see the Muddy Volcanoes alongside a Salt Mine and with some wine tasting!
In Romania’s Moldavia region you can find a UNESCO World Heritage site that is actually eight sites: eight magnificent painted churches scattered around the region. Mostly dating from the 15th and 16th centuries, these incredible churches are covered on all possible surfaces – inside and outside, complete walls and ceilings – with bright, detailed paintings. The images offer all the major Bible stories in the form of large or small frames, so that they read across the wall or ceiling much like a graphic novel.
The most attention, not surprisingly, goes to the most important stories, particularly the Garden of Eden, the Crucifixion, and the Last Judgement. You’ll also see an array of saints and angels, as well as, in some of the churches, portrayals of historical events like the 628 AD Siege of Constantinople.
While the paintings have faded over the centuries on the outsides of the churches, on the inside the colors are still brilliant. The quality of the artwork varies; in some churches it’s rather typical primitive medieval art. In others, the work is remarkably accomplished. Inside many of the churches, the artists’ names are still known, even after centuries have passed.
All of the painted churches are within an hour’s drive of Suceava, so that’s the place to stay if you want to see a number of the churches.
Pătrăuţi, in my opinion, has the best artwork inside. The church at Voroneţ monastery has an enormous and detailed full-wall depiction of the Last Judgement on an outside wall that’s worth a longer look. To read more, go to Rachel’s article about the painted churches of Moldavia.
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Looking for more castle places to visit in Romania? As part of your Dracula day trip out to Transylvania, make sure to stop here along your way to Bran Castle. Peles Castle in Sinaia, Walachia stands tall in the Bucegi mountains and is a classic example of German new-Renaissance architecture to the T.
This used to be the Summer hang out for the Royal Family until in 1947. Alas, I visited it on a Monday (when it’s closed) so I didn’t get to see the inside, but I’m so happy I went to see the outside nonetheless. Some people say it’s the best castle in Europe. What do you think?
Speaking of the Bucegi Mountains…
I visited Romania last year with a bunch of friends who love hiking as much as I do, and although our time there was limited to 5 days in the area between Brasov and Bucharest, we planned an amazing hiking route leading from the city of Sinaia up to the Bucegi mountains.
We started this hike at 1500m by the hotel Pensiunea Valea cu Brazi just above Sinaia city.
From there we hiked uphill for about an hour until we reached a ski slope and ski bar, which thanks to the fresh dose of snow, opened even in the beginning of May! The rest of the hike lead us through grassy hills and small bushes at the altitude of 2000m and after approximately 3 hours, we reached the famous Sphinx.
It is not a real sphinx but a piece of rock shaped by rain and wind into a form, which from the right angle looks like a Sphinx head.
This hike is not very difficult, as there is not much elevation gain, but the higher altitude makes it a bit harder. If you are not a fan of hiking, but still want to see the Sphinx, there is a cable car going from Busteni town, just about 12 km from Sinaia.
Read more hiking stories by Czick on the road here.
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It’s something you will most likely stumble upon – and when you do, I think you’re going to love it. Depending on where you are in the country, the costumes, songs and dances will be different – but the party level will be 100%.
These ladies kvnow how to rock and I was lucky enough to see three performances throughout my time in Romania whilst eating in various restaurant.
Whilst you’re chomping on your Romanian cheeses and meats, eating that polenta with ham (bulz) or slicing your fried pastry with sour cream and jam (papanasi), fingers crossed these singing angels turn up.
How about a beach break? Escape the cities and mountains and get yourself on the Romanian coast by heading to Mamaia. Labelled as Romania’s most popular beach resort, it’s just north-east of Constanța city centre.
I took some time to soak up some rays and witness some stunning sunrises and sunsets from the comfort of Zenith Hotel. It’s right on the beach, has a delightful spa, a swimming pool, its own private beach and a sky-high balcony to sip cocktails on
Whilst you’re here, don’t miss the abandoned casino in Constanta (see the top of this article)!
Vama Veche, a small village on the coast of the Black Sea, carries a history of rebellion and anti-establishment, made popular by the hippies who flocked to its beach in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Nowadays, it attracts two kinds of people: those who want to party around-the-clock or those who randomly make their way there in the off-season and instead discover a very quiet seaside town.
In the peak of summer, Vama Veche turns into the party central of Romania.
Join the young locals escaping Bucharest Romania each weekend, to sunbathe, swim and celebrate until the crack of dawn. There is entertainment for everyone; Vama Veche is home to many music festivals that take over the whole beach with revellers dancing to the beat of alternative, rock, techno or folk music until sunrise.
After camping on the beach (or dancing all night), nurse your body with the famous pancakes from La Papa Bun and chill at a bonfire while waiting for the sun to peak on the horizon. Once you’re partied out, rent a bike to explore the northern shores or cross the border to Bulgaria for a scenic ride through quaint little villages.
Solo travellers on a budget will love the vibe of Vampire Beach Hostel, just a five-minute walk from the beach. It’s a great spot to make new friends and their kitchen is fully equipped to prepare “sharing-style meals” with the staff and fellow bunkmates. The prices in Vama Veche tend to be a bit on the expensive side, but you can save a lot by hopping on the minibus to Mangalia (runs every half-hour) to do your grocery shopping.
From Bucharest, Vama Veche can be reached by train until Constanța, then by bus (with a stop in Mangalia) or more easily by taking a BlaBlaCar ride for a fun-filled beach escapade.
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Wondering what to see in Bucharest? You must make time for all the things to do in Bucharest! Cheap as chips as far as European capital cities go, it’s home to a colourful urban landscape, stunning ornate architecture, hidden quirky art spots, the heaviest building in the world, a crazy nightlife scene, stupidly fast internet and umm…dental Bucharest tourism (getting your teeth done here is 70% cheaper than other European countries).
Being the capital of Romania and a place of such historical craziness, you just have to do some Bucharest sightseeing. Meet up with a local and get the lowdown.
Romania has been through a lot throughout its time, hence I’m not going to get into the nitty gritty here. However, do make time to go on a tour and hear it from the Romanians themselves. They’ll no doubt talk about the Romans, the Turkish empire, Bucharest once being known as Little Paris for how highly extravagant it was, communism and that key moment where Ceausescu and his wife were shot dead on 25th December 1989.
BTrip run a free walking tour of Bucharest attractions every day, jam-packed full of information and intrigue. They’ll give you an excellent overview of what to do in Bucharest once you’ve seen the city with them. To show your gratitude, a tip for the guide at the end of the tour would be much appreciated.
A lot of my suggestions in this article start from Bucharest. I recommend staying in the capital and venturing out from here! Here are my top places to stay whilst you’re first discovering the best places to visit in Bucharest.
Budget: Podstel Bucharest
Mid range: Grand Hotel Continental
Luxury: Radisson Blu Hotel Bucharest
Who doesn’t like a good bookstore? Enter through a fairly innocuous looking High Street entrance and you’ll discover Cărturești Carusel in Bucharest: which emerges into 1,000 square meters spread over six exposed floors! There’s even an art gallery and bistro thrown in for good measure.
The building originates from the 19th century, but the current occupiers, Romania’s largest bookshop chain, have actually only been present since 2015.
Before their arrival an extensive restoration project transformed it from a rather neglected state into what you see today: a book and Instagram lovers’ paradise.
From outside, the shop front looks much like any other, but inside you are welcomed into a cavernous cathedral for bibliophiles. Cărturești Carusel literally translates to the phrase “Carousel of Light” and there’s certainly that in abundance.
When you visit, whether you’ll see more book lovers in attendance than Instagram stars is debatable. More and more people are visiting to photograph the airy design with its resplendent white interior as well as the Byzantine-inspired marble colonnades, balconies and spiral staircases!
If you’re here for the Insta, the challenge is finding the best angle and the widest camera lens to fit it all in.
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Bucharest’s particular charm can’t be caught at first glimpse. You have to really look behind the facades – literally – to find its hidden gems. Some of these include the various adorable restaurants and cafes in Bucharest.
Hidden in cosy backyards, sometimes decorated with rustic homely furniture in a garden decked in fairy lights; they truly invite you on an elaborate café hopping trail.
One of my favourite spots for afternoon recreation and foodie satisfaction is Acuarela just North of Bucharest’s city centre. It can’t be easily spotted from the road. You really have to look for it.
Once you step through the door, however, you enter a world full of colour and creativity. Big blue umbrellas greet you at the door and lead you past a yellow VW minibus towards the café garden. If the weather permits, you gotta take a seat at the garden table.
Next to walls covered in old windows and frames underneath a canopy of rainbow coloured parasols, you can spread out on the wooden tables. And you ought to, because as soon as you’ve made your decision (the Oreo cake is amazing), you will be handed paper and watercolours.
If you ask me, drawing is the best pastime while waiting for your delicious afternoon treats. There is no age limit. Just make sure you schedule in plenty of downtime to really soak up the feeling of fun and serenity that this place begs for.
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With such a colourful history, the architecture in Bucharest is a brilliant concoction of everything.
You’ll be able to see Brancovian, Neo-Romanian, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Communist and modern styles too. They’re thrown together and it works. Here are my top sights to soak up whilst you’re here:
I spent a whole morning wandering around Bucharest getting lost in the various monasteries and churches! The architecture is just too good to miss. If you want some Orthodox Christian, Islamic, Byzantine and the ideology of the Ottoman Empire all thrown in together (welcome to the Brancovian architectural style !) then I highly recommend a stop at Stavropoleos Monastery.
The monastery is in Bucharest’s party district so you’ll get an idea in the daytime what it could be like at night. Bucharest by night is a ton of fun.
Throw on your glitter and jewels folks because it’s time to head to the glitz and glamour of the theatre darling (or if you’re visiting during the day – jeans and t-shirt will do eh?). Welcome to the Romanian Athenaeum: possibly the most beautiful building out of all of the stunning architecture in Bucharest.
Built in 1888, it’s a neoclassical concert hall with stunning staircases, intricately ornate domed ceilings and enough gold and luxurious colours to make you go a little giddy when you look up at it all.
It’s divine. Get in here if you can!
If you fancy getting lost in a floral, fruity puff of smoke down a beaming yellow-lit arcade of wondrous shisha clouds, Pasajul Macca-Vilacrosse is for you. The inside features and dome ceilings above you are simply gorgeous, but it’s kind of funny to be walking down here like a queen, whilst all the cool kids are here hanging out in the various cafes and enjoy all of the exotic tobaccos. For them, this is the place to be.
Back in the day before being the hipster-kid hangout, Pasajul Macca-Vilacrosse was Bucharest’s first shopping mall, and in communism times, was a walkway hosting all of the city’s jewellers! Now it’s hookah central and well worth a visit. Make sure you look up just as much as you eyeball everything directly in front of you. The architecture is glorious and full of treasures to discover – even if you’re not one to plonk yourself down on the chairs and blow smoke rings into the air around you.
Do you know what the world’s second largest administrative building is after the Pentagon? It’s the palace of the parliament in Bucharest, Romania!
A must see if you visit the Romanian capital, it’s the most expensive administrative building and the heaviest building in the world!
Why is a building this big located in Bucharest?
It’s because of Nicolae Ceausescu, the Romanian dictator, who was reigning over the country and wanted to live in a tremendous palace (as big as his ego) to show off!
He asked his subjects to work on the construction of his palace in 1984. He was shot in 1989 before the end of the construction, but the project was too advanced to stop it. Moreover, thousands of people worked on it.
It was completed in 1997 and nowadays, it’s possible to visit this huge building. They have tours in Romanian, English, French and Italian, and you get to see the opulence in which Ceausescu wanted to live.
The rooms are HUGE, and everything is so clean and classy! From the terrace, you also have a great view of Bucharest. They only used Romanian materials to build the palace, and you’ll notice it’s only high-quality materials: crystal, steel, bronze, marble, wood and velvet to name a few. The palace has more than 1100 rooms, on 12 different floors.
It’s been estimated that it costs 4 billion US dollars overall. After visiting the palace of the parliament, you’ll feel like you just ventured around a very big building (that’s true!), but the guide will tell you that your visit only actually covered 5% of the palace!
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At 27 metres tall, it’s a big one! Famous Romanian sculptures helped make it what it is and if you are lucky, you might be able to climb up it to see the views from the top. I managed to get to the top thanks to local Romanian friends at Experience Bucharest setting it up with Bucharest City Hall at PMB.
The reason the Arcul de Triumf isn’t open to the public at all times is because it sits on a big fat busy roundabout. Hopefully in the future there will be access for all. Fingers crossed.
If you are looking for some rest and relaxation after a busy day exploring, then Therme Bucuresti needs to be added to your bucket list! Only a 15 minute drive from the city, it will be a firm favourite in your Bucharest city break. At an amazing 30,000 sq.m with 8 pools, it is the largest thermal spa in Europe. No wonder you’ll easily be able to spend 6 full hours here and still not get bored!
The spa is divided into 3 areas. Your ticket price will depend on which areas you wish to access. The main areas are The Palm, earning its name from the 500 palm trees that fill it. It features calming thermal pools (both indoors and out), each filled with various therapeutic minerals.
Elysium is the second area, home to 6 themed saunas including a healing Himalayan salt sauna and even a cinema themed one with a huge movie screen!
Finally, Galaxy is the only kid zone with flumes and a wave pool. It’s fun for kids and adults alike.
It’s recommended that you arrive in the late afternoon and watch the sunset with a cocktail from one of the numerous swim-up bars. Then, watch the spa transform as it is illuminated with various colours both inside and out. It’s a a day trip from Bucharest you will not forget!
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The Ceahlau Massif is a beautiful mountain in the Piatra Neamt area of Romania. It’s one of the country’s most famous and most holy mountains and plays a role in so many ancient legends that it’s known as the ‘Romanian Olympus’. It’s also the only mountain in Romania to have its own religious holiday!
Ceahlau Mountain has at least seven different well-marked trails of varying lengths and difficulties to choose from, which makes it accessible for any hikers with a reasonable level of fitness. My Romanian friends and I started from Durau and took a five hour route to Toaca Peak.
The hike leads you through towering pine trees, past waterfalls and moss-covered boulders, with the path getting increasingly steeper until you reach 1900 metres above sea level and arrive at Dochia Cabin. This is the higher of the two chalets on Ceahlău where it’s possible to spend the night (the lower chalet at 1200 metres is called Fantanele).
You can either settle in at Dochia for chilled glasses of local palinka, loaves of fresh bread and bowls of hot soup – or you can continue exploring the stunning landscape of Toaca Peak and choose one of the otherworldly rock formations as your sunset viewpoint.
All around you are wide sweeping views of the valley and surrounding mountain peaks, and in the soft dusk light, it truly feels as though you’re standing on top of the world!
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The Libearty Bear Sanctuary started off as a passion project for a lady called Cristina Lapis and it has become one of the best ethical animal sanctuaries in the world according to National Geographic Traveller.
In Romania it used to be common to see bears outside of petrol stations and restaurants acting as a tourist attraction to encourage customers. This has been illegal since 2005, but sadly, a lot of bears are still kept in captivity for entertainment.
Many years ago, Cristina made it her mission in life to save all the bears from cruelty and exploitation in Romania. As a result, she set up Libearty Bear Sanctuary. So far, as well as other animals, she has rescued over 100 bears from restaurant cages, circuses and pseudo-zoos from all over the world. The life that the bears living in the sanctuary have now is the closest thing to what it would have been like if they were living in the wild. They live in large enclosures in the woods and food is placed strategically in places so they have to find it themselves.
Libearty is not a zoo or a tourist attraction, and interaction with the bears is not allowed. There’s no feeding and certainly no petting or selfie opportunities. It is a true sanctuary for bears and other animals that will never be able to return to the wild. They would never survive.
There are many ways to support this worthy cause, and visiting the bear sanctuary is one of them. During winter (from 1st November to 30th April), the sanctuary can be visited between 11am and 12pm; while the rest of the year the visits last from 9am until 11am. During your visit, you will be shown around by a specialised guide. They’ll explain the history of the sanctuary and stories of some of the bears you will encounter.
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Here are some quick Romanian phrases to get you through your Romanian trip!
Thank you: Multumesc
Beautiful in Romanian: Frumos
Where do I find Dracula?: Unde il gasesc pe Dracula?
These are my best places to visit in Romania! I hope they become yours too! My best places in Romania include plenty of exhilarating history, architecture, delicious foodie treats, outdoor adventures and wildlife experiences. What is going on your Romania attractions list? Do you want to recommend what to see in Romania?
Whatever you do before you go, do not forget your travel insurance. I’m a big fan of World Nomads and use them for all of my trips. Get your travel insurance quote here.
Where all sections expressing my experiences are featured, I would like to thank Experience Bucharest and Experience Romania for making this complimentary possible. As always, opinions expressed are my own = honest and straight to the point.