Romania Travel Guide – Advice from world travellers in 60 countries
Travelling in Romania is as fascinating as it’s challenging. The country’s mountain scenery, its diversity of wildlife and cultures, and a way of lifestyle that sometimes seem unchanged since the Middle Ages leave the visitors deeply impressed.
Romanians are warm and friendly people, tracing their ancestry back to the Romans, and have a substantial Latin character – kind, spontaneous and appreciative of life. The cities are charming and have a unique blend of history intertwined with local legends and folklore.
Any visit to the rural part of Romania is also rewarding as it reflects through the traditions and architecture, the very soul of Romanian culture. Romania also offers a number of the most unspoiled barren wilderness on the continent, from the majestic peaks of the Carpathian mountains and the verdant, rolling hills of Bucovina to the incredible wetlands of the Danube Delta.
In this Romania travel guide, we’ll cover the main things to know about visiting Romania considering the advice from travellers from more than 60 countries who visited these lands to tips and tricks from locals.
- Why visit Romania
- Romania Travel advice
- Romania Currency and Prices
- Best time to visit
- Is Romania safe?
- Local time in Romania
- Romania travel map
- What and where to eat and drink in Romania
- Romania and its people
- Get inspired by Romania! – the film, youtube. Book
- Why visit Romania
Situated in Eastern Europe in the Carpathic Arch, Romania is the 9th largest country in Europe with diverse geography and amazing nature. It’s part of the EU since 2007 and is a country of legends and fairytales which create unique folklore sustained by epic scenery and natural wonders
Based on its uniqueness, there are many reasons to visit Romania:
- It’s the most bio-geographically diverse country in Europe with spectacular wildlife and natural wonders.
This translates into a wide variety of landforms like high mountains with amazing views, low hills invaded by history and thick forests. Romania has Scărișoara Glacier, Europe’s second-biggest underground glacier, the Berca mud volcanoes, Bigar waterfall, one of the most beautiful waterfalls on the continent, the living fires of Buzău, the Bear Cave, created by water running through calcar, Turda salt mine, home to the only underground amusement park in the world and many other.
- Romania’s Transylvanian villages are living history
Founded by Saxons, they are distinguishable by the specific land-use system, settlement pattern and organization of the family farmstead that have been preserved since the late Middle Ages.
- Bucharest has a stunning architecture
The House of Parliament is the second-largest building in the world, the Old Town is living proof of the past social life and most houses and museums in the centre were built in a unique style called Brancovenesc.
- Roads cut through mountains and offer amazing scenery
For fans of beautiful landscapes, there is the famous Transfagarasan – one of the most popular routes in Romania due to its height, gorgeous sights and numerous steep curves connecting Romania’s historic regions of Muntenia and Transylvania. Transalpina Road is the highest in Romania from the entire Carpathian chain, reaching a maximum height of 2.145m and goes parallel with Olt River Valley and Jiu River Valley.
- Seaside offer both sandy beaches but also wild nature in the Danube Delta
The Black Sea coast stretches over a distance of 244 km and is among the most important tourist areas of Romania. Mamaia is the most popular beach resort, known for the nightlife and clubs. The rest of the resorts offer a wide variety of activities: from long sunny beaches to balneo and thermal therapies, they are well suited for all age types. Into the north, Gura Portitei is a lagoon known for isolation and relaxation in nature while the Danube Delta is a wildlife paradise.
- The Romanian traditional food is mouth-watering
Romanian cuisine is rich in flavours and consists of large portions of food that will surely kill your hunger with the strong taste of the unmistakably homemade feel.
They enjoy meat and a variety of products and meat recipes, but our advice is to try the organic vegetables and fruits, the cheese specialities, the herbs and the local sweets. For the best gastronomic experience, traditional restaurants, especially those in mountain resorts and cottages are the best places to go to.
- Legends, customs and folklore are part of everyday life
Romania’s culture includes legends and customs which are alive and take a significant part in Romanians’ lives; mostly created around religious celebrations. From carols sung at Christmas to painted eggs at Easter and red-white small tokens at the arrival of spring, all year round there are festivities creating spectacular scenery. Local crafting includes painted pottery, wood sculptures and, most distinctive, Romanian traditional clothing with its very popular blouse called “ie”, a fashion statement borrowed even by big international design houses.
- Romania houses some of the most beautiful castles in Europe and inspiring World Heritage Sites
Bran or Dracula’s Castle is the most emblematic one of them all, the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s book called Dracula but also to many films and legends. Peles Castle, also nested at the foot of the Carpathians is a reminder of the Romanian Royal family with unique architecture. Corvin Castle in the West is a renaissance- gothic masterpiece with tall towers and stone carving served once as a fortress and also Neamt Citadel in North was Stephen the IIIrd of Moldavia’s defence system against enemies.
- Some of the coolest music festivals in Europe are held in Romania
From Untold Festival, one of the largest electronic music festival in the country to Neversea, during summer at the seaside to Electric Castle near Cluj to the classical music of the well-established George Enescu Festival, one of the biggest classical music events in Europe Romania’s cultural scene is becoming a travel destination by itself.
- Romania’s one of the most affordable travel destinations in Europe
The beautiful scenery and interesting cities are offered by Romania at affordable prices, especially if you book your trip in advance. There are plenty of direct flights from Bucharest to the rest of Europe and plenty also offer the low-cost option. Accommodation in Romania is also affordable in most of the country with big cities being a bit more expensive than the rest but still under the European average.
- Romania Travel advice
Finding accommodation in Romania should be the least of your worries since there are plenty and come in a variety of forms from hotels to cottages and guest houses. You can also choose from a good number of youth hostels, in addition to a spread of private rooms and village homestays, the last of which typically offer wonderfully peaceful retreats. But most importantly, they are affordable as the average price per night is lower than in the EU. Summer is the busiest season when prices tend to go up and booking in advance is indicated. But on long trips within the country, there are also night trains with sleeping cars that accommodate tourists in transit.
Hotels and pensions
Hotels are not that expensive and are ranked on the five-star classification. Pensions are normally ranked in the same number of “daisies” but most of them are quite affordable and spacious, run as a family business in the mountainside of the country or remote areas. Most of them also provide fresh breakfast. Prices can drop to half or even more outside the summer season and if weather favourable – the best period to visit Romania could also mean from April to June or September to early November.
Outside Bucharest, the average three-star hotel can average between 30 and 60 EUR for a double room. To be more accurate, ratings and reviews of pensions and hotels can give a lot of insights that create a clearer picture of the accommodation, except for the mere star rating. While three-star hotels can be unpredictable in terms of cleanliness and comfort, the four stars and above are luxurious and quite well equipped. Pensions, on the other hand, do not follow a specific standard but their main advantage is that the families owning those businesses take a personal interest in the wellbeing of their visitors and make extra efforts to make their stay even better. Besides, most of them are located in amazing places close to nature and are a real getaway from the busy city life.
Village homestays and private rooms
Another type of accommodation has started to flourish in Romanian tourism and that is agrotourism or rural farmhouses which offer visitors the possibility to spend time with the local families and get involved into their routines and their traditions – all this in fascinating surroundings. With the downside that they are somehow remote from main motorways or cities, they offer authentic experiences like mountain climbing, skiing, horse riding or even cooking, wine tasting and farming. They cost less than hotels, usually between 10 and 20 EUR per person per night depending on the category and placement.
You’re also likely to come across places and people advertising their own private houses either in the most common mountain resorts and seacoast: people greet you at the train station offering their rooms for 10-15 EUR per person. In the countryside, people are very welcoming and friendly, eager to tell stories about their lives or places and provide some delicious homemade food.
If you’re on a budget and don’t mind skipping the luxury hotels, then the hostels offer quite a satisfactory solution. Among the best places to stay in Romania, the hostels are alternative accommodations in all major cities and can charge as little as 10 to 12 EUR per person in a dorm bed or 15-20 EUR for a bed in a double room. They are interesting as they offer the opportunity to meet a lot of tourists and to take part in different tours together, especially when travelling alone.
Sometimes you may find a student residence offering to let out a bed, though these are largely available only in July and August – however, these are unlikely to be advertised, so ask for details at the local tourist office or town agency.
In the mountains or countryside, preferably on hikers’ routes, there are plenty of cabanas or hikers’ huts, ranging from elegant alpine villas with dozens of bedrooms to fairly basic chalets with bunk beds and cold running water. The hikers’ cabanas are generally warm and welcoming and serve as useful places to pick up information about trails and the weather. Some (mainly in the high mountain range) can be easily reached by cable car, while others are situated on roads just a few kilometres from towns; yet, the majority are quite isolated and accessible only by mountain tracks or footpaths. The location of these cabanas is to be found mainly on hiking maps. It might be wise to book in advance, by phone or through a local agency as the request is pretty high. Beds in remote areas cost about 5 to 10 EUR per night, a little more for a private room or in one of the more comfortable cabanas.
From early spring to late summer, Romania has an impressive spread of campsites throughout the country, which vary in quality from very rudimentary places with minimal facilities to first-class sites with cabins or bungalows (căsuţe) for rent with hot showers and even a restaurant. You’ll generally pay about 3EUR per person per night, plus 5EUR for a car.
On the mountainside, some areas are designated as camping areas (“loc de campare”), but these are few and far between. Yet, as long as you don’t light fires in forests, leave litter or damage nature reserves, you can also opt to camp wild and enjoy the silence of nature. Beware of bears though.
The Romanian infrastructure is not as developed as is the Western countries but most Romanian towns can easily be reached either by train or maxi taxi (minibus). While these options are quite affordable, the duration of the trip can be quite long due to small speeds and delays that often occur. Driving, on the other hand, can be quite an attractive option because it allows you to go to the far reaches of the country and to the most amazing places that are not usually covered by traditional means of transportation.
Getting around Bucharest with buses, trolleys and trams can cost as little as 2RON for a single journey, though the vehicles are often crowded. The metro is 5RON, though a day-pass is only 8RON which makes it a much better deal. Weekly metro passes are 25RON, which is worthwhile if you’re going to be using public transportation often (week passes are also available for the buses and trams but prices will vary depending on your route). You need to buy a STB card which you fill with money depending on how much you need to travel.
In other big cities, the travel system is quite the same and prices vary only a little. The best solution would be to either buy a week card or refill it with enough amount so you can get around without any fuss.
Flying around Romania is a very good option and if booked in advance, fares can be as low as 20 EUR per segment. Low-cost airlines like Ryanair and Wizzair connect Bucharest, Iasi, Cluj and Timisoara to most of the major cities in Europe. Blue Air also offers quite attractive fares and connects even more cities in Romania to Europe.
Most of Europeans destinations are connected directly with Bucharest as there are low-cost direct flights mostly to
- UK (London, Doncaster, Liverpool, Glasgow, Edinburgh
- Spain and Italy (all major cities)
- France (Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Nice, Bordeaux)
- Germany (Berlin, Hambourg, Hannover, Frankfurt, Munchen, Nurenberg, Dortmund, Koln)
- Several direct flights to Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway but also to Athens, Budapest, Sofia, Istanbul, Lisbon, Dublin, Amsterdam, Brussels, Prague, Warsaw, Vienna, Geneva and many other
Bucharest to Cluj and Iasi, for example, can cost under 200 RON round trip while Bucharest to Timisoara can be done for half that. Ryanair and Wizz will be the two airlines you want to check out for the lowest prices.
Buses run through all the major cities in the country, and many companies operate on these segments. Among the most known ones is FlixBus which connects Romanian cities to the rest of Europe. However since Romania is a large country, the journeys can be quite long. For instance, the journey from Bucharest to Cluj will cost around 75 RON and takes 9 hours. The journey from Bucharest to Brasov will take around 4 hours and costs 50 RON.
Trains in Romania are slow and sometimes, especially during winter can experience delays. There are 3 different kinds of trains: InterCity (IC), InterRegional (IR), and Regional (R). The InterRegional trains are the fastest and most modern and likely the ones you’ll be using to travel from city to city. Second class seats are comfortable and can be used even for longer travel segments. The rides are not very expensive: a 9-hour journey from Bucharest to Timisoara is 79RON and from Bucharest to Cluj can take the same amount of time and money.
Standard seats (second class) are usually quite comfortable and adequate for even long journeys. Wi-Fi and catering are not available so bring your own entertainment if you have a long journey.
Uber, Bolt, Yango are available in Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca, Brasov, Timisoara, and Iasi. They’re the cheapest option if you need to get somewhere and don’t want to take public transit as the taxis in Romania, although not expensive, cannot always be reliable. For long distances, between cities, there is BlaBlaCar, probably a better option than both bus and train.
- Romania Visa
There is no need for a visit Romania visa for citizens of the EU when entering the country. Citizens from most countries of the world can obtain a visa upon arrival at the airport (US, Canada, Australia, etc). For more information on conditions of travel and entry, you should check the Ministry of Foreign Affairs visa website or the Romanian Embassy in your country.
Also, for EU citizens a valid national identity card is enough to enter Romania.
- Romania Currency and Prices
Romania currency is Leu (RON) or Lei in the plural and is found in plastic (basically indestructible) notes of 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, 200 and 500. 1 Leu is divided into “Bani” which are coins of 50 and 10. Some prices in Romania are also displayed or calculated in Euros, however, using Euros for cash payments is not accepted.
Currently, 1 Euro is about 5 Lei (4.8Lei) and 1 USD is about 4.5 Lei – check official exchange rates published by the Romanian National Bank here). Prices in Romania are generally cheaper than in most Western European countries: with 1 Euro you can buy: 2 x half-litre bottles of water or a two-way bus/tram ride in most cities or 1-2 snacks from a street pastry.
Besides RON, EUR is the most common currency and the one you should have in cash when you arrive in the country if you cannot change RON from the country of your origin. Do not exchange in the airports as they have the worst conversion rate and always check the published currencies. There are also plenty of ATMs in Romania (bancomat) to withdraw money from. The most common banks with safe & secure ATMs are BCR (Erste), BRD (Societe General), Banca Transilvania (local), Raiffeisen or ING. Try to avoid the international withdrawal ATMs as they can charge you more than the normal currency. When travelling in the countryside it’s difficult to find an ATM and card payments are not usually accepted, so better to have cash on you.
Because payment by card is very popular and secure in Romania, cards issued by VISA, MasterCard and Maestro are widely accepted elsewhere, but American Express cards usually do not operate here. When using a credit card provided by a bank outside the European Union, it is important that you check if your bank is approved for international payments. In Romanian towns, you can pay by bank card almost everywhere (coffee shops, cafes, pubs, hotels, etc.) but when you fly to remote areas, mountains or farmland, cash is king, so always bring Lei with you and prepare your budget accordingly.
As a tip: if you don’t have enough cash on you, remember when going to a restaurant to always ask if they accept payment by card before ordering. Do this as usually, waiters don’t tell their clients in advance about the payment methods (or lack of them).
- Best time to visit
The best time to go to Romania is from April until October. Romania has a temperate climate with four seasons which experiences extreme heat during summer (from 33 to 38 C) and frosty winters (from -20 to 0 C). Spring and Autumn are unpredictable: cold mornings and evenings (8-18 C), warm and sunny during the day (18-26 C). Average rain, no spontaneous floods or droughts, thunderstorms in the summer and foggy in autumn.
The shoulder season in late April-May and September-October are great times to visit as well. There are no crowds and the air is fresh with mild temperatures, perfect for anyone looking to head into the hills for some hiking. You’ll get some rain in spring, but you’ll see the amazing autumn colours in September which makes for a stunning backdrop to your trip (especially if you’re travelling through Transylvania).
Visiting Romania in winter is not necessarily recommended as it can be quite cold, with temperatures dropping just below 0 C. Snow is common though not abundant, which can affect conditions if you’re travelling by car. While cities like Sighisoara and Brasov can look quite charming in the winter, Bucharest in winter looks grim also due to the influence of Russian architecture and their reliance on grey concrete.
- Is Romania safe?
Is Romania safe to travel? – that’s probably the question on every tourist’s mind given it used to be avoided in the past. But that was mainly because of the ghost of a communist reign that haunted the country ever since its fall, but also due to poor advertising ever since, leaving people thinking it’s not a welcoming or safe place to be. Luckily that isn’t true at all and Romania’s bad reputation is easily overthrown by authentic experiences, the rich folklore and the breathtaking views. Romania is a mystical and beautiful country with a legendary heritage. Since it became part of the European Union, it has welcomed guests, amazed and entertained them, becoming an easily accessible and affordable destination.
From a personal safety perspective, Romania is a relatively safe country for tourists. With a score of 80 out of 100 (= perfectly safe) based on a study of safearound.com, Romania has quickly become one of Europe’s fastest-growing destinations for travellers around the world. Just do what you normally do when visiting a foreign country: don’t look for trouble, beware of pickpockets or drunkards, ignore people pushing their services to tourists (like taxi ‘drivers’ in Bucharest Airport or North Train Station) and stay away from shabby places.
Solo travelling in Romania shouldn’t be too concerning either, though extra care is advisable. Being careful and keeping away from suspicious individuals should be enough to stay on the safe side.
All in all, consider that Romanians are generally conservative and adhering to traditional family values and life. They are religious people which translates into churches and priests having a great influence, especially over smaller communities. Be respectful around spiritual sights and especially during major holidays. While public displays of affections are ok, same-sex relationships are currently a very intricated topic so better to keep that in private.
- Local time in Romania
What is the time in Romania? The country is two hours ahead of GMT (GMT +2) in the Eastern European Time, seven hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time and ten hours ahead of Western Standard Time: clocks go forward one hour for the summer at the same time as in other European countries.
- Romania travel map
Romania is very famous thanks to tales of vampires surrounding Bran Castle also known as Dracula’s Castle by its tourist name. Yet the country has so much more to offer than just one castle and fictions featuring vampires. Romanian cities have their own atmosphere that is worth experiencing, but if you want to see Romania’s main tourist attractions, you need to go deeper into the country to Transylvania, Bukovina or Maramures regions. The key attractions of Romania, unspoilt natural beauty and true local life are best experienced outside the major cities. Here’s the Romania travel map with the main attractions and best places to visit by regions:
- Prahova Valley – beautiful scenery in the Bucegi Mountains
- The Sphinx – Face-like Stoke high in the mountains
- Corvin Castle – This Romanian fortress castle where Vlad the Impaler was imprisoned.
- Salina Turda – This massive underground salt mine now holds a sci-fi theme park in its depths.
- Bran Castle – tied to the legend of Dracula
- Hoia Baciu Forest – the ghostly forest near Cluj with paranormal activities
- Rapa Rosie – Romania’s version of the Grand Canyon in miniature
- The sunken village, Geamana – remnants of a village drowned in the toxic waste of a nearby quarry.
- Sibiu’s Old Town
- Lake Sfanta Ana – the only lake inside a volcanic cone
- Bears’ Cave – with bear remnants from aeons ago
- Black Church, Brasov – XIVth century gothic cathedral
- Sighisoara Citadel – a medieval fortress
- Peleș Castle – This elaborately decorated, fairytale-like Romance royal palace is one of the most striking castles in Europe.
- Poenari Castle – up on a cliff, the castle of Vlad the Impaler served as an observation point in the battle with the Turks
- Mud Volcanoes – small cones bursting with dark and cold mud
- Slanic Prahova Salt mine – the biggest in Romania
- Trovants Museum, growing eerie stones
- Iulia Hasdeu Castle – a palace dedicated to an early deceased daughter
- Curtea de Arges Monastery – a monastery with a beautiful legend
- Vidraru Dam – an impressive artificial lake inside the forests
- Mogosoaia Palace – An unique style of architecture
- Bigar Waterfall – Moss and stone turn this waterfall into an otherworldly liquid veil.
- Decebal’s Head – a portrait sculpted into stone
- Horezu with its unique pottery
- Ceahlau Massif – gorgeous landscapes and hiking trails
- Moldova’s unique convents – a testimony of religion within folklore
- Pasul Tihuta – passage through mountains connecting Transylvania and Moldova
- Train ride with Mocanita, an old train used to carry logs through mountains now offer amazing scenery
- Neamt Fortress – XIVth century fortress of Stefan the Great which was used as a defence against enemies
- Bicaz Gorges – cutting through high mountains
- Iasi City Center – the former capital of Moldavia
- Constanta Casino – an Art Nouveau building, nowadays abandoned
- Constanta Sea Coast – perfect for promenades
- Histria – remains of an ancient city at sea
- Murfatlar Wine Road
- Gura Portitei – lagoon with wildlife and calm remote beaches
- Danube Delta – an oasis of nature where the Danube meets the sea
- Mamaia and the coast resorts
- Museum of the Communist Consumer – items from a regime that no longer exists
- Baile Herculane – thermal baths
- Timisoara City Centre – one of the most charming cities of Romania
- The Cerna Valley – beautiful landscape along river Cerna
- Semenic Mountains – perfect for skiing and road climbing
- The Merry Cemetery – A small town Romanian cemetery filled with darkly humorous gravestones.
- The Blue Lake – the clearest blue hue of water in the country
- The Wooden Churches and Church Paintings – unique in the world
- Rodna and Maramures Mountains – perfect for hiking
- Woodwork, traditional costumes and folklore festivals – kept alive in the middle of the mountains
- Snagov Monastery – the place to hold the remnants of Vlad the Impaler
- Carturesti Carusel Bookstore – one of the most beautiful in the world
- Curtea Veche (Old Princely Court) – a medieval court with the statue of Vlad the Impaler.
- Romanian Kitsch Museum – all tacky, garish and bizarre objects
- The Palace of Parliament – the second largest building in the world
- Village Museum – open-air museum depicting rural life
- Cismigiu Gardens – an oasis inside the city centre
- Lipscani in Old Town – the pulse of the city’s nightlife
- Herastrau Park – the largest park in Bucharest – a getaway from the busy life
- National Museum of Romanian Art – the former Royal Palace which now hosts the most extensive collection of both Romanian and European artwork.
- Grigore Antipa Museum of Natural History – multimedia and interactive exhibits about plants, animals and geography
- Cotroceni area and Cotroceni Palace – the residence of the president in a charming neighbourhood of stylish houses
- Calea Victoriei – The avenue that tells the story of Bucharest
- What to eat and drink in Romania
Romanian cuisine is rich with flavours, consisting of big portions of food that will surely kill your hunger with the strong taste of an unmistakably handmade aroma.
They enjoy meat as well as a variety of items and meat products but our recommendation is to try the organic fruits and vegetables, cheese specialities, herbs and local sweets. Modern restaurants, in particular those in mountain resorts and cottages, are the best places to go to for the finest gastronomic experience. These are the highlights when it comes to Romanian food:
Soups and Mains
- Ciorba de Burta (Tripe Soup) – a sour soup made with tripe — or cow stomach.
- Ciorba de Fasole cu Afumatura (Bean Soup with Pork and Tarragon) – a rich beef or pork broth is filled with white beans, smoked and salted meat (typically bacon or ham, but sometimes chicken is used) and tomatoes
- Sarmale (Cabbage Rolls) – Made of minced meat (usually pork, but also a combination of pork and chicken or just poultry meat) mixed with rice and spices, rolled into sour cabbage leaves
- Pleşcoi Sausages – sheep or mutton-based sausage heavily flavoured with chilli and garlic. Unlike their cousins, the Mici, Pleşcoi sausages are smoked and dried.
- Mici (or Mititei) – Romanian for “small ones” — are case-less sausages made with a mixture of lamb, beef and pork. They’re flavoured heavily with garlic, coriander and a range of other spices.
- Fasole Bătută – Literally translated to beaten beans, this vegetarian bean dip is as simple as it gets. White beans are boiled, then mashed with olive oil, lemon juice and garlic. The warm puree is topped with a mix of caramelized onion and stewed tomatoes.
- Mamaliga – it’s found on nearly every menu. This traditional polenta stew is not only delicious but incredibly rich and heavy. Butter, sheep cheese — traditionally branza de burduf — and eggs are stirred into the steaming polenta.
- Pomana porcului – Honoring the pig – It is an ancient tradition which is hard to experience as a whole: in the memory of the pig that has just been slaughtered Pomana porcului is eaten normally before Christmas in December. Raw meat is sliced into bigger parts from the recently deceased pig and is fried in the deep oven, usually fat of the pig It is then served immediately to all those who participated at the pig’s slaughter and always accompanied by the traditional “moonshine” – Tuica
- Ciorba Radauteana – Soup from Radauti – A delicious, fatty soup made from a lot of vegetables and chicken meat. It’s also usually served with sour cream and after you try it once, you won’t eat your chicken soup otherwise!
- Brânză de burduf – This great cheese is one of Romania’s most delicious foods. Curds are cut into small, raw, unpasteurised bits of sheep’s cheese, hand salted and combined. The blend is stored in one of two containers that are very different. The first is the burduf, the sheep’s intestine, making a ball-shaped, circular cheese. In the Transylvanian Carpathians, a pine bark ring is used instead and almost exclusively. It varies not only in its shape but also in its flavour. Then the bark instils a precious taste of pine sap.
- Parjoale Moldovenesti – Meatballs from Moldavia. They are made of pork, combined with crumbs of dry bread, garlic and spices, and deep-fried in sunflower oil, a special type of meat-balls. These are thinner and flatter, unlike regular meatballs.
- Clătite – Crepes. Thin, quick-cooking pancakes
- Gălușcă cu Prune – plum dumplings: perfectly ripe plums are pitted and filled with cinnamon and sugar, then wrapped in a potato-based, vanilla-scented, gnocchi-like dough
- Papanași – savoury fried dough with sour cream and either blueberry or wild cherry jam.
- Brânzoaică (fried sweet cheese pastry)
- Cozonac – sweetbread filled with a sweet walnut paste, poppy seeds paste or Turkish delight
- Mucenici – Sweet Dough Rolls. These sweet dough rolls are eaten once a year, on the 9th of March. They are large, 8-shaped pieces of delicious sweet dough, baked in the oven and served with a topping of honey and walnut paste. There is another version of mucenici: served in a huge bowl of syrup with vanilla and lemon flavour, while the mucenici are way smaller and are basically 8-shaped pasta
- Colivă – Although this sweet was originally nothing but a sweet made from boiled grain seeds with sugar and walnuts, it is now traditionally served to honour the dead or after funerals. Some people still prepare them during the holidays and they are absolutely delicious
- Pălincă (or Tuică) – Pălincă is almost a generic term for any fruit brandy, and is found across the region. Typically made with plums and often at home and is high in alcohol
- Vișinată (from wild cherries) or other fruit-based liquor, sweeter and lower in alcohol but with a stronger taste of the fruit.
- Wine and beer – especially the first beverage have a wide variety to choose from. White and red wine is heavily produced in Romania from the various vineyards.
- Romania and its people
One final thought: if you plan to visit Romania, you should get to know the local people. Romanians are very welcoming, friendly, thoughtful and warm. They’re going to take you to their homes, feed you until you drop (literally!), bring out their best wine or tuica and usually go out of their way to make sure you have a great time with them.
So much warmth and readiness to welcome visitors may seem strange or make you feel uncomfortable at times, but this is part of our culture: families, acquaintances, tourists and interpersonal relationships mean a lot to Romanians.
Chances are, if you enter the Romanian home you’re not going to leave until you have finished 3 plates, had a shot of palinca and had some food with you. For the road… the only problem is that most elderly people don’t speak English. Russian was the main language taught in schools during the communist regime. Nonetheless, young Romanians are fluent in English and will be glad to help you if you need directions.
Enjoy your visit and let the locals show you what a beautiful country we have. Abandon any preconceptions you might have about Romanians and open your heart and mind while you’re here, explore the country and meet real locals. Romania will surprise you.
- Get inspired by Romania! – the film, youtube. Book
- Active Romania
- Camping – Get connected to the stunning beauty of Romania by spending a few nights camping next to one of its many rivers or one of its majestic mountains. Between late spring to early summer, nature enthusiasts travel to Romania’s campgrounds to enjoy a variety of local attractions.
- Cycling – With scenery that ranges from rough and difficult to mild and soothing, Romania gives bikers of all skills and ages something to enjoy on their bike trails.
- Hiking – The Carpathian mountains form a wide chain in the middle of Romania. In fact, 31% of the nation is mountainous. There are countless places of natural beauty within this range: mountain tops, gorges, lakes, trees, caves, mud volcanoes and fossil deposits. It’s really easy to find a hiking and biking route. Romania has over 400 parks and nature reserves to cover thousands of species of plants and animals. The range of scenery, from rugged to soft, provides something for every hiker, no matter their abilities or experience. Rock-climbing fans will travel to the major rock-climbing gateways: Busteni, Sinaia, Zarnesti and Petrosani.
- Skiing – The abundance of ski resorts offer slopes from beginner to difficult. Most of these destinations offer a variety of other sports, including cross-country skiing, snowboarding and tubing. The most popular ski areas include Poiana Brasov, Sinaia, Predeal, Paltinis and Runcu.
- Tasty Romania
Where to eat the most amazing Romanian food?
- Caru’ cu Bere in Bucharest – If you want dinner and a show this is the spot where all of that is to be found! Located in Bucharest’s city centre, it is true that the restaurant is one of the most touristic places there are, but the food is amazing and you will get to eat in a historic monument while enjoying some traditional music and dances.
- Mahala (meaning slum, suburb – making reference to the old city) in Bucharest – With a very special design, this fairly new restaurant, opened in Bucharest, fascinates with its atmosphere and good traditional cuisine/
- Vatra Restaurant – an urban oasis nearby Cismigiu Gardens, offers some of the finest Romanian cuisines in the region in a relaxed setting. Romanian dishes such as Salata de Vinete (eggplant salad), Samale (cabbage rolls) and Salata de Icre (fish egg salad) go down easily with beer. If you’re lucky, performers who are festively dressed in traditional costumes will entertain during your dinner.
- Energiea – Located in a former print shop, Energiea offers large quantities of home cooking such as ribs and tacos, as well as jumbo salads, smoothies and lemonade. While operated by the same team running Pâine şi Vin, Energiea is not a fine dining establishment. Instead, Energiea is the place to eat in Bucharest when you’ve got a hangover or you’ve just been running marathons.
- Gaura Dulce in Brasov – While serving delicious traditional Romanian food, the funniest part of this old Brasov restaurant is its name. Meaning the “sweet hole,” the diner got this name because of its location, which dates back in time, right at the back of the “Carpathian Deer” restaurant.
- The Old Sibiu in Sibiu – Located in the heart of Romania, this restaurant serves special dishes served in Transylvania, all damped with extraordinary wine from around the country: from the fruity Tamâioasa Romaneasca to the beautiful golden which shines in the sunlight of Riesling de Rhin.
- Rural Romania
A variety of centuries-old manor houses and houses, as well as traditional hotels that stand out for their long and interesting history, beautiful architecture, original/traditional decor, contemporary design, rooms with stunning views, character and beauty, are offered in our section dedicated to distinctive, authentic accommodation in Romania.
- Train trips into the mountains of Maramures
The narrow-gauge rail and steam-powered locomotives (Mocanita) in Viseu de Sus are some of the most impressive railroad heritage sites in Romania and Eastern Europe. It is the only surviving, operating narrow-gauge forest railroad of many built-in 1932-to carry wood from the large, isolated woods of the Carpathian Mountains and their foothills.
- Guesthouses in Romania’s Local Farms & Village – a key to the heritage and culture of Romania
A tour to the farmland gives an insight into the unspoiled heritage of Romania and its centuries-old traditions. If you live in a village, not just your host, but the entire community will welcome you. Traditional small-scale farming takes place in many villages in Romania, as has been the case for decades. Everything -from making hay for cattle, gathering eggs from chickens, milking cows or goats, making fruit preserves, baking bread, smashing grapes for new wine – is still done manually. And every season offers various opportunities to engage actively in the life of the community.
- Get to know more about country life and cultural art of Romania at Palmari Center
Located seven miles to the south of Bran Castle, the Palamari Cultural Center reproduces the environment of a traditional rural household and gives tourists a snapshot into Romania’s farm life and culture. This traditional historic complex, consisting of two wooden houses and an Orthodox church constructed from Maramures and restored in Transylvania, provides stunning views of the Carpathian Mountains, the surrounding terraced hills and the evergreen woods.
Workshops and events provided at Palmari include traditional jewellery making, (painted) egg decoration, glass carving, Romanian folk dances, clay / pottery modelling, outdoor activities, traditional cooking classes photography.
- Create your own pottery at Horezu, Romania’s capital of pottery
In northern Oltenia (Valcea County), near the famed Horezu Monastery, a special form of Romanian Horezu ceramics is brought to life in the hands of many generations of men and women. Their skills and knowledge in the making of pottery are the explanation of why the artistry of Horezu pottery has been listed in the UNESCO Cultural Heritage.
Men harvest the soil, which is then washed, sliced, drained, kneaded, trampled and combined, turning it into red clay. Once shaped the women decorate the ceramics with different tools and techniques in order to draw the standard designs. Their collective talents decide the individuality and quality of these parts. The colours are vivid variations of orange, red, black, blue and so-called “Horezu Ivory.”
Most of the craftsmen in Horezu are not only responsible for creating such beautiful creations, but they also give many people the means to try and make it themselves. Based on their advice, you will build not only custom ceramics but also explore their way of life. Enable your hands to know what it is like to build a ceramic framework with an old technique!
- Traditions in Romania
- Ceramics – Romanian ceramics is still made primarily on standard kick-wheels with basic finishing methods. Shapes, sizes and patterns represent the various clays and cultures of the different regions where they are made. Coloured glazes and designs range from solid geometrical patterns to elegant florals, animals and people. There are roughly 30 pottery areas across the country, each with its own distinctive style, however, the key areas are in Horezu in Oltenia; Miercurea-Ciuc and Corund in western Transylvania; Baia Mare near the northern border; and Radauti and Marginea in Moldova.
- Glass – The oldest surviving glass in Romania goes all the way back to the Roman Empire. Nowadays, there is a revived enthusiasm for making blown glass sculptures, and several contemporary Romanian glass artists enjoy world renown. Most trained glass artists are concentrated in the northeast, around Botosani. Glass craftsmen are also working in factories based in Avrig, Turda and Buzau, making crafted, hand-carved and hand-woven parts, some of which are of museum quality.
- Painted eggs – Romanian typical painted eggs are instantly recognizable representations of Romanian art, which are particularly prominent during Easter time. The decoration of actual hollowed-out eggs was an integral part of the plans for this regeneration event. Women gather at someone’s home and spend a day painting and talking. Intricate designs were, in essence, hidden languages understood only to the inhabitants of the areas where they were drawn. The oldest recorded was rendered with aqua fortis (nitric acid) on a traditional red backdrop. They’re available in almost any supermarket and street market.
- Wood – Maramures is the place where you can see the beauty of woodwork. Homes are adorned with elaborately carved furniture, wooden gates and even fences are intricately designed. Historically, in this region, the importance of the family as a group has been shown through the gateway–the more detailed, the more significant the relationship. Sapanta’s “Merry Cemetery” is in this area, open all year long, at all times — it’s worth a visit. Hand-carved decorations in complex patterns bear significance above simple decoration. Trees of life, bent chains, rings, planets, roses and wolf teeth to fend off evil spirits are synonymous with myths and superstitions. They appear in chairs, spoons, ladles, walking sticks, chests and other decorative items, often painted with glitter. Wooden flutes and recorders have also been intricately carved. The most valued are the multi-pipe pan flutes, which are now very limited, as few craftsmen know how to make them, and fewer know how to play them.
- Martisor – It is an old practice that is celebrated in Romania every year, on 1 March. The word Martisor is the diminutive of March (Martie in Romanian). It is believed that a person wearing a red and white string would encounter a prosperous and healthy year. Not long ago, in the country, peasants used to honour the Martisor by putting a red and white string on their walls, doors, horns of cattle, and sheds to protect themselves from evil spirits and to invoke the regenerative power of nature.