One of my guilty pleasures is to read articles by (foreign) travel bloggers who visit Romania. Why you may ask? Because I’ve always been fascinated with the reasons why people choose to visit my country and what they like here.
With that in mind, I asked fellow lady bloggers about their favorite in Romania.
The result? Let’s put it this way: I wasn’t surprised that people chose the well-known touristy places and I wish they would have ventured deeper into Transylvania’s hills.
Sibiu was my favorite of all the cities that I visited in Romania and the city that I was told was the most beautiful city in Romania by Romanians that I asked. Between its brightly colored walls, cute coffee shops, and unique culture, I found it a fascinating place to start off (or end) a trip to Romania. The beautiful red roofs, bright paint, and dreamy architecture (with eyes) make it an instagrammer’s paradise. We stayed in a beautiful local guesthouse (Casa Veche) with a view over the many historic rooftops in the historic city for only $30 per night for a two story hotel room with a welcome drink.
For those interested in doing a Transylvanian road trip, Sibiu is the perfect 2 day stopping off point between Sighișoara and Brașov although you’ll find plenty of historic churches, Romania’s most famous mountain road, and some amazing mountain views (even if you don’t stop off).
Due to the large number of people of German descent, this area of Transylvania, has some different style churches than you’ll find in the rest of Romania. Similarly, you’ll find a couple traditional Romanian restaurants in cellars, which adds a nice ambiance to eating. The historic centre is calm, non-touristic, and beautiful, perfect for those who are seeking a quieter time in Romania. Be sure to climb the Council Tower for epic views over the city.
My favorite place in Romania — in fact, my favorite place in all of Europe — is Sighetu Marmației (or “Sighet,” for short).
Sighet is a small city near the Ukrainian border. It’s way off the beaten path. But those who endure the full-day train trip are rewarded with the chance to meet welcoming locals, learn about rural life, and visit two of Romania’s best museums.
The highlight of my trip to Sighet was the Merry Cemetery, in the nearby village of Săpânța. It’s famous for its wooden tombstones, each adorned with an image and story. It’s a heartwarming and uplifting celebration of life and community.
Back in Sighet, I visited the Village Museum. This open-air display demonstrates typical aspects of life in the region. I learned about the history of the famous wooden churches, how families tend to their livestock, and what the average home looks like.
Next, I went to the Prison Museum. In the ‘50’s and ‘60’s, this building was used by the Communist regime to imprison political dissidents. Now, it tells their heartbreaking stories. Many inmates died here, and their families were never notified.
I finished my visit to Sighet by joining some locals for a trip to the monthly livestock market. It was chaotic — piglets squeaking, horses neighing, dogs barking. My local friends explained how to select the best horses. Then, they took me to a liquor vendor to haggle over a bottle of moonshine. We spent the evening sharing drinks, playing cards, and looking out at the starriest sky I’d ever seen.
As soon as I stepped foot in the city of Sighisoara in Romania, I felt as if I was stepping back into medieval times; it certainly was like a fairy tale. I made it to Sighisoara on a day trip from Sibiu. Sighisoara is located in Transylvania and is remarkably well-preserved, with an amazing history. It even earned a UNESCO World Heritage Site distinction. From the romantic narrow cobblestone streets, brightly colored houses, to the historic center with its 14-th century Clock Tower.
The city is extremely lovely, charming and so cozy. I totally enjoyed the architecture and the cute cafes and restaurants. Definitely, love at first sight!
Exploring the Clock Tower (open-air observation deck) is a must, along with the Church on the Hill. These two places are great spots for photo opportunities since your backgrounds are the beautiful, colorful houses and scenic mountains. In addition, the Clock Tower is now a historic museum with artifacts and information on Sighisoara’s antiquity.
Another popular tourist site is the famous The Piata Cetatii, main fortress square, also in the historic center. Fun Fact: Vlad the Impaler was born there and you can tour the house for yourself. A tourist attraction but still interesting if you are a Dracula fan. You will also find lots of typical Dracula souvenir stands similar to cities such as Brasov and Bran.
A day in Sighisoara is more than enough to explore the main sights, but also to fall in love with the city!
Despite being Romania’s third-largest city and selected for European Capital of Culture for 2021, Timișoara is often overlooked as a tourist destination. This, however, is a shame as Timișoara is a beautiful, lively, and historic city that offers a pleasant stop for any traveler when they visit Romania. Timișoara is fairly well connected both domestically and internationally, with daily direct trains running from Budapest, Vienna, and Munich; it is also within easy reach from Belgrade. There are also a number of accommodation options in Timișoara that will suit any budget.
Timișoara is a compact city, meaning that one can easily see most of the sights within a day or two. Exploring a few of Timișoara’s many museums can be a great way to spend a day. My personal favorite is the Museum of the Revolution, which gives excellent information and insight about the overthrow of Ceaușescu’s communist regime in 1989 – all of which started in the city.
Timișoara is also known as the City of Parks due to its abundance of green spaces. If the weather is nice, riding a bicycle around these tranquil areas is a great way to spend the day. The Botanical Park and Rose Park are my favorites, but there are many more that are worth a leisurely stroll through, at the very least. It is also a thriving university town, giving it a bustling café and bar scene as well as an impressive nightlife.
One of the highlights of the two months we spent in Romania was visiting Sinaia. Admittedly, we traveled here specifically to visit Peles Castle, but Sinaia turned out to be lovely beyond just the famous castle.
There was a small, but bustling downtown full of shops and restaurants. It was a bright & sunny winter’s day and we enjoyed some vin fiert (hot wine) and some traditional Romanian cuisine. (Lots of polenta for me–yum!)
In the morning, we had made our way by foot from the rail station up to Peles Castle. The walk took us past a quiet monastery, where we roamed the grounds and peaked into a tiny, ancient chapel covered in art. It was a special and spiritual visit, though we only stayed briefly.
We walked up a wooded path toward the castle. Vendors were just setting up their wares, and there would be plenty of souvenirs to check out on the walk back. Finally, we arrived at Peles. This castle is exactly as they say: Stunning. Unique. A fairy tale.
The ornate exterior is amazing but it’s almost nothing compared with the opulent interior. The entire place is utterly eccentric, and leaves you with much to look at. We recommend the guided tour that encompasses both floors, and it’s worth the extra fee to be allowed photography privileges.
If you’re looking for an epic castle in a lovely part of Romania, don’t miss Sinaia.
You know when you head somewhere on your travels with an idea in your mind of how it will be? That was me. I had inklings of how Romania was going to be resonating in my head for weeks prior to departure. I kept wondering how incredible the landscapes would be and what untold stories the locals would reveal.
Then I finally arrived in Bran and was speechless. A city approx. 190 km from Bucharest of landscape and legend, it was far more than what the travel books tell you. In the books you mainly read about the top attraction in the area, Bran Castle, said to be the legendary principle residence of Vlad Dracul (wrongly known as Count Dracula) , a character immortalized perfectly in current pop culture. Although it attracts droves of tourists and is one of the most visited castles in all of Europe, it is not everything Bran has to offer.
While visiting the city, I was completely enamored by the surrounding mountains, complete with daring hiking trails, the culture, the scenery, the uneven roads, and the architecture fit for royalty. My time here was a mere frolic from one end of town to another, drinking coffee with the locals, soaking up culture and history through the exhibits within Bran museum, and savouring Romanian cuisine while I people watched from the hippest patio cafe. I guess you could say it exceeded my pre-conceived expectations.
A town most visit only for a day or so within their Romania itineraries, I highly recommend a lengthier immersive visit to see more than just Bran Castle and its unproven legends. Book a cozy bed and breakfast, hike the trails, and delve into the unmatched culture for an experience better than you imagined.