When asking people what do they know about Romania, most people say they have heard about Transylvania through Bram Stoker’s Dracula story or have heard that Charles, Prince of Wales, has bought a couple of country homes there. And then there are some that know more about Romania’s more recent history with Communism and the ills because of it, but often the knowledge is only superficial.
So, we would like to introduce Romania by explaining a bit of the history while showcasing the highlights of this gorgeous country. And for those that enjoy trips that are “off the beaten path,” Romania is a perfect country to satiate your travelling soul.
Places to Visit in Romania
- Bran Castle
- Corvin Castle
- Peles Castle
- Palace of the Parliament
- Palace of Culture
Unique Things to See and Do in Romania
- Travel along Romania’s highest and twisty road, Transalpina
- Tour the old Turda Saltworks
- Spend a night at the Balea Ice Hotel
- Visit the painted monasteries in Bucovina
Cultural Aspects to Romania
There are several defining features of Romania that you don’t see in other countries. One being the number of monasteries that litter the countryside. Another is that the architectural landscape within the cities are quite diverse with modern buildings next to historic ones, and crumbling buildings next to the latest designs. Construction is everywhere, and you’ll often see the use of the traditional methods they used decades ago.
The number of monasteries in Romania is incredible. You could spend weeks just touring them without any other major stops. Of course, most don’t, but what these monasteries signify for the country is a strong heritage of perseverance.
Most of the country is Christian based in the Eastern Orthodox religion, and many of the traditions from centuries past are still widely practiced. The Eastern Orthodox church was founded in 33 AD, 50 days after the resurrection of Christ. One of the interesting facts is that it was the Catholic church that broke away from Orthodoxy in 1054AD. Over the centuries, the monasteries have served as a religious practice but also as community museum for art, relics, and historical artefacts.
The architecture in Romania is a beautiful blend of 14th and 15th century structures, such as the Black Church in Brasov and the Bran Castle in Brasov Country. Romania is fortunate to still have its fortified towns in Transylvania still standing, cities such as Sighisoara, Sibiu, and Brasov. During the 19th century, the construction of the day was in the Romanticism and Neoclassical styles, such as the National Geology Museum in Bucharest.
The real contrasting style was during the 20th century from 1947 to 1965 under the Communist regime of Nicolae Ceaușescu. During this time, Ceaușescu’s land reformations were in high gear. Relocating people from the countryside to the cities where they could form a more concentrated workforce demanded new housing facilities. Ceaușescu built large dormitory style housing which are terribly ugly “ghetto-like” concrete apartment blocks. On odd sight to see. In the major cities you can see these structures standing next door beautifully constructed apartments built in the 17th century. Now they serve as a reminder of an incredibly dark period in Romanian history.
Getting Around Romania
Getting around Romania is not as easy as some other countries in Europe, although the country is continually making improvements to their transportation system every year. They have everything from trains, buses, coaches, taxis, and metros, but they are often needing repair or are a bit run down, or the road or rail system doesn’t extend that far! Typically this would be a bit daunting, but honestly, getting Romania is actually part of the fun.
If you are looking to get somewhere in luxury or with ease, you can hire personal drivers who gladly tour you around the country and you’ll hear some great insights into the country, history, and its people.
Taxi’s in Romania are cheap and plentiful. Both the locals and the tourists use them regularly. Taxi’s are metered and should only be 1-2 lei per km. Here in Romania, don’t ask for flat rates. You want them to run the meters for most trips, at least until you know the rates from point A to point B, or you run the risk of being charged way beyond what the ride is worth (30€ for a 3€ ride).
Best Time of Year to Travel to Romania
Romania is a great country to travel to any time of year, however, the summer months are probably your best bet for getting around. From March to October, the temperatures are warmer and the road conditions are much better than during the winter months.
Many times the roads can be impassable if you’re are travelling into the countryside. Often roads are not paved, and depending on where you’re headed in the country, you could find yourself in a taxi who “all of sudden” turns off the highway and heads out into a field only to find the start of a paved road in the middle of it! Some communities will have the funds to pave their streets, but they may not be connected with other municipalities yet. Romania is truly a country that has pockets of communities throughout.
During the summer the temperatures can range from 13˚C to 25˚C and in some towns like Craiova, the temperatures go as high as 35˚C. The winter months can be snowy, especially in the mountains, but temperature around the Black Sea. Temperatures can drop to about -4˚C in the lowlands and even cooler temperatures in the Carpathian mountains. During the winter months, there are some areas in the mountains that may be inaccessible so be sure to check the conditions before venturing off.
Ready to plan your visit to Romania? Check out these popular guides and trips.