There are many reasons to visit Romania, but unfortunately people don’t know much about this beautiful country at the crossroads of Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe.
For most westerners, Romania is this former Eastern Bloc country of Nadia Comaneci – the famous Romanian gymnast who scored the first perfect 10 in the Olympics. But there is so much more to Romania than just the name of a great gymnast.
I used to live in Romania during the Communist Era, but there wasn’t much to visit there at the time. That wasn’t because we didn’t have beautiful scenery or interesting places to visit. The problem was that infrastructure was really poor and almost all historical sites, fortresses and castles in Romania were in a dismal state.
After the fall I could Communism however, Romania’s tourism began to develop and today the country counts itself among the most attractive European destinations.
- 10 Reasons to Visit Romania
- Why You Shouldn’t Postpone Visiting Romania
10 Reasons to Visit Romania
If you are not sure whether you should include Romania in your European itinerary, here are 10 good reasons why you should visit Romania now:
It has beautiful, old architecture
You’ll find beautiful old architecture throughout the country, but especially in Bucharest, where you’ll encounter a lot of elegant structures built between the First and Second World Wars. Sadly, among the city’s great art-deco and 19th century buildings you’ll also see some new modern blocks of flats. Nonetheless, the capital city is a lot of fun to explore and discover.
There are many interesting things to do in Bucharest, but unfortunately the city is still a mixed bag.
Many of the historic buildings are in a serious disrepair state. But there are also many old, beautiful buildings that received a new face, especially in the downtown area. While there are some nice and well maintained areas, in most parts of Bucharest you’ll still see rundown or neglected buildings.
Miraculously, a good number of historic churches in Bucharest survived Communism and have been restored to their original beauty. The European Union invested serious funds into rebuilding some of the old, historic areas of Bucharest. In the post-communist era Bucharest has changed a lot for the better.
It’s easy to visit
As a former communist country, Romania isn’t usually the place that people have high up on their must-see lists. But that’s only because they don’t know what to expect. Tourist attractions in Romania are easy to visit because you won’t encounter as many restrictions and limitations as in other countries.
You can walk just by yourself in a castle without having to wait for an guided tour. Also, you can take pictures in an old church, as long as you are not disturbing those who come here to pray.
Historic sites are not overcrowded and picture-taking is not prohibited in most places. Unfortunately though, this started to change lately as the number of tourists visiting Romania is growing every year.
It has gorgeous scenery
Romania enjoys a very diverse scenery: from high mountain peaks reaching almost 3,000 meters (the Carpathian Mountains), to hills and plains, the Danube Delta and the Black Sea shore.
There are countless rivers, streams and lakes in the country There are two main highways crossing the Carpathian Mountains: Transalpina and Transfagarasan running at very high altitudes, with twists and turns and deep ravines, equally beautiful and dangerous.
It has beautiful castles and fortresses
Romania is still a budget destination where your dollar goes a long way. Hotel and food prices are very low compared to other European countries. Food is also very inexpensive. A loaf of bread is $0.30. One pound of beef tenderloin is $3.50. A bottle of domestic beer is $1.50. So it’s for a good reason why Romania counts itself among the cheapest countries to visit in Europe.
Restaurants and cafés can be slightly more expensive near the tourist sites, but still affordable. Admission fees for museums and other attractions are also very reasonable and so is public transportation (busses, metro, or cabs).
Romania’s railway system is one of the largest in the world and prices are very cheap. Many low-cost European airlines connect Romania’s cities with other European countries.
Romania is also great to visit if you are backpacking through Europe. With so many low cost accommodations and restaurants, you’ll not have to dig deep into your pockets in this country.
Delicious food and historic restaurants
Tasty food has always been a part of the Romanian culture. Almost anywhere you eat the food is delicious. Romanian cuisine has some Hungarian, Germanic and Turkish influences but still maintains its identifiable character.
An example would be the classic sour soup (“ciorba“) made with “borş” (a sour liquid made from wheat and cornflower). Or the fried mutton pastrami with polenta. So if you like to eat, chances are you’ll most likely gain a few pounds when you visit Romania.
But besides tasty food, Romania is also home to many excellent restaurants that specialized in traditional Romanian dishes, but also fine-dining restaurants specialized in international cuisine.
Some of the best restaurants in Romania are in Bucharest, like Caru’ cu Bere, Hanu’ lui Manuc, Hanu’ Berarilor, The Artist, etc. There are also several good vegan restaurants in Bucharest for those interested in eating vegetarian food.
Beautiful cities, Medieval towns and old authentic villages
Romania is home to many great cities. While they don’t hold the glam of their counterparts in Western Europe, they are equally interesting and fun to visit. There are also many beautifully preserved medieval towns, like Brasov, Sighisoara, Sibiu, Cluj, or Alba Iulia whose citadels make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time.
Throughout Transylvania there are villages that remained almost unaffected by modern civilization, still looking like they did three centuries ago. Like for instance the village of Viseul de Sus, where you can ride the Mocanita, one of those nostalgic steam engine locomotives.
The Danube Delta
Spreading over 1,500,000 acres, the Danube Delta is Europe’s largest and best preserved delta, home to hundreds of species of birds, particularly two species of pelicans, herons, storks, cormorants and terns.
There are many beautiful sites in Romania that are worth visiting, but if you are a bird-watcher and pure nature lover you shouldn’t miss this one. It is largest and the best preserved delta in Europe, with over 300 species of birds living in its lakes and marshes. The Danube Delta is a protected habitat and was declared a biosphere reserve.
The Painted Monasteries of Bucovina
Among the most picturesque churches in Romania is a group of 8 Painted Monasteries located in the northeastern part of Romania, in Bucovina. The churches date back to medieval times (15th to 16th century). In most cases they have been founded as burial places for the noble families in the area.
These churches are extremely well preserved and absolutely unique. There is no other place in the world where you can find such a group, with such high quality interior and exterior frescoes. The frescoes represent biblical scenes from the Old and New Testament.
The painters (most of them unknown) gave the biblical scenes their own interpretation, using colors like the famous Voronet blue, the red of Humor, the yellow of Moldovita and the green of Arbore.
The wall paintings, inspired by the Byzantine art and completely covering the churches’ façades, are of inestimable artistic value. In 1993 the Painted Monasteries of Bucovina have been declared a World Heritage site.
In the end, no matter how beautiful a country is, it is its people that will make the difference. Romanians have the reputation for being very hospitable and friendly. The best part is that almost everywhere you go you’ll find someone who speaks English, especially the young generation.
And even if they don’t, they will do their best to accommodate you or point you in the right direction. In fact they may even offer to accompany you to where you need to get if that’s not very far.
Why You Shouldn’t Postpone Visiting Romania
Romania is one of the least expensive countries to visit in Europe, but this is changing. One thing to keep in mind is that Romania’s popularity is raising fast. After the collapse of Communism in Europe, its tourist industry started developing fast and the country began catching up with its neighboring competitors.
Romania was once underestimated destinations, but not any longer. So in a near future, you’ll be seeing higher prices, like almost everywhere else in Europe. My advice would be to include this beautiful destination in your travel plans while it is still cheap to visit.
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