If you’re wondering where to go in Romania, we’ve got you covered. We asked a group of professional travel writers to share their favorite Romania vacation spots, plus we’ve added a few of our own, to come up with this comprehensive list of the best places to visit in Romania!
When planning your Romanian itinerary, keep in mind that public transportation times between cities can often be deceptively long. We don’t encourage anyone to come to Romania and try to zip around too fast, instead we love slowly exploring one region at a time instead of rushing from place to place. Romania is a country that is best enjoyed when you savor small moments, rather than just seeing the country’s highlights.
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Here are the best places to visit in Romania (as picked by travel experts!)
In no particular order…
Since Bucharest is the most visited city in Romania (and many people’s entry point into the city) it should surprise no one that it’s the favorite Romanian vacation spot of many travel writers! We were lucky enough to get two separate takes on this great Romanian city.
The capital of Romania, Bucharest is a must visit for anyone visiting this lesser known corner of the world. You can spend hours meandering around the city marvelling at the broad range of architecture dotted throughout this metropolis.
There’s so much to see here – from the hard to miss, ginormous Palace of Parliament, so large that barely fits into one photograph, to the beautiful domed Stavropoleos Monastery and Bucharest’s own Arc de Triomphe! Take a break from the bustling streets and head to Herastrau Park, a green oasis in the midst of the city encircling the Herastrau Lake, where you’ll find many locals enjoying a relaxing walk or bike ride in the fresh air.
When it comes to food, although Romania isn’t famed for it’s cuisine, there are two absolute gems to put on your list whilst exploring Bucharest.
For a truly traditional affair head to Caru’cu Bere, an ornate beer hall serving up pints of great value local beer and classic Romanian dishes including mittitei and tochitură. The live Romanian folk music and over the top venue may make this seem more like a tourist haunt but you’ll find many locals also frequent this authentic place.
On the other end of the scale make your way to The Artist, one of Bucharest’s only and certainly the best fine dining you’ll find in the city. Serving up inventive dishes including quail with crab, apricot and white chocolate this is one restaurant you don’t have to choose one dish as you can opt for the ‘spoon tasting’ a mouthful or two of each delicious dish.
Contributed by Laura from The Travelling Stomach.
I loved living in Bucharest, Romania. Bucharest is the capital of Romania and there is lots to see and do. You can visit the Old Town, take a tour of the markets, go ice skating in a mall or enjoy some of the architecture. Also, be sure to try some traditional foods, pass time in their near perfect parks or even heck out parliament. This is just a glimpse, there are lots of things to do in Bucharest.
Why really won Bucharest over for me was how livable it was. The accommodations in Bucharest are quite affordable to start with. The internet in Bucharest is some of the fastest in the world and many people I met spoke English.
I really enjoyed the variety of foods available and the nightlife was rock solid as well. That said, like anywhere “there are pros and cons to living Bucharest”. Since Romania is the capital though, there is really something for everyone from history buffs, to foodies or even digital nomads like myself.
It should go without saying that if you’re traveling in Romania, set some time aside to explore Bucharest.
Contributed by Rob Lloyd from Stop Having a Boring Life.
Home to one of the best-preserved medieval citadels in Europe (and one of the few that remain inhabited), Sighisoara is a must-visit in Romania.
Located 300 km north-west of Bucharest, Sighisoara is one in a constellation of fortified Transylvanian cities. It was established in the 12th century by the Saxons, craftspeople and merchants dispatched to the area to safeguard the Austro-Hungarian border from the Ottoman.
Members of Sighisoara’s 15 trade guilds (Rope Makers, Furriers, Tanners and Butchers, to name a few) took care of the town’s walls and defensive bastions. Today, each of the towers retains the name of its forbearers.
Like other Transylvanian cities, Sighisoara revolves around its Clock Tower (Tunul cu Ceas) and square. The tower’s shimmering roof tiles can be spotted from anywhere in the city. The wooden Scholar’s Stairway, first built in 1642, leads to the Biserica din Deal and German Cemetery high above the town.
Other highlights of Sighisoara include visiting the canary yellow house where Vlad Tepes, AKA Count Dracula, was born in 1431. It’s now a restaurant and small museum. A couple of hours can happily be spent wandering amongst the cobbled lanes and pastel houses that helped earn Sighisoara a place on UNESCO’s World Heritage list in 1999.
Sighisoara can easily be reached from Bucharest by rail or bus. It’s also possible to visit as a day trip from Sibiu or Brasov.
Contributed by Emily from Wander-Lush.
Brasov is a charming medieval city in Transylvania Region of Romania. Known for its colorful baroque structures and history, Brasov is one of the hidden gems in Europe.
This town has one of the best locations in Romania if you want to go sightseeing. In the town center alone, you’ll find several things to do in Brasov.
The main attractions include the famous Black Church which earned its nickname when it survived the fire in the 1600s. The town square of Piata Sfatului is where the locals and tourist alike go people watching or just to relax.
And Piata Sfatului is probably one of the quirkiest things to do in Brasov as it’s the narrowest street in Europe. For us, one of our favorite things to do in to simply walk around town and admire the beautiful traditional homes that make up this beautiful town.
The entire town is bordered by the Carpathians on three sides which means it is also close to some of the best spots for nature tripping and skiing during winter. Also, its central location in Romania makes it a good base for several day trips from the town center.
These day trips include a tour to Bran Castle which is known as the Dracula’s Castle and other castles in the area such as Peles and Cetatea Rasnov.
So if you want a less crowded but beautiful and relaxing town, a trip to Brasov is a must.
Quite regularly, only travelers who have already been in the country for a few days, or visit Romania for a second or third time, discover the wonderful area of Bucovina, in the north of the country. And again, most of those who finally decide to visit it, do so for their famous collection of painted orthodox monasteries, which have been the cover of many international travel magazines in recent years and, frankly, they are wonderful.
Today I am not here to repeat what you already know but to bring you this snapshot, a perfect document that conveys how impressed the Bucovina landscapes left me. Maybe the stars lined up so that I could experience one of the most beautiful sunrises of my life, maybe it’s like this on a daily basis.
Whatever it is, seeing the fog rise over the hills – only populated by a few small wooden huts here and there – as the sun was rising, it was one of the most sublime moments I have lived throughout in my travels. And so it was, ladies and gentlemen, how Bucovina stayed in my retina – and, like the visual-being I am, therefore in my heart.
Don’t be afraid to visit Romania during the coldest months. It is one of the best winter destinations in Europe!
Contributed by Inma from A World to Travel.
Piatra Neamt & Neamt Fortress
One of the most picturesque cities in Romania, the highlight of Piatra Neamt is a (short) trek up to Piatra Neamt fortress. Beyond the stunning views from the top of the fortress, you’ll also get to explore one of the most important historic sites in Romania.
To get to the top, the hike is about one kilometer, and there is a small tourist center set up at the bottom. When we were there, we saw some adorable puppies towards the bottom.
The fortress was built in the thirteenth century, and played an important role in the system of defenses organized by Stephen III of Moldavia during the fifteenth century.
Peles Castle, known locally as Castelul Peleș is a stunning Neo-Renaissance castle that looks like it has hopped right out of a fairy tale book! This medieval castle is nestled in the hillside of the Carpathian Mountains and is one of my favourite places in the whole of Romania! Peles Castle was built between the years of 1873 and 1914 and was one of the major stops along the medieval route between Transylvania and Wallachia.
Peles Castle comprises of pristine turrets and terraces as well as muralled walls and manicured gardens. This picture-perfect palace is now a museum which displays halls, parlours and salons in exquisite condition with a whole host of paintings, tapestries, furnishings and fabrics to admire. Outside, the grounds feature a range of sculptures, many created by Italian artist Raffaello Romanelli.
While Peles Castle was once home to the Romanian Royal Family, it is now mainly enjoyed by the public and is only intermittently used by the royals to host celebratory events such as the 150th anniversary of the Romanian Royal Dynasty a few years ago.
Visiting Peles Castle is a must for those who love all things magical as it has a truly enchanting presence, and photographers will be in awe of this photogenic castle from every angle! Peles Castle can easily be reached as part of a day trip from Bucharest as it lies just two hours away, so there really is no excuse not to visit this captivating castle.
Contributed by Chrysoula from Historic European Castles.
While Bucharest is lacking nearby UNESCO World Heritage Sites, a great day trip from Bucharest is to visit the UNESCO Site of Horezu monastery in the Southern Carpathian mountains.
According to UNESCO’s inscription:
Founded in 1690 by Prince Constantine Brancovan, the monastery of Horezu, in Walachia, is a masterpiece of the ‘Brancovan’ style. It is known for its architectural purity and balance, the richness of its sculptural detail, the treatment of its religious compositions, its votive portraits and its painted decorative works. The school of mural and icon painting established at the monastery in the 18th century was famous throughout the Balkan region.
It’s easiest to visit from Bucharest by car or you can spend a few days in the area.
The Danube Delta
One of the most incredible places to visit in Romania is the underrated Danube Delta. Most people associate Romania with castles and its gritty capital city but they completely miss out on the Delta, which is situated in the northeastern corner of the country on its border with Ukraine.
The Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has the third largest biodiversity in the world behind Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and the Galapagos. There are over 300 recorded bird species calling the Delta home and the landscapes feel like you’re in the southeastern United States… not in the middle of Europe.
There are an abundance of things to do in the Danube Delta, but I definitely recommend spending some time slowly traveling through its three different channels.
The three channels that eventually flow into the Black Sea are Chilia, Sulina, and Sfantu Gheorghe. Chilia is the youngest and most of it is located within Ukraine. Sulina is the most known and actually has been manipulated by man a lot over the years. And Sfantu Gheorghe is the most sparsely populated and, perhaps, the most remarkable in terms of beauty.
Several interesting settlements and places exist along the Danube Delta. Mila 23 is a laid-back village accessible by boat through the Sulina Channel and its colorful houses, dense forests, and chilled-out vibe will make you think you’ve landed on an island in the Caribbean.
Letea Village is home to an ancient forest and some of Europe’s most famous inland sand dunes. It is also Romania’s oldest nature reserve. Sacalin Island is Europe’s newest piece of land and is located in the Black Sea right beside the Sfantu Gheorghe branch of the Delta. This piece of brand new land is only accessible by boat and is uninhabited.
While it is not a small village but rather a large city, Tulcea makes a great base for exploring the Danube Delta and there is a lot to do there, as well.
The Danube Delta is an incredible place to take some time and explore some of Romania’s (and Europe’s) best nature. It is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful places in Romania.
Contributed by Megan Starr from MeganStarr.com.
The pretty city of Timosoara is much more than a point of entry to Romania, although it does make for an excellent stop-off if coming overland from Budapest or indeed anywhere in Eastern Europe. Although Timosoara isn’t anywhere near the size of Bucharest, it offers something the latter doesn’t: a charming, historic centre lesser touched by the American-style burger bars that dominate the capital.
With three sunny historic squares, Timosoara offers learning and people-watching opportunities aplenty. During the summer, Victory, Independence and Unity Squares are inhabited by locals who meet to socialize and drink coffee in the sun.
Once you’ve admired the historically significant buildings and learnt about Romania’s rich yet troubled history, you should pull up a chair and join them! Other things to do in Timisoara include walking the river path, heading inside the ornate Orthodox Cathedral and learning about how people once lived at the Communist Consumer Museum.
For foodies, there are some highly recommended cafes and restaurants in Timisoara. Check out Casa Bunicii 1 or Gratarul cu Staif for traditionally meaty Romanian cuisine or Lera’s Bistro for a taste of Serbian food. Family-run Jolie Bistro serves the best international food in town, while Il Gelato Di Bruno are renowned for making the best ice cream.
Contributed by Rose Munday from Where Goes Rose.
One of the most beautiful cities in Romania has to be Sibiu. This stunning town in Transylvania has a long history of German influence.
Within the UNESCO recognized historic center, you’ll find many beautiful buildings with peeking eyes and colorful facades. Beyond the historic center, you’ll find the old fortifications of Sibiu with its impressive towers and walls.
I especially loved Sibiu as although it’s certainly a touristic attraction in itself, it is walkable, fairly quiet, and full of cozy cafes that you’ll want to pop into. Even after visiting other Romanian cities, I fell in love with Sibiu’s quiet beauty that only becomes even more lovely as the sunsets and golden hour sets in.
If you’re lucky enough, you’ll be able to enjoy one of the local fairs or the annual Christmas market held in the Grand Square.
Do not miss taking the impressive covered tunnel up to the hill towards the Evangelical Church, a beautiful Gothic church that dates back to 1350. WIthin the church, you’ll have impressive views over the city and be able to learn more about the German past of Sibiu.
Eating local is easy in Sibiu as you’ll find several cafes and restaurants that focus on regional food and drinks.
Contributed by Karen Turner from WanderlustingK.
If you are going to visit Timisoara, you should consider visiting Arad. Arad is a city located in the western part of Romania just 60 kilometers far from Timisoara, close to the Hungarian border. It has a population of 160 000 inhabitants and is one of Romania’s biggest industrial regions but also the cultural center with the philharmonic, theater, and museums.
I’ve been in Arad only a few days but it was enough time to jump out in the afternoon and see some of the local attractions. What is worth recommending to see among the others is the 18th-century Stronghold in Arad – it’s quite close to the city center (anyway, Arad is not so big). In the historical market square, you will find many buildings with classical architecture like 19th century Ioan Slavici Theater or the City Hall.
In the evening you can eat really good food as well as drink different kinds of craft beers in Euphoria Restaurant located just next to the Continental hotel where I stayed. If you are going to wander a little further, I recommend using trams. What is interesting is that Arad’s trams are one of the oldest in Romania – the company was founded in 1869.
Contributed by Lucas from Lean Traveller Guide.
My favorite place to visit in Romania is the Transfagarasan. Constructed between 1970 and 1974 for defensive purposes, this road is now one that offers spectacular views. You can get to the Transfagarasan by car – you can go on a one-day trip from Bucharest or as a stop on your Romania trip.
The road is a bit challenging – it has numerous hairpin turns – but not that difficult. It is open from July to the end of September (sometimes just until mid-September) – it actually depends on the weather.
The road takes you to an altitude of 2,042 meters (6,699 ft) and rewards you with amazing views and several waterfalls along the way. There are places where you can park the car and soak in the beauty – and take pictures to remind you of this amazing road trip.
At the top, there is also a cabin – Balea Lake Cabin – where you can stay at. There is also a lake – Balea Lake – and you can snap the perfect Instagram photo here with the cabin reflected by the lake. While you’ll visit this during the summer, you can expect to see some snow! How’s that for a fun experience?
Words can’t really express the beauty of the trip and the amazing feeling you get when reaching Balea Lake. While you may have to go slowly – as many people go there and sometimes lines are formed – the trip will be amazing, I guarantee it.
We try to get to the Transfagarasan once a year – and we never get tired of the views, the smell of the forests, and of the trip itself!
Contributed by Loredana from Earth’s Attractions.
Even though Rupea Fortress is one of the most iconic sites in Romania, it’s not as famous as other Romanian castles, especially compared to other Transylvanian castles like Bran and Peles.
Located about halfway between Sighisoara and Brasov, it was built in the fourteenth century by the local Saxons to protect against incursions from Hungary and the Ottoman Empire.
Combine a visit to Repua Fortress with stops in the local villages of Viscri and Crit.
Targu Mures is a unique, historic city in Romania that is full of culture and artistry. The famed city’s name literally translates to “market,” and the city’s bustling streets have once served as the hub for local artisans to showcase their crafts.
Now, the artistic city has evolved into a modern hub for unique restaurants, cafes, churches, and monuments. It’s simply an amazing city for anyone looking to deeply engage with the history and culture of Romania.
Targu Mures is home to many unique landmarks, such as the Apollo Palace and the Palffy House. But its main cultural attraction is located in the southern heart of the Targu Mures Square, where the “Culture Palace” is located.
The Culture Palace hosts many unique museums in the heart of Targu Mures, and the traditional Romanian architecture will be sure to evoke awe in its viewers. I recommend visiting the Teleki Library and the St. Michael Wooden Orthodox Church, both of which are historic landmarks that embody the ancient knowledge and culture of Transylvania.
Targu Mures offers the travel experience of the modern world, with unique restaurants, bars, and other amenities, but also offers the experience of the past unlike any other city in Romania.
Contributed by Andrew Kim from RoadGoat.
Cluj Napoca, the unofficial capital of the Transylvania region in northwestern Romania, is one of the best places to visit in Europe. A perfect getaway for families, Cluj Napoca has many open spaces and attractions that will bring awe to your children’s eyes.
First, Cluj Napoca’s Botanical Garden with its exotic flowers and ponds can bring fairytales to life. Then, for a bit of a thrill take a walk around the Hoia Forest with its haunting, crooked trees. Perhaps you can even tell them local stories of alien encounters and people who disappear when the mist falls. Another place for an adventure is underground within the salt mines, where a boat ride amidst glistening walls awaits. Later on, take a walk around the charming city center and they will feel like they have taken a tour of a storybook.
Aside from its stunning attractions, Cluj Napoca is also a great place to try traditional Romanian food. It has its own delicious culinary specialties like the Varză à la Cluj, a meat and cabbage dish flavored with thyme, cumin, and paprika, and the Ciorbă de fasole cu ciolan, a hearty bean soup topped with smoked pork meat and served in a bread bowl.
As one of those lesser-known cities in Romania, another advantage of visiting the lovely region of Cluj Napoca is that it is rarely crowded and traveling from one place to another is as easy as hopping on an Uber. Accommodation is also affordable and easy to book with all the family packages offered by the hotels.
Contributed by Karolina Klesta from The Lazy Travel Blog.
The Bran Castle is by far, one of the most spectacular medieval castles in Romania. It’s located in Bran, near the town of Brasov in Transylvania. Transylvania has always been strongly connected to the many vampire myths and folklore and Bran Castle is also often called ”the Dracula’s Castle.”
However, Vlad Tepes (also called Vlad the Impaler, the Prince of Wallachia), the real-life paragon of Dracula, never actually lived in the castle. But he still has a brief, known association to the castle, he was imprisoned there for two months in 1462.
But don’t let that small detail diminish the splendour of this place, Bran Castle is still a fascinating place to visit and you can fully immerse yourself into the colorful history of the region and the castle itself. However, still worth mentioning is that in the villages near Bran there is a belief in the existence of evil spirits called ”strigoi” or ”steregoi” (kind of ghosts) that can be mixed with the vampire folklore as they have many common characteristics. So, maybe these beliefs have supported the myth of Dracula, too.
I recommend reserving several hours for your visit to Bran Castle so that you can explore all the narrow corridors and corners of this remarkable, historical place. The castle is surprisingly big. Bran Castle was built in 1382 and it’s a national monument of Romania. You can reach it conveniently by car or train in just 2.5-3.5 hours from Bucharest. But whatever you do, don’t skip this magical place on your visit to Romania.
Contributed by Piritta Paija from Bizarre Globe Hopper.
Also known as Rasnov Citadel, this fortress is often overlooked for visitors planning to see Peles or Bran Castle, but you can actually easily combine Rasnov with a trip to Bran Castle from Bucharest.
Located high above the town of Rasnov in the Carpathian mountains, the citadel was built by the Teutonic knights in the fourteenth century and protected the local Saxon population for centuries.
Abandoned in the mid-nineteenth century, it has been recently restored and is now a popular (and photogenic) Romanian tourist destination, complete with a museum about the history of Rasnov.
What to Bring with You to Romania
If you’re planning a trip to Romania, you’ll want to pack all the normal essentials, but here are a few things we strongly recommend bringing that may not have crossed your mind. For more, check out our complete Romania packing list.
– A physical guidebook, in paper or on Kindle. We love Lonely Planet Bulgaria & Romaniafor this region and strongly recommend it to supplement blogs. Blogs are great, but a combination of a blog and a guidebook is key to having the best access to information easily at your fingertips.
– Layers in case of poor weather. We had really bad luck with weather our last trip in Romania – it snowed before Halloween! We always recommend bringing a rainproof jacket like Allison’s personal favorite, the Marmot PreCip, which she has had for years and has held up well to countless abuse over 3+ years of travels. (Here’s a men’s version, too!)
– A water bottle with a filter. While generally, the tap water in big cities in Romania is drinkable, such as in Bucharest and Brasov, we generally recommend using a water bottle with a purifying filter to reduce your plastic consumption and ensure you won’t drink any funny-tasting water on your stomach that could make your trip unpleasant! We recommend the GRAYL water bottle – it filters water perfectly in an instant so that you can even drink from lakes, bad taps, etc.
– Motion sickness pills. Romanian roads are winding and road conditions are not good – not even getting into the drivers, either. If you have a weak stomach like we do, save yourself and bring some non-drowsy motion sickness pills.
– Wet wipes, hand sanitizer, TP & other Balkan transit needs. Bathrooms in the Balkans tend to be… how can we say it?… not so well-stocked. Save yourself the disappointment and bring a mini-rescue pack of wet wipes & hand sanitizer.
– Travel safety items. We think Romania is very safe to travel, but at the same time, it never hurts to be prepared! Some people like to carry money belts, but neither Stephanie or I use these. Instead, we both carry the same PacSafe anti-theft backpack. It has locking zippers, slash-proof construction with metal mesh hidden in the fabric, and tons of other smart security features — all while being cute and stylish enough to be our everyday bag. We recommend it highly for both male and female travelers, as its neutral enough to be unisex. We also strongly recommend travel insurance! Our recommendation is at the bottom of the post.
Where to Stay in Romania
We’re in the process of creating comprehensive guides on where to stay in different Romanian cities, but for now, we recommend checking out Booking.com as early as possible. While Romania is underrated by international travelers, many of the best places can book early during the high season because Romanians know where to go.
Romania Travel Resources
If you’re going to Romania, we have a goldmine of resources for you to take advantage of! First, check out this guide to planning a trip to Romania. It’s a good starting point for planning your trip.
You can also read about the best Romanian castles, the Romanian food you should try on your trip, the best Romanian souvenirs, and inspirational travel quotes about Romania. Plus, how to plan some epic day trips from Bucharest.
Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance
I’m sure you’re aware that travel insurance is a good idea for traveling in Romania (or really, any part of the world)! Stephanie and I have both been paying customers of World Nomads for the last three years. We love the peace of mind it gives us in case of emergencies, accidents, illnesses, theft, or trip cancellation or disruption.
While the Balkans are perfectly safe to travel around, there’s always a risk inherent in everyday travel, so it’s better to play it safe. The saying goes “if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel” is true!