Traveling to Romania is in itself an adventure - sometimes challenging but ultimately rewarding, thanks to the country’s history going back to the ancient Romans and the diversity of landscapes, cultural influences, and people. In addition to ethnic Romanians which form the majority of the population, over a million Hungarians live in the country, and a number of Transylvanian Germans (Saxons) still inhabit the lands they were invited to defend and develop in the Middle Ages.
Romania's main tourist draw is, of course, the Transylvania region, which attracts millions of visitors each year because of the historic sites associated (often erroneously) with the local nobleman Vlad Tepes – the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s 19th-century vampire novel Dracula. Romania’s most authentic charms actually lie in the remoter and less-visited areas beyond the capital Bucharest and Transylvania and this is especially true for the northernmost regions of Maramures and Bucovina with their lush countryside, small villages, traditional houses, and the UNESCO-protected wooden churches and painted monasteries.
Planning on spending a week in Romania? A good introduction to the country would be to spend a day or two in Bucharest - the country’s largest city, to see some of its museums and the Parliament Palace – one of the largest buildings in the world. From there, head north and loop around the Transylvania region to tour the historic Saxon strongholds of Brasov, Sighisoara (where Vlad Tepes was born), and Sibiu and visit some of the medieval castles and UNESCO-listed fortified churches. For the outdoor enthusiast, the Transylvanian Alps offer some spectacular and wonderfully uncrowded hiking routes amidst mountain meadows, lakes, and sheer peaks.
With 12 – 14 days at your disposal, you can continue north of Transylvania and to the country’s hidden gems – Maramures with its pastoral way of life, traditional houses with wood-carved gates, and the fabulous tall-spired wooden churches, and Bucovina in the far north-east which is famous for the UNESCO-listed painted monasteries – masterpieces of medieval art and architecture. Up north, the remote and less-visited Rodna Mountains National Park also offers some wonderful hiking options.
More handy tips on travel to Romania from our blog: