Under communism, VAMA VECHE (Old Customs Post), just short of the border with Bulgaria, was closed to all but staff of Cluj University or those who could claim some vague affiliation with it; it became a haven for artists, intellectuals and nonconformists looking for an escape from the surveillance of the Securitate. In recent years, locals and investors have begun to capitalize on Vama Veche’s countercultural reputation, and there’s now an attractive assortment of accommodation on offer, ranging from low-key hotels and offbeat hostels to wild camping on the beach. While tourist facilities here continue to grow at a steady pace, fortunately the new developments have been planned with consideration for their surroundings, and the town still retains an air of bohemian sophistication not found elsewhere on the coast. Vama Veche’s nightlife is also some of the best along the coast, with open-air dancing till dawn and live music in some great little bars on the beach, most wooden-walled and thatch-roofed. The beach itself is a long, wide expanse and tends to be more secluded the further south you go, while there’s an area for nudist bathing up towards the northern end. The centre of the village, such as it is, is Strada Ion Creangă, a busy and colourful little street leading down from the main road to the beachfront; here you’ll find most things of a practical nature, including an ATM and the village’s small supermarket.

The village’s main annual event, taking place during the last week of August, is Vama Under Oscar Lights, whose main focus is film and photography, with numerous exciting screenings and exhibitions, but there’s lots more besides, including painting workshops, theatrical performances and concerts; these mostly occur on or near the beach, and are free.

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