Romania rewards exploration – the major towns and cities have countless unmissable sights, but it’s by getting off the beaten track that you’ll discover the country’s most bewitching charms. These itineraries encourage you to do just that: to breathe mountain air in the Carpathians, visit timeless rural villages in Maramureş and enjoy the unparalleled birdlife of the Danube Delta.
This itinerary leads you around the country’s must-see sights, taking in everything from Dracula and the Danube Delta to Bucharest and the Black Sea Coast.
By turns chaotic and compelling, the Romanian capital features Stalinist architecture, compelling museums and ancient churches, and a fast-improving gastronomic scene.
This vibrant city, a former Saxon stronghold, retains one of the country’s most picturesque Old Town squares, dominated by the magnificent Black Church.
This place of medieval towers and needle spires is a suitably spooky setting for the birthplace of Vlad Ţepeş, aka Dracula.
The most appealing of the Banat cities, Timişoara offers plentiful reminders of the 1989 revolution, which began here.
Romania’s remote, northernmost region is also its most enchanting, with villages seemingly lost in time and ancient customs still thriving.
Lush valleys and forested hills aside, Bucovina is famed for its painted monasteries, whose startling exterior wall paintings remain supreme works of art.
7 Danube Delta
One of Europe’s most evocative landscapes, the Delta offers an array of birdlife unmatched anywhere else on the continent – stunning during migration season.
8 Black Sea Coast
Bountiful sun, sea and sand combine to make the Romanian coastline the perfect spot to rest up for a day or two.
Underground, overground or on the water, Romania offers countless opportunities to embrace activities ranging from the sedate to the fast-paced and action-packed.
1 Caving in the Apuseni
The karst zone of the Apuseni offers fabulous possibilities to explore subterranean wonders such as Meziad and the even more spectacular “Bears’ Cave” at Chişcău.
2 Hiking the Făgăraş
Cutting across the country are the sinuous Carpathian mountains, whose best-known range is the awesome Făgăraş, harbouring Romania’s loftiest peaks, the highest of which is Moldoveanu (2544m).
3 Wildlife-watching in the Carpathians
Explore forests looking for markings made by large carnivores – there’s a good chance of spotting bears from purpose-made hideouts, though wolves are more elusive.
The superior slopes and facilities of Poiana Braşov exert the greatest pull, though there’s also terrific skiing at Buşteni, Predeal and Sinaia.
5 Birdwatching in the Delta
Europe’s most extensive wetland, with the continent’s largest pelican colonies, the Delta is heaven for birdwatchers, especially during the spring and autumn migrations.
6 Coastal activities
The coast provides all manner of possibilities for fun-filled diversions, such as wakeboarding, waterskiing and kayaking
Romania has some of the most distinctive structures in Europe, from the UNESCO-listed wooden churches of rural Maramureş to the bold architectural statements of Bucharest.
From the monochrome concrete jungle of the Centru Civic and its compellingly monstrous Palace of Parliament, to French-inspired buildings like the magnificent Atheneum, the Romanian capital is endlessly fascinating.
2 Horezu monastery
The finest example in Romania of the Brâncovenesc school, an architectural style conceived by the seventeenth-century Wallachian ruler, Constantin Brâncoveanu, Horezu is an elegant fusion of Baroque, Renaissance and Ottoman elements.
3 Saxon churches, Transylvania
Transylvania’s Saxon villages are defined by their fortified churches, such as the one at Biertan, a commanding structure set in rings of walls, and the delightful example at Mălâncrav.
4 Secession masterpieces, Oradea
Oradea showcases the country’s most impressive range of Art Nouveau architecture; fine examples include the Moskovits Palace and the legendary Vultural Negru building.
5 Wooden churches, Maramureş
Scattered all over Maramureş, these wonderful eighteenth-century wooden churches are distinguished by steeply sloping shingled roofs, slender bell towers and fine porches – those at Surdeşti and Ieud are unmissable.
6 Painted monasteries, Bucovina
The so-called Moldavian style – integrating Gothic and Byzantine – is showcased to spectacular effect in these ancient monuments, typically featuring a large enclosure with thickset walls and an imposing entrance gate.
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