I like to think of myself as a traveling soul in this great and fascinating world. I currently live in Bucharest (the capital of Romania) and moved here when I started college in 2014. My hometown is Pildesti – which is near a small town called Roman in the region of Moldavia.
I’ve just turned 25 and my passion for travel and photography began during my studies. It all happened when I started to get in touch with cultural diversity, to meet different people and to discover new places. I come from a small town in Romania where everyone knows everyone.
It was through this change of mindset that I started to look at the world differently. I aim to capture the beauty of the places I discover in my travels as much as possible so I can share it with everyone. Travel and photography is my therapy – a kind of inner reconnection with myself and the world.
Of course, even today, I attempt to inspire as many people as possible with my content. I always try to showcase the underrated regions, hidden gems and less visited places of Romania. Not only do I love sharing places from my home country but also from other countries around the world.
The reason is simple: we have so many undiscovered places in Romania. I notice that many people visit the overrated destinations or just head out to the places they see on Instagram. This country is bursting with amazing places, many of which I have not yet seen but which are on my travel list.
Why Romania Should be on your Bucket List
I think Romania is a country that can satisfy the tastes of every type of traveller. It has beautiful cities with precious architecture, an unbeatable history, immense fortresses, and fortified churches that offer you rich experiences. These unique places invite you on a journey through time.
My preference is for urban life. I believe architecture showcases the course of human evolution and culture. Discovering big, bright and spectacular buildings is one of my favourite things to do in Romania. What I love most, though, are the incredible views that Mother Nature offers in this country.
For me, Romania offers a multitude of different journeys. There are plenty of different options to choose from. You can explore castles, museums, historical monuments, villages and traditional crafts. My favourite places are in nature – all of which should be explored on your journey.
When I say nature I mean green forests, mountains, natural lakes, rivers, the Black Sea, protected nature reserves, the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve, thousands of caves, hiking trails and many other wonders of nature. I think we humans should love and respect nature more.
One thought that often comes to my mind is that we need more mountains and forests and fewer concrete buildings in our lives.
My Incredible Travels Across Romania
I’ve only had the time to explore a small fraction of this country. In my 25 years, I have managed to explore a few cities and regions but there are places that I return to often because they offer so much.
The areas I have made the most journeys are Transylvania, Muntenia, Moldavia, Dobrogea and Oltenia. Other places like Banat, Crisana, Bucovina and Maramures are still largely unexplored for me.
Among the places I want to visit in Romania are the traditional villages of Maramures (Breb, Poienile Izei and Botiza), Sarmizegetusa Regia Fortress, Ulpia Traiana Sarmizegetusa, the ‘Lady’s Stones’ in the Rarau Mountains, Suceava, Turda Gorge, Tarnita Lake and many more places.
Favourite Place in Romania: Brasov in Transylvania
One special place for me is Brasov. It was here that I made my first planned trip. I still remember the first day when I was fascinated by the Council Square. Brasov is an old city with a new face, located in the heart of the Carpathians. It’s one of the best preserved medieval cities in Europe.
I loved Brasov at first sight. What makes it so special is its geographical position in a depression. This allows me to get close to nature. It gives me the freedom to venture on mountain trails and immerse in the green forests – once you move away from the old city, full of history.
It was also here where I had my first paragliding jump over the green forests and saw some fairytale sunsets. I loved my time hiking the trails with friends and stopping on top of mountains. We took hikes from the city to Tampa Peak and Transylvania’s Hollywood Sign.
A few kilometers away, I explored the Zanoaga Gorges and the spectacular route to Curmatura Cottage. I discovered the villages scattered on hills and valleys specific to the settlements of the mountains: Magura, Moieciu de Sus, Moieciu de Jos, Bran, Gradistei Gorges and Fundata. All are a must-see!
In these areas, we try to preserve the natural and traditional environment and have ecotourism tours. If you are looking for one reason, and one reason alone, to visit Romania then Brasov is it!
15 Best Things To Do in Romania
I hope that travellers to Romania plan on visiting many different places – not just the popular tourist spots. There are many hidden gems just waiting to be discovered. I invite you to venture through Romania to some of the lesser-known destinations. Below are my top 15 things to do:
1. Explore the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve
The Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve is famous for being one of the greatest wetlands on earth. It functions as an important water purification system. The Danube Delta also includes fixed and mobile sand dune areas.
Wonderful natural habitats have formed here to offer good living conditions for a number of plants and animals. Among these, reeds form one of the largest single expanses of their kind in the world. The Latea and Caraorman forests represent the northern regions of the wetland.
Together, with the great number of aquatic and terrestrial plants, there are many colonies of pelicans and cormorants. The large number of fish is also notable, with species of both high economic and ecological value.
2. Admire the Impressive Scropoasa Lake
The blue-green color of Scropoasa Lake in the Bucegi Mountains is quite impressive. It’s worth admiring the oasis of water between the mountains during a walk on the edge of the lake. Scropoasa is located at an altitude of 1,197 meters and has a maximum depth of 15 meters. A must-see for sure!
3. Trek through Ceahlau Massif in the Carpathians
Ceahlau Massif is located in the Eastern Carpathians division, more precisely in Neamt, a county of the Moldavia region. Ceahlau Massif is now a protected area and the park is known for beautiful landscapes with many rare and protected by law species of plants and animals.
You can go trekking through the mountains on seven different hiking trails starting or finishing from Izvorul Muntelui, Durau or Bicazu Ardelean.
4. Visit Crit, A Saxon Village in Transylvania
The centuries-old legacy of the Saxon communities is a major attraction of Transylvania. This central region of Romania has become a fairytale destination. Just a few kilometers from Viscri lies Crit with its old facades, dusty roads, colourful windows and an entire world of rural authenticity.
5. Discover the Ancient Rupea Citadel of Romania
While you’re in Transylvania, make sure you visit the Rupea Citadel. It’s one of the oldest archaeological sites in Romania and one of the first signs of human settlements dating back to the Paleolithic period. During your visit there, you’ll get transported back in time to a mysterious and ancient place.
6. Get Lost in the Capital of Romania, Bucharest
Bucharest is the capital and largest city of Romania as well as its cultural, industrial and financial center. Allow a good few days to take in the best museums, stroll the parks and hang out at trendy cafes and bars.
While much of the city center is modern and the buildings are in various stages of construction, you’ll find splendid 17th and 18th century Orthodox churches and graceful Belle Époque villas tucked away in quiet corners.
7. Stand-Up Paddleboard on the Neajlov Delta
Neajlov Delta is a stunning piece of land offering fauna and flora just as diverse as the Danube Delta. The added benefit of the Neajlov Delta is that it’s just a short drive away from Bucharest. If you’re in the mood for a picnic on a warm summer’s day you can stop for one along the way.
Stand-up paddleboarding is one of the best ways to explore the delta in a natural and eco-friendly way. Make your way through the stunning lotuses, water lilies, wetland reeds, endless green forest and glittering delta water.
8. Enjoy the Coastal City of Constanta
This coastal city on the Black Sea combines a harmonious blend of the past (with the legacy of the Greeks and Romans) and modern amenities.
Constanta is an important cultural and economic center worth exploring for its archaeological treasures and the Old Town’s architecture. Its historical monuments, ancient ruins, Grand Casino, museums and shops, and proximity to beach resorts make it the focal point of Black Sea tourism.
Open-air restaurants, nightclubs, and cabarets offer a wide variety of entertainment for everyone. A visit to the city can then continue towards the Casino, a defunct historic monument, located near the port.
9. Venture on the Valiug Lake for Water Sports
Valiug is an artificial lake on Barzava used for electricity and water supply. Located at the foot of Mount Semenic, at an altitude of 600m, Valiug Lake is preferred by tourists who love water sports. But there are just as many who come to the area for relaxation, beach vibes and outdoor walks.
10. Marvel at the Geological Wonders of Racos
Racos is a commune in Transylvania. It’s a geological complex and is one of the most underrated places in Brasov county. The volcanic crater here last erupted thousands of years ago which is seen in the basalt columns. Be prepared to discover a landscape that seems to come from another planet.
The geological wonders don’t stop at the volcanic crater as there is a turquoise lake which was formed in a former basalt quarry. Many locals come here to go swimming and I recommend you give it a go too!
11. Roam around the Charming City of Timisoara
The charm of this city, settled on the northern bank of the Bega River, lies in its distinct architectural character and vibrant cultural life. Frequently referred to as “Little Vienna”, Timisoara is home to year-round musical and theatrical performances, art galleries, museums and a buzzing nightlife.
Timisoara enjoys a unique and rich cultural heritage. This dynamic helped the city secure its place as the European Capital of Culture in 2021. An amazing achievement that all of Romania can be proud of!
12. Day Trip to the Forgotten Slimnic Citadel
Located between Sibiu and Medias, Slimnic Citadel was one of the most powerful citadels in Europe. The impressive fortress here is 12 meters high with four meter thick walls. It’s believed that the citadel was built in the 8th century. This is a fantastic place to visit to appreciate history.
13. Stay at the Treehouse and Clay Castle in Porumbacu
Porumbacu de Sus is widely known in popular culture as a mythical place. Indeed, this historical region has long captured imaginations across the world. These fairytale locations are what really bring people here and there’s no shortage of magic to satisfy those looking for a bit of fantasy.
Nestled in the foothills of the stunning Carpathian Mountains, set against a scenic backdrop that wouldn’t look out of place in a Disney movie, you will find a wonderful Hobbit-like hamlet. Stay at the famous Treehouse or Clay Castle in Porumbacu. You won’t regret visiting this unique part of Romania.
14. Adventure in Nature at Moieciu de Sus
Moieciu de Sus is situated in the centre of Romania at the southern end of Brasov County, between the Piatra Craiului and Bucegi Mountains. This settlement is immersed in raw nature. The locals here respect traditions which makes it an ideal place for enjoying nature in its purest form.
Due to the abundance of mountains, woods, and hills, the village offers plenty of hiking and trekking trails. You can also take walks, go on horse rides, spot animals in the wild and practice your mountain biking.
15. Take a Ride on the Oravita-Anina Railway
The Oravita-Anina Railway is the oldest mountain railway and most spectacular in Southeastern Europe. It has fabulous landscapes and can be traced back to December 15th, 1863 when it was used for transporting goods. In 1869, passenger trains were introduced to move people around.
This railway offers a relaxing trip through beautiful mountain landscapes. A one-way journey takes about two hours giving you plenty of time to take in the views. The train travels at an average speed of 17 km/h – winding around rocky mountains while crossing 10 bridges and 14 tunnels.
Best Way to Travel around Romania
The fastest and most accessible way to travel around Romania is by car. This is the option that my fiance and I often choose. During my studies, I used to travel by train because it was the option that offered me the opportunity to read a book, watch a movie and enjoy the scenery.
However, one of the disadvantages of travelling by train in Romania is that the train routes are further away from the destinations you want to reach and are not in the immediate proximity of the city where it stops.
We do not own a car and most of the time we travelled by car, either we rented or we went on expeditions with friends who owned a car. Renting a car offers more accessibility and flexibility for your trip to the country.
There are certainly buses and companies that organise expeditions for those interested in guides or all-inclusive packages. Although, I always prefer to travel in small groups. This gives me the ability to travel with more freedom and see the places I want with as much time as I need.
Immerse Yourself in the Rich Culture of Romania
Romanians are hospitable, thoughtful and warm people. We have a taste for the good life and good food, which is homegrown in the villages. People here will invite you into their homes, cook for you and bring out their best wine. We always go out of our way to make sure visitors feel welcome.
Our society is generally conservative and we adhere to traditional family values. This is especially true for people who grew up during the Romanian Communist regime. 85% of the population is Orthodox with more than a third, especially in countryside communities, practicing regularly.
I recommend abandoning any preconceptions you might have about Romanians and opening your heart and mind while you’re here. Explore the country and meet real locals. I think Romania will surprise you!
Why the Food is one of the Highlights in Romania
The food of Romania is of great diversity and each region has its own specialties and traditional recipes that make it authentic. Romanian cuisine includes both everyday dishes and special holiday dishes.
I admit that I am of simple taste when it comes to food. This is why I don’t post many food photos on Instagram. Romanian food is absolutely delicious, although it can be a little bit heavy being mostly meat-based.
Some of the best dishes are: Sarmale (meat rolls in cabbage leaves), Tochitura (pork cut in small cubes), Mititei or Mici (small grilled meat rolls), bean soup with smoked hocks, Cozonac (Romanian sponge cake) and Papanasi (sweet cow cheese dumplings with cream and blueberry jam).
From my little food experiences over the years I can recommend the following places, which have a wonderful atmosphere and great taste:
- D.O.R (Brasov)
- Caru’ cu Bere (Bucharest)
- Podu cu Lanturi (Bacau)
- Hanul Ancutei (Neamt)
- La Dobrun (Sibiu)
- La Ceaun (Brasov)
- Bacaro Port (Constanta)
Looking Back Fondly on my Travels in Romania
I’ve had some amazing experiences travelling around Romania. One fond memory I have was on a heritage trip last year in June with the Digital Chronicles team. This trip was a memorable one because we made stops in several cities and locations and visited about 30 attractions.
The aim of this trip was to show the world what Romania has to offer in terms of cultural heritage. I had access to locations that are still unopened to the public. I learned a lot from the people who are living there, took a lot of pictures and left with spectacular images printed on the retina.
Among the locations we visited on this incredible heritage trip were Pitesti Memorial, Culele from Curtisoara, Ensemble from Targu Jiu, Herculaneum Baths, The Water Mills in Rudaria, Anina-Oravita Railway, Tram Museum in Timisoara, and Balcony of the Opera in Timisoara.
I will share with you some photos below, just admire them!
What you Need to Know Before you Go
Come without expectations and enjoy everything that this country has to offer. Romania is a safe place and is considered a welcoming nation.
In my opinion, the best time of year to enjoy Romania is in the autumn season. An amazing array of gold, brown and red will cover the woodlands, hills and mountains in the countryside. Go prepared for outdoor adventures too. Romania is home to breathtaking landscapes!
I recommend making reservations in advance to certain places and check the opening hours of where you want to go. Also, transact in RON (Romanian LEI) rather than Euros. Rates at exchange bureaus are usually better than banks.
For city trips, you can alwaus use public transport or Uber to get around. There is so much history to discover in the cities and villages of Romania. Some of my favourites include Brasov, Sighisoara and Sibiu.
Thanks for reading!