Best Places to Visit in Romania… That You Never Heard Of

categories: europe travel

For many, Romania might not be on their bucket list, or not even on their travel radar. However, if you’ve slightly heard of the East European country, and know something more than Dracula and Ceausescu, you most probably haven’t heard about these beautiful places to visit in Romania.

Throughout the years, I’ve seen people coming to Romania slightly scared of what they will encounter. But almost all those people left impressed by the beautiful landscapes, delicious food, and friendly people they discovered.

For most, Romania is Transylvania alone. And for those, the region is nothing more than the place Dracula comes from.

Continue reading and you’ll be surprised by some of the best places to visit in Romania and you will want to include the country on your next Europe trip list.

View from Oradea Townhall - Romania

View from Oradea Townhall

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Oradea

With a vast and long history, Oradea has recently gone through a major facelift and has started to attract more and more tourists.

Located less than 10 kilometers from the border with Hungary, the town has a multicultural and multi-ethnic background. Throughout the years it had been one of the most important establishments in the Kingdom of Hungary. It was invaded by the Mongols, and later on, captured by the Turks.

In the 19th century, a strong Jewish community developed in Oradea and started doing business. Many of the buildings in town today hold the names of their architects and their owners that were part of this community. It was a center for commerce and culture in the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Its rich history has contributed to the city Oradea is today. It boasts a unique blend of architectural styles and it has a diverse mix of cultures hosted in a small area.

Some important local attractions worth seeing in Oradea:

  • Unirii Square – the center of the city, with a mix of 7 architectural styles
  • The Black Eagle Palace – a beautiful galleria with a stained glass eagle observing from above
  • The City Hall Palace and its observation deck from where you can see the whole city from above
  • The Fortress of Oradea dating from more than 1000 years ago
  • The Baroque Palace and the Roman Catholic Diocese Complex – the largest of its kind in Romania, inspired by the Belvedere Palace in Vienna.
  • Natural hot springs in town and just outside at Felix Baths which are well known for their therapeutic properties

How to get there

Oradea can be reached from Bucharest by plane in less than 1 hour, or from Budapest by car in a little over 3 hours.

Where to stay

The most unique experience might be spending the night in the hotel inside the Oradea Citadel. Another option would be to book a room at the Ramada hotel and go for a wine spa treatment. If neither of the 2 sounds appealing, stay by the river with a city view at the Continental hotel.

Corvin Castle, Romania

Corvinilor Castle

Another impressive sight in Transylvania, yet less known than the famous Bran Castle (also known as the Dracula Castle), the Hunedoara Castle dates from 1446.

Many legends are linked to this impressive castle, but the most famous legend is one that says this is where Vlad the Impaler was held prisoner by Hungary’s military leader.

A stop here during a Romania tour is a must since the sight is impressive and one of the top Romania attractions.

How to get there

The Castle is only a 1.5-hour drive from Sibiu, one of the most popular towns in Transylvania. There’s an airport in Sibiu but there aren’t many international flights, thus driving from Bucharest might be the best choice.

Spend the night in Sibiu and make a road trip to see the Corvinilor Castle.

Bontida Castle - Romaina

Bon?ida Bánffy Castle

A few kilometers outside of Cluj, one of Romania’s major cities, the Bon?ida Bánffy Castle is mostly a ruin nowadays, but it is a place that attracts tens of thousands of people yearly for the Electric Castle festival.

It is truly a strange combination between Medieval history and some of the most popular current artists and music.

With a history that tracks back before the 1400s, the castle has seen a lot. Tt was even transformed into a field hospital during WWII. Later on, only a part of it had been restored in 2011.

Outside of the week when the festival takes place (usually in August), the castle can be visited. I suggest packing a picnic and having lunch in its garden.

How to get there

Drive for 35 minutes outside of Cluj or take the train to Bontida village.

Getting to Cluj is simple either by plane, train, or car from Bucharest (even though it might be a long trip).

Where to stay

Stay overnight in Cluj and choose a hotel in the Old Town area or near the train station if you arrive by train.

Conacul Bellu Romanian Wine Road

Conacul Bellu Romanian Wine Road

Romanian Wine Road and Mansions

The Romanian wine road stretches from Buzau County to Prahova County. It is close enough to Bucharest to make a perfect weekend destination. No matter where you choose to start from, the road will take you through hills filled with vineyards, and rustic Romanian villages. You should know that the road is not in perfect condition.

You can stop and taste various local wines at one of the many cellars along the way, and get to see some old Romanian mansions transformed into museums these days, such as Crama 1777 Museum, Bellu Mansion, or abandoned Matac Mansion.

Urlati, Ceptura, Tohani, Lacerta, are only a few of the wines you should try in Romania.

How to get there

The best and easiest way is to rent a car and start from Bucharest. Drive to the Prahova Valley and go towards Buzau. This could make for a great road trip and with great scenery.

Where to stay

Stop overnight at Casa Timis just outside of Ploiesti or at Vinalia, Conacul din Ceptura. You will get to stay in an old Romanian traditional mansion, get to taste delicious local cuisine and wine produced on location.

Cantacuzino Castle - Romania

Cantacuzino Castle

Set between Peles Castle and Bran Castle, the Cantacuzino Castle had shown up on my radar only in the recent years.

Perfectly set on a hill overlooking some of the most stunning mountains in Romania, the Castle was built and inaugurated in 1911. However, it has been built by one of the richest and influential families with roots dating back to the Byzantine Empire.

Equally beautiful, the park surrounding the castle is home to one of the most photographed swings in Romania.

Nowadays, the Cantacuzino Castle hosts a luxurious restaurant, a small adventure park, a riding arena, and different art of photography galleries every now and then.

How to get there

Cantacuzino Castle is a bit over 2 hours drive outside of Bucharest, on one the most popular mountain reserve of Romania, you can always take the train if you don’t want to spend time in traffic.

Where to stay

My choice of location on the Prahova Valley is always Sinaia. Here is where you will get to see also the Peles and Pelisor Castles.

Stay a few steps away from the center of the town at Hotel Continental, or wake up with a castle view at Vila Economat.

 

Mogosoaia Palace

Mogosoaia Palace

Less than 30 minutes drive outside of the capital, Mogosoaia Palace is for sure one of the most beautiful monuments around Bucharest, and thus, one of the best places to visit in Romania.

Built-in 1702 by Constantin Brancoveanu who was the Prince of Wallachia (southern part of today’s Romania), the palace and its surrounding gardens set by a lake, are the perfect escape from crazy Bucharest on a summer sunny day.

How to get there

Drive, take the bus (R436, R470, R474), metro and a bus out to the park.

Where to stay

This would make a perfect day trip from Romania’s capital, thus staying in Bucharest would be the best choice.

Anywhere in the center or Northern part would be a great choice, with easy access to public transportation and great food places in town.

Stirbey Chapel - Romania

Palatul Stirbey and the chapel

Today a major event location, the Stirbey palace dates from the 1800s and is found in a huge natural setting.

One of my favorite places outside of Bucharest, it is a bit further away than Mogosoaia Palace, and more tranquil as well. At the entrance of the big forest area, you’ll find a small palace transformed today into a restaurant, with a huge lawn behind it. Another iconic picture-perfect location inside the natural park is the Stirbey Chapel.

Another historic place transformed into an event’s location, where people head to especially during the first weekend of August when the Sumerwell music festival takes place here.

How to get there

Take a 30-minute drive outside of Bucharest or take the train and get off at Buftea train station.

Where to stay

Bucharest is still a great choice for seeing this Romania attraction.

F?g?ra? fortress

Fagaras Fortress

A destination you won’t find on most lists of the places to visit in Romania, Fagaras Fortress is still imposing and can easily be linked on a trip coming from the famous Transfagarasan highway.

Its history dates back to 1310. It was at one time one of the strongest fortifications in Transylvania.

The fortress is very well preserved today and it has been transformed into a museum hosting Roman artifacts, medieval weapons, and traditional folk craft.

How to get there

A 1-hour drive from Brasov through one of the most beautiful roads offering great mountain views.

Where to stay

Spend the night in Brasov and choose a nice hotel close to Piata Mare, or go for a more tranquil option in Poiana Brasov close to the ski slope and nature.

Palace of Culture - Ia?i, Romania

Sturdza Castle

Further North in Romania, in Iasi Country, the Sturdza Palace boasts impressive gothic architecture and was built twice throughout the years.

The current castle dates from the late 1800s on the grounds where an older mansion was standing. Rosewood furniture, an extensive old library, a weapon, and medieval costumes collection, and a jewelry collection are only of the few things that used to be hosted inside the castle. Part of  the collection disappeared during the Second World War.

Nowadays, the location offers a hotel and a restaurant, where guests can choose to stay overnight and live life at a castle.

How to get there

Fly to Iasi airport and from there drive for one hour to Miclauseni where the castle is.

Where to stay

Iasi is a good stop in the area and you might want to choose one of the bigger hotels in town such as the Grand Hotel Traian or the International Hotel.

Sighisoara ROmania

Sighisoara

A picturesque Medieval Citadel on the top of the hill, set in an idyllic location, Sighisoara is without any questions one of the best places to visit in Romania.

Here is where you’ll find the birthplace of Vlad Dracul, the famous Church on the Hill, a 13th-century Venetian house, or the Clock Tower from the top of which you’ll have a wonderful view of both the citadel and the surrounding area.

You cannot leave the town without wandering on the colorful streets or eating a traditional beans soup out of bread in the Citadel Square.

How to get there

Drive or take the train from Bucharest or Brasov.

Where to stay

Just below the citadel sits one of the most wonderful traditional houses: Casa Savri. Spend the night in this World Heritage Site and wake up and drink your coffee in the inside garden overlooking the citadel.

Best Places to Visit in Romania... That You Never Heard Of | Where to go in Romania | Castles #romania #europe #castles #dracula #transylvania #travel #trip #vacation Best Places to Visit in Romania... That You Never Heard Of | Where to go in Romania | Castles #romania #europe #castles #dracula #transylvania #travel #trip #vacation 

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by Ingrid Zudor

Ingrid is a travel blogger at IngridZenMoments and book lover on the constant search of places and experiences that bring joy to life. She is originally from Romania, currently living the expat life in Hong Kong, with Italy in her heart.

3 Responses to “Best Places to Visit in Romania… That You Never Heard Of”

Flo

Says:

Great post! I especially like Oradea with its stunning architecture!

Cezara

Says:

Thanks Ingrid and Chris for this comprehensive post with valuable tips on Romania. It is appreciated that you went beyond the usual suspects 🙂

Chris Christensen

Says:

Glad you liked it. Ingrid gets the credit.

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