Things to do in Romania

You will find a culturally rewarding time in Romania from a diverse landscape flourishing in architecture and wildlife to a rich folk and jazz scene and an emerging nightlife hub in the capital of Bucharest. Bucharest also boasts a rich architectural and cultural tapestry as do other main cities like Brasov, Cluj-Napoca and Rimisoara. Try a local folk festival or visit on October 31 for Halloween celebrations in Transylvania.

Romania is rich in castles, fortresses, medieval towns and traditional villages, including some 200 Saxon villages in Transylvania in the country’s central area.  Highlights include the Gothic Biertan village, a medieval stronghold dating back to 1283; Bran Castle, the famous ‘Dracula’s castle’ located atop a rock; Bethlen-Haller Castle, a 16th-century French Renaissance-style palace fused with Baroque influences; and the stunning, German New Renaissance-style Peles Castle located in Sinaia. Sighisoara, Brasov and Sibiu in Transylvania are widely considered as some of Europe’s best-preserved medieval towns as is Marginimea Sibiului - a true traditional village. The Painted Monasteries of Bucovina in northeastern Romania are also worth a visit.

The popular summer destination of the Black Sea resorts area stretches from Mangalia to Mamaia and features some great beaches, beach sports and entertainment drizzled with Greek culture and spas that use the Black Sea’s long-rumoured healing waters to cure ailments. This area also meets the Danube Delta where you can spend days exploring its passages and rich birdlife via river cruises and hikes. Prefer a tour with bigger animals? Transylvania is said to have Europe’s largest wolf and bear population.

The Carpathian Mountains (Transylvanian Alps, Oriental Carpathians and Western Carpathians) stretch some 1,000 kilometres across Romania and feature glacial, structural, volcanic and karstic terrain great for hiking, mountain biking, whitewater rafting, climbing and skiing. Popular ski resorts include Sinaia, Predeal and Poiana Brasov. For more things to see and do in Romania, here’s our faves.

Palace of the Parliament

An architectural ode to Communist-era excess built during the darkest days of the Ceauşescu dictatorship, the massive Palace of the Parliament is also dubbed the People’s House. Located in central Bucharest, the massive building is the second-largest in the world after the Pentagon.

Peasant Museum

A Bucharest must-see, the charming Peasant Museum is a lovingly edited collection depicting the everyday lives of Romanian peasants over the past 400 years. Personal details like handwritten display cards and a whole room dedicated to grandmas just adds to the feel-good factor.

Bran Castle

“Come freely. Go safely; and leave something of the happiness you bring,” so said Bram Stoker’s Dracula and so applies to the inspiration of the mythical vampire’s lair, the mysterious and imposing Bran Castle. Nestled atop a rock, this Transylvanian icon is legendary.

Scarisoara Cave

Scarisoara Cave in Apuseni Nature Park features a deep entryway that leads to wow-factor ice structures like 6 metre-high stalagmites. It is home to the second-largest underground glacier in Europe.

Babele

The mushroom-shaped rock formations of the Bucegi Mountains plateau in the Southern Carpathians is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Romania. It can be reached by cable car or foot for the more adventurous.

Merry Cemetery

Sounds contradictory, but the Merry Cemetery is so named because of the colourful tombstones complete with paintings and poetry that cover the famous grounds. The poems are rich in the local Dacian culture, who believe death is filled with joy for a better afterlife.