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5 Popular Places to Visit in Un-Popular Romania

Travelers Today       By    David Thompson

Updated: Apr 03, 2023 11:55 AM EDT

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Romania is one of those countries that doesn't get the attention it deserves. However, it has many hidden treasures, making it a great travel destination for every adventurer. Located in Southeastern Europe, Romania has a rich history filled with many twists and turns straight out of Game of Thrones. 

Caught between the Ottoman and Habsburg Empires, there are lots of medieval cities and castles to visit to discover the history and culture of the country. And even though most people associate Romania with land of vampires because this is where Dracula Castle (in fact Bran Castle) is, there's much more to discover here. 

So let's see some of the inspiring and surprising tourist hotspots you didn't know you could visit in Romania!

1. Bran Castle aka Dracula Castle

Bran Castle
(Photo : Bran Castle)

Romania boasts many impressive castles with a rich history but of all of them Bran Castle is the country's most famous. The castle dating back to 1400 was rebuilt and destroyed multiple times over the years until it was ultimately shaped into the somber yet graceful fortress it is today. 

For many people, Bran Castle evokes the name of the bloodthirsty character in Bram Stoker's Dracula novel who lived in a castle in Transylvania eerily similar to Bran Castle. However, the author didn't even know about its existence when he wrote the book. Still, this association is what made the castle so famous across the world and to be known as Dracula's Castle, thus boosting tourism in Romania.

Bran Castle is 28 km from Brasov and shouldn't be missed on your trip to Romania as it will impress you with its medieval dramatic architecture and intriguing history. Moreover, the castle's museum displays remarkable pieces of furniture and art that were part of Queen Marie's collection, the last resident of this impressive sight.

2. Go on a thrilling ride on Transfagarasan Road

Transfagarasan Road
(Photo : Transfagarasan Road)

If you like to drive on scenic routes, then Transfagarasan Highway is for you. The TV series Top Gear has named it the best driving road in the world, and for a good reason! 

Transfagarasan Road crosses Fagaras Mountains, the highest mountain range in the Romanian Carpathians. This road was initially built as a strategic military route and it was once thought impossible to cross because of its extreme alpine environment. However, the Transfagarasan became a popular spot for mountain lovers and, despite its abrupt hairpin turns, many want to go on a thrilling ride on it almost every year!

While it is possible to see the Transfagarasan Highway on a guided day trip, renting a car is best if you want to have a memorable driving experience. At its highest point reaching 2,042m you'll find the breathtaking Balea Lake and a cozy cabin where you can rest and indulge in traditional Romanian food. 

If you want to stay here longer or do some Romania hiking, then there are several guesthouses in the area for that. But keep in mind the road is open for driving only from July to November, so if you want to drive on the Transfagarasan, schedule your trip sometime during these months. Outside of this period you can get to Balea Lake by cable car. 

3. The Danube Delta: a true natural wonder

 Danube Delta
(Photo : Danube Delta)

Mountains and medieval castles aren't the only gems of Romania - the Danube Delta is a real piece of heaven for wildlife lovers. When the Danube river meets the Black Sea, it forms the best-preserved delta in Europe. Listed as a UNESCO site, the Danube Delta is home to many unique species of animals and plants, boasting 23 natural ecosystems, over 350 species of birds and 4,000 species of plants.

Clearly, going on boat rides to do birdwatching is one of the best activities to do here. But there's much else to see in the Danube Delta, including its many lakes where sunsets are magical, Letea Forest with trees growing from water and wild, secluded beaches. 

Drinking wine is another great thing to do when in the Danube, as the region is home to premium wineries such as Macin Winery. And then there's the local cuisine with many fish stews that will surprise you. 

In the Delta you can travel only by boat and logistics are not easy. So you'll need about 3-4 days in the region to see its beauty. Best is to hire a local guide with a boat who knows how to navigate the Delta and where the birds are. 

4. Explore the beautiful Bucegi Natural Park

Bucegi Natural Park
(Photo : Bucegi Natural Park)

Bucegi Natural Park is located in the heart of Romania close to the popular mountain resort of Sinaia. The area belongs to the international Natura 2000 network and is one of the most famous attractions in Romania boasting impressive fauna and flora that includes rare species. 

Bucegi Natural Park is a sanctuary that preserves wild landscapes, biodiversity and encourages sustainability. So the area caught the attention of many local and international biologists who turned it into a subject of study and of outdoor enthusiasts looking to discover its beauty. 

When visiting Bucegi Natural Park you'll discover around 45 natural monuments, including caves, glaciers, waterfalls, and unique rock formations with interesting shapes that resemble sphinxes and mushrooms. The Sphinx, which looks like a human face, is one of the most famous rock formations in the area and some suggest it is a man-made tribute to the Dacian deity, Zalmoxis. The strange appearance of the rock gave rise to many other myths and legends. 

In reality, the Sphinx was created through the natural process of wind erosion. This wonder of nature will undoubtedly fascinate you, but here's a warning: if you want to get to Bucegi Natural Park, be prepared to hike at a high altitude of 2,216 meters!

5. The Medieval Sighisoara Citadel

Sighisoara Citadel
(Photo : Sighisoara Citadel)

Visiting Sighisoara Citadel will make you feel like you traveled back in time as it's one of the best preserved medieval citadels in Transylvania and Europe. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site as testimony to the culture and history of the Transylvania Saxons and its well preserved architecture. 

The Clock Tower is one of the top tourist attractions in the citadel and Sighisoara Citadel's symbol. As soon as you enter the citadel through the Clock Tower's gate, you'll immerse yourself in the medieval atmosphere of ancient times, with churches, defense bastions, towers and narrow cobblestone streets to get lost in. 

Besides climbing the tower, there are many other things you can see and do in Sighisoara. For instance, you can visit Biserica din Deal, a Gothic Church with interesting architecture situated at an altitude of 429 meters. Although it lacks extravagant exterior features, the church's interior has monumental wooden pews and 60 sarcophagi close to the entrance, making it unique. Biserica din Deal is also a great spot to enjoy the beauty of a sunrise or sunset due to its height, which offers a wonderful view.

If you visit Sighisoara during summer which is one of the best things to do in Cluj, you can experience the Sighisoara Medieval Festival and enjoy live theater performances, parades, dances, medieval music, and much more. During the festival, the past overtakes the present, and the atmosphere in the city is like a Comic-Con event, displaying creative medieval outfits, music, delicacies and people dressed up just like they probably did back then. Just make sure to book accommodation as early as possible so you can stay somewhere in the citadel's heart.  

I hope you see how Romania has many interesting places to visit that you didn't know about. Now it's time to start planning your holiday. And the best part? Because it's an undiscovered tourist destination, it's also more affordable being 20-30% cheaper than other countries in Eastern Europe. So, what are you waiting for?

See Now: The U.S. had the highest number of Most Wanted properties, dominating the Loved By Guests Awards 2018

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