10 Places to See in Romania in 2016

If you’d like to take a private tour of Romania, check our offers on www.uncover-romania-tours.com

Romania is a country of many and diverse travel destinations, and one vacation is definitely not enough for all the great places to see in Romania. Our top 10 destinations for 2016 highlights some of the best known attractions like Alba Iulia, but also more local and off the beaten track places from all over Romania, including three national parks hikers will just love.

Calimani National Park

One of the wildest mountain areas in the Eastern Carpathians, Calimani National Park, located in picturesque Bucovina, is the place to go for multi-day hikes with few other people in sight. Best known for having one the largest inactive volcanic areas in Europe, a caldera about 10 km large and 800 meters deep, and for the geological formations the 12 Apostles, this national park is easily reached from Vatra Dornei or Toplita.

calimani national park

The maxim altitude is 2,100 meters, and hikers can choose from many trails that start from Gura Haitii, Neagra Sarului, Toplita or Borsec. Horseback riding is another option to explore these mountains, using the services provided by the national park administration.

Nearby airports: Suceava, Cluj, Targu-Mures, Iasi

By car: DN17 and E58 from Cluj-Napoca; E58 from Iasi; DN17 from Suceava/By train: to Vatra Dornei train station

More details on www.calimani.ro

Alma Vii

A top of the best places to see in Romania this year just wouldn’t be complete without a Saxon village and its fortified church. Spectacular examples of the Saxon heritage and important historical monuments, these fortified churches are a must if you’re heading to Transylvania.

One of the first edifices of this type from the region is the fortified church from Alma Vii, a small village located in an idyllic landscape of forested hills, haystacks, horse carts, colored houses and orchards. The village itself is a wonderful travel destination that shouldn’t be missed if you’re planning to spend more days visiting medieval landmarks like the UNESCO World Heritage Sites from Sighisoara, Biertan or Viscri. You can take many day trips, including using the cycling routes that link the Saxon villages, and you can stay overnight in the traditional houses managed by the Foundation Mihai Eminescu Trust.

Nearby airports: Sibiu, Targu Mures

By car: DN14 from Sibiu and Sighisoara/By train: to Medias or Sighisoara train station, bus to Alma Vii

More details on www.almavii.ro

Alba Iulia Citadel

We never get tired of promoting Alba Iulia. The ‘other capital’ and the largest citadel in Romania, Alba Iulia is one of the best places to visit in Romania if you want to see how history evolved starting some 2,000 years ago. The restored citadel has various walking routes that combine the main points of interest: the impressive gates, the ruins from the Roman time and major monuments like the Coronation Cathedral and the Catholic Cathedral.

Alba IUlia

You can easily spend a full day just visiting the citadel and a second and a third one taking day trips to Apuseni Mountains and Sureanu Mountains. You can also go biking in the dendrological park and hiking in Piatra Craivii.

Nearby airports: Sibiu, Cluj-Napoca, Targu Mures

By car: E81 from Sibiu and Cluj-Napoca; DN1 and E81 from Brasov/By train: to Alba Iulia train station

More details on www.visitalbaiulia.com

The Roman Catholic Cathedral from Orsova

If you’re heading to Cheile Nerei-Beusnita National Park or the Iron Gates, be sure to stop in Orsova, a small city from the Danube shore where you’ll find the most original Catholic Church in Romania. A masterpiece of the 20th century and a unique monument in Europe, this unconventional religious space is the only Catholic Church built during the communist regime.

Catholic church

Besides its bold architecture, the edifice is most famous for its interior paintings that illustrate from a contemporary art perspective the Biblical theme ‘The Way of the Cross’. Major Biblical characters like Jesus are painted alongside soviet leader Lenin, Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci or Beatle’s legendary John Lennon.

Nearby airports: Timisoara, Bucharest

By car: E70 from Timisoara; DN6 from Bucharest/By train: to Orsova train station

Cozia National Park

The second hiking destination from our top 10 places to see in Romania this year is Cozia National Park. Easily reached from Bucharest and only 80 km from Sibiu, this national park has modest altitudes, but compensate through some of the most panoramic images from the Carpathians.

Cozia National Park

Even more, ancient ruins from the time of the Roman conquest are found here, as well as centuries old monasteries. Nine hiking trails cross the national park. Some are short and easy, but some are intense and require good physical training. Our advice is to depart from Turnu on the red line switching to the blue line until the chalet Cozia where you’ll spend the night and return to Turnu on the blue line on the second day.

Nearby airports: Sibiu, Bucharest

By car: DN7 from Sibiu; E81 from Bucharest/By train: to Calimanesti train station

More details on www.cozia.ro

Vadu

The Romanian Black Sea Coast is not the best place if you’re looking for a relaxing seaside vacation with empty beaches, clear waters and a lot of tranquility. If you’re looking to spend a few days by the Black Sea and actually hear the waves splashing at the shore instead of loud music even under water, go to Vadu.

Vadu

Not as off the beaten track as it once was, Vadu is located north from Navodari, and is part of the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve. This makes it a sensitive natural area that needs our constant protection. Remember to camp only in the special designated places and leave only footprints behind.

Nearby airports: Constanta, Bucharest

By car: DJ226 from Constanta/By train: to Constanta train station, bus to Vadu

The Country of Fagaras

The regions of Romania were centuries ago divided in smaller and more homogeneous areas called ‘countries’. Most of them preserved their particularity over time, and are excellent vacation options if you’re planning to spend more time in a single area. Our suggestion for 2016 is the country of Fagaras, easily reached from Sibiu or Brasov, and still one of the most distinctive cultural areas in Romania.

Tara Fagarasului

The attractions vary from the tall and abrupt Fagaras Mountains, iconic churches like the Monastery from Sambata de Sus or the cave church from Sinca Veche, traditional villages and installations, especially the one from Lisa, and ethnographic museums like Badea Cartan from Cartisoara. Key attractions are also the fortress from the city Fagaras, the 12th century Evangelical Church from Halmeag and the Cistercian Monastery from Carta. If you start your trip from Bucharest, one of the best options is to choose the Transfagarasan road. Just be sure to check if it’s open and avoid the weekends when it gets too crowded.

Nearby airports: Sibiu, Bucharest

By car: DN1 from Brasov and Sibiu/By train: to Fagaras train station

Ciocanesti

Ciocanesti is said to be one of the most beautiful villages from Bucovina. And we think it’s true. Almost all the houses, either old or new, are decorated with typical symbols of the region that has a rich and strong ethnographic heritage. Surrounded by Obcinile Bucovinei Mountains and rolling hills with haystacks and forests, the village is the starting point of various walking and hiking itineraries, the one to Colacu being particularly beautiful.

Ciocanesti

In Ciocanesti you can also visit the Painted Eggs’ Museum, a major tradition in Bucovina, and local artisans that will share some of their secrets with you. Our advice is to go in August when the annual Trout Festival takes places. It’s the perfect time to go on a delicious discovery of local trout dishes, but also the chance to navigate the Bistrita River with a wooden raft like locals did many years ago.

Nearby airports: Suceava, Cluj, Targu Mures, Iasi

By car: DN17 and E58 from Cluj-Napoca; E58 from Iasi; DN17 from Suceava/By train: Iacobeni train station, bus to Ciocanesti

Macin National Park

The place to go for families and first time hikers, Macin National Park has the oldest mountains in Romania. Located in the northern part of Dobrogea, very close to the Black Sea and the Danube Delta, this national park has low altitudes, but important biodiversity areas. One of them is the world unique Dobrogean beech forest. In fact, six of the eight groups of European ecosystems are found in this protected area, making it one of the most diverse in Romania.

Photo by bereta

You can choose from several itineraries, including thematic hiking trails, cycling and equestrian routes. Besides the natural attractions, the area of the park has many archaeological sites that trace the first human signs to the Stone Age. Touring the vineyards around the national park and taking short trips to see the ruins from Enisala, Jurilovca and Histria are also great options if you’re spending more time in Macinului Mountains.

Nearby airports: Constanta, Bucharest

By car: DN22D from Tulcea to Macin/By train: to Tulcea train station, bus to Macin

More details on www.parcmacin.ro

The Inn on Balaban

We end our top 10 places to visit in Romania with a recommendation for your next accommodation in Romania: the Inn on Balaban.

inn-on-balaban-romania

Located in the Bran Valley, close to major attractions like Bran Castle and Brasov, but also close to Piatra Craiului and Bucegi Mountains, the Inn on Balaban is one of the best examples of restoring and using traditional architecture to create a memorable experience for tourists looking for authenticity and high quality services, including mouth-watering meals, car transfers, local tours and helicopter rides. No doubt, the Inn on Balaban is the top of the list option for spending your vacation in the Bran Valley.

Nearby airports: Bucharest

By car: DN73 from Brasov/By train: to Brasov train station, bus to Bran

If you’d like to take a private tour of Romania, check our offers on www.uncover-romania-tours.com

About the author

Diana is a tourism consultant, tour guide, travel writer and amateur photographer, focusing on sustainable tourism practices and destinations. You can find Diana Condrea on Twitter and Google+

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