Top Five Things To Do in Bucovina for the First Time Visitor
If you’re planning to visit Romania for the first time, and you’re reading great reviews about Bucovina, wondering if you should add it to your trip or not, our list of top 5 things to do in Bucovina will surely help you decide.
To begin with, don’t look for Bucovina on the map as this is its historical name. Translated through ‘the land of beech’, the name Bucovina started being used after 1775 when the region was incorporated into the Habsburg Empire and the Austrian authorities wanted to differentiate it culturally from the region it was part of until then, Moldavia. Today, the historical region of Bucovina corresponds to Suceava County from north-east Romania.
Now that we got that covered, let’s start exploring the best things to do in Bucovina. If you’re planning to try everything from our list, save at least one week for your vacation in the region.
Hiking and walking
Bucovina is most famous for its UNESCO World Heritage Sites, but we prefer starting by mentioning it’s incredible natural areas a lot of tourists miss out even though this is one of the most panoramic places in Romania.
If you’re a fan of walking and hiking and spending as much time as possible in nature, then Bucovina is the ideal destination. Two national parks and iconic mountains, plus high altitude hills and dense forests cover large parts of the destination. You just have to choose the itinerary that best suits you.
If you only have one day or you’re traveling with kids, the best option will be Rarau Mountains. You can drive on a spectacular mountain road, Transrarau, and do a 2-3 hours hike to the top, or you can spend an entire day hiking from the base to the top. Either way, stop to taste the delicious trout dishes in Pojorata.
If you’re planning to spend at least 2-3 days hiking, we recommend Calimani National Park or Rodnei Mountains National Park, two amazing wilderness areas from the Carpathians. They have longer and more challenging hikes, glacial lakes, vast plateaus, peaks above 2,000 meters and volcanic landscapes.
Last, but of course, not least, you can always plan for a low-key walk between villages, from Putna, Moldovita, Sucevita or Ciocanesti.
Visit the painted churches
The painted churches are the symbol of Bucovina and the most visited attractions in the region. Don’t hesitate to take a tour of these landmarks, it’s one of the most interesting and memorable things to do in Bucovina.
Dating from the 15th and 16th centuries and built by local princes, these UNESCO Sites are a precious testimony of the overreaching importance of Church and religion in the medieval time.
Eight of them are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, listed for their astonishing beauty, particularized by the unique Byzantine style frescoes that cover both their interior and exterior walls. From religious cycles and ladders of virtues to scenes from the battle of Constantinople, these state of art frescoes are more than esthetic, they had a clear educational and political role.
If you’d like to see even more religious monuments from Bucovina, don’t miss the Monastery of Dragomirna. Over 400 years old, the monastery has a particular look, different from all the rest in the region, with rock-carved walls, fortified towers and tall nave.
These monuments are included in our Painted Monasteries of Bucovina Tour.
Discover historical and cultural attractions
If you’re keen on discovering more monuments besides the religious ones, add the 14th-century fortress of Suceava to your list. It’s one of the few medieval landmarks of this kind that still exists in this part of Romania, and was the actual scene of Ottoman attacks and sieges hundreds of years ago. Modern video projections make it a great attraction for families.
Photo by Bucovina Museum
Since you’re in Suceava, you can also visit the open-air Bucovina Village Museum. You’ll see traditional local architecture, installations and workshops where you can learn traditional techniques directly from local artisans. Only a few of today’s villages from Bucovina conserve their once traditional look, don’t miss out on visiting the museum.
Meeting local artisans
It goes without saying that the skills and talent of local artisans are a fundamental part of Bucovina’s rich cultural heritage. One of its most famous traditions, painting eggs, has become an art that goes beyond the Easter celebration. You can visit several Painted Eggs Museums in Bucovina, and we recommend you don’t miss the private collection of Lucia Condrea. She is worldwide appreciated and acknowledged as one of the most talented contemporary artists of the genre, and you can even see her at work in her museum from Moldovita.
If you’re passionate about pottery, plan a trip to Marginea, the village where you’ll find the last black ceramics center in Romania. You can buy many decorative pieces, plus you get to observe the artisans modeling the clay almost every day of the week.
Bucovina is also famous for its tapestries as sewing and weaving were once major occupations of local women. You’ll see many traditional blouses, carpets and embroideries in the souvenir shops, but take a closer look to differentiate original handcrafts from the series products.
Sample the mouth-watering gastronomy
Trying local dishes is one of the best ways to discover any destination in this world, and Bucovina is by no means an exception. As a matter fact, eating a home-cooked meal here is one of the best things to do in Bucovina.
Our advice is to choose an excellent rated small and local owned guest house where you can also serve dinner. It’s a sure choice for trying dishes with fresh, tasty ingredients and lots of cream, present in almost all recipes from Bucovina.
The specialties include trout, so popular there is even an annual festival in Ciocanesti, and local mountain mushrooms called ‘hribi’. This is the best place in Romania to try recipes based on these two ingredients, often combined with polenta and, obviously, some cream. The list goes on and includes more tempting options like the cream and onion based soup ‘ciorba radauteana’, the pork stew ‘tochitura bucovineana’ and the traditional cheese pies ‘alivenci’.
Bucovina, like most of Romania, is a very diverse travel destination. There’s something interesting to do for everyone, whether you’re the active kind who’s up at 7 am ready to hike all day long, or you’re just looking to relax with a glass of wine and a delicious snack in the garden of the guest house.
Whatever your interests, we hope our local travel guide to the best things to do in Bucovina will help you plan an unforgettable vacation in this must-see destination.