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If Romania is one of the destinations you plan to visit this year, we have a few suggestions to make your travel planning easier and more fun. Like every year, we prepared a list of 10 Romanian places that inspire us through their authentic charm, beauty, and heritage.
To make sure we cover different interests and passions, we included in our top places to see in Romania in 2018 a variety of attractions and experiences from all over the country.
You can hike one day, explore the ruins of the ancient Dacians on the following day, or discover the thrill of rock climbing. You can spend your days discovering the centuries-old history of monuments that withstood wars, invasions, and violent regime change.
With no further ado, here are our top 10 places to see in Romania in 2018.
Location: Valcea County
The smallest and the newest national park in Romania, Buila-Vanturarita is one of the best options to the more famous locations in the Carpathians, especially if you’re looking for wilderness and solitary hikes.
Located in the southern part of the Capatanii Mountains, this protected area extends has 4,816 hectares. A veritable limestone landscape, with caves and gorges, Buila-Vanturarita is almost a forgotten paradise of virgin forests, protected plant and animal species, one of the few places where biodiversity survives untouched for now by greedy human development.
You can choose between 19 hiking itineraries and five rock climbing trails. The highest altitude is 1,885 meters on Vanturarita Mare Peak.
Don’t miss a visit to the nearby churches and monasteries of Hurez, Arnota, Bistrita, Pahomie, Iezer.
Find out more on www.buila.ro
Location: Harghita County
One of the most awe-inspiring images of the Carpathians, Piatra Singuratica (the Solitary Rock) is like its name suggests an isolated cliff formation. With a maximum altitude of 1,608 meters, located in Hasmas Mountains from the Oriental Carpathians, Piatra Singuratica offers a fabulous perspective on Ciucului Valley and the surrounding mountain landscape. It’s one of our top choices for places to see in Romania in 2018.
It takes less than two hours hiking from Balan, Hargita County, to reach Piatra Singuratica, but it takes experience and strength to climb the walls of the cliff. Don’t adventure yourself unless you are very sure of your rock climbing skills.
The best accommodation is right at the base of the cliffs. The mountain hut Piatra Singuratica (1,504 meters) is a great stop if you want to continue hiking to Hasmasu Mare Peak (1,792 meters) and the Red Lake.
Location: Gradistea de Munte, Hunedoara County
The ancient capital of the Dacian state, Sarmizegetusa Regia is almost a mythical place. Located in the scenic Sureanu Mountains, in a dense and cool forest, the ruins of the old capital with its worship and sacrifice altars make us imagine a time of gods, pagan beliefs, and ritual ceremonies.
If you’re properly equipped, hike from the ancient site to Godeanu Peak, the holy mountain of the Dacians.
Sarmizegetusa Regia is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it’s over an hour’s drive from the capital the victorious Romans built almost 2,000 years ago after defeating the Dacians. Named after the conqueror, Emperor Traian but also in the memory of the Dacian past, a visit to Ulpia Traiana Sarmizegetusa completes a day trip of ancient discoveries.
Location: Cincu, Brasov County
We’ve seen many of the fortified churches of Transylvania, all incredible testimonies of a time when entire villages would find refuge in these monumental constructions during enemy attacks.
While the list of fortified churches is long and, at least for us, all are a must-see, the one from Cincu comes to mind first when we think of the places to see in Romania in 2018. Dating from the 13th century, impressive in size and history, the fortified church of Cincu dominates the village that was once one of the Saxon chairs, a residence of the royal judge.
Originally a Romanesque basilica, the church was fortified around 1500, and one century later it became a hall church. Almost abandoned today, the fortified church of Cincu and its history are animated by Mr. Nicolae Boghian, a retired photographer and journalist who lives in the village. He is the best guide to the past and present of this fascinating historical monument.
The oldest princely residence in Bucharest, Cotroceni Palace is the perfect place if you want to discover the capital beyond the Old Town.
Starting with the end of the 17th century when Serban Cantacuzino built in the mysterious forests of Cotroceni a magnificent monastery, the story of this property is a history lesson that includes the royal family of Romania but also the disastrous demolitions of the communist regime.
Photo source: www.facebook.com/muzeulcotroceni
The palace built one century later was used mainly as a summer residence by local princes until the arrival in 1866 of the future King Carol the 1st. At the end of the 20th century, the old palace was replaced by an imposing edifice destined to house the heir of the throne, King Ferdinand and his wife, Queen Maria. The couple lived here for most of their lives.
Photo source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki
The confiscation of the palace by the communist regime meant also the decay of the monument and its state of art furniture and decoration collections. Used for children’s after-school activities, the palace entered a rapid process of degradation that continued until the end of the regime.
Restored and redecorated as close as possible to the original, Cotroceni Palace is today one of the most remarkable historical monuments in Bucharest.
On December 1st, 1918, in the citadel of Alba Iulia, 1,228 delegates voted for the unification of Transylvania with the Kingdom of Romania. This much desired national objective determined King Ferdinand to join the Entente forces in the First World War, with the cost of fighting against his German homeland.
After two years (1916-1918) of deadly battles, the German occupation of the South, hundreds of thousands of deaths, epidemics, and humanitarian crises, King Ferdinand and the people of Romania accomplished the aspiration that made them fight in the Great War. Four years later, in 1922, Alba Iulia hosted the coronation of King Ferdinand and Queen Maria, this time as the king and queen of Great Romania.
Visiting Alba Iulia is a great occasion to rediscover these stories and much more as the citadel is one of the impressive historical attractions in Romania.
Location: Brasov County
The commune located at the highest altitude in the country, Fundata (1,360 meters) was the first place in Romania to host a cross-country skiing competition, back in the 1930s when Princess Ileana was actively involved in promoting this winter sport. More than the thrill of competition, cross-country skiing was back then the only way to travel during the harsh winters when large quantities of snow isolated the mountain villages.
Part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, like all of Transylvania until 1918, Fundata was the first village of this historical province freed by the Romanian army in 1916, shortly after Romania entered the First World War. A small monument honors the memory of the first Romanian who died in the Great War.
For a complete day trip, walk from Fundata to Fundatica and enjoy the stunning images of Piatra Craiului National Park. An easy hiking route connects the two villages, among the few from the region that still preserves traditional rural architecture.
Location: Eftimie Murgu, Caras-Severin County
Even if you have a gluten-free diet, grinding cereals in a watermill will be an original vacation experience. Not so long, isolated communities relied on windmills and watermills to grind grains, the main ingredient of the peasant diet for centuries. In some cases, water power was also used for oil presses, filtering gold sediments, and even transforming wool and other raw textile fibers into fabrics.
Few watermills still exist outside the open-air museums of Romania, and Eftimie Murgu is the most notable exception. At the end of the village, along the gorges carved deep by Rudaria River in Almajului Mountains, 22 watermills survived the centuries. Some of them are still used by the locals based on a schedule listed on the wooden doors of the watermills.
Far away from famous and busy attractions, the watermills from Eftimie Murgu are a great choice of places to see in Romania in 2018 especially if you add another day or two for the nearby Cheile Nerei-Beusnita National Park.
Location: Maramures County
You have over 80 km of marked cycling routes if you want to discover the authentic side of Maramures biking from one village to another. In total, seven protected areas, seven villages, and two NATURA 2000 Sites are part of the biking itineraries from Mara-Cosau-Creasta Cocosului area.
There are six marked cycling trails, of varying length and intensity: the Rooster’s Crest Trail (7.5 km difficult), the Rooster’s Crest – Budesti Trail (22 km difficult), Rosia Trail (15.7 km medium and difficult), Cosau Trail (15 km easy and medium), the Rails’ Trail (20.8 km easy and medium), and Ignis – Mara Trail (25 km difficult).
Location: Cheile Sugaului, Neamt County
Via Ferrata Astragalus is the longest Via Ferrata route in Romania and a perfect location to discover rock climbing. Located in Cheile Sugaului-Munticelu, a protected area from Neamt County, it has five different options for rock climbing enthusiasts.
Photo source: http://sugau.ro
The name ‘astragalus’ of the Via Ferrata is an homage to a rare plant species that grows almost exclusively in the area of Cheile Sugaului-Munticelu, listed as a Natura 2000 site.
For more details about price and access, check http://sugau.ro
These are 10 of the inspiring places to see in Romania in 2018. We hope you’ll have a great time uncovering as many as possible.
Share with us your favorite places in Romania in the comments section below.