• Currency – Romanian Leu
• 90 days visa free for most nationalities
• Good rail and air links
Romania is often thought to be the unknown quantity ; many travellers have a mix of curiosity and apprehension before arriving. Yet it doesn’t take long for misconceptions to disappear. The people are open and friendly, and for the most part, the landscape is stunning. Large areas of wilderness help shelter a rural way of life long forgotten by the rest of Europe. Brasov and Sibiu, in the heart of Transylvania are beautiful cities with superb buildings and castles to browse around. Communism has left its mark on the country, in Bucharest in particular… but even the capital is worth a fleeting visit, as it reinvents itself among the tattered buildings.
Romania vies with Bulgaria as the bargain food capital of the Balkans ; traditional restaurants offer tasty food at good prices. A simple meal can cost €3 in many places, with breakfast even less. A beer can be bought for a Euro and snacks from the bakeries will only require loose change.
The whole of the country is great value for travellers. Double and Twin rooms can be as little as €20 if you book ahead, with Bucharest slightly more expensive than other areas. In hostels it’s the opposite, Brasov and Bucharest are the cheapest cities with €7 a common starting point for a bed. Timisoara and Sibiu are a few Euros more at around €10.
There is a good railway network with both faster and slower trains operating. Connections exist between all the main cities, and international trains depart to Turkey and Serbia. Buses are more haphazard in their organisation but safe to travel on. Services run between cities and towns, although the slower trains are often cheaper and easier to plan. Eurolines coaches operate routes from much of western Europe, if your planning to head directly to Romania.
BEST PLACES TO VISIT
The most popular touristic place to visit, primarily because of the links with the Dracula story ; Bran Castle is under an hour away. Brasov was the former home to Romanian royalty and has some good sights in and around the city. It’s near to the mountains, so you can hike and cycle in the surrounding area.
Most people come to Sibiu to visit the largest of the walled citadels that is located in the town, but as a former capital of culture, there is more to do besides. This popular student town has a good nightlife and cafe culture. The Fagaras mountains are near, with a glacial lake and the dramatic Transfagarasan road. Sibiu is a great all round destination.
Bucharest – Romania’s capital does not have a good reputation and is often dismissed as a dull and dodgy city. Although it may not be the greatest destination in the world, its problems are mostly exaggerated and there are some decent things to do here. If passing through or hanging about for a couple of days, make sure to visit the Arch of Triumph and Revolution Square. The historic Lipscani area is the most visually appealing, with plenty of bars and coffee shops.
Marmures – If images of horse drawn carriages, water wells, and wooden churches evoke emotion in you, then you will love the region of Marmures. The people here live an old fashioned way of life that is pretty much untouched by modern technology. Definitely, an off the beaten path place to visit.
Go to Hunedoara – and visit Corvinesti Castle. It’s a beautiful large building that is everything you imagine a castle to be. Retezat National Park is nearby ; you can camp in the mountains next to Lake Bucara, Romania’s largest glacial lake.
Visit the painted monasteries in Bucovina – A World Heritage site, the monasteries are hand painted inside and out with intricate and beautiful frescos. They have been restored to a good condition and are set in a tranquil rural setting near to the Ukraine border.
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