10 Things to Do in Romania You Can’t Miss

By on Published: December 13, 2018 | Last Updated: July 22, 2022 in Eastern Europe, Europe, ROMANIA with 0 Comments

The Best Things to Do in Romania for Backpackers

Getting straight to the point – Romania is incredibly cheap.

In fact, I think it’s maybe one of the cheapest countries to travel in Europe and therefore ideal for those of us on rather a tight budget!

But with some great cities, stunning mountains and even a protected wetland area, Romania isn’t just great for backpackers because of the prices.

Nope, there’s a whole heap of amazing stuff to see and places to visit in this large and diverse country.

So if you’re looking for inspiration for your next shoestring travel expedition, check out my list of the 10 best things to do in Romania for backpackers… it might just give you an idea or 2!

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#1 Hit up the Bookshops Bucharest

Romania, Bucharest, Bookshop
Look if you want my advice, I’d avoid the touristic Old Town in Bucharest like the plague.

Full of cheap, tacky restaurants and bars, it’s not even that old and was honestly my least favourite part of the city.

Instead, I’d head to any of the surrounding suburbs to get a flavour of what local life is really like in Romania’s capital and to soak up the great atmosphere at some of the many excellent cafes.

Another thing you can’t miss, something that somehow defined this city for me, is one of the amazing independent bookstores that thankfully don’t seem to be part of a dying breed like they are in many parts of the world.

There’s many to choose from, but to get some specific recommendations, do check out my post about the most fun things to do in Bucharest on a budget.

When it comes to accommodation in Bucharest, then I strongly recommend the LeBlanc Aparthotel, which offers great facilities, service and value for money in a superb city centre location.

Far better value than a private room in any of the hostels, I got a great deal on a mini apartment in a great central location and couldn’t recommend it enough.


#2 Join the Crowds at a Castle

Romania, Transylvania, Castle
Ok ok, so they are full of tourists, annoyingly so in the summer, but honestly who can come to Romania and not take in a castle or 2?!

As such, checking out at least one of these mystery-steeped constructions is definitely one of the best things to do in Romania.

Most popular is Bran Castle – situated just outside the city of Brasov.

It’s gorgeous, set on a hill in some lovely parkland, but honestly, the crowds and the queues completely put me off.

I would rather have headed to Peles Castle, which is not only nearer Brasov, but rumoured to be more beautiful and to have fewer crowds too.

You do have to take a guided tour within Peles Castle, which is the only downside, but otherwise, this looks like the winner!

If you want to visit Peles Castle, then don’t feel you have to stay in Brasov either; the lovely town of Sinia has some budget accommodation options and is much closer.


#3 Party in Cluj

Romania, Cluj, Street Art
The major student city in Romania, there’s no question they know how to have a good time here… and in Romania, that’s really saying something!

Party as hard as you like in this town and you’ll still be struggling to spend all your money.

Yup that’s the beauty of having a good time in this country and why having at least one wild night out is definitely one of the best things to do in Romania for backpackers.

Cluj also has an interesting salt mine you can visit just outside of the city.

Check out this great GetYourGuide day tour that heads there and includes skip-the-line tickets.


#4 People Watch in Timisoara

Romania, Timisoara, Square
Timisoara was a complete surprise to me and all the more delightful for it.

Planned as just a stopover on my way to Serbia, I was nevertheless delighted to stumble upon a gorgeous wide-street city with more parks and squares and church bells chiming than I could imagine!

This great city also had some top cafes like Bio Fresh and Mokum Café, as well as plenty of quirky statues and a very authentic vibe.

If you do end up in Timisoara, then I can highly recommend Downtown Hostel. Centrally located, it’s the perfect place to stop for a night or 2.


#5 Scale the Clock Tower in Sighisoara

Romania, Sighisoara, Clock Tower
A visit to the charming Transylvanian town of Sighisoara is absolutely one of the things in Romania you can’t miss when backpacking here, not least because its cobble-street Medieval charm feels like something out of a storybook!

Climb up the hill to get to the historic centre, dump your bags at the brilliantly located Burg Hostel, and then spend an afternoon strolling the streets here and snapping to your heart’s content.

With gorgeous views across the New Town below, the river and the rolling hillsides around, you also can’t miss wandering up to the Citadel (free) and climbing the steps to the top of the Clock Tower to grab perhaps the best view in Transylvania there is.


#6 Take a Scenic Train Ride

Romania, Sighisoara, Citadel

Honestly, there’s few greater pleasures and fewer better things to spend your money on than a train ride in Romania – especially if it’s through, across or into Transylvania.

Trains in this country are insanely cheap – if you see the state of many of them you’ll realise why! – and this makes hopping onboard one and spending hours staring at the stunning scenery whizzing past, absolutely one of the best things to do in Romania for those of us on a budget!

Top rides include the 2.5-4.5 hr journey (depending which train you get) from Bucharest to Brasov and the 2 hour train from Brasov to Sighisoara.

Entertainment and stunning views for a fraction of what it normally costs!


#7 Hike to the Brasov Sign

Romania, Brasov, Sign
And once you’ve got the train there from Bucharest, there’s absolutely no reason you shouldn’t drop down your bags and pass a night or 2 in the delightful Transylvanian city of Brasov.

Famous for its close location to some of the country’s best castles (see #2!), Brasov is also well worth a visit in its own right, as you enjoy the squares, cafes (my favourite was The Bean), religious buildings and ambience of this historic town.

Certainly one of the best things to do in Romania for backpackers, Brasov has some great hostels like Kismet Dao, and no time here is worth its while without a hike up Mount Tampa to the weird but wonderful Hollywood-esque sign.


#8 Check out the Charm of Sibiu

Romania, Transylvania, Spire

The list goes on and on, but honestly, you can’t make it to Romania and then to Transylvania and not spend a night or 2 in Sibiu either.

More gorgeous cobbled streets await you, as do ornate churches and quaint museums.

But it’s something about the people of this town and the relaxed ambience that will ultimately draw you in and make you reluctant to leave.


#9 Sample Some Local Wine

Romania, Brasov, Cafe

Do not, I repeat do not, think that trying some local wine isn’t one of the best things to do in Romania.

Honestly, if you’re anything like me, you’ll be hugely surprised and impressed by the quality on offer and, of course, the price ain’t bad either!

Maybe I will have that second bottle glass.

And if it’s beer you’re after instead, then my pick of the local Romanian brews has to be Ciuc.


#10 Discover the Danube Delta

Romania, Danube Delta, Boat

And last but not least on my list of the best things to do in Romania for backpackers is to get off the beaten track and head to the Danube Delta.

Spanning a huge distance across the country’s coastline, this protected wetland is a haven for wildlife, birds in particular, and taking a boat ride to explore this wonderful watery world is the best way to soak it all in, as well as do something a bit different.


BONUS #11 Go Hiking!

No question that Romania has some of the best hiking in eastern Europe and if you’re heading here for any decent amount of time you definitely shouldn’t miss the opportunity to get into those mountains!

From leisurely day hikes around lakes, to multi-treks to cabins deep in the wilderness, there’s plenty to choose from here, so check out my list of the 15 best spots in Romania for hiking if you’re looking for more inspiration…


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When to Visit Romania?

Romania, Bucharest, Street Scene

No question in my mind that you should definitely visit Romania during the summer season.

This will allow you to get the most from the country’s lovely mountainous setting because, let’s face it, Europe is exponentially more beautiful when the sun shines!

The other option for visiting Romania is during the winter months – a good idea if you want to enjoy some skiing.

Just beware that the seasons in this country are quite extreme, so summer days in August can reach well into the high thirties and winters can often be below freezing – pack accordingly!


How to Get There?

Romania, Sighisoara, Me and Bicycle

Getting across from most parts of central or Eastern Europe to Romania is easy via bus or train.

I actually travelled there overnight from Bulgaria and found the journey easy and safe.

As always, I book all my train and coach travel across Europe using Trainline – I like the way they compare multiple journeys and use split-fare technology to get you the best prices.

Alternatively, you can also fly into Romania’s capital Bucharest.

Check Skyscanner for the best prices.


Top 5 Packing Items for Romania

Romania, Bucharest, Palace of Parliaments

#1 Good Camera – You will be pretty much snapping non-stop during your time in this country and will need a good camera to do this gorgeous country justice. I highly recommend the Sony A6000, which I use for all my travels and love, not least because it’s light, compact and robust!

#2 Good Walking Shoes – There will be a lot of walking in Romania, it’s as simple as that! Make sure your feet are comfortable therefore with a pair of New Balance Trainers. Perfect for stylish city strolling as much as mountain walking, I love mine!

#3 Good Guidebook – I’m still a massive fan of the Lonely Planet Guidebooks and do think their Romania & Bulgaria Edition is well put together and able to save you a lot of money if you want to learn about the history of this country, but not continually pay for a guide!

#4 Good Water Bottle – All that sightseeing is thirsty work, so make sure you have a metal water bottle that you can refill as you go, because Romanian tap water is drinkable… and free!

#5 Good Backpack – And to carry your water bottle, camera and guidebook, you’re going to need a decent backpack that will help you balance the weight as you walk and sightsee. In my opinion, you can’t go past the Bobby Anti Theft Backpack, which is also perfect for helping you avoid pickpockets too.


Best Travel Insurance for Romania

Romania, Timisoara, Statue

I wouldn’t dream of travelling anywhere these days without proper coverage and always recommend travel insurance from World Nomads which I’ve used during my time in this country and across the world.

World Nomads are actually one of the few companies that will insure you for a huge range of outdoor activities as standard – essential for a country like Romania.

Alternatively, if you’re looking for travel insurance with Covid-19 cover, then look no further than Safetywing’s great Nomad Insurance policies. These guys will cover you at some seriously great prices, including if you have to quarantine!




So there you have it budget travellers, my list of the 10 best things to do in Romania for backpackers.

Have you visited this great country?

Did you love how cheap it was too?

What was your favourite thing to do there?

Let me know all in the comments below…


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About the Author

About the Author: Creator of Big World Small Pockets, Stephanie Parker is a budget travel addict! Originally from Jersey in the Channel Islands, Stephanie backpacks the world collecting tips, advice and stories, to share with a smile .

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