15 Epic Things to Do in Romania You Can’t Miss

15 Best Things to Do in Romania

 

Want to visit Romania? Here’s my list of the 15 best things to do in this country.

A great starting point if you’re planning to travel here, this guide will bring you all the highlights of Romania you simply can’t miss.

With some great cities, stunning mountains and even a protected wetland area, Romania is not only diverse, but incredibly affordable too.

In fact, I think it may be one of the cheapest countries to travel in Europe… and is therefore ideal for those of us on rather a tight budget!

So if you’re looking for inspiration for your next shoestring travel expedition, check out my list of the top 15 things to do in Romania and prepare to get mighty excited about your upcoming adventure…


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#1 Hit up the Bookshops Bucharest

Romania, Bucharest, Bookshop
Look if you want my advice, I’d avoid the touristy 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 15 best things to do in Bucharest.

A gorgeous place to stroll, sit and snap, these glorious stores made my time in Romania’s capital and were the perfect antidote to city sightseeing.

I recommend a stay of at least 1 night in Bucharest, so when it comes to accommodation in this capital, check out 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 Bran Castle

Romania, Transylvania, Bran Castle
Ok ok, so it will be full of tourists, annoyingly, but honestly who can come to Romania and not take in Dracula’s castle?!

Situated just outside the city of Brasov, visiting Bran Castle is one of the most iconic things to do in Romania and should not be missed.

Set on a hill in some lovely parkland, it boasts some gorgeous views, so don’t let the crowds and the queues completely put you off!

Easy to access by both guided tour and public transport, you can buy your entrance tickets at the foot of this castle and then follow the guided trail through its interior, which is now a museum showcasing art and furniture collected by Queen Marie.

Dating back beyond the Saxon era to the 13th century, this is Romania’s most iconic castle and a huge Transylvanian attraction you need to tick off your list!

 

#3 Don’t Miss Peles Castle

Romania, Brasov, Peles Castle

But if the crowds get too much for you at Bran Castle, then don’t despair, because the much quieter Peles Castle awaits you just a short distance away.

Also located near Brasov, this fortress is more beautiful in my opinion even though it only dates back to the late 19th century.

Built in a neo-Renaissance style and found near the town of Sinaia, it’s again possible to visit this place with a guided tour from Brasov – in fact, many day trips from this city combine both Bran and Peles into one trip – winning!

You do have to take a guided tour within Peles Castle, which is the only downside, but otherwise, this is totally one of the top things to do in Romania!

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 and cheaper if you’re keen to explore Romania more deeply.

 

#4 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 in Cluj… and in Romania, that’s really saying something!

And the added bonus is that you can go 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 enjoying at least one wild night out is definitely one of the best things to do in Romania.

Cluj also has an interesting salt mine you can visit just outside of the city, where the excavation of this white gold dates back to Roman times.

Nearby, the pretty village of Rimetea, considered to be one of the most beautiful spots in Transylvania and the impressive Coltesti Fortress are also easy to tie-in.

Check out this great day tour that includes all 3 spots and skip-the-line tickets to the Turda Salt Mine.

 

#5 People Watch in Timisoara

Romania, Timisoara, Statue

Timisoara was a complete surprise to me when I visited Romania, 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 cute 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.

Located on the Bega River, this city used to be part of Serbia (it’s that close), and was part of the Ottoman and Austo-Hungarian empires before that.

With loads of green spaces and parks, this delightful city is definitely worth a night of your Romanian itinerary, especially if you’re heading on towards Belgrade afterwards.

 

#6 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, not least because its cobbled-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.

 

#7 Take a Scenic Train Ride

Romania, Transylvania, Spire

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 in particular!

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

Entertainment and stunning views for a fraction of what it costs elsewhere on this continent!

 

#8 Hike to the Brasov Sign

Romania, Brasov, Tampa Mountain

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

Famous for its close location to some of the country’s best castles (see #2 & #3 on this list!), 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, 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.

Learn more in this post I write about the 17 best things to do in Brasov.

 

#9 See Bears in the Wild

Romania, Brasov, Bear 2

And talking of things to do in Brasov, this one certainly deserves an entry in its own right on a list of top things to do in Romania.

Because yes, it’s not every day you get to see bears in the wild in Europe!

Romania actually has the largest population of remaining bears across this region and amazingly, you are able to head to a number of observatories around the city of Brasov to see these incredible animals in their own habitat.

Strictly controlled group numbers and safety protocols help protect the bears and their viewers and mean you can only enjoy this activity as part of a licensed and professional group.

Check out this great option and enjoy one of the most unique experiences offered across the whole of Romania, if not Europe.

 

#10 Check out the Charm of Sibiu

Romania, Hiking, Sibiu

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.

Transylvania as its most stunning and unassuming in my mind, Sibiu is a must on your bucket list in this country.

 

#11 Sample Some Local Wine or Craft Beers

Romania, Brasov, Cafe

Do not, I repeat do not, think that trying some local wine or craft beer 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.

Check out this top-rated wine tasting tour in Bucharest for more info.

And if it’s beer you’re after instead, then my pick of the local Romanian brews has to be Ciuc – although with the explosion of the craft beer scene and more than a few great ruin bars to choose from, the world really is your hoppy oyster in this country!

 

#12 Try Local Food and Specialities

Romania, Transylvania, Kurtos Kalacs

And after all the drinking, you’ll need something to soak it up, which as just as well because Romania really is a growing foodie hotspot.

With ancient cooking techniques and ingredients making a comeback in some new and exciting ways, Romania’s innovative and exciting culinary scene really is on the way up.

Bistro de l’Arte in Brasov and The Artist in Bucharest are 2 great examples, so make sure to book a table in advance if you’re keen to try them out.

Otherwise, there’s also loads of great traditional Romanian snacks you need to try as well – including the delicious, sweet kurtos kalacs in Translyvania and mititei for the meat eaters!

 

#13 Discover the Danube Delta

Romania, Danube Delta, Boat

But moving away from the eating and drinking, we return to nature for this next entry on my list of the best things to do in Romania… and not just any old nature, because it’s time 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.

2 day tours are perhaps the best way to really learn about the flora and fauna here, as well as enjoy a cruise on this amazing water system and get transport to and from Bucharest included.

After all, if you don’t have a car, this area will be tricky to access.

 

#14 Go Hiking!

Romania, Hiking, Lady

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.

 

#15 Drive the Transfagarasan Highway

Europe, Romania, Transfăgărășan Road

The boys at Top Gear called the Transfăgărășan the “Best Driving Road in the World”, so if you’re around Transylvania you cannot pass on the chance to drive it and experience this incredible Romanian location… enough said!

Hire a car or take a tour from Brasov or Bucharest if you’re feeling less confident about driving – either way, just don’t miss it!

At the end of the road, you’ll then find yourself in the middle of one of the most spectacular and difficult mountains in Romania – the Făgăraș Massif.

Home to the country’s tallest peak and most dangerous ridges and passes, there’s plenty of great trails here to be enjoyed.

For an easy option, park your car at Lake Bâlea and then stroll around the water’s edge – it will give you a good taste of the scenery on offer.

 

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Romania Mini Travel Guide

Romania, Sighisoara, Me and Bicycle

When to Visit Romania?

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?

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 on plane tickets.

 

Top 5 Packing Items for Romania

#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.

For more info on what to bring for your travels in this country, check out my full packing list for Romania here.

 

Best Travel Insurance for Romania

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 destination like Romania.

Alternatively, if you’re a remote worker or digital nomad seeking travel health cover, then look no further than Safetywing’s great Nomad Insurance policies. These guys will cover you at some seriously great prices.

 

Travel Money for Romania

When it comes to paying for things in Romania, you want to ensure you’re not being charged overseas transaction fees or getting poor exchange rates when using your card abroad, which is why I always take my Wise Card away with me wherever I travel.

The easy way to spend abroad with real exchange rates, no markups, no sneaky transaction fees and a free Euros account, you can use your Wise card just like a debit card in this country… and it links easily with Google and Apple pay – sold!

Get yours here.

 

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So there you have it budget travellers, my list of the 15 things to do in Romania you can’t miss.

Have you visited this great country?

Did you love how affordable it was too?

What was your favourite thing to do there?

Let me know all in the comments below…

 

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