Some travel to Romania
for its natural wonders and spectacular wildlife
, while some are more familiar with its picturesque castles
and painted monasteries. What is certain is that Romania will surprise you with the diversity of its attractions. Here are our top 20 picks.
Babele and the Sphinx
Babele and the Sphinx are natural rock formations found in the Bucegi Mountains, at an altitude of 2,216 metres (7,270 ft). Both the enigmatic Babele (the old ladies) and the Sphinx are believed to be surrounded by an energy field and many travel to see them and experience it.
Known as a religious symbol since the time of the Pelasgians, forefathers of the Greeks, the Sprinx got its anthropomorphic shape through erosion over thousands of years.
Babele, Bușteni, Prahova
Built in the 19th century in the style of German New-Renaissance architecture, Peleș Castle features 160 luxuriously decorated rooms filled with art treasures as well as a large collection of 4,000 medieval weapons. Art lovers will delight at the prospect of seeing frescoes painted by Gustav Klimt, while history buffs will be surprised to know the palace hosted the first film projection in the country.
Castelul Peleș, Aleea Peleșului 2, Sinaia 106100, +40 244 310 918
Coloana Infinitului by Brâncuși
Part of a sculptural ensemble comprising The Table of Silence and Gate of the Kiss by Constantin Brâncuși, Coloana Infinitului (The endless column) is considered one of the greatest works of twentieth-century sculpture. Made of truncated pyramids united at their base, which can be replicated endlessly, the column alludes to the infinity. The first version of the column, sculpted in oak, is displayed at the MoMA.
Coloana Infinitului, Calea Eroilor, Târgu Jiu 210002
Berca Mud Volcanoes
The mud volcanoes of Berca, Buzau county – part of the geological and botanical reservation Pâclele Mari and Pâclele Mici -are some of the most spectacular geological formations you will get to see in Romania. A walk among the active cones bubbling with mud and gas that go up to six meters (19.6 ft) in height could be the closest thing to a moonwalk.
Black Church in Brașov
The Black Church in Brașov, which got its name after the a fire blackened its walls, is the country’s main Gothic monument and the largest church between Vienna and Istanbul. Built by the German community of the city of Brașov between 1385 and 1477, it changed from a Catholic church to a Protestant Lutheran one after the Reformation.
Biserica Neagră, Curtea Johannes Honterus 2, Brașov 500025
Palace of the Parliament
Palace of the Parliament
The brainchild of former dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu, the Palace of the Parliament in Bucharest is big enough to be among the few man-made things to be spotted from space.
Its 1,100 rooms, out of which only 400 are finished and used, are distributed over 12 floors as well as eight underground levels, the last one being a nuclear bunker.
Palatul Parlamentului, Strada Izvor 2-4, București, +40 21 316 0300
In spring, starting mid-May, the eastern side of the Saca Peak in Rodnei Mountains gets covered in a white fragrant carpet of daffodils stretching over five hectares. Those who have visited the Narcissus Valley, populated with thousands of Narcissus stellaris at peak season, say the sweet scent of the flowers can be felt for many kilometres around it, carried by the wind.
Fortified churches of Transylvania
The fortified churches of Transylvania were built by the Transylvanian Saxons, namely German colonists brought in by the Kings of Hungary to the area, between the 13th and the 16th centuries.
The churches, featuring tall walls and defence towers similar to those of fortresses, contain many storehouses inside, designed to protect valuable goods and food during long sieges by migrating peoples.
Archaeological site, Historical Landmark
With its red tiled roof and many irregular shaped turrets, Bran Castle is one of the most picturesque Romanian landmarks. Also known as Dracula’s castle, perched on a cliff surrounded by thick forests, the castle immediately conjures up the spectre of the Count, although, historians say, he may have never actually lived there.
Castelul Bran, Strada General Traian Moșoiu 24, Bran 507025, +40 268 237 700
Nearby the city of Cluj-Napoca, deep down in the belly of Salina Turda salt mine, at a depth of 120 meters (400 feet), lies hidden the most exciting underground attraction you may ever come across: an amusement park. Complete with a Ferris wheel, a mini golf course and rowing boats, spending time at this amusement park also brings health benefits by way of its beautiful salt lake.
Salina Turda, Strada Salinelor 54, Turda, +40 364 260 940
Also known as Hunyadi Castle after the man who built it, 15th century Transylvanian statesman known in Romanian as Iancu de Hunedoara, Corvin Castle is the biggest and best preserved medieval structure with military and civilian role in the country. With its high buttresses, towers and a fairytale-like drawbrige, it would not look at all out of place in a Game of Thrones episode.
Castelul Corvinilor, Strada Castelului 1-3, Hunedoara 331141, +40 786 048 718
After being featured in an online article a couple of years back, Bigăr Waterfall became very popular, both online and offline. Ever since, increasing numbers of tourists travel to the Cheile Nerei – Beușnița National Park to visit it, and for good reason. The water, which comes from an underground spring, falls over a large dome-shaped stone covered in emerald green moss, creating a see-through curtain of droplets.
Cascada Bigăr, DN57B, +40 0722 338 186
Sighișoara Historic Centre
A walk though the historic centre of Sighișoara, included by UNESCO on its World Heritage Sites list, can feel like a trip back in time. Today, it is the last remaining citadel inhabited uninterruptedly since medieval times. Vlad Țepeș, the historical figure who inspired Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula, was born here in 1431.
Sighișoara, Mureș County
The Merry Cemetery
The Merry Cemetery of Săpânța started in 1930, when a local craftsman decided to make one-of-a-kind hand painted crosses to celebrate life and death. Inscribed with a custom made poem about the deceased, sometimes written with an ironic or self-deprecating tone, the crosses are mesmerising due to their bright colours and ancient folk motifs, and, at the same time, stark reminders that life is by nature transient.
Cimitirul Vesel, Săpânța 437305
Painted churches of Moldavia
In Moldavia, eastern Romania, the local craftsmen have used their talent to decorate churches of Romanian Orthodox monasteries with beautiful frescoes, both on the inside and on the outside. Built between the 15th and the 16th centuries by local rulers, eight of them are UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.
Located in Apuseni Mountains, at 1,165 meters altitude, Scărișoara Cave hosts Europe’s second largest underground glacier, a 4,000-year-old natural wonder with a volume of 75,000 cubic meters.
Visiting in summer makes for a chilling experience, literally, as temperature inside the cave the temperature is 1 degree Celsius, at its warmest.
Peştera Gheţarul de la Scărişoara
Iași Palace of Culture
The Palace of Culture is Iași’s top landmark and one of the most iconic buildings in Romania. The 55 meter (180 ft) clock tower of the 19th century Gothic revival edifice is well worth a climb, as it offers splendid views over the city, the capital of the historic region of Moldavia, and the four museums it hosts are not to be missed.
Palatul Culturii, Iași, +40 232 275 979
Home to over 300 species of birds and 160 species of fish, the Danube Delta is the second largest river delta and best preserved in Europe. Reachable by boat only, it is a genuine oasis of tranquility where the sound of traffic is replaced by that of waves by day and crickets by night.
Maliuc – sat Vulturu, Tulcea 064535, Romania, +40 240 518 945
The picturesque Râșnov Citadel, found near Brașov, was built by locals in nearby villages to defend themselves from attacks by migrating peoples. As the sieges started to take longer and longer, they built dwellings and settled inside, after digging through stonean 146 metres deep well.
Cetatea Râșnov, Râșnov 505400
Up in the Orăștie Mountains, at 1,200 meters (3937 ft) altitude, the forefathers of the Romanian people, the ancient Dacian people, built Sarmizegetusa Regia as their military, administrative and religious centre. The complex, a World Heritage Site, includes six citadels, temples and civilian dwellings built on terraces and a fortress spread over 30,000 square meters.