The former communist nation of Romania is now one of Eastern Europe’s coolest holiday destinations – book an affordable bed via Culture Trip.
Hostel culture in Romania has really developed since the 1989 Revolution that ousted the communist regime – young entrepreneurs, “borrowing” the international hostel concept, have been busy ever since, opening small businesses in the tourist cities of Brașov, Sibiu, Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca (or simply Cluj) and Timișoara. All have preserved historic quarters, some even a whole medieval Old Town. Others enjoy natural settings and proximity to the mountains, making for unforgettable holidays. Here are the best hotels to book across Romania – easily fixed with Culture Trip.
Impressive boulevards, classic-style buildings and atmospheric public gardens are some of the reasons travellers love Bucharest. Podstel is a hostel-cafe combo, providing accommodation and weekly events, workshops and performances. Staying at Podstel Umbrella, you’re in the heart of the city, a few minutes from the vibrant nightlife of the metropolis. The hostel has mixed dorms with handmade and painted wooden bunk beds, but if you prefer en-suite facilities, upgrade to a private room. In the evenings, engage in a chess or darts game on the cobblestone terrace or meet other travellers in the cosy lounge with plush sofas.
Aside from the atmospheric Old Town with its quaint, Medieval architecture, Bucharest has many quiet neighbourhoods well worth exploring. Book-A-Rest Hostel stands in the Armenian quarter, within walking distance of the central University Square. Rooms are furnished with hardwood floors and smart metal furnishings while the shaded terrace in the garden is a great area for socialising with fellow travellers. Breakfast is served each morning, while you also have a shared kitchen for self-catering purposes – tea and coffee included for free.
Bucharest features a well-preserved historic neighbourhood, lush 19th-century parks, and interwar boulevards with modernist architecture. You’ll find Little Bucharest Hostel right in the heart of the city, in a refurbished neoclassical-style building from 1902. All rooms provide amazing Old Town views. Accommodation options range from six- to 14-bed mixed-gender dorms with wooden bunk beds, and there are doubles with stylish wrought-iron furniture as well as an apartment with vintage decor. The best bars, restaurants, shops and art galleries are around the corner, while the fascinating Old Court Museum is just a short walk away.
The second university centre in the country, Cluj has a young vibe and hosts the famous UNTOLD music festival every summer. Spot Cosy Hostel stands in the leafy Gruia residential neighbourhood along the Someș River, at the foot of Cluj’s hilltop fortress and about 15 minutes walk to the city centre. The boutique-style hostel has a large backyard with plenty of slouching options, a bar and hammocks. Dorms and private rooms are upbeat, multicoloured affairs, while the big kitchen and the lounge are perfect for socialising and generally slobbing in.
Cluj is one of Transylvania’s most bustling cities – not to mention the most revered student hub in the region, with an impressive botanical garden and an Old Town with atmospheric squares. Zen Hostel puts you right in the centre of things, close to the dining scene and most cultural landmarks, including Gothic-style Roman Catholic Saint Michael’s Church. The hostel has mixed-gender dorms and private rooms warmly decorated with traditional Romanian rugs. There are also female-only dorms and en-suite private rooms. Unwind in the backyard with its bar and a terrace – or make yourself dinner in the communal kitchen, before reclining in a hammock.
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With 800 years of history, Sibiu is a beauty – all wonderfully preserved Saxon buildings, winding passages and Baroque churches. On pedestrian street Bălcescu is B13 Hostel: an active youth hub with a burger bar as well as ribs&beer, a restaurant with a pavement terrace. Mixed and female-only dorms roll out jazzily bright decor, and there’s a communal space filled with big comfy red sofas. Here in the Old Town you have pubs, restaurants and historic attractions practically on your doorstep, including the Piata Mare (Large Square). For an excellent view of the city, book into the 20-bed dorm.
In the shadow of mountains, Sibiu attracts passionate hikers as much as it does history aficionados. With double rooms and six-to-eight-bed spaces, PanGeea stands at the entrance to the Piata Mare, a short walk from major cultural landmarks such as the Brukenthal National Museum, containing works by Van Eyck, Memling and Titian – or the Bridge of Lies, which can apparently tell if the person crossing it is a liar. Each room has a kitchen and a dining area as well as a bathroom and plenty of lockers. Sip your coffee in the baroquely furnished on-site cafe. If you feel like cooking, there’s a supermarket just opposite.
Enjoy strolling beautiful parks, admiring Habsburg architecture, and savouring drinks on the banks of the river? Add Timișoara to your list and check in at this laid-back central hostel. Dormitories range in size from six to 10 bunks with bright linens and curtains. All rooms boast vibrant hand-painted murals. The double rooms are in high demand, especially the one called the Dream, which has a double bed and a whirlpool tub. After a busy day of sightseeing, unwind in the back garden – lounging in one of the hammocks or playing table tennis.
Courtesy of Jugend Stube Hostel, Brașov / Booking.com
Surrounded by magnificent mountains (which harbour the Dracula Castle), Brașov was made for hikes during the day – after dark, Old Town comes buzzily to life. Jugend Stube Hostel is smack bang in the historic centre, a three-minute walk from Council Square – the starting point for all shopping and dining escapades. It’s a colourful base, with simply decorated dorms sleeping up to six guests, as well as en-suite doubles and triples for more privacy. There’s a fully equipped kitchen at your disposal, with tea and coffee included throughout your stay.
Courtesy of SECRET Boutique Hostel, Brașov / Booking.com
Looking for a “secret” place to stay in one of Romania’s best-preserved Saxon towns? Try this hostel on a medieval street in the heart of historic Brașov. You’ll be within walking distance of the main sights – say, the Black Church and Council Square. Dormitories have massive timber bunk beds with curtains for privacy, double mattresses and lockers with safety code. You’ll find separate showers in the shared bathrooms while kitchen amenities include a fridge, a microwave, a coffee-maker and a sandwich maker. Whatever you do, make the short trip to the celebrated Dracula Castle – Castelul Bran – in the heart of Transylvania, just 30km (19mi) from Brașov.
This is an updated version of an article originally by Roxana Coman.