Top places of interest, reasons to visit, and safety tips for this Balkan highlight
Too often overlooked by the masses, Romania will open your eyes to its incredible natural beauty and deep-rooted traditional culture. How about visiting Transylvania?
In this guide, I will offer an honest view of what the country is like and, with any luck, get you very excited to plan your trip to Romania!
WHY VISIT ROMANIA
When I told people I was planning a trip to Romania, the most frequent reply was “why Romania?”
Of course, curiosity can be as good a reason as any to travel somewhere. Still, a bit more convincing is sometimes needed for Romania. Everyone already agrees that, say, Italy or Croatia are lovely. However, I found that what Romania offers is simply less well-known than other more popular destinations.
I can say that Romania far exceeded my expectations. I now consider it a seriously underrated travel destination. So, let me make the pitch.
Firstly, Romania’s medieval towns are far more colourful, lively, and romantic than you may have imagined. Especially so in the northwestern region of Transylvania. Yes, the land associated with the fictional Dracula!
Romania’s architecture is simply delightful. As the country’s history goes back much further than the communist period, forget about any associations you may have with former Eastern Bloc countries. While you can find a few grey socialist-era buildings, these do not at all define the character of many of Romania’s towns and cities.
The blend of different styles — and the historical German, Hungarian, and Byzantine influences — left me totally charmed.
You can see the Saxon influences in many buildings and churches with tall, pointy roofs. A kind of derpy architecture I quickly grew very fond of. Signs are often written in Gothic blackletter typeset. In contrast, many wood panels, furniture, and even gravestones are colourfully decorated with intricate hand-painted detail. Heading into the mountains may involve a ride in a bright red retro 1970s cable car, adding a feel of the Swiss Alps.
It may not be quite Wes Anderson-style, but I have an idea that this film director would have a great time exploring Romania.
If that’s not reason enough, some of Europe’s last unspoiled wilderness can also be found in Romania.
The mighty Carpathian mountain range splits the country in two and serves as a refuge for numerous threatened species. Including Europe’s largest remaining population of brown bears. From April to August, storks can be seen nesting on top of seemingly any available telephone- or electricity pole.
Lastly, Romania has preserved the traditional way of life very well. Despite an economic boom since joining the EU, a simpler life is still more dominant in the countryside. Horse-drawn carriages are commonplace, and many things are still produced in highly manual and artisanal ways.
Due to the relative poverty outside the larger cities, I found that sometimes there can be a melancholic quality to Romania. However, this wasn’t the overriding impression. Regardless, it’s interesting to see how people live in different parts of this country.
Oh, did I mention that Romania is super cheap?
My travel in Romania is easily among the least expensive I have experienced in Europe. With so many reasons to visit Romania, undoubtedly the low cost should surely seal the deal.
This is just the first of a series of articles about trip to Romania by Marek. The rest is coming soon