Travel blog

Driving Romania: Our Top 7 Picks of Sites to See

By on May 10, 2014

The best way to see a wonderful mixture of the culture and the beauty of Romania is by driving. We’ve compiled a list of our top 7 sites to see in Romania, with a few tips for drivers.

The Romanian countryside is one of the most picturesque we’ve seen in our travels, from the lush meadows to the imposing forests. The people have been amazingly friendly; the culture and history are fascinating; and Romania itself was continually a pleasant surprise.

 Here are our top 7 picks of sites to see in Romania, in the order we saw them:

The Village Museum, Bucharest

villageIt’s an unusual outdoor museum that maintains the history and the culture of Romanian villages. They moved houses and rebuilt them to appear originally as they did in their respective areas, many of which would have been razed.

The tour is a walk into the past and it’s illuminating to see the traditionally decorated homes and tools of Romania.

The Casino, Constanta

vlcsnap-2014-05-10-12h46m40s209Constanta is under construction in parts, which makes it difficult to drive in some parts- but it is a nice city to visit. The Mamaia Strip is full of touristy places and clubs (closed when we were there off-season) and is sandwiched between the sea and the Cazare Lake.

We got special permission to visit the inside of the casino to film it. It’s a gorgeous art deco remnant from the turn of the century- we fell in love with it. The restoration’s on hold for the moment, but it is most definitely well worth the visit.

The Danube Delta, Murighiol

vlcsnap-2014-05-10-12h47m02s150We went to Tulcea and decided we didn’t want to stay there. Luckily, we found Fisherman Dan’s Campground to stay in a nearby village called Murighiol. It was great because Dan does Delta boat tours. The campground was nice: electricity, shower/toilet and we splurged on fresh fish caught by Dan and traditionally cooked by his lovely wife, Nina.

The Danube Delta trip was unbelievable. Definitely wear a few layers if you’re going in the spring or autumn; during the summer be prepared for deluges of mosquitos. The trip itself: wow.

It was a completely different world, the ins and outs of the byways contrasted with the open lakes. The birds and the wildlife took our breath away. It’s a must-see in Romania.

Brasov

vlcsnap-2014-05-10-12h47m30s190Considered the ‘most romantic city in Romania,’ Brasov was a delicate piece of Romanian history. Our suggestion: take the free walking tour (it’s available in English) as a starting point of your visit.

From the tour you get information that can help you decide how you want to spend the rest of your time in Brasov. Whether it’s visiting the Black Church or going to a local café like Colaj Cafe, it’s a good city to relax in.

Village Life, Sinca Noua

vlcsnap-2014-05-10-12h48m02s0On a recommendation, we decided to discover typical Romanian village life. There is nothing like literally watching the cows come home on the main street, or the green hillsides, for getting away from it all.

Highlights include: watching a weaver at a loom, creating traditional cloth and helping on a farm (milking cows, for example or herding sheep).

We loved it. The people were so kind and eager to share their experience with us- it gave us a completely different and valuable insight about Romania.

Slow Travel, Corund

vlcsnap-2014-05-10-12h49m14s207We went to a second village after Sinca Noua that had deep Hungarian roots. It was very different than the Romanian villages we’d visited- including signs written in symbols once used.

The best part of the visit was the Salt Canyon and the Plateau. It is quite touristy on the main road, but getting away to the canyon included seeing organic salt formations, a nice hike and a bear footprint (no bears were there, just to let you know).

The Plateau is an area as large as Bucharest but with just 400 people, most are farmers. That means they make fresh everything: bread, cheese and even the local aperitif, palinka. It’s a nice way to spend a unique holiday.

The Salt Mine, Turda

vlcsnap-2014-05-10-12h49m38s184It was an incredible experience to visit the salt mine. Passing through several corridors and walking down to the bottom, an amazing underground cathedral appeared to me in all its beauty.

Looking through the history behind the mine, at a time when workers did not have the same technology like they do today and just understanding what was made at that time. The interesting textures inside, depending on the impurities that the salt had during the time, makes the wall look like precious marble.

The Merry Cemetery, Sapanta

vlcsnap-2014-05-10-12h50m03s174The first thing you’ll notice is that it’s much smaller than it appears in photos. You won’t mind that, though, once you’re walking in the actual cemetery. There are literally stories of each of the people buried there.

Many hand-painted likeness’ (some include their family) along with wordy inscriptions are simply original and heartfelt. You can’t help but admire the thoughtful and tender care of these graves. The remembrance.

It’s in no way morbid, but it is emotional to see so many lost loved that are so well taken care of.

Notes for Driving in Romania

 

  • Coming from Bulgaria, there’s a ferry/toll of  €8
  • You need to buy a vignette of €7
  • Gas/petrol prices
  • Most roads are extremely well-maintained, but don’t be shocked by a few bumpy dirt roads or navigating around horse-drawn wagons
  • It’s legal to go right on red
  • Don’t get too close to the Ukrainian border
  • Be prepared for super winding roads in the mountains

 

We hope this is useful for those of you that plan on driving or visiting Romania. And please let us know if there are any sites you’d like to add to the list of this pretty country. Romania is a truly beautiful place to visit.

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