Offering a great mix of culture, natural beauty, and medieval enchantment, Romania charms its visitors in unique ways. Here’s a list of must-see places on your visit.
Brasov is a modern, cosmopolitan city with a medieval heart. Spend the day exploring its maze of cobbled streets packed full of antique shops and stylish designer boutiques and stop for a coffee and some delicious pastries in Piata Satului, the main square. As for the evening, the offering is quite impressive too, with a plethora of restaurants, pubs, and clubs.
The greatest road in the world, Transfagarasan Highway
Rising at an altitude of 2,034 meters, the highway that Jeremy Clarkson labelled “the greatest road in the world” twists and turns dramatically through the southern Carpathian Mountains in Transylvania, connecting the cities of Sibiu and Pitesti. With its breathtaking views, crazy hairpin turns, and impossibly steep descents, the Transfagarasan Highway is as much a fantastic challenge for cyclists and motorcycle riders as it is a driver’s paradise.
When you reach the top, you will come across a crystal-clear Balea Lake, which is surrounded by some of Romania’s magnificent alpine scenery. Declared a scientific reservation, this area provides excellent hiking, climbing, and skiing opportunities, while also playing host to Eastern Europe’s first ever Ice hotel, during winter.
Balea Lake is located 80 km from Sibiu and can be accessed by car via the spectacular Transfagarasan Highway and by cable car from Balea Cascada lodge in winter, and keep in mind that you’ll have to queue a bit as there’s just one cable car.
One of Romania’s most welcoming and cosmopolitan cities, Sibiu has a rich cultural scene, with some excellent museums, art galleries, and world-class festivals for visitors to enjoy throughout the year. Nevertheless, it is its chocolate box old town, lined with atmospheric cafes and splendid Baroque architecture, that holds all the magic. Think quaint cobblestone streets and handsome plazas, historic buildings that span eight centuries of architectural styles, and secret passageways that lead to nostalgic bookstores and fancy bistros.
Romania’s folk culture at ASTRA Museum in Sibiu
One of the largest open-air museums in this part of Europe, the ASTRA Museum of Traditional Folk Civilization lies in a forest, 3 km south of Sibiu, and displays a collection of traditional peasant houses, windmills, and public buildings from different time periods and regions of Romania. You can enjoy traditional Romanian food at the rustic Hanul din Tulghes restaurant with drinks and live entertainment.
Best known for its night life, the streets will be buzzing with energy after sun down making the city square a great sight.
The castles and citadels of Transylvania
Nestled amidst he lush hills, wild mountains, and enigmatic valleys of Transylvania are a variety of castles and citadels waiting to take visitors back in time.
Bran Castle, the mythical home of Stoker’s Dracula, is perched high up on a 200 ft rock in the mountain village of Bran, about 30 km from Brasov. On the same road, you’ll find the hilltop Rasnov Fortress, built by the Tetonic Knights in the 13th century.
Peles Castle, near the mountain resort of Sinaia, on Prahova Valley can be visited in a day’s trip. Not technically in Transylvania, but the Peles Castle is undoubtedly the country’s most beautiful castle, a masterpiece of the German Renaissance architecture with sumptuous, art-filled interiors and a magical mountain scenery in the background.
The world’s deepest underground amusement park, Salina Turda
Located 400ft underground, somewhere near the city of Cluj-Napoca, is the Salina Turda or the Turda Salt Mine. Inside, against a backdrop of 1000-year-old pillars and remarkable light displays, visitors will discover a true underground wonderland, with its own spa, boating lake, and Ferris wheel. It is said that the salt mine offers optimal conditions for adults and children alike to treat lung problems. Exposure to salt mine microclimate has beneficial effects on the airways in people with occupational risk factors, or environmental (emissions, gas, tobacco, etc.), thereby reducing morbidity. Children, youth and adolescents benefit from improved respiratory function.
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